The second stop on our virtual travel series is Cartagena in Colombia! We did have a trip here planned for April 2020 but had to cancel and hope to do this trip again in the future. Find out why we chose Cartagena and what we were looking forward to here.
Based on the itinerary we had put together, we would spend a few days in Bogota, Colombia’s capital in the interior before making our by a quick 45 minute flight to Cartagena, a port city on the Caribbean coast to enjoy warmer weather and being by the sea. We tend to always go to a smaller city or relaxed destination after spending times in big cities to unwind and relax a little and so we felt Cartagena offered that based on our research.
Having visited Panama and enjoying Casco Viejo (old city) and Galle Fort in Sri Lanka, we perceived Cartagena to be similar but with more things to see and do for a 2 day stay. There really isn’t a major landmark or attraction in Cartagena as much as it is about enjoying the city itself, both within the walled city and beyond. As cruise ships do dock here, there is an element of tourism that we are not big fans of but as we experienced in Cozumel, it is only on certain days and during certain times.
We are also interested in other beach destinations further away and thought visiting Cartagena and some of the surrounding beaches a boat ride away would give us a better idea of what to expect and help us decide if we want to venture off the more beaten path in the future.
Where to Stay:
Hotels in Cartagena are located in two areas; within the walled city or in an area known as Castillogrande. Within the walled city, it is mostly small boutique hotels and in and around Castillogrande it is mostly larger hotel chains like the Hilton, InterContinental, Hyatt, etc.
We narrowed down our hotel options to two: Ermita, a new Tribute Portfolio Hotel part of Marriott Bonvoy located a 1.5 km walk to the walled city in an area known as Lago Cabrero and Hotel Casona Del Colegio, a luxury boutique hotel in the walled city. We ended up choosing Hotel Casona Del Colegio because of its location, its way nicer, some of the rooms have balconies and breakfast was included in our rate.
What to Do:
We had planned to walk around the walled city and venture out in Getsemani, just outside the walled city to eat, drink, shop, and just admire the scenery.
On our list of places to eat, we were looking forward to eating at La Cevicheria because we love ceviche and following in Anthony Bourdain’s footsteps (he ate here).
Here are a few other places we have on our Google Map to eat and drink at:
- Moshi for Japanese food with Caribbean influence.
- El Boliche for more ceviche, craft beer and tapas.
- Pacha Piadineria for Italian piadinas sandwiches (flatbread), craft beer, wine, and coffee.
- Santa Isabel Food Trucks for sunset drinks and snacks.
- La Paletteria for paletas, as recommended by both Bingo Abroad and Ware on the Globe.
- Mangata de tierra y agua as recommended by Bingo Abroad for seafood.
Sunsets are a popular attraction in Cartagena and there are many options; from rooftop bars at hotels to the beach them. From our research, Hotel Movich’s rooftop bar is a popular choice.
Find the best spots in Cartagena to take photos to show friends and family that Cartagena is safe! A family member visited Cartagena in the 1990s and got into trouble with the locals most likely to bad behavior as a tourist, which resulted in numerous phone calls back to Canada for help and a perception that Colombia is unsafe ( think “Vacation Horror Story in Mexico style“). You can find many posts that list the best spots to take photos in Cartagena to capture your memories and the beauty of the city.
Despite being on the Caribbean, there aren’t really any beaches in Cartagena. Those who want to visit the beach can book a tour and spend a half-day or full day at one of the beaches located within about a 1 hour boat ride. This might be something to do if you are staying in Cartagena longer than 2 days but we’ve read mixed reviews about it.
As you can see, we have enough things planned to spend 2 days in Cartagena. Our bags are packed and we are ready to go visit…as soon as we can. We will leave someday!
Have you been to Cartagena? If so, did you enjoy it? What else should we add to our list of things to see and do?
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