Find Out Where To Stay In Cartagena Colombia: 5 Tourist Friendly Areas
Cartagena, with its cobblestone streets, colorful colonial buildings, and vibrant nightlife, is a dream destination for many travelers. But where should you stay to make the most of your visit? Let’s delve into the best neighborhoods and accommodations this captivating city has to offer.
Tourist-Friendly Neighborhoods in Cartagena
When looking for a tourist-friendly neighborhood in Cartagena, there are several factors to consider. Safety should be your top priority; the area should be well-lit at night and have a visible police presence. The neighborhood should also have easy access to public transportation or be within walking distance of major attractions, restaurants, and shops. Additionally, look for neighborhoods that offer a variety of accommodation options to suit different budgets, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels.
Cultural and historical significance can also add to the appeal of a neighborhood. Areas with local markets, street art, museums, and architectural gems give you a chance to immerse yourself in Cartagena’s rich history and vibrant culture. Lastly, don’t forget to check out reviews and recommendations from other travelers to get an idea of what to expect.
1. Old Town ( El Centro & San Diego)
Old Town, also known as El Centro and San Diego, is undeniably the most vibrant part of Cartagena. The area is steeped in history and culture, making it an ideal base for travelers looking to immerse themselves in the city’s rich heritage. The neighborhood is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with beautifully preserved colonial architecture, colorful buildings, and cobblestone streets that transport you back in time.
A Walk Through History
What sets Old Town apart is the abundance of historical sites and landmarks. From the iconic Clock Tower gate, which serves as the main entrance to the walled city, to the Palace of the Inquisition with its grim history, there’s plenty to explore. You can also visit the stunning Church of San Pedro Claver or simply wander around Plaza de Bolivar, soaking up the atmosphere. The city walls themselves, built to protect Cartagena from pirate attacks, offer a wonderful panoramic view of the city, especially at sunset.
Bustling Day and Night Life
The Old Town is not just about history; it’s a lively area buzzing with activity day and night. During the day, street vendors sell everything from local handicrafts to fresh fruit, while at night, the squares come alive with music and dance performances. The neighborhood is also home to some of Cartagena’s best restaurants and bars, offering a wide range of dining options from traditional Colombian cuisine to international fare.
Convenience and Accessibility
One of the practical reasons for staying in Old Town is its central location. Most of Cartagena’s main attractions are within walking distance, saving you both time and transportation costs. The neighborhood is also well-served by public transport, making it easy to explore other parts of the city. Despite its bustling atmosphere, Old Town also offers quieter spots like the leafy parks and plazas where you can escape the crowds and relax.
A Variety of Accommodation Options
Finally, Old Town offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. You’ll find everything from luxury hotels housed in colonial mansions to budget-friendly guesthouses. Many of these places offer modern amenities while retaining their historical charm, providing a unique and memorable stay. Staying in Old Town means you’re not just visiting Cartagena; you’re living it.
Regarded as the bohemian heart of Cartagena, Getsemani is an eclectic neighborhood that offers a unique blend of traditional Colombian culture and modern urban living. Once a working-class district, Getsemani has transformed into a vibrant hub for artists, musicians, and food enthusiasts, making it an exciting area to stay in when visiting Cartagena.
Street Art Galore
One of the defining features of Getsemani is its colorful street art. The murals, which cover the facades of many buildings in the area, are more than just beautiful decorations. They tell stories of the neighborhood’s history, its people, and their struggles. Walking through the streets of Getsemani is like walking through an open-air gallery, offering a visual feast that is both engaging and inspiring.
Vibrant Nightlife and Culinary Scene
Getsemani is known for its lively nightlife, with numerous bars and clubs offering a range of music from Latin beats to electronic tunes. The Plaza de la Trinidad, the main square, is a popular spot where locals and tourists gather in the evenings to enjoy street performances, food vendors, and the overall festive atmosphere. The neighborhood also boasts a diverse culinary scene, with plenty of restaurants and street food stalls serving local and international cuisines.
Cultural and Community Spirit
Staying in Getsemani allows visitors to experience a strong sense of community spirit in the neighborhood. Despite the influx of tourism, Getsemani has managed to retain its local charm and authenticity. There are still families who have lived in the area for generations, adding to its cultural richness. The neighborhood also hosts various cultural events throughout the year, including the Getsemani Street Art Festival, which celebrates local artists and their work.
