18 Best Day Trips from Cartagena, Colombia: How To Choose?

Yearning for the best day trips from Cartagena that will transport you beyond the city’s boundaries, unveiling hidden treasures and unique experiences? Wondering if you can do more than dull beach days?

As a seasoned Colombia expert since 2015, I have curated and tested a collection of unforgettable experiences, from cultural immersions in charming fishing villages to nature escapes in mesmerizing landscapes and from island hopping adventures to indulgent beach resorts. 

Get ready to embark on a journey like no other as I unveil the hidden gems and thrilling excursions that await. 

Let me guide you to the best day trips from Cartagena, and prepare to create stories that will make your friends jealous.

Can’t miss: Our list of the best things to do in Cartagena.


Who are we 👋

Since 2015, Adrien, Alejandra, and I (Tom) have been helping travelers explore Colombia. Here, you will find everything you need to fall in love with this beautiful country easily.

My favorite Cartagena day trips: Takeaway + Map

Day TripDescription
🐟 La BoquillaFishing village & mangroves
👦🏿 Afro-Colombian HeritageCultural exploration in Palenque
🐒 Hiking & WildlifeMontes de María nature adventure
🍃 Botanical GardenFlora & fauna discovery
🦜 Aviario: Birdwatcher’s ParadiseNational Aviary in Isla Barú
🚤 Get your own boatIsland hopping by private boat
⛴️ Catamaran AdventureFavorite Rosario Island group tour
🏖️ Playa BlancaRenowned (and too crowded)  beach paradise
⛱️ Beach ResortsDay passes on private beaches
🏖️ Tierra Bomba IslandParty & history on the island
🌋 El Totumo VolcanoRejuvenating mud bath experience
🩸 Galerazamba: Pink SeaBreathtaking pink sea discovery
🏕️ Tayrona ParkTrekking & beach bliss
🌃 Medellin TransformationCultural tours in Medellin
🏖️ Isla GrandeSerene island escape
MompoxStep back in time in Mompox
👯‍♂ Barranquilla Festive celebration in Barranquilla Carnival
🏝️ San Bernardo IslandsSecluded island getaway

Best Day Trips from Cartagena: Cultural Experiences 

Cartagena, one of Latin America’s most ancient cities, is a treasure trove of history and culture dating back centuries. 

#18: Immerse Yourself in the Local Life of La Boquilla

La Boquilla is a hidden gem, offering a refreshing break from Cartagena’s busy, often flamboyant streets. This small fishing village doesn’t boast the city’s opulence, but it does offer tranquility and an opportunity to experience a simpler way of life. Plus, for adventure seekers, there’s kitesurfing!

My favorite agency for this Cartagena day trip

Book with locals
Cartagena's culture and history with Cathy
5.0

Since 2015, Tomplanmytrip (us) looks for the best local agencies in Colombia and put you in direct contact with them.

Pros:
  • Tours with excellent local and bilingual guides.
  • Cultural and social experiences.
See her profile
Book with local agencies we trust.

I can’t recommend Cathy, a friendly French native and my local partner in La Boquilla, enough. Her tours stand out for their flexibility, offering a range of unique experiences, such as:

  • Cooking a freshly caught seafood meal, with the option to be part of the process.
  • Participating in a music workshop with local musicians.
  • Joining local fishermen on mini-tours, where they will teach you their fishing techniques and the intricacies of the local mangrove-based ecosystem.

Tours can range from three to seven hours, depending on your chosen activities. Regardless, a bilingual guide will accompany you throughout your time to ensure a smooth, enjoyable experience.

DIY or Guided Tour?

Getting to La Boquilla is straightforward; it’s a 20-minute drive, easily reached by taxi or Uber. However, going solo may leave you at a loss for what to do, and the local beach, while peaceful, is not particularly remarkable. Booking directly with the local agency on-site is another option to consider.

Practical Tips and Information

  • Expect to get wet on this trip; dress accordingly and consider bringing a dry bag with a spare set of clothes.
  • Arrive early to maximize your experience. Early mornings offer more active birdlife and a cooler climate.
  • Don’t forget your sunscreen and sun hat to protect yourself from the tropical sun.

