The Ultimate Guide: Top 25 Things to Do in Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena, Colombia, a jewel on the Caribbean coast, is a city that captivates with its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural beauty. It’s a place where colonial architecture meets tropical beaches, where the scent of local delicacies fills the air, and where salsa rhythms echo through the cobblestone streets. As a city with so much to offer, it can be overwhelming to decide what to do on your vacation. That’s where I come in. In the following guide, I will unravel the Best things to do in Cartagena on vacation, covering everything from historical landmarks, culinary experiences, natural wonders, to cultural immersion activities. Find out how much money you need to visit Cartagena.
1. Wander through the Walled City
As a tourist, wandering the Walled City of Cartagena felt like stepping into a time machine. The cobblestone streets, vibrant colonial buildings, and the imposing stone walls that have withstood the test of time transport you back to an era of exploration and discovery. Every turn provides a new spectacle – a centuries-old church here, a quaint plaza there, each brimming with tales of the city’s rich past.
Among the historical architectural wonders, the city is dotted with statues, each one telling its own story. From the towering figure of Pedro de Heredia, the city’s founder, to the whimsical bronze sculptures by Colombia’s beloved artist, Fernando Botero, these works of art lend a unique character to the streets. As a tourist, it’s hard not to be captivated by the silent narratives they weave.
The charm of the Walled City extends beyond its history and art. The numerous gift shops lining the streets are like treasure chests waiting to be explored. Handmade jewelry, colorful textiles, and traditional crafts make for perfect souvenirs to remember Cartagena by or gifts to take back home. These shops offer a peek into the city’s artistic soul and provide an opportunity to support local artisans. If you didn’t know the best place in the world to get Emerald Jewelry is in Colombia.
The Walled City is also a haven for food lovers and nightlife enthusiasts. The variety of restaurants cater to every taste, offering everything from local Colombian dishes to international cuisines. The bars, often filled with the lively notes of salsa music and the chatter of locals and tourists alike, promise a memorable night out in the town. The culinary and entertainment scene in the Walled City is as vibrant and diverse as the city itself.
The best part of wandering the Walled City, however, is the people. From friendly shopkeepers and talented street performers to the locals just going about their day, everyone adds to the city’s welcoming and lively atmosphere. The performances on the streets, whether it’s music, dance, or acrobatics, add a unique element of surprise and delight to the exploration. As a tourist, the Walled City offers an unforgettable experience and is undeniably one of the best things to do in Cartagena, Colombia.
2. Visit Castillo San Felipe de Barajas
I’ve always sought out experiences that blend history, culture, and stunning views. My visit to Castillo San Felipe in Cartagena, Colombia, offered all this and more. Perched on top of the Hill of San Lazaro, the fortress is a tangible reminder of Cartagena’s storied past. The first sight of its imposing stone walls evokes a sense of awe and anticipation.
Opting for a guided tour is one of the best decisions you can make. The knowledgeable guides breathed life into the centuries-old walls, sharing captivating tales of the fortress’s strategic importance, legendary battles, and architectural ingenuity. Walking through the labyrinthine tunnels and ramparts, I felt like I was stepping back in time, each story adding a new layer to my understanding of Cartagena’s colonial history.
Given the tropical climate of Cartagena, it’s essential to come prepared. Wearing sunscreen, a hat, and shades is a must to protect against the strong sun. Also, remember to carry water to stay hydrated as you explore the expansive fortress. These small precautions ensured that I could fully enjoy my exploration without any discomfort.
One of the highlights of my visit was undoubtedly the view from the top of Castillo San Felipe. Overlooking the vibrant cityscape of Cartagena and the azure Caribbean Sea, it’s easily one of the best views in the city. As I stood there, the cool sea breeze brushing against my face, I couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty of this historic city.
Visiting Castillo San Felipe is not just about seeing a historic site; it’s about immersing yourself in the rich tapestry of Cartagena’s past. It’s about standing atop a fortress that has withstood the test of time, looking out at a view that has captivated many before and will continue to captivate many after. For anyone visiting Cartagena, a guided tour of Castillo San Felipe is an experience not to be missed.
3. Explore Getsemani
Getsemani, a vibrant neighborhood in Cartagena, Colombia, is an experience that captures the essence of the city’s spirit. As a tourist, strolling through its colorful streets felt like being part of a lively, ever-evolving canvas. The neighborhood’s street art, which covers walls, doors, and even entire buildings, is a visual treat and a testament to the local artists’ talent and creativity.
The neighborhood’s history is as captivating as its art. Once a district where slaves lived, Getsemani has transformed into a cultural hotspot while preserving its heritage. Walking down the Calle de la Sierpe, you can see the Plaza de la Trinidad, a square that has been a central part of community life for centuries. As the day turns into night, the plaza comes alive with locals and tourists mingling, impromptu music performances, and vendors selling delicious street food.
Speaking of food, Getsemani offers a culinary adventure that’s hard to resist. From traditional Colombian dishes served in family-run restaurants to international cuisines offered in modern eateries, there’s something to satisfy every palate. The neighborhood is also home to a variety of bars and clubs, making it a perfect place for those looking to experience Cartagena’s vibrant nightlife.