Accommodation in Getsemani ranges from boutique hotels to budget-friendly hostels. Many of these places are located in traditional houses, offering an authentic experience of Cartagena living. Despite its energetic vibe, Getsemani also has quiet streets where you can enjoy some peace and relaxation. Staying in this neighborhood gives you a taste of the real Cartagena, beyond the touristy facade.
Bocagrande is often referred to as the Miami of Cartagena due to its modern high-rise buildings, upscale shopping centers, and beautiful beaches. This neighborhood offers a stark contrast to the historical charm of Old Town and the bohemian vibe of Getsemani. If you’re looking for a more contemporary and luxurious stay in Cartagena, Bocagrande is the place to be.
One of the biggest draws of Bocagrande is its stunning coastline. The neighborhood boasts some of Cartagena’s best beaches, complete with white sand and clear blue waters. Whether you prefer sunbathing, swimming, or trying out water sports, there’s plenty to do here. Moreover, many hotels and apartments in the area offer beachfront views, allowing you to wake up to the sight of the ocean every day.
Shopping and Dining
Bocagrande is also a paradise for shoppers and foodies. The neighborhood is home to several shopping malls, including Bocagrande Square Mall and Plaza Bocagrande, where you can find a wide range of local and international brands. As for dining, there are numerous restaurants serving both Colombian and international cuisines. From casual beachside eateries to sophisticated fine dining establishments, there’s something to cater to all tastes.
When it comes to accommodations, Bocagrande offers some of the most modern and luxurious options in Cartagena. Many of the hotels in the area are equipped with amenities like swimming pools, spas, and fitness centers. There are also plenty of serviced apartments available, perfect for those who prefer a home-like setting with the convenience of hotel services.
Easy Access to Other Parts of Cartagena
Despite its modern and somewhat isolated feel, Bocagrande is actually quite centrally located. It’s just a short drive or bus ride away from the historical Old Town and the lively Getsemani neighborhood, making it a convenient base for exploring different parts of Cartagena. Furthermore, the neighborhood itself is very walkable, with well-maintained sidewalks and plenty of green spaces for outdoor activities.
Manga, with its tranquil and residential atmosphere, offers a peaceful retreat from the bustling city life of Cartagena. This neighborhood is characterized by its tree-lined streets, picturesque houses, and beautiful marina, providing a contrasting experience to the more tourist-centric areas like Old Town and Bocagrande. If you’re seeking a quieter, more local experience, Manga makes an excellent choice for accommodation.
Charming Architecture and Scenic Views
One of the highlights of Manga is its charming architectural landscape. The neighborhood is filled with early 20th-century Republican-style houses, many of which have been beautifully preserved. Take a leisurely stroll along the bay for a scenic view of the skyline and the marina, where yachts and small boats dock. The neighborhood’s Club de Pesca, one of the oldest yacht clubs in Colombia, adds to the maritime charm of the area.
Proximity to Attractions and Accessibility
Despite its residential feel, Manga is conveniently located near several key attractions in Cartagena. It’s just a stone’s throw away from the historic walled city and the vibrant neighborhood of Getsemani. The Castillo de San Felipe, one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, is also within easy reach. With its accessibility and proximity to these attractions, staying in Manga allows for easy exploration of the city while offering a peaceful retreat at the end of the day.
Local Dining Experience
Manga offers a range of dining options that cater to different tastes. Along the bay, you’ll find numerous seafood restaurants serving fresh catch-of-the-day dishes. There are also several local eateries and bakeries scattered throughout the neighborhood where you can try traditional Colombian food. Staying in Manga gives you the opportunity to dine like a local and discover the culinary delights that Cartagena has to offer.
Comfortable and Homely Accommodations
Accommodation in Manga is mainly residential, with a selection of homestays, guesthouses, and vacation rentals. These accommodations provide a homely atmosphere that can make your stay more comfortable and personal. Many of these homes feature beautiful gardens and patios where you can relax and unwind. Staying in Manga offers a unique opportunity to experience the local lifestyle and immerse yourself in the community.
Nestled between Bocagrande and the Caribbean Sea, Laguito is a tranquil neighborhood known for its namesake lake and serene atmosphere. Offering a slower pace and less crowded environment compared to other parts of Cartagena, Laguito is an ideal choice for travelers seeking relaxation and tranquility during their visit.