#17: Uncovering Afro-Colombian Heritage in San Basilio de Palenque

Embark on a journey just 90 minutes from Cartagena, and you’ll find yourself in a world brimming with UNESCO-listed cultural heritage. San Basilio de Palenque, the oldest of the Afro-Colombian communities, was originally a “palenque” (fortified place), providing refuge to escaped slaves from Cartagena, possibly the first settlement of its kind in history. 

Here, you’ll immerse in a vibrant culture, a fusion of Colombian and African influences. 

The locals converse in a unique language, “Sutu,” and the town pulsates with a rich musical heritage, having given birth to renowned Colombian singers. It’s also a breeding ground for world-class boxers

Intriguingly, the women of the community, known as “Palenqueras,” are often sighted in the streets of Cartagena, vending fruits and traditional sweet snacks.

If you plan your visit in October, you’ll be in time for the “Festival de Tambores,” a celebration of music and culture you won’t want to miss.

My favorite agency for this Cartagena day trip

Book with locals
Cartagena's culture and history with Cathy
5.0

Since 2015, Tomplanmytrip (us) looks for the best local agencies in Colombia and put you in direct contact with them.

Pros:
  • Tours with excellent local and bilingual guides.
  • Cultural and social experiences.
See her profile
Book with local agencies we trust.

Once again, Cathy’s agency gets my nod for this Cartagena day trip. 

With an itinerary lasting 6-7 hours, the tour offers an intimate glimpse into the local culture and customs, facilitated by guides native to the community. 

You’ll learn about their music and dances and interact with the locals. The package includes a delicious meal and, of course, a souvenir shopping stop.

DIY or Guided Tour?

While it’s possible to visit San Basilio de Palenque independently, opt for a guided tour for a hassle-free experience. 

The bus journey can be tedious, with stops en route, and you’ll need to reach the Cartagena transport terminal, which is located on the city’s eastern edge. 

Furthermore, finding an English-speaking guide in San Basilio de Palenque will be challenging.

Practical Tips and Information

  • The climate in San Basilio de Palenque is even hotter than in Cartagena, and you’ll be exploring the town mid-day. Arm yourself with sun protection and stay hydrated.

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Best Day Trips from Cartagena: Nature Escapes 

While Cartagena’s vibrant urban life is a draw for many, the city’s proximity to spectacular natural landscapes truly sets it apart. So, if you find yourself yearning for a breath of fresh air, fret not, as the great outdoors is just a stone’s throw away. 

#16: Hiking and Wildlife Spotting

Let’s start with the two locations that should be on every nature enthusiast’s radar – the Montes de María and the Canal del Dique. These areas offer unparalleled hiking opportunities, each with its distinct charm and array of wildlife. 

While Montes de María is a picturesque mountain range famous for its tropical dry forest ecosystem and monkey spotting, Canal del Dique is a waterway brimming with birdlife, making it a paradise for birdwatchers

My Go-to Agency for this Cartagena Day Trip

Book with locals
Nature excursions around Cartagena with Olinto
5.0

Since 2015, Tomplanmytrip (us) looks for the best local agencies in Colombia and put you in direct contact with them.

Pros:
  • A mix of animal watching & culture.
  • Olinto is the friendliest guide ever.
See his profile Our Review
Book with local agencies we trust.

At this point, allow me to introduce you to Olinto, a local guide who is passionate about these regions and has extensive knowledge of the local flora and fauna. 

What sets Olinto apart is his ability to weave cultural experiences into his hiking tours

For instance, my last hike with him ended with a jam session with a local band in San Jacinto! 

A typical tour with Olinto lasts between eight to ten hours.

DIY or Guided Tour?

While the adventurous among you might be tempted to explore these trails independently, I advise against it. The terrain is vast and confusing, and getting lost could have serious consequences. 

Practical Tips and Information

  • Footwear is crucial on any hike. Ensure you’re wearing shoes suitable for the terrain you’ll be traversing.

#15: Cartagena Botanical Garden: Colombia’s Flora

Cartagena Botanical Garden (2)
Credit: jardinbotanicocartagena

Are you craving a slice of tranquility amidst your Cartagena adventure but nothing too strenuous? 

