[TRAVEL GUIDE] Visit Cartagena de Indias Colombia in 48 Hours

[TRAVEL GUIDE] Visit Cartagena de Indias Colombia in 48 Hours

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Because of Cartagena de Indias Colombia, I sometimes have the feeling the travel community is split in two.

When you tell your friends and or/family  that you plan to visit Colombia, you may have this reaction:

– “Oh my god, you are crazy. Don’t you know that Pablo is still alive and he will wait for you in your hostel with a gun! Or with a huge bag of drugs – Australian’s dream”

Or this one:

– “Oh cool, you HAVE TO visit Cartagena de Indias.”

And do you know what?

Both answers are wrong.

Yes, Colombia is safe, and No, it’s not necessary to visit Cartagena if you have other plans in mind.

 

You should travel to the walled city of Cartagena only if you plan to visit the Caribbean Coast.

 

And, you don’t need to spend too much time there.

Let me explain how you can visit Cartegena de Indias entirely in less than 48 hours, so you have plenty of time for the rest of Colombia.

 

View on Boca Grande and Old city center Cartagena
View on Boca Grande and Old city center Cartagena

 

 

 

The 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Spend Too Much Time Visiting Cartagena De Indias, Colombia

 

 

  1. It’s very very very touristy
  2. Locals are not so friendly
  3. You have to dress well if you want to go out to a club (shirt and pant)
  4. You are going to have 341 times the occasion to buy a hat
  5. It’s expensive
  6. Except for the old city center, you don’t have a lot of things to do
  7. It’s so hot!
  8. You have no sexy beach
  9. You feel less the real vibe of Colombia
  10. You never know if this cute Colombian girl is speaking to you about your wallet or your personality

 

 

Table of Contents

 

 

  1. How to get cheaply to Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
  2. Where to sleep when you visit Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
  3. Things to do in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
    1. In Cartagena and Around
    2. Isla Baru
  4. Where to eat when you visit Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
  5. Where to go out in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
  6. When to visit Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
  7. Safety in Cartagena 
  8. My ideal itinerary if you visit Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
  9. Bogota or Cartagena? Medellin or Cartagena? Help!
  10. Where to go after Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
  11. Conclusion

 

 


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I) How To Travel For Cheap To Cartagena De Indias, Colombia

 

 

 

Cartagena is a famous city, and it’s straightforward to get there. You have the choice between a boat, flight or bus. Or a flying horse. 

My recommendation is to arrive on a Saturday so you can enjoy the nightlife when you visit Cartagena de Indias in Colombia in 48 hours.

 

 

A] Coming By bus to Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

 

 

You can arrive in Cartagena from the largest cities in Colombia.

 

Tips

  • The bus terminal is outside of the city. You will pay around 20 000 COP for a taxi. If you are tall, blond and your unique Spanish word is Cerveza, fight, bargain and don’t spend 45 000 COP.
  • It’s always freezing on the bus. Take socks and a jumper – at least.
  • When you take a night bus, find a bus who arrive in the morning and not at 4 am ;). Even if the Check-In is at 2 pm, the hostel let you rest in the common area.

 

 

1 – Bus Bogota to Cartagena de Indias

 

 

You should take a night bus because it’s going to be a little long. You have five different buses companies: Transvelez, Expreso Brasilia, Transportes Rapido Ochoa, Berlinas, and Copetran.

Price: 85 000 to 100 000 COP

Time: Around 22 hours

 

Schedule: 

You can check the website of each bus company. Departure is from 7 am to 11 pm. It seems right to leave around 1 pm so you can arrive for the check-in at your hostel in Cartagena.

 

 

2 – Bus Medellin  to Cartagena de Indias

 

 

You should also take a night bus, but it’s faster than Bogota. You have three different companies: Expreso Brasilia, Transportes Rapido Ochoa, and Unitranseco

Prices: 

Around 110 000 COP for Rapido Ochoa

Around 140 000 COP for Expreso Brasilia.

Time: Around 14 hours

 

Schedule:

 You can check the website of each bus company. Departure is from 5h30 am to 10h30 pm. It seems right to leave around 6 pm to arrive early in Cartagena. 