One of the things that stood out during my visit was the warm and welcoming nature of the people. The locals, with their friendly smiles and openness to share stories, made me feel at home. It was inspiring to see the pride they take in their neighborhood and their efforts to preserve its character and traditions.
Visiting Getsemani is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Cartagena. It offers a unique blend of art, history, food, and culture, all wrapped up in a lively and colorful package. As a tourist, it’s a place that offers not just sights to see, but experiences to immerse oneself in. Whether you’re an art lover, a foodie, a history buff, or a traveler seeking authentic local experiences, Getsemani promises to be a highlight of your Cartagena visit.
4. Relax on Playa Blanca
If you’re visiting Cartagena, a trip to Playa Blanca should be at the top of your itinerary. This pristine beach, with its white sands and crystal-clear waters, is the epitome of a tropical paradise. As soon as I set foot on the beach, the hustle and bustle of the city seemed miles away. The tranquil atmosphere, coupled with the breathtaking natural beauty, made for an instant sense of relaxation and contentment.
The beach itself is a haven for sun-lovers and water enthusiasts alike. The warm Caribbean Sea is perfect for a refreshing swim, snorkeling, or simply floating around. During my visit, I spent hours just lounging on the sand, soaking up the sun, and occasionally dipping into the water to cool off. It was the perfect antidote to the usual rush of sightseeing and exploring.
Playa Blanca also offers a range of activities for those seeking a bit more adventure. From jet-skiing to paddleboarding, there are ample opportunities to get your adrenaline pumping. For me, one of the highlights was a boat tour that included snorkeling in the nearby coral reefs. Seeing the vibrant marine life up close was an unforgettable experience.
When it comes to food and drink, Playa Blanca does not disappoint. The beach is lined with small shacks serving fresh seafood and local delicacies. Savoring a meal of freshly grilled fish, accompanied by a cool drink, while looking out at the sea was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my visit. There’s something about eating fresh food in the open air that makes it taste even better.
Visiting Playa Blanca is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Cartagena. Whether you’re a nature lover, a foodie, an adventure seeker, or someone simply looking for a place to unwind, Playa Blanca has something for everyone. It’s a place where you can truly embrace the laid-back Caribbean lifestyle and create memories that will last a lifetime.
5. Look For Monkeys & Sloths
Visiting the park in Cartagena is a delightful experience, especially for nature and wildlife enthusiasts. One of the best aspects of this park visit is the opportunity to see monkeys and sloths in their natural habitat. For me, this was not just an exciting adventure but also a unique opportunity to appreciate the diverse wildlife of Colombia.
The monkeys are particularly fascinating to watch. Their playful antics and social behavior make for some unforgettable moments. Whether they’re swinging from tree to tree, foraging for food, or simply interacting with each other, their energy and curiosity are infectious. It’s a joy to observe them up close, yet from a respectful distance, ensuring their natural behavior is not disturbed.
Then there are the sloths, which offer a completely different but equally captivating experience. Known for their slow movements, these creatures may seem like they’re always in slow motion, but that’s part of their charm. Watching a sloth navigate its way through the trees, taking its time and seeming entirely unconcerned by the world around it, is a lesson in patience and appreciating life at a slower pace.
Aside from the wildlife, the park itself is a beautiful place to explore. With its lush greenery, walking trails, and tranquil ambiance, it offers a refreshing escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. Whether you’re embarking on a leisurely walk, enjoying a picnic, or simply sitting and taking in the surroundings, it’s a place where you can connect with nature and find moments of peace.
A visit to the park in Cartagena offers a unique blend of wildlife viewing, outdoor activities, and relaxation. Whether you’re an animal lover, a nature enthusiast, or someone seeking a serene spot to unwind, this park has something for everyone. Seeing the monkeys and sloths is undoubtedly one of the highlights and one of the best things to do in Cartagena. It’s an experience that leaves you with a deeper appreciation for nature and the incredible biodiversity of Colombia.
6. Visit a Beach Club In The Islands
Visiting a beach club is undeniably one of the best things to do in Cartagena, Colombia. My Favorite is probably Bora Bora Beach Club but they are all worth checking out. As a coastal city, Cartagena offers numerous beach clubs that provide an ideal setting for relaxation and enjoyment. These clubs offer a perfect blend of sun, sand, sea, and luxury, making them a popular choice for both tourists and locals alike.
The first thing you’ll notice is the stunning views these beach clubs offer. Overlooking the azure Caribbean Sea with a cocktail in hand, you’re sure to feel the stress of everyday life melt away. The beautiful surroundings, coupled with the soothing sounds of the waves, create an atmosphere of tranquility that’s hard to match.
Beyond the views, these beach clubs offer a plethora of activities to keep you entertained throughout the day. From swimming in the sea to playing beach volleyball, or just lounging by the pool, there’s never a dull moment. For those seeking some adventure, many clubs also offer water sports like jet-skiing or snorkeling, making for an exciting day out.
When it comes to food and drinks, beach clubs in Cartagena truly excel. Most clubs have restaurants on-site that serve a variety of delicious local and international cuisines. Whether you’re craving fresh seafood, traditional Colombian dishes, or a gourmet meal, you’re in for a treat. Pair that with a selection of refreshing cocktails, and you have the perfect recipe for a leisurely lunch or a romantic dinner by the beach.