Consider a day trip to the Botanical Garden, a serene escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. 

Located merely an hour from Cartagena’s vibrant heart, this lush haven offers you a chance to marvel at the astonishing diversity of Colombia’s flora and fauna. 

A simple yet fulfilling excursion, the Botanical Garden tour doesn’t require more than 1 or 2 hours lingering among lush greenery. You can effortlessly navigate the area without needing a tour guide, making it an ideal self-guided exploration.

However, keep in mind this place is all about appreciating nature’s beauty. 

Aside from a modest cafeteria, there’s no other facility, such as a restaurant. Still, you can pack your meals and enjoy them in the designated picnic area. 

Venturing Solo?

While making this trip on your own is feasible, be prepared for a bit of a challenge. 

You can easily reach the Garden via taxi or Uber. However, returning could pose a bit of a hurdle due to its secluded location. 

Practical tips and information

  • Upon arrival, speak with the guard at the entrance to arrange your return transportation to Cartagena. It’s advisable to do this upfront to avoid any delay upon departure.
  • Remember, the Botanical Gardens remain closed on Mondays.

#14: Aviario – A Birdwatcher’s Paradise

Aviario Cartagena flamingos (1)

Colombia is a treasure trove for bird enthusiasts, and the National Aviary of Colombia stands as a jewel in its crown. 

With 22 diverse exhibits housing 170 unique species, you’ll be left breathless by the sheer variety of feathered friends you’ll encounter. 

Who knows, you might even spot a species or two that you’d never heard of! 

Make sure to carve out a solid three-hour window for this expedition – the Aviary’s expansive grounds demand ample exploration time.

My Go-to Agency for this Cartagena Day Trip

Book with locals
Cartagena's culture and history with Cathy
5.0

Since 2015, Tomplanmytrip (us) looks for the best local agencies in Colombia and put you in direct contact with them.

Pros:
  • Tours with excellent local and bilingual guides.
  • Cultural and social experiences.
See her profile
Book with local agencies we trust.

Once again, we find ourselves championing Cathy’s agency for this Cartagena day trip. 

The perks? 

She offers pick-up services from central Cartagena, ensuring you a hassle-free ride with a private driver and a bilingual guide. Their tour includes a delectable beachside lunch at the quaint Playa Tortuga

Now, that’s a deal you can’t refuse!

DIY or Guided Tour?

While it’s possible to navigate the Aviary on your own, getting back to town from the Aviary can be a bit tricky. 

In fact, it’s an even steeper challenge than returning from the Botanical Gardens. 

Most visitors opt for a tour or use their private vehicle.

Practical Tips & Information

  • The Aviary hosts bird shows twice a day, typically at 11:00 am and 3:30 pm. However, these timings can fluctuate, so it’s best to call ahead and confirm.
  • Some parts of the park can be a mosquito haven. Remember to pack your insect repellent and use it liberally!

Best Day Trips from Cartagena: Exotic Island Escape 

Of course, Cartagena’s charm continues beyond the city’s shoreline. Let me guide you through my favorite island-hopping adventures and how to best enjoy them:

#13: Charter a Private Boat for an Unforgettable Voyage

Just a stone’s throw from Cartagena’s coast (1 hour) is the dazzle of the Rosario Islands. This island cluster is a paradise, and the best way to enjoy it is to rent a private boat in Cartagena.

A typical Rosario Islands itinerary could look like this: 

  • Start with a dip on Isla Grande, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. 
  • Choose a beach club to enjoy lunch, or bring your picnic. 
  • A quick stop at the party-infused Isla Cholón.
  • Conclude at the pristine Playa Blanca.

My Recommended Agency for This Cartagena Day Trip

Book with locals
Easily Find The Best Private Boats With Aymeric
4.9

Over 100 of our readers book their boats in Cartagena with Aymeric monthly. He works only with the best local captains, knows the best spots, and will quickly answer any questions you may have.

Pros:
  • A reliable, organized local agency.
  • Pay local prices at no extra cost.
Learn about him Chat with him
Easy, quick and risk-free (Talk first. Book later)

Regarding private boat trips from Cartagena, my go-to is our local partner, Aymeric

His meticulous selection of the best captains and boats ensures a top-notch experience. 

