Cartagena is a small city in South America on Colombia’s northern Caribbean coast.
How to get to Cartagena
You can get to Cartagena by air from one of Colombia’s larger cities like Bogota or Medellin. The flights on Colombia’s budget airlines are usually less than $100 and take only an hour from take off to landing.
You can also take a bus to save even more money, but because of Colombia’s mountainous terrain, be prepared to spend 10 or 12 hours on it before reaching the city.
What to do in Cartagena
Cartagena is a city made for relaxation. The best way to do so is book a hostel or hotel with a pool to enjoy after a hot day exploring the city shops.
If you’re a foodie, it’s a great place to try some new dishes, because Cartagena has a vibrant food and restaurant scene.
The beaches are also beautiful and the clear blue waters are tropical and warm. The easiest and most popular beach to visit is Playa Blanca.
You can get there by bus or by boat. The bus costs around $10 round trip and the boast is closer to $17. Both can be bought at the ticket booths by the harbor. You don’t need to book ahead, just stop by by around 9 or 10 in the morning and hop on, and you’ll return back to the city around 4pm.
How much time do you need in Cartagena
It depends on how much you love the beach! There are plenty of different islands you can visit and even stay overnight on. For me, a four day stay was perfect. One day walking around and exploring the old town, one day diving off Isla Rosario, and two days laying on the beach and relaxing on PLaya Blanca.
Cartagena is a great budget destination. You can find nice hostels in the city for only $15 or $20 a night, and spend your days lying on the white sand beaches drinking $1 Club Colombia beers.
The colorful old town is free to explore and spend your day wandering the small shops and cobbled city streets in the sun.
Where to stay in Cartagena
Stay in either the walled old town or the Getsemani neighborhood. I loved my stay in Hostal Casa Escallon, which had a rooftop terrace and outdoor pool.
Where to eat in Cartagena
Don’t miss La Cevicheria! It was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and for good reason… the food is super fresh and delicious. If you’re a seafood lover, check it out. Porton de San Sebastion is another great seafood restaurant.
For drinks, don’t miss El Arsenal, a trendy cocktail bar with a lovely rooftop terrace. For cheaper choices, visit Trinidad Square for outdoor cafes, cheap beers, and street food!
When is the best time to visit Cartagena
Cartagena has a steady climate for the most part. I visited in both March and June and the weather was the same. Low 90’s, sunny, and HOT. The rainy season is in the fall in October and November, so avoid those months if you want to hit the beach.
Why should Cartagena be on my bucket list?
The charm of the old colonial town is stunning. The colorful buildings draped with flowers and greenery are romantic and different from any other city in Colombia. Great seafood places line the streets, and the caribbean beaches and resorts make for a perfect beach holiday. Cartagena is a unique and beautiful city that shouldn’t be missed!