Visiting a beach club is an experience that encapsulates the best of what Cartagena has to offer – beautiful beaches, fun activities, delectable food, and a relaxing atmosphere. It’s more than just a place to spend the day; it’s a place where you can make lasting memories. Whether you’re traveling with friends, family, or on a romantic getaway, a day at a beach club is sure to be a highlight of your Cartagena trip.
7. Explore San Basilio de Palenque
Visiting Palenque is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Cartagena, Colombia. This unique village, located just outside of the city, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a living testament to Africa’s enduring influence in Latin America. A trip to Palenque offers a deep dive into a rich cultural heritage that continues to thrive in the modern world.
One of the most iconic symbols of Palenque is the women in colorful dresses balancing bowls of fruit on their heads. These women, known as ‘Palenqueras’, are a vibrant embodiment of this Afro-Colombian community. The brightly colored attire of the Palenqueras is a feast for the eyes, and their ability to effortlessly carry fruit baskets on their heads is a testament to their skill and grace. Seeing them go about their daily routine is an experience that stays with you long after you’ve left Palenque.
Beyond the visual spectacle, the Palenqueras also represent a powerful symbol of resilience and cultural preservation. They are descendants of African slaves who escaped from Spanish colonizers and established San Basilio de Palenque, the first free town in the Americas. Their colorful attire and fruit selling tradition are a nod to their African roots, and a proud display of their unique cultural identity.
Visiting Palenque also allows you to immerse yourself in a community that has managed to preserve its distinct language (a Creole dialect known as Palenquero), music, and traditions despite centuries of external influences. From the rhythmic beats of traditional Palenque music to the communal meals featuring local cuisine, every aspect of life in Palenque offers a glimpse into a rich and enduring culture.
A trip to Palenque is much more than a sightseeing excursion. It’s an opportunity to witness a vibrant culture, learn about a fascinating history, and interact with a community that exudes warmth and resilience. The sight of the Palenqueras in their colorful dresses, with their fruit bowls perfectly balanced on their heads, is an iconic image that captures the spirit of Palenque. It’s an experience that enhances your understanding of Cartagena’s multicultural identity and leaves you with lasting memories.
8. Visit The Tallest Bar In Colombia
Visiting the 51 Sky Bar, the tallest bar in Colombia, is an experience not to be missed when you’re in Cartagena. Perched on top of the Hotel Estelar in the Bocagrande district, this stylish and modern bar offers breathtaking views of the city and the Caribbean Sea. Whether you’re a fan of heights or just looking for a unique place to enjoy a drink, 51 Sky Bar is definitely one of the best things to do in Cartagena.
As you step into the bar, you’ll immediately be captivated by the panoramic vistas. The bar is strategically located on the 51st floor of the hotel, providing a 360-degree view of Cartagena’s stunning landscape. It’s a sight that is particularly mesmerizing at sunset when the city is bathed in hues of orange and pink, and the sea reflects the changing colors of the sky.
But the 51 Sky Bar is more than just its views. It distinguishes itself with its avant-garde decoration and sophisticated atmosphere. The sleek design and comfortable seating arrangements make it a perfect place to unwind after a day of exploring the city. Whether you choose to sit indoors or on the open terrace, you’re in for a luxurious experience.
The bar also boasts a comprehensive menu of drinks and food. From classic cocktails to innovative creations by skilled mixologists, there’s something for everyone. Pair your drink with their delicious food offerings, and you’re all set for a memorable evening. The service is commendable too, adding to the overall excellent experience.
A visit to the 51 Sky Bar is an experience that encapsulates the best of Cartagena – stunning views, great ambiance, delicious food, and drinks, and top-notch service. It’s a place where you can see the city from a different perspective, literally and figuratively. So, when you’re in Cartagena, make sure to add the 51 Sky Bar to your must-visit list. It’s an experience you wouldn’t want to miss.
9. Bathe in the Mud at Volcan de Lodo El Totumo
Bathe in the Mud at Volcan de Lodo El Totumo is undoubtedly one of the most unique and fun experiences you can have in Cartagena, Colombia. This mud volcano, located about an hour’s drive from the city, offers a one-of-a-kind adventure that’s sure to leave you with unforgettable memories. While it may sound odd to some, taking a dip in this mud bath is actually one of the most popular tourist activities in the area.
The experience begins with a climb up the staircase that winds around the volcano. As you reach the top, you’ll find a pool of warm, thick mud waiting for you. The mud is so dense that you’ll float on top, making for a surreal and enjoyable experience. Despite the number of people that may be in the pool with you, there’s something incredibly soothing about lying in the warm mud.
But it’s not just about the fun factor. Many believe that the mud in El Totumo has healing properties. While these claims are mostly anecdotal, many visitors report feeling rejuvenated and refreshed after their mud bath. Some even say that their skin felt smoother and more youthful. Whether or not you believe in the healing powers of the mud, there’s no denying that it’s an experience that leaves you feeling good.