With over 40 of the region’s best boat captains in his network and an impeccable safety record, Aymeric is your man. 

He’s an expert at tailoring itineraries to your preferences, ensuring your boat ride is nothing short of perfect—Bear in mind, though, that there are always aleas on the Caribbean coast. Be understanding if there are changes.

Can You Do It on Your Own?

Unless you’re personally acquainted with a boat owner, this is a solid no. 

Practical Tips and Information

  • Avoid weekends, especially long ones (Colombia has plenty), peak seasons (Holy Week and mid-December to mid-January)
  • Choppy seas from December to April—you’ll have to return to Cartagena a bit earlier than usual (around 3pm).
  • Be prepared for potential delays – boat trips aren’t an exact science. Prioritize safety over schedule.
  • Check if port fees are included in the trip cost.

#12: The Rosario Islands Adventure: Come Aboard a Majestic Catamaran

For those who can’t splash out on a private Caribbean sea journey or are traveling solo or in a duo, there is another solution.

You’ll find many boat tours leaving daily from Cartagena. However, many of them aren’t worth it.

My Go-to Agency for this Cartagena Day Trip

Best Group Tour
Catamaran tour Islas del Rosario
4.5
Pros:
  • Large and beautiful catamaran
  • Lots of perks
See on GetYourGuide See On Viator
I tried it. I loved it.

When it comes to a Catamaran Day trip to the Rosario Islands, one agency stands out from the rest. 

This isn’t just another recommendation; it’s the only recommendation I can confidently make for this type of trip. 

The rest, as per my evaluation, are plagued with issues, the most important being safety. And here, we’re talking about your safety!

While you’ll stumble upon other cheaper options, they often culminate in disappointment. Picture this: being crammed into little boats of dubious safety. Far from the idyllic escape, you’ve been dreaming of!

So, if you’re considering this full-day trip, my advice is clear – book this one

Can You Do It on Your Own?

The answer is a resounding no. 

Practical Tips and Useful Information

  • If you’ve decided to heed my advice, don’t miss out on the delicious cocktails on the journey. 
  • However, remember to pack a debit or credit card, as cash payments aren’t accepted onboard. 
  • Catamarans are susceptible to weather conditions. Hence, this day trip from Cartagena may face delays or even cancellations if the sea conditions are perilous.

#11: Playa Blanca: Ruined Paradise at Colombia’s Most Renowned Beach

Group Tour
Playa Blanca + Beach Club
4.0
Pros:
  • Very friendly guides
  • The beach club is a little less crowded than the rest of Playa Blanca
Cons:
  • Transportation is not comfortable
See on Viator

Among the countless gems Colombia boasts, Playa Blanca was the brightest. Nestled on the coast of Isla Barú, this beach offers a slice of paradise with its pristine white sand and crystal-clear waters. But, like every paradise, it has its share of challenges.

Playa Blanca is the darling of Colombia’s coastline, which makes it a victim of its popularity

The constant hum of people, the buzzing jet skis, and the boats that carelessly disturb the tranquility of the shore can be overwhelming. The beach touts, notorious for their relentless persistence and questionable practices, are another downside.

I might have discovered the perfect antidote to these obstacles (although not perfect)—the Playa Blanca Beach Club. 

The Playa Blanca Beach Club Advantage

The beach club offers an oasis of serenity amidst the bustle. Paying for their services ensures a degree of privacy, courtesy of their members-only beach area. 

This keeps the touts at bay and offers respite from the throngs of beach-goers. 

Plus, you can access comfy sunbeds and their private restaurant, enhancing your beach experience.

DIY at Playa Blanca: Is it Possible?

Absolutely. If you prefer a solo adventure, Playa Blanca is an easy day trip from Cartagena. 

You can take a 50-min cab, followed by a 20-minute scenic walk to the beach. Alternatively, you can catch a boat from El Muelle La Bodeguita.

However, if your Spanish isn’t strong, going alone might invite unwanted attention from beach scammers. Also, negotiating transport prices without a good command of Spanish could lead to overpricing.