 


3) Bus Necocli to Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

 

 

If you come from Capurgana – A great small town at the border with the Darien Gap –, you need to take a bus in Necocli. Nowadays, there are direct buses to go to Cartagena. The companies are Rapido Ochoa and Sotracor.

Price: Around 80 000 COP

Time: Around 9-10 hours

 

Schedule: 

It’s simple. Locals wait for you once you arrive by boat from Capurgana.

 

 

4) Bus Santa Marta to Cartagena de Indias

 

 

If you’re coming from Tayrona Park, Minca or Palomino, you will have to get to Santa Marta first.

 

The bus terminal in Cartagena is far away from the center. You have to pay around 20 000 COP for a taxi.

Therefore, it’s the same price if you take a private shuttle. They will pick you at your hostel and drop you where you want in Cartagena. It’s faster.

Prices and time:

  • Around 22 000 COP for a bus / 6 hours – There is a bus every hour
  • Around 48 000 COP for a private shuttle / 4 hours – Check with Marsol Company

 

Read a full explanation for the trip Santa Marta – Cartagena

 

Torre de la Reloj Cartagena
Torre de la Reloj Cartagena

 

 

B] Coming By Boat to Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

 

 

1 – Boat From the San Blas Islands

 

 

Did you hear about San Blas? They are amazing islands between Panama and Colombia on the Atlantic coast.

San Blas belongs to Panama, but they’re independent – They made a revolution in 1925. Small deserted islands, white sands, and palm tree. You can book a sailboat from Panama City to arrive in Cartagena in Colombia.

The most famous company is Bluesailing.

But, At the end of the trip, you have to spend 2 days in the open sea. If you have a seasickness, think to buy some pills before.

An excellent alternative is to book the trip with San Blas Adventures, but you will arrive in Sapzurro.

Price: Around 600$   (with entrance fee and the jeep)

Time: 5 days

 

San Blas Adventures trip on San Blas Islands
San Blas Adventures trip on San Blas Islands

@Photograph: Andre Golfin Valverde

 

 

2- Boat Casa En El Agua to Cartagena de Indias

 

 

Maybe you’ve decided to spend a few days on Isla Mucura and Casa En El Agua before.

In this case, you can buy a boat ticket to arrive at the port of Cartagena. 

Price: 100 000 COP 

Time: 2h30 – 3h00 hours

 

Learn about the Archipelago of San Bernardo

 

 

C] Flying to Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

 

 

Do you know there is a cheap airline company in Colombia? It’s Viva Air (It’s the rebrand of Viva Colombia). 

Book your flight on their website directly. 

If you wish a little more comfort, Avianca is perfect.

And because Cartagena is one of the biggest cities in Colombia, many international flights are coming from the USA. Mick flew from Chicago to visit Cartagena, and he loved it!

It could be a great first stop to discover the Caribbean Coast of Colombia 😉

 

Price:

  • 70 000 COP (I did the simulation with only one week in advance for Bogota- Cartagena)
  • 44 000 COP for extra luggage in Cabine (I have a computer and a ukulele). You are allowed one luggage of 6 kg without paying any additional fee.
  • 39 000 COP for your big bag (20 kg max).
  • 12 000 COP Taxi from the airport in Cartagena to the old city center

Time: 1 hour

Contact: Viva Air Website

 

Tips:

  • When you book on their website, Viva Air tries to add paid options. Cancel them.
  • Don’t forget to pay for your extra luggage directly on their website when you book your ticket
  • You have to print yourself your ticket before the departure

 

City wall cartagena
City wall cartagena

 

You arrive at the Bus Terminal. It’s Saturday, in the middle of the afternoon. It was a freezing experience. Indeed, Colombians are in LOVE with the Air-con, especially the bus driver.

Thus, you are shocked by the heat when they open the doors of the bus. Yes, when you visit Cartagena de Indias, it’s HOT.

You’re looking for a taxi to go to Getsemani. It’s 20 000 COP.