Beautiful Beaches and Water Activities
Laguito boasts some of Cartagena’s most beautiful beaches, with soft sand and calm waters perfect for swimming and sunbathing. The neighborhood’s location on a peninsula means that you’re never too far from the beach, no matter where you’re staying. For those with a love for water activities, there are plenty of opportunities to go sailing, fishing, or even jet-skiing.
Proximity to Bocagrande’s Amenities
While Laguito itself is mostly residential, it benefits from its close proximity to the bustling neighborhood of Bocagrande. Just a short walk or drive away, you’ll find a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. This allows you to enjoy the amenities of Bocagrande while staying in a quieter, more peaceful environment.
One of the unique features of Laguito is its picturesque scenery. With the lake on one side and the sea on the other, the neighborhood offers stunning views wherever you look. The El Laguito lake, in particular, is a beautiful sight, especially at sunset. There are several parks and promenades around the lake where you can take leisurely walks and enjoy the view.
Comfortable Accommodations with a View
Accommodation in Laguito mainly consists of apartments and condominiums, many of which offer fantastic views of the lake or the sea. These accommodations provide a comfortable and homely setting for your stay. Many buildings also have communal pools and other amenities for residents to enjoy. If you’re looking for a place that combines comfort, peace, and beautiful views, Laguito is a great choice.
Hotels Vs Airbnb In Cartagena
When It comes to vacations I will always prefer a hotel over a Airbnb majority of the time. Lately, I have doing longer stays in countries so it’s not economically feasible to stay in a hotel my entire duration. I will say that I have been spoiled by having a washer and dryer in the apartments. When Staying somewhere for less than 2 weeks I usually pack enough clothes to make it through the trip but once you get over that 2-week mark and headed into 1 and 2 months you will find yourself at a laundromat if you don’t have a washer and dryer.
Consistent Standards and Quality
One of the main reasons I prefer hotels over Airbnb when staying in Cartagena is the consistency in standards and quality. Hotels, especially those from renowned chains, have to meet certain criteria regarding cleanliness, comfort, and service. This means that when I book a hotel room in Cartagena, I know exactly what to expect. Airbnb listings, on the other hand, can vary greatly in quality, making it harder to predict the level of comfort and service I’ll receive.
Full-Service Amenities and Professional Staff
Hotels in Cartagena often provide a range of amenities that are typically not available with Airbnb. From daily housekeeping to room service, concierge facilities, and frequently on-site restaurants, pools, and sometimes even spas, hotels offer a level of comfort and convenience that is hard to match. The professionalism of hotel staff also tends to be higher, offering peace of mind knowing there’s a team dedicated to making my stay as enjoyable as possible.
Prime Locations and Accessibility
Hotels in Cartagena are often conveniently located near the city’s main attractions, such as the Walled City, Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, or popular beaches. This makes exploring the city easier and more convenient. While some Airbnb properties may also be centrally located, others could be situated in residential areas, which might not be as conveniently accessible to major sights or amenities.
When it comes to safety, I feel more secure staying in a hotel in Cartagena. Hotels usually have robust security measures in place, like 24-hour front desk service, security personnel, and surveillance systems. They also typically offer safes for valuables in the rooms. While many Airbnb hosts are conscientious about safety, the security measures can vary significantly from one property to another.
Ease of Booking and Customer Service
Lastly, the ease of booking a hotel room and the customer service provided by hotels is another reason I prefer them over Airbnb in Cartagena. Hotels have streamlined booking processes and dedicated customer service teams to handle any issues or concerns, which can be particularly helpful if I don’t speak the local language fluently. With Airbnb, communication and problem resolution are often directly with the hosts, which can sometimes lead to complications or delays.
Luxury Hotels In Cartagena
1. Hilton Hotel Cartagena Colombia
When it comes to hotels in Cartagena one of the first places I think about is the Hilton Hotel In Cartagena. Located in Laguito it’s about a 15-minute taxi ride to the old city. You aren’t too far from the beaches and you get the luxury of feeling like you are on vacation. Let’s talk about what you get when staying at the Hilton.