Practical Tips for a Perfect Playa Blanca Experience

  • Avoid peak season and weekends: Mid-December to mid-January, when the crowd size rivals a music festival’s.
  • Opt for an overnight stay: Experience the beach at its finest during sunrise and sunset.

#10: Indulging in Day Passes at Beach Resorts

Beyond the mesmerizing Playa Blanca, Colombia’s Rosario Islands offer other paradise-like places. 

Indeed, the most rewarding way to appreciate these picturesque seashores is by securing a day pass at one of the many resorts dotting the islands. 

The beauty of this arrangement lies in the hassle-free experience. The resorts take care of every detail, particularly the often-stressful transportation. 

Many of these islands are dominated by resorts, leaving limited space for public beaches. Consequently, the most glorious white sand beaches are often only accessible if you’re a resort guest. 

However, it’s worth noting that not all resorts are equal. Some offer more organization and superior experiences than others. 

My Top Pick for a Day Pass

Hotel Islabela Cartagena
Credit: Islabela

If I had to select a favorite resort for a day pass in the Rosario Islands, it would undoubtedly be Islabela. This resort rises above the crowd with its exceptional organization and the comprehensive package it offers. 

With your day pass, you receive a complimentary welcome cocktail that sets the mood for the day. Round-trip transportation and a delectable lunch are also included. Additionally, you’re welcome to use the resort’s kayaks free of charge and even partake in complimentary yoga classes. Alternatively, you can simply unwind with a chilled beer in hand. 

For those seeking a little more adventure, snorkeling activities are available at an additional cost, as are soothing massages for those looking to relax truly.

Can You Do It on Your Own?

The short answer is no. Arranging a day pass requires liaising directly with the resorts. 

Practical Tips and Information

  • For a truly tranquil experience, avoid weekends and peak seasons. The serenity during a weekday in the low season can be pretty magical. 
  • Remember that you’re committed for the day once you’ve arrived at the resort. Ensure the resort offers all the desired amenities and activities before hopping onto that boat.
  • Boats leave from El Muelle, and the organization can sometimes be a bit chaotic.

#9: Party in Tierra Bomba: An Island Getaway Just Off Cartagena’s Coast

Tierra Bomba Island, a stone’s throw from the bustling coast of Cartagena, is a quick 15 to 20-minute boat ride

You won’t find pristine white sand beaches or crystal clear waters like the rest of the island chain. Yet, Tierra Bomba has its unique charm and reasons that make it a worthwhile pitstop. 

Tierra Bomba houses an impressive fort, a treasure trove filled with tales of the island’s past. Its name, ‘Tierra Bomba,’ is steeped in history, a nod to the island’s role as the battleground for some of the world’s most renowned naval battles. During the colonial era, the Spanish fiercely defended this strategic outpost from the British and the French. 

Adventurous divers might not discover awe-inspiring coral reefs off the coast of Tierra Bomba. However, the waters conceal shipwrecks from these epic battles, offering a thrilling dive if the waters aren’t too murky.

My Top Pick: Blue Apple Beach House

Blue Apple Beach
Credit: Blue Apple

Blue Apple Beach House is my pick of the lot in Tierra Bomba. It’s a vibrant beach club pulsating with energy, where talented DJs spin an eclectic mix of tunes. 

They serve delicious food and refreshing cocktails, offering an extensive menu that caters to all tastes.

What’s more, if you’re stopping by on a private boat, there’s no need to purchase a day pass to use the restaurant facilities. It’s a flexible and convenient option for those sailing by.

Can You Do It on Your Own?

You indeed can venture to Tierra Bomba on your own, with a couple of points to bear in mind. 

You’ll need to navigate to the beach in Bocagrande, where you’ll catch a boat to the island’s public coast. While not the island’s highlight, it’s a starting point. 

Once on the island, your feet are your sole mode of transportation. It limits how far you can explore, and access to beach clubs might not be guaranteed. 

Practical Tips and Information

  • Consider spending a night or more at the Blue Apple Beach House. 
  • A private boat charter opens up access to lesser-known parts of the island.

Boring day trips from Cartagena

While these last two tours may not be my personal recommendations, I have included them to ensure a comprehensive list. Everyone’s preferences differ, and you may find these options appealing.

#8: The Intriguing El Totumo Volcano: A Dip in the Mud, Anyone?