What makes the trip to El Totumo even more worthwhile is the post-mud bath cleanup. After emerging from the mud pool, you head over to a nearby lagoon where local women help wash off the mud. It’s a communal experience that adds to the charm and authenticity of the visit. Plus, the lagoon itself is a beautiful spot to relax and soak in the natural surroundings.
Bathing in the mud at Volcan de Lodo El Totumo is a must-do when you’re in Cartagena. It’s an adventure that combines fun, relaxation, and a touch of the extraordinary. Whether you’re traveling solo or with a group, it’s an activity that promises laughter, unique photo ops, and stories to tell when you get back home. It’s not every day that you get to say you bathed in a mud volcano, after all!
10. Take a ATV Tour
Exploring Cartagena, Colombia on an ATV tour is an exhilarating way to experience the city’s natural beauty and vibrant culture. Far from the usual tourist paths, these tours take you on off-road adventures through some of the most stunning landscapes around Cartagena. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or someone looking for a unique way to explore the city, an ATV tour is definitely one of the best things to do in Cartagena.
The adventure begins as soon as you hop onto your ATV. Guided by experienced local guides, you’ll navigate through rugged trails, sandy beaches, and lush greenery. These tours are not just about speed or thrill but also about experiencing Cartagena’s diverse terrain up close. It’s an opportunity to see parts of the city that you wouldn’t otherwise get to explore.
One of the highlights of an ATV tour in Cartagena is the chance to visit local communities along the route. These stops offer a glimpse into the everyday life of the locals. You might get a chance to interact with the residents, learn about their customs and traditions, and even sample some local cuisine. It’s a unique cultural exchange that enriches your travel experience.
Safety is a top priority on these tours, and even if you’ve never ridden an ATV before, there’s no need to worry. The guides provide a thorough briefing before the tour starts, explaining how to operate the ATVs safely. They’re also always on hand during the tour to assist and ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable ride.
Taking an ATV tour in Cartagena is an exciting and enriching activity that offers a perfect blend of adventure, natural beauty, and cultural immersion. It’s a chance to break away from the typical tourist trail and experience Cartagena from a different perspective. So, when you’re planning your itinerary for Cartagena, make sure to include an ATV tour. It’s an experience that’s sure to make your trip even more memorable.
11. Get On A Chiva Party Bus
The party bus, or “Chiva” as it’s locally known, is one of the most popular attractions in Cartagena. This colorful, open-sided bus offers a unique blend of sightseeing and partying that makes it a must-do activity in the city. As you hop aboard the Chiva, you’re not just signing up for a ride around town, but an immersive cultural experience that’s hard to forget.
The Chiva party bus takes you on a tour through Cartagena’s historic streets, stopping at landmarks and popular spots along the way. But the real fun begins as soon as the music starts playing. Local musicians onboard play lively Colombian music, creating a festive ambiance that gets everyone dancing and singing. It’s an excellent way to let loose and experience the vibrant nightlife of Cartagena.
One of the best aspects of the Chiva party bus is the opportunity it provides to interact with locals and fellow travelers. The atmosphere on the bus is friendly and welcoming, making it easy to strike up conversations and make new friends. Whether you’re traveling solo or in a group, the Chiva offers a social experience that adds to the overall enjoyment.
The party doesn’t end when the bus ride does. Most Chiva tours include a stop at a local nightclub where you can continue dancing and enjoying the night. It’s an excellent introduction to Cartagena’s nightlife scene, and a chance to experience the city like a local.
The Chiva party bus in Cartagena offers a unique blend of sightseeing, music, dance, and social interaction that makes it one of the best things to do in the city. It’s a fun-filled experience that captures the spirit of Cartagena and leaves you with unforgettable memories. So, when you’re in Cartagena, don’t miss out on the chance to hop aboard the Chiva and join the party.
12. Take A Sunset Cruise
Taking a sunset cruise is undoubtedly one of the best ways to experience the breathtaking beauty of Cartagena, Colombia. As the sun begins to set, casting a golden glow over the historic city and its surrounding waters, you’ll find yourself immersed in a truly magical atmosphere. It’s an experience that showcases Cartagena in a different light – quite literally – and leaves a lasting impression.
The cruise typically begins in the late afternoon, giving you ample time to take in the stunning views of the city’s skyline and the Caribbean Sea. As the boat sails away from the harbor, you’ll get a unique perspective of Cartagena’s iconic landmarks, including the historic walled city and the impressive Castillo San Felipe de Barajas. The sight of these structures against the backdrop of the setting sun is truly a sight to behold.
But it’s not just about the views. A sunset cruise in Cartagena also offers a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The gentle sway of the boat, the soothing sound of the waves, and the cool sea breeze create a peaceful ambiance that’s perfect for unwinding after a day of sightseeing. Whether you’re traveling solo, as a couple, or in a group, it’s an experience that everyone can enjoy.
Adding to the charm of the sunset cruise is the on-board amenities. Most cruises offer drinks and snacks, allowing you to savor a cocktail or a glass of wine as you watch the sun go down. Some cruises even feature live music, adding to the festive and romantic atmosphere.