The bus terminal is outside of the city. As the taxi drives through that great maze, you observe the daily life by the window. People are everywhere in the street, selling fruits or following the chaotic circulation of the cars. Honking to prevent they will turn left, right or drive backward.

You realize that Cartagena in Colombia is not only made of big yellow war walls and fancy restaurants.

After 30 min, you arrive at Getsemani.

The district is only 10 min far away from the old city center, and it’s the place to be.

Every night, people organize small shows in the area in front of the Trinity’s Church. Tourists and locals seat all around, drinking beers or eating their street food from the little truck food nearby.

You’re dropped at the hostel. It’s time to discover your accommodation.

 

Back to the Table of Contents

 

 


Other Fantastic Destinations Around Cartagena


 

 

 

II) Where To Stay In Cartagena de Indias

 

 

 

First, you should choose between the Old city center and Getsemani to pick your next accommodation. Boca Grande is another option but I’m not a big fan. It’s more expensive, modern and further from the cool places.

The good news it that Getsemani and the Old city center are near to each other. You don’t have to use cabs.  

Let’s define your needs:

  • Are you traveling on a shoestring budget?  Getsemani
  • Do you want to do a party night? Getsemani
  • You prefer to enjoy a chill time with your love? Old city center
  • The safest place of Cartagena? Old city center 
  • You dream about a swimming pool on the rooftop of an expensive hotel in Cartagena? Boca Grande

 

 

Hostel El Viajero

 

Famous party hostel in the Old city center, with breakfast but no kitchen. Aircon from 6 pm to 11 am, the staff is amiable, and the rooms are clean.

Price: Around 50 000 COP for a dorm.

Address: In the old city center

Contact: Website

 

el viajero hostel Cartagena de Indias Colombia

 


 

 

One Day Hostel

 

The internet is not working so well, but the air con is always on! Chill atmosphere and helpful staff.

You have a kitchen, and the breakfast is included.

Price: Around 30 000 COP for a dorm

Address: Getsemaní 


one day hostel Cartagena Colombia

 


 

 

 

El Arsenal Hostel Boutique

 

Nice boutique hostel in Getsemani with a cool staff, a small swimming pool, kitchen and a bar to meet the others travelers.

You have the internet, aircon and breakfast included.

Price: Around 45 000 COP for a dorm.

Address: Getsemani

 

arsenal boutique hostel Cartagena Colombia

 


 

 

Mystic House Hostal

 

Located on the backpacker street in Getsemani, you have breakfast, air con and the internet included. The street will be noisy, but at the same time, it’s safer to come back during the night.

Good Kitchen and helpful staff.

Price: Around 37 000 COP for a dorm.

Address: Getsemani

 

 

 

 

Hostel Mamallena

 

The famous Mamallena has a hostel in Cartagena de Indias, and it’s terrific!

Aircon 24h, they have a bar, but you are allowed to bring your alcohol. They also have the internet and a kitchen. It’s a party hostel with very nice common areas.

Breakfast.

Price: Around 40 000 COP for a dorm.

Address: Getsemani  

Contact: Website

Mamallena hostel Cartagena de Indias Colombia

 

 

 

Now, It’s time to visit Cartagena in 48 hours!

Back to the Table of Contents

 

Fruit Palanquera Cartagena

 

 


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III) Thing To Do in Cartagena, Colombia

 

 

 

You go out of your hostel and decide first to visit the old city center. It’s only 10 min far away from your hostel. You see an old boat in the port. It’s a ship museum, the Galeon Bucanero.

Personally, I’ve never been. Anyway, you’re excited to walk on the war walls, so you don’t care about a pirate boat.

It’s a little complicated to cross the street because the red light for the walkers is: Red or Red. So you decide to run through the traffic. Congratulation, I hope you have survived.

And here we are, the yellowish wall of the old city center are in front of you. You pass the Torre del Reloj, and the sellers are already on you.

Click HERE to read the story

Sombrero! Bracelet! Chapeau! Hat! Coco juice!

Yes, they speak all the languages. The funny fact? Even if you have a hat, they will try to sell you another one.