While the El Totumo Volcano may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it holds a certain allure for those seeking unique experiences. This peculiar attraction, resembling an inverted cone more than a traditional volcano, is about an hour’s journey from Cartagena. 

Once there, you’ll descend a ladder into the volcano’s crater, now a mud pit said to be rich in beneficial minerals for your skin and hair. After your mud bath, the real challenge begins – climbing back up the slippery ladder!

Who can organize this Cartagena day trip?

Private Tour
Private Tour to the Mud Volcano
5.0
Pros:
  • You arrive at the volcano when there are zero or few tourists
  • Friendly & informative guides
Cons:
  • The Galerazamba salt flats is not always pink. However, it's worth it.
See on Viator

This only reliable company, to my knowledge, offers this tour. Prepare to shell out around 200,000 COP per person for this adventure. But tips are expected for the drivers, the mud helpers, and the person who rinses you off.

Can You Do This Cartagena Day Trip On Your Own?

Unless you’ve got a private vehicle or are willing to hire a pricey driver, going solo to El Totumo is not recommended.

Practical Tips and Information

  • Aim for an early morning trip to avoid crowds.
  • Pack swimwear you’re ready to part with; it’s bound to get dirty.

#7: The Picture-Perfect Pink Sea of Galerazamba

Tour to Totumo Volcano - Cartagena (7)
Credit: Private tour to the mud volcano

The Pink Sea of Galerazamba is a sight to behold, but only if you catch it at the right time. The sea owes its signature color to the high salt content and a unique algae that thrives in this salty environment. It’s a beautiful spot for photography enthusiasts, but keep in mind that this is the primary activity here.

Who can organize this Cartagena day trip?

The same agency that organizes the mud volcano trip also offers a tour of the Pink Sea. 

Can You Do It On Your Own?

Reaching Galerazamba independently can be quite expensive without a personal vehicle.

Practical Tips and Information

  • If it’s predicted to rain, skip it. The rain dissolves the sea’s color.
  • The best months to visit are December to April or August to September for the most vibrant hues.

Embarking on Multi-Day Adventures from Cartagena

While we’ve previously explored the myriad of day trips accessible from Cartagena, it’s equally exciting to delve into journeys that span a little longer. Here are a couple of must-visit destinations that will require an overnight stay.

#6: Trekking and Beach Bliss at Tayrona Park

A jewel in Colombia’s tourism crown, Tayrona National Park is a popular destination, but remember, there’s an art to experiencing it just right. 

You can navigate Tayrona independently from Cartagena via a private car, a convenient door-to-door shuttle, or local buses (with a transfer to Santa Marta). 

The journey duration can range between 5 to 7 hours, depending on your chosen mode of transport. 

The local bus, while being the most affordable, is also the slowest—try to jump on a bus to Riohacha and ask the company if they stop at Tayrona. Alternatively, you can hop on a boat from the Santa Marta dock to Cabo San Juan. 

Entry into the park incurs a nominal fee of approximately 62,000 COP. 

Inside, you’ll find three stunning beaches. Cabo San Juan, the most famous, often attracts the biggest crowds. For a quieter escape, Playa Brava is a fantastic choice, offering the same beauty but with fewer visitors. La Piscina is another beautiful option. 

Allocate 1-3 days to fully explore the park, and consider arriving at opening time (7am) to avoid the afternoon heat and crowds. 

#5: The Transformation of Medellin

Once synonymous with danger, Medellin has undergone a remarkable transformation. Today, it’s a booming tourist hub, so popular it has become a hotspot for digital nomads. 

Reaching Medellin from Cartagena is straightforward. Though buses are available, the one-hour flight is more convenient and affordable. Medellin’s main airport (MDE) is located somewhat outside the city, but a recently opened tunnel ensures easy transit. 

Medellin’s year-round pleasant weather and vibrant party scene are key attractions. Cultural tours of Comuna 13, once a notorious ghetto, now provide fascinating insights into local life and culture. 

On my trips to Medellin, I love unwinding in the central district of Laureles, working from one of the many trendy coffee shops, and speaking with the friendly locals. It’s an experience that immerses you in the city’s unique energy and charm.