Taking a sunset cruise is one of the best things to do in Cartagena for many reasons. It offers a combination of stunning views, relaxation, and entertainment that’s hard to beat. So, when you’re planning your itinerary for Cartagena, make sure to include a sunset cruise. It’s an experience that’s sure to be one of the highlights of your trip.
13. Take a 5 Island Boat Tour
A 5-island boat tour is undoubtedly one of the most thrilling experiences you can have in Cartagena, Colombia. The journey begins at Tierra Bomba, an island steeped in history. It’s a captivating place, where you can wander through time-touched streets and learn about the area’s rich past. This historical exploration sets the tone for the diverse experiences to come.
Next, the tour takes you to Isla Rosario, a marine paradise perfect for snorkeling. Here, you get to dive into the crystal-clear waters and explore the vibrant aquatic life beneath the surface. The colorful corals and exotic marine species make for a mesmerizing underwater spectacle that leaves you in awe of nature’s beauty. It’s an experience that adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers alike will cherish.
The excitement doesn’t stop there. The boat then heads to Cholon, the party island, where you get to let loose and enjoy yourself for three hours. With its lively atmosphere and fun-filled activities, Cholon is the place to be if you love a good party. Whether you choose to dance to the rhythm of the local music, join in the water sports, or simply soak in the festive vibes, it’s a guaranteed good time.
After the high-energy party at Cholon, the tour moves on to Playa Tranquilla Baru, where a delicious lunch awaits. This serene beach offers the perfect setting to relax and unwind after the day’s adventures. You can spend three hours here, lounging on the soft sands, savoring your meal, and taking in the stunning views. It’s a peaceful respite that allows you to recharge before the next part of your journey.
If you wish to extend your tour, the boat can take you to another part of Baru for a plankton tour. This unique experience offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of bioluminescent plankton, which glow in the dark and create a magical spectacle. If not, you can choose to head back at 3.30 pm, carrying with you a day’s worth of unforgettable memories. In conclusion, a 5-island boat tour is one of the best things to do in Cartagena, offering a mix of history, adventure, partying, relaxation, and natural beauty that’s hard to beat.
14. Enjoy The Evening At Cafe Del Mar
Cafe Del Mar is a must-visit spot for anyone traveling to Cartagena, Colombia. Located atop the city’s historic wall, it offers a panoramic view of the Caribbean Sea and the stunning cityscape. As evening sets in, this charming cafe transforms into a magical place, making it one of the best things to do in Cartagena.
The experience begins with the breathtaking sunset that Cafe Del Mar is famous for. As you sit back in the comfortable seating, you can watch the sun slowly descend, painting the sky with hues of orange, pink, and red. The sight of the sun setting over the sea is truly mesmerizing and provides the perfect backdrop for a relaxing evening.
Adding to the overall ambiance is the soothing sea breeze. It gently blows on you, creating a cool and comfortable environment that’s a welcome respite from the tropical heat of Cartagena. There’s something incredibly calming about sitting in the open air, feeling the breeze on your skin, and listening to the sound of the waves crashing against the city walls.
One of the unique features of Cafe Del Mar is the live performance by a saxophonist. The soulful notes of the saxophone fill the air, adding an extra layer of charm to the atmosphere. The music perfectly complements the stunning views and the relaxed vibe of the cafe, making your evening all the more enjoyable.
Finally, no visit to Cafe Del Mar would be complete without sampling their delicious food. The cafe offers a variety of dishes that cater to different tastes. Whether you’re craving local Colombian cuisine or international fare, you’re sure to find something that satisfies your palate. Paired with a refreshing drink, it’s the perfect way to end your day in Cartagena. In conclusion, spending an evening at Cafe Del Mar is an experience that combines beautiful views, relaxing vibes, live music, and great food – making it one of the best things to do in Cartagena.
15. Take a Horse Carriage Ride
Experiencing a carriage ride in Cartagena, Colombia is like taking a step back in time. This charming city, with its cobblestone streets and colonial architecture, lends itself perfectly to this traditional form of transportation. A carriage ride allows you to slow down, appreciate the beauty around you, and immerse yourself in the city’s rich history and culture. It’s an experience that ranks high on the list of best things to do in Cartagena.
As the horse-drawn carriage clip-clops through the city streets, you’ll have the opportunity to admire the well-preserved buildings that line the roads. These structures, many of which date back to the colonial era, boast stunning architectural details and vibrant colors. Each one tells a story, providing a glimpse into Cartagena’s past.
A carriage ride also offers a unique perspective of the city. Seated at a height, you get to enjoy panoramic views of the streets, plazas, and landmarks. Whether it’s the imposing city walls, the bustling marketplaces, or the majestic churches, you’ll be able to take in all the sights without the usual distractions. It’s a peaceful and relaxing way to explore the city.
An added advantage of a carriage ride is that many drivers double as tour guides. They are often locals who know the city inside out and can share interesting anecdotes and insights about the places you pass by. This enriches your experience, making the carriage ride not just a mode of transportation, but a learning journey as well.
Taking a carriage ride in Cartagena is one of the best things you can do in the city. It combines sightseeing, history, and leisure in a unique way, offering a memorable experience that leaves a lasting impression. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, a carriage ride is a wonderful way to experience the magic of Cartagena.