With your new hat on your head, you can now discover the old town.

Colorful walls, nice places with arts from the artist Botero, long green plants falling from the different balconies, beautiful palenqueras with their fruit basket.

Yes it’s true, the first impression when you visit Cartagena de Indias in Colombia is:

Whaou! 

You check your watch; it’s 4 pm.

It’s time for your free walking tour!

For 2 hours you can walk through all the old city, with all the exciting stories about the creation of Cartegena. It’s a pleasant experience, and it’s free. Don’t forget to let a tip at the end 😉

You should always think to check on the internet if there is a free walking tour. Very common for the big cities in South of America, it’s a great way to discover the city and to know more about the history. Sometimes you have to pre-book on their website.

It’s 6 pm, the tour is over.

You go to Cafe Del Mar.

The temperature is enjoyable now. Instead of sitting at Cafe del Mar, you buy your beer from the small seller at the corner and watch the sunset from the top of the wall. It’s astonishing.

 

Sunset from the city wall cartagena
Sunset from the city wall Cartagena
 

A little hungry?

Let’s go. It’s the perfect timing to go to Getsemani.

As I said before, the Trinity place is perfect for the beginning of the evening. People are sitting on the stairs, watching the shows going in front of them.

You can eat the street food or try a famous cocktail and tapas bar: Demente! It’s a little expensive but tasty! 🙂

Then, the night is only yours.

You walk in the street of Getsemani, drink some beers and discover the street art in La Calle de la Sierpe. After all the tapas you ate, it’s time to do exercise and move your body on the dance floor.

Start with the Cafe Havana to dance Salsa. Are you shy? No problem, you can also observe the local moving graciously with the music. Salsa is a beautiful dance, and the locals will be pleased to teach you.

And if you still have some energy, you can decide to go the Bazurto Social Club, dance on Champeta and listen to Systema Solar or Bomba Estereo.

Sunset in Isla Baru Playa Blanca
Sunset in Isla Baru Playa Blanca

Bip Bip Bip – Snooze button – Bip Bip Bip

It’s the next morning, and you realized that you probably drunk too much aguardiente (Colombian Alcohol).

Whatever, today you’re going to Isla Baru, the most famous Cartagena island.

The hangover will disappear when your head is under the water, in the middle of the Caribbean Coast. You decide to sleep one night there so you can enjoy this beautiful white sand beach.

Let your big bag at your hostel. You don’t need all your stuff.

Tip:
Take just your day bag for Isla Baru. You can let your big bag and valuable things in a locker in your hostel. Isla Baru can be very touristic, especially during the weekend.
 
Small boat in the sea during the sunrise on Playa Blanca
View from the hostel on Isla Baru

 

You arrive at Playa Blanca (The beach in Isla Baru), and you look for accommodation for the night. It’s pretty basic, but at the same time, you are in the middle of nowhere.

Someone comes to you for the Bioluminescent Phytoplankton. The tour is after the sunset, you bargain to have the trip for 20 000 COP per person.

You have to go with his little speedboat. Don’t be afraid; everything’s is going be alright. He drives behind a sandbank to a tranquil place where the sea is like a lake. And suddenly, he tells you:

– “Ok, now you have to jump.”

– “What??”

– “You have to jump if you want to observe the  Bioluminescent Phytoplankton”

And it’s true! The action of moving in the water makes the Phytoplankton glowing. It’s nice; you decide to take off your clothes and swim naked. Don’t lose your swimming short 😉

The next morning, you go out of your cabin and watch the sunrise. There is nobody, and this fantastic blue sea is only for you.

You decide to celebrate that with a lobster for lunch before going back to Cartagena in the afternoon.

Shower and chill time at your hostel, it’s time to select your new destination.

 

Playa Blanca Isla Baru
Playa Blanca Isla Baru

 

Are you traveling on a budget?

Do you want to visit Cartagena de Indias for cheap? Let’s see what you can do.

 

 

A] What to do in Cartagena: Free walking tour / The Old City Centre  

 

 

The Old City Centre is behind the wall. It’s the most famous thing to do when you visit Cartagena de Indias.