#4: Isla Grande: Cartagena’s Hidden Paradise

Isla Grande, an idyllic island near Cartagena, is a hidden gem that many overlook, choosing to stop at Isla Barú instead. 

The island offers a tranquil escape from the bustling city. Choosing a private boat over a public one guarantees a more relaxed and personalized experience, but it costs much more.

Public boats depart around 8-9 am for a 90-minute journey and return to Cartagena by 5 pm due to naval regulations. My experiences visiting this island have always been filled with awe and serenity. I recommend soaking in the island’s charm for at least three days.

#3: Mompox: A Nostalgic Journey Back in Time

Stepping into the city of Mompox is akin to entering a time capsule. This unassuming colonial town on the Magdalena River is a favorite amongst Colombians who appreciate the town’s historic architecture.

To reach Mompox, you can either hire a private vehicle or take a bus from the Cartagena transport terminal. The bus fare is approximately 80-90,000 COP, and the journey usually takes six to eight hours

Mompox’s must-visit landmarks include The Wall of Mompox, the “Devil’s House,” and the Churches of Santa Barbara and San Juan de Dios. Don’t miss out on the elegant “plaza de mercado.” 

For a comprehensive understanding of Mompox’s rich history, consider opting for a guided tour.

#2: Barranquilla: The Heartbeat of Carnival

Barranquilla Carnival

Barranquilla, a sprawling city, may not be a typical tourist destination. However, it comes alive during Carnival. An easy two-hour bus ride from Cartagena, Barranquilla’s Carnival is an event you cannot miss.

Given the popularity of the Carnival, accommodation needs to be secured at least six months in advance. Like its counterparts in New Orleans and Trinidad, the Carnival ends on Ash Wednesday.

#1: San Bernardo Islands: The Undisturbed Getaway

San Bernardo islands - Isla Tintipan

If you’re up for a slightly longer boat ride from Cartagena (2 hours), the San Bernardo island chain is worth considering for a multi-day trip. 

The islands – Isla MucuraIsla Palma, and Isla Titipan, each offer unique experiences. Of these, Isla Titipan is my personal favorite due to its size and seclusion. The Hotel Sal Si Puedes on Isla Titipan provides a comfortable stay. 

Tranqiteasy is the most reliable service for a hassle-free journey to and from San Bernardo.

Navigating the Charm of Cartagena: Your Infallible Guide

Centro-Historico-Cartagena

Cartagena, the gem of the Caribbean, is a breeze to explore, and you’ll reach almost every highlight by walking.

With the airport conveniently close to the city’s tourist hotspots, you’ll savor the vibrant local life within a short 20-minute ride, even on traffic-ridden days.

However, the city’s bus terminal is situated on the eastern fringes, and you’ll need at least 40-min to reach the old town from there—and up to 1 hour in case of heavy traffic.

The city’s taxis operate without meters, so here’s a pro tip: Always negotiate the fare before you hop in. As a general rule of thumb, a fair price for a 15-minute ride hovers around 10-15,000 COP. 

Cartagena’s public transportation network is complicated to use and promises an adventure in itself. Using an app like Movit could be a handy tool to navigate this system. 

For a smoother ride to other Caribbean hotspots, consider booking a door-to-door shuttleBerlinas is a reliable choice I’d recommend.

Bottom line: Cartagena day trips

Bona Vida Catamaran Sunset in Cartagena(5)

Cartagena unveils a tapestry of captivating day trips that cater to every traveler’s desires. Whether you seek cultural immersion, nature’s embrace, island adventures, or historical wonders, this vibrant city has it all. 

Cartagena awaits, ready to fulfill your wanderlust dreams.

Wait! Before leaving, don’t forget to check out our incredible list of the best things to do in Cartagena.

INFORMATION: PLEASE NOTE THAT SOME LINKS ARE AFFILIATE S AND AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU, I EARN A SMALL COMMISSION IF YOU MAKE A BOOKING. IT’S A NICE GESTURE TO THANK US FOR THE MANY HOURS WE DEDICATE TO TOMPLANMYTRIP 🙂

I have been traveling around Colombia and Mexico since 2015 to discover new experiences and help travelers make the right choices.

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