16. Visit Alquímico The Best Bar In South America
The crown for the best bar in South America, according to The World’s 50 Best Bars 2023, goes to Alquímico in Cartagena, Colombia. This enchanting establishment stands out not only for its exceptional cocktail menu but also for its vibrant atmosphere and unique three-story setup. Visiting Alquímico isn’t just about grabbing a drink; it’s an experience that immerses you in the heart of Cartagena’s nightlife and culture.
Alquímico, which translates to “Alchemist,” lives up to its name by transforming simple ingredients into extraordinary cocktails. The bar boasts an extensive and diverse menu, featuring both classic favorites and innovative creations. Each drink is expertly crafted by skilled bartenders, who blend flavors and techniques to create a symphony for the senses.
But what truly sets Alquímico apart is its atmosphere. The venue is spread over three floors, each with its own unique vibe. The ground floor offers a lively bar scene, while the upper levels provide a more relaxed lounge setting. The rooftop, in particular, is a highlight. Here, patrons can sip their drinks under the stars, surrounded by panoramic views of the city.
One of the reasons Alquímico has been named the best bar in South America is its commitment to quality. Every aspect of the bar, from the carefully curated drink menu to the attentive service, is designed to ensure a memorable experience for guests. It’s this attention to detail that elevates Alquímico from a simple bar to a must-visit destination.
Visiting Alquímico is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Cartagena. Whether you’re a cocktail connoisseur or simply looking for a unique night out, Alquímico offers something for everyone. It’s a place where you can unwind, socialize, and immerse yourself in the magic of Cartagena’s nightlife.
17. Ride Jet Skis In Cartagena
One of the most exhilarating experiences you can have in Cartagena, Colombia is riding a jet ski. The city, with its stunning Caribbean coastline and crystal-clear waters, is an ideal place for this thrilling water sport. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or just looking for a fun way to cool off from the tropical heat, jet skiing is an adventure that should not be missed.
Jet skiing allows you to explore Cartagena’s beautiful seafront from a different perspective. As you speed through the water, you’ll have a panoramic view of the city’s skyline, beaches, and islands. It’s an exciting way to take in the sights while also getting your heart rate up. Plus, there’s something incredibly freeing about being out on the open water, with the wind in your hair and the sun on your skin.
One of the best parts about jet skiing in Cartagena is the opportunity to visit places that are inaccessible by land. There are numerous islands and secluded beaches around the city that can be reached by jet ski. These spots, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, offer a peaceful retreat where you can relax, swim, or even snorkel.
Jet skiing is also a great group activity. Whether you’re traveling with friends, family, or your significant other, riding jet skis together can be a fun and bonding experience. Competing against each other in friendly races, or simply exploring the coastline side by side, creates memories that will last a lifetime.
Jet skiing is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Cartagena. It offers a unique blend of adventure, sightseeing, and relaxation that appeals to travelers of all ages and interests. So, if you’re planning a trip to this charming Colombian city, make sure to include a jet ski ride in your itinerary. You won’t regret it!
18. Bazurto Market Tour
Taking a tour of the Bazurto Market is an authentic way to experience the local culture of Cartagena, Colombia. This bustling market, filled with an array of stalls selling everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts, is a vibrant and colorful hub of local life. Exploring Bazurto Market is not just about shopping; it’s a sensory experience that immerses you in the sights, sounds, and flavors of Cartagena.
The Bazurto Market is renowned for its incredible variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood. As you wander through the market, you’ll encounter a plethora of exotic fruits and vegetables, many of which are unique to the region. It’s a great opportunity to sample local delicacies and learn about Colombian cuisine. The seafood section, with its daily catch from the Caribbean Sea, is particularly impressive.
But Bazurto Market offers more than just food. You’ll also find stalls selling clothing, jewelry, and other handmade items. These goods, crafted by local artisans, make for unique souvenirs that you can take home as a memory of your trip. It’s also an excellent way to support the local economy.
A tour of Bazurto Market is also a cultural experience. The market is a gathering place for locals, and it’s common to see people chatting, laughing, and enjoying music together. There’s often live music playing, adding to the lively atmosphere. It’s a chance to interact with the local community and gain insight into their daily lives.
Taking a Bazurto Market tour is one of the best things to do in Cartagena. It’s a unique experience that allows you to engage with the city on a deeper level. Whether you’re a foodie, a shopper, or a culture enthusiast, a visit to Bazurto Market promises to be a highlight of your trip to Cartagena.
19. Dance Salsa At Cafe Havana
Dancing salsa at Cafe Havana in Cartagena, Colombia, is an experience that should be high on your list of things to do in the city. This iconic establishment, with its vintage decor and live music, is the perfect setting for a night of salsa dancing. Whether you’re an experienced dancer or a complete beginner, Cafe Havana offers a vibrant atmosphere where you can let loose and move to the rhythm of the music.
Cafe Havana is known for its live salsa bands that play almost every night. The musicians are incredibly talented, creating an energetic and infectious beat that’s impossible to resist. As soon as the music starts playing, the dance floor fills up with locals and tourists alike, all moving in sync to the sultry salsa rhythms. It’s a sight to behold and even more fun to be a part of.