Luxurious Accommodations and Amenities
The Hilton Hotel in Cartagena, Colombia, offers luxurious accommodations that make it a top choice for visitors to the city. The rooms and suites are elegantly decorated and equipped with all the modern amenities you’d expect from a high-end hotel, including comfortable beds, air conditioning, and flat-screen TVs. Many rooms also offer breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea or the ancient walled city, enhancing the overall experience of your stay.
Located on the El Laguito Peninsula, the Hilton Cartagena enjoys a prime location that combines tranquility with convenience. It’s right on the beach, offering guests easy access to sun, sand, and sea. At the same time, it’s just a short drive from the historic center of Cartagena, where you can explore the city’s rich history and vibrant culture. This makes the Hilton Cartagena an ideal base for both relaxation and sightseeing.
Exceptional Dining Options
The Hilton Cartagena boasts several on-site dining options, providing a range of culinary experiences without leaving the hotel. Whether you’re in the mood for local Colombian cuisine, international dishes, or just a cocktail by the pool, the hotel’s restaurants and bars have you covered. The quality of food and service is consistently high, adding to the overall enjoyment of your stay.
Another reason to choose the Hilton Cartagena is its outstanding recreational facilities. The hotel features a large outdoor pool, a fitness center, tennis courts, and a playground for kids. There’s also a full-service spa where you can pamper yourself with a variety of treatments. These facilities ensure that there’s always something to do at the hotel, whether you want to stay active or simply relax.
Finally, what sets the Hilton Cartagena apart is its exemplary service. The hotel staff are professional, friendly, and always ready to assist with any requests or concerns. From the moment you check in until the time you leave, you can expect to be treated with the utmost care and attention. This commitment to customer satisfaction is what truly makes the Hilton Cartagena a great place to stay.
2. Estelar Cartagena de Indias Hotel
One of the first things I will mention is that this hotel is in the same building as the tallest bar in Colombia, Skybar 51. From the rooftop, you can see 360 views from the top. You can find more about it in this Cartagena nightlife post.
Luxurious Accommodations and Amenities
The Estelar Cartagena de Indias Hotel is a luxurious accommodation choice in Cartagena. The hotel boasts 338 rooms, each elegantly decorated and equipped with modern amenities for the comfort of its guests. Many of these rooms offer breathtaking ocean views, adding to the overall experience of your stay. The hotel also features an endless pool, children’s pool, Jacuzzi, spa, steam bath, sauna, and a beauty salon, providing a range of options for relaxation and recreation.
Located in the exclusive Bocagrande sector, the Estelar Cartagena de Indias Hotel is ideally situated across from the beach, offering guests easy access to sun, sand, and sea. It’s also within a short distance of the city’s historic center, making it a convenient base for sightseeing and exploring Cartagena’s rich history and vibrant culture. The hotel’s location is also ideal for congresses and conventions.
Exceptional Dining and Event Facilities
The Estelar Cartagena de Indias Hotel offers a lobby bar and a buffet breakfast, providing a variety of culinary experiences without leaving the hotel. Whether you’re in the mood for local Colombian cuisine or international dishes, the hotel’s dining options cater to all tastes. Additionally, the hotel houses the Estelar Room on the sixth floor, a grand salon with capacity for over 1,000 guests in an auditorium set-up, making it an excellent choice for large events and conventions.
Convenience and Comfort
The convenience and comfort offered by the Estelar Cartagena de Indias Hotel extend beyond its rooms and facilities. The hotel features a business center and a concierge service, catering to the needs of both leisure and business travelers. Check-in and check-out processes are quick and efficient, and the doormen are friendly and helpful, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable stay for all guests.
The Estelar Cartagena de Indias Hotel provides a range of complimentary services to enhance the guest experience. These include free WiFi in all areas, allowing guests to stay connected throughout their stay. Additionally, the hotel offers free private parking, adding to the convenience for guests who choose to drive or rent a car during their visit to Cartagena.
In Conclusion: Where To Stay In Cartagena Colombia
Whether you’re looking for the luxury of a high-end hotel, the affordability of a budget-friendly hostel, or something in between, Cartagena has an array of accommodations to suit every traveler. By choosing a neighborhood that aligns with your interests and a place to stay that fits your budget, you’re sure to have an unforgettable trip to this Colombian gem. Find out about Cartagena Nightlife and How much it costs to visit Cartagena.