It’s very touristic and a little expensive.

In my opinion, it is good to do it with a free walking tour to know more about the history of the place.

Price: Free – Tips

Time: 2 hours

Contact: http://freetourcartagena.com.co/us/

 

No place in life is sadder than an empty bed

 

 

B] Watch the sunset from the wall

 

 

As I explained before, you can go to Cafe Del Mar to watch the sunset. You can decide to drink a beer from the sellers on the street or take a seat at the bar.

Price: Free

 

 

C] Watch a dance show in Plaza de Bolivar

 

 

Every night for the sunset, you have a traditional dance show with live music. It’s in Plaza de Bolivar, just in front of the Palace of the Inquisition. It’s worth it.
 
 Price: Free – Tips
 

 

 

D] Museo Historico de Cartagena de Indias

 

 

A Nice building where you have an exhibition explaining the Inquisition in South of America back in time. It’s not worth it if you don’t speak Spanish.

Price: 19 000 COP

Time: 1 – 2 Hour

 

 

E] Walk in the street of Getsemani

 

 

Getsemani is the fashion district near the Old City Centre. It’s safe, and you will have more the feeling to be in Colombia. Look for the graffitis on the walls! Particularly in la Calle de la Sierpe.

Price: free

Time: 1 hour

 

Getsemani square near the old city center
Getsemani square near the old city center

 

 

F] Touch La Gorda de Botero

 

 

Botero is a Colombian artist famous for his sculptures. He likes to give free rounded and sensual forms to his status. The legend says that you need to touch the butt of the statue if you want to come back to Cartagena. Find her in the city!

 

La Gorda – Statue of the artist Botero

 

 

G] Volcan de Lodo – El Totumo – Mud Volcano

 

 

You can book a half-day trip to have your body covered with mud. A private shuttle brings you there, and locals are waiting for you to give you a massage as you are sinking in the mud for 20 minutes. Then you go to a lagoon, and they bath you. It can be rushed.

I didn’t go as it looks a bit like a “factory.”

And, Lia and Jeremy were not happy with it neither.

Price: 50 000 COP and 2000 COP for the pictures

Time: All afternoon 

 

 


Book your Activities in advance with GetYourGuide

 


 

 

H] Explore The Rosario’s Islands 

 

 

From Isla Baru or Cartagena, you can take a speedboat to explore the Rosario islands. I’m not a big fan of the day tours.

Try to spend 2 or 3 days there.

 

Read Our 5 Tips To Discover the Rosario Islands from Cartagena.

 

Back to the Table of Contents

 

 

I] Things to do in Isla Baru – Playa Blanca

 

 

There is no nice beach around Cartagena.

 

Fortunately, they have a stunning beach not so far. You can decide to go there for a day trip or sleep one night.

Most of the tourists are going on a day trip. It means there is nobody in the morning! Imagine, you can have the place for you only.

The only hic is that most of the agencies (boat and shuttle) don’t sell a one way. So you have two solutions:

  • you’re going to Isla Baru by your way
  • You can book with Mamallena hostel

 

 

 

a – Cartagena to Isla Baru by boat

 

 

You can book it from your hostel or if you go directly to the dock.

Prices:

  • 100 000 COP for the speedboat- Round trip – You can try to bargain
  • 15 000 COP – Tax for using the dock…

Time: around 1h00 – one way

 

 

b – Cartagena to Isla Baru with a private shuttle

 

 

Book with Mamallena hostel so you can come back the day you want.

Price:50 000 COP 

Time: around 1h00 – one way

 

 

c – Cartagena to Isla Baru by yourself

 

 

So it’s a little complicated, but it’s an easy way to save money if you are traveling on a budget.

Take the bus at Monumento India Catalina (Avenida Venezuela y Playa Pedregosa #34, before the bridge to go to Pasacaballos then a moto taxi (10 000 COP) or Private car (27 000 COP).