But what makes salsa dancing at Cafe Havana truly special is how welcoming and inclusive it is. Regardless of your dance skills, everyone is encouraged to join in the fun. The regulars are always happy to show newcomers the basic steps, turning the dance floor into a lively and friendly learning space. It’s a great way to meet new people and immerse yourself in the local culture.
Moreover, salsa dancing is not just entertaining, but also a great form of exercise. It’s a whole-body workout that boosts your physical fitness while also improving your coordination and rhythm. And with the upbeat music and lively atmosphere at Cafe Havana, you’ll be having so much fun that you won’t even notice you’re working out.
Dancing salsa at Cafe Havana is one of the best things you can do in Cartagena. It’s an experience that combines music, dance, culture, and fitness into one unforgettable night. So, when you’re planning your itinerary for Cartagena, make sure to save a night for Cafe Havana. You’re sure to leave with great memories and maybe even some new dance moves.
20. Visit Caribe Jewelry Museum & Factory
Visiting the Caribe Jewelry Museum is one of the top things to do in Cartagena, Colombia. This unique museum, located in the heart of the city, offers a fascinating insight into the world of jewelry and gemstones. It’s particularly renowned for its collection of emeralds, as Colombia is one of the world’s largest producers of this precious stone.
The museum showcases a stunning array of jewelry pieces, from intricate necklaces to dazzling rings. Each item on display tells a story of craftsmanship and artistic expression. The highlight of the collection is undoubtedly the emeralds. These green gems are displayed in all their radiant glory, allowing visitors to appreciate their beauty and understand why they are so highly prized.
But the Caribe Jewelry Museum offers more than just a display of beautiful jewels. It also provides an educational experience. Through interactive exhibits and informative displays, you can learn about the process of mining and refining emeralds, as well as the history of jewelry making in Colombia. It’s a fascinating journey that reveals the hard work and skill that goes into creating each piece of jewelry.
In addition to its permanent exhibits, the museum also hosts special events and exhibitions. These often feature the works of local and international jewelry designers, offering visitors a chance to see contemporary designs and innovative uses of gemstones. It’s a great way to stay updated on the latest trends in the jewelry world.
A visit to the Caribe Jewelry Museum is a must-do when in Cartagena. Whether you’re a jewelry enthusiast or simply interested in learning something new, this museum offers a unique and engaging experience. And who knows, you might even be inspired to buy a piece of emerald jewelry as a souvenir of your visit!
21. Explore La Boquilla Mangroves
Exploring the La Boquilla Mangroves is an exceptional way to experience the natural beauty of Cartagena, Colombia. This sprawling ecosystem, located just outside the city, is a haven of tranquility and biodiversity. Whether you’re an avid nature lover or simply looking for a break from the bustling city, a trip to the mangroves promises to be a memorable adventure.
The La Boquilla Mangroves are best explored by canoe. Gliding through the calm waters, you’ll be surrounded by lush greenery and a symphony of bird calls. It’s a surreal and peaceful experience that allows you to connect with nature on a deeper level. Along the way, you’ll likely spot a variety of wildlife, including herons, pelicans, and perhaps even a few iguanas basking in the sun.
One of the highlights of exploring the mangroves is learning about the local fishing techniques. The area is home to a community of fishermen who have been living and working here for generations. They use traditional methods to catch fish and crabs, often using the roots of the mangrove trees as natural traps. Observing this process is a fascinating insight into a way of life that remains largely unchanged over the years.
In addition to its natural beauty, the La Boquilla Mangroves also hold cultural significance. The local community has a strong connection to the mangroves, relying on them for their livelihood and viewing them as a symbol of their heritage. As you explore the area, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of this relationship and the importance of preserving these unique ecosystems.
Exploring the La Boquilla Mangroves is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Cartagena. It’s a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in nature, learn about local culture, and witness a side of Cartagena that many visitors don’t get to see. So, when planning your itinerary, make sure to set aside a day for this incredible adventure.
22. Hop Off Bus Tour Around Cartagena
Taking a hop-on hop-off bus tour is one of the best ways to explore Cartagena, Colombia. This form of sightseeing offers a flexible and convenient way to see the city’s top attractions. With various stops at key points of interest and the freedom to get on and off as you please, it allows you to customize your tour according to your interests and pace.
The bus tour takes you around the historical and cultural landmarks of Cartagena, providing panoramic views from the comfort of your seat. Iconic sights like the Clock Tower Gate, the San Felipe Castle, and the stunning beaches of Bocagrande are all part of the route. Each location holds a piece of Cartagena’s rich history and vibrant culture, waiting to be discovered.
What sets the hop-on hop-off bus tour apart is its informative audio guide. As you travel through the city, you’ll be provided with interesting facts and stories about the places you’re passing by. This valuable insight enhances the sightseeing experience, allowing you to appreciate the city’s heritage on a deeper level.
The flexibility of the bus tour is another significant advantage. You can choose to stay on the bus for the entire route, getting a comprehensive overview of the city, or you can hop off at any stop that piques your interest. Whether you want to explore the historic walled city, enjoy a beach break, or dine in a local restaurant, you have the freedom to create your perfect day in Cartagena.
The hop-on hop-off bus tour is an excellent way to experience the charm of Cartagena. It combines convenience, flexibility, and education into an enjoyable sightseeing adventure. Whether you’re visiting the city for the first time or looking to discover new aspects of familiar places, this tour is a must-do activity in Cartagena.
23. Go Golfing At Karibana Beach Golf Course
For golf enthusiasts and casual players alike, a round at the Karibana Beach Golf Course is one of the best activities to do in Cartagena, Colombia. This exceptional course, designed by the renowned Nicklaus Design, is not only a test of skill but also a feast for the eyes. Its location on the Caribbean coast offers stunning views, making your golfing experience even more enjoyable.
The Karibana Beach Golf Course is an 18-hole championship course that caters to all levels of golfers. The design incorporates natural elements such as native trees and wetlands, creating a layout that is challenging yet fair. Each hole presents a unique test, requiring a good mix of power and precision. Whether you’re a seasoned golfer looking to test your skills or a beginner learning the ropes, this course promises a rewarding experience.
Beyond the game itself, the Karibana Beach Golf Course offers a range of amenities to enhance your visit. The clubhouse features a pro shop where you can rent equipment or purchase golfing gear, and a restaurant that serves delicious local and international cuisine. After a round of golf, you can relax and enjoy a meal while overlooking the beautiful course.
Moreover, the Karibana Beach Golf Course is located within the Karibana Resort, offering more than just golf. You can take a dip in the pool, relax on the private beach, or indulge in a treatment at the spa. It’s an all-inclusive experience that combines sport, relaxation, and luxury.
Golfing at the Karibana Beach Golf Course is a must-do activity when in Cartagena. The combination of a world-class golf course, stunning views, and top-notch facilities makes it a standout attraction. Whether you’re a passionate golfer or just looking for a leisurely activity, a day at this golf course is sure to be a highlight of your trip.
24. Visit the Botanical Garden Of Cartagena
A visit to the Botanical Gardens of Cartagena is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in the city. This lush, green oasis is a haven for nature lovers and offers a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. The botanical gardens are home to an impressive variety of plant species, beautifully arranged and well-maintained, making it a paradise for botanists and gardening enthusiasts.
The gardens are divided into several sections, each dedicated to a different type of flora. Here, you can find everything from tropical rainforest plants to desert cacti, medicinal herbs, and a colorful array of flowers. Walking through these different areas is like taking a journey across various ecosystems, offering a fascinating insight into the world of plants.
One of the highlights of the Botanical Gardens is the butterfly house. This enclosed area houses several species of butterflies, fluttering freely among the plants. It’s a magical experience to walk amongst these beautiful creatures and observe them up close. The garden also hosts birds and other small wildlife, adding to the richness of the experience.
In addition to its natural beauty, the Botanical Gardens of Cartagena also offer educational value. There are informative signs throughout the gardens that provide interesting facts about the plants and their uses. This makes the visit not only enjoyable but also enlightening, especially for children.
A trip to the Botanical Gardens of Cartagena is a must for anyone visiting the city. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a gardening lover, or simply looking for a tranquil spot to unwind, the gardens offer a unique and enjoyable experience. The combination of natural beauty, biodiversity, and educational elements make it one of the top attractions in Cartagena.
25. Check Out The Largest Shopping Malls In Cartagena
Visiting the largest and best shopping malls in Cartagena is a must-do activity for anyone who loves retail therapy. The Caribe Plaza Centro Comercial and the Plaza Bocagrande Centro Comercial are two of the city’s most popular shopping destinations, offering a perfect blend of local and international brands, entertainment, and dining options.
Caribe Plaza Centro Comercial is the largest mall in Cartagena, offering a wide variety of stores, restaurants, and entertainment facilities. Here, you can find everything from fashion to electronics, homeware, and more. It is not just a place for shopping, but also a hub for entertainment with its multiplex cinema, leisure areas, and regular events. The mall’s architectural design and spacious layout add to the overall shopping experience, making it a comfortable place to spend the day.
On the other hand, the Plaza Bocagrande Centro Comercial stands out for its unique design inspired by the big screen. This mall offers an exclusive range of important brands, making it a go-to destination for those seeking high-end shopping. Apart from shopping, the mall boasts a variety of entertainment options, including a cinema and numerous events throughout the year.
What makes these malls one of the best things to do in Cartagena is their ability to offer something for everyone. Whether you’re a shopper looking for the latest trends, a foodie exploring international cuisines, or a movie buff looking for the latest releases, these malls have got you covered. They are also great places to escape the midday heat and enjoy some indoor activities.
Visiting the Caribe Plaza Centro Comercial and the Plaza Bocagrande Centro Comercial is a fantastic way to spend a day in Cartagena. With their wide range of stores, eateries, and entertainment options, they provide a diverse and enjoyable shopping experience that caters to all tastes and preferences. Whether you’re a local resident or a tourist, these malls offer a slice of Cartagena’s vibrant retail and entertainment scene.
In Conclusion: The Best Things To Do In Cartagena Colombia
Cartagena is a city teeming with culture, history, and adventure. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or a beach lover, there’s something for everyone in this enchanting city.