Prices:

  • Bus: 2200 COP 
  • Moto taxi: 10 000 COP
  • Time: around 2h00 – one way

 

Tip:

It’s possible to pay 20 000 COP a shuttle on the way back if they are not full. You have to be at the parking at 3 pm and ask the driver if there is some space for you.

 

 

J] Activities in Isla Baru

 

 

Isla Baru is famous for its beach, Playa Blanca. White sand and blue water, it can be jam-packed during the weekend. Spend your time chilling on the beach, reading and watching the sunset.

 

 

a – Bioluminescent Phytoplankton

 

 

It’s also the occasion to observe the bioluminescent phytoplankton at night. Look for locals with a speedboat to go after the sunset. It’s a great experience

Price: 20 000 COP

Time: 2 hours 

 

 

b – Eat a lobster

 

 

Isla Baru is not the cheapest place where you can eat a lobster. But it’s still affordable, and the view is excellent. You have your feet half buried in the sand, a small white plastic table and the sounds of the wave. Not so bad, right?

Price: Around 40 000 COP for an average size

 

 

c – Rosario’s Islands: Day trip

 

 

Don’t go! People are telling you that you are going to snorkel and see a beautiful reef. Unfortunately, it’s a dead reef. And, you have to pay more to do the snorkeling.

You can see some nice fishes because they feed them. The only problem is you have to stay in a group, surrounded by 50 people. Otherwise, you stay on the boat. The price they give you in Isla Baru is only the price for the transport!

Prices:

  • 30 000 COP for the transport
  • 30 000 COP for the snorkeling

Time: 3 hours but only 45 min of snorkeling

 

 

 

K – Where to stay in Isla Baru

 

 

I think the price is more or less the same. We went to Hugo’s place. A Basic small cabin with a view of the sea. You will hardly have access to fresh water to take a shower in Isla Baru.  I heard that La Espana was cool too.

Prices:

  • 20 000COP  for a Hammock
  • 100 000 – 120 000 COP for a cabin. 3 people max

Contact:

  • Tel: 310 716 1021

Back to the Table of Contents

 

 


Other Fantastic Destinations Around Cartagena


 

 

 

IV) Where To Eat When Visiting Cartagena, Colombia

 

 

 

There are many fantastic restaurants in Cartagena de Indias. It won’t be easy to make your choices among gorgeous ceviches, romantic secret patios, and trendy tapas bars. 

 

Quick tips

  • The restaurants in the old city are more expensive and luxury
  • If you’re on a tight budget, you should look for a restaurant in Getsemani. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for the Menu del Dia – Menu of the day
  • Read a delicious list of the best restaurants in Cartagena

 

 

 

A] Around the Plaza de la Santisima Trinidad (Getsemani)

 

 

You have a lot of excellent restaurants on the way to Trinidad’s place. And there is street food at night time.

Prices:

Menu del Dia: Around 12000 COP

Street food: Around 10 000 COP

 

 

B] Demente (Getsemani)

 

 

Directly on the Plaza de la Trinidad, it’s a great tapas bar. Cool staff with great music and delicious food.

It’s a good start for a crazy Saturday night.

Price: Around 15 000 to 20 000 COP for a plate of Tapas.

Address: On the place Santisima Trinidad

 

 

C] La Cocina de Pepina (Getsemani)

 

 

Do you want to try the local food of Cartagena de Indias like the Posta Negra de cartagenera?

You should go to La Cocina de Pepina :).

It’s a small mum and pop restaurant, tasty but you will maybe wait to have a table!

Here, you will eat like at home, a big and delicious plate. However, It’s a little more expensive than the average restaurant in Getsemani.

Price: Around 35 000 for the main dish

Address: Callejon Vargas Entre Arsenal y Calle Larga Getsemani, Calle 25#9a-06 Local 2 Casa Amarilla, Cartagena Colombia

 

 

D] La Cevicheria (Old City)

 

 

Be careful; this place is just astounding. It’s personally one of the best ceviches I ate during my trip.

Courteous service and fresh fish, it’s possible that you wait because of its success. You have to stand in line as you were in school. So give a hand to your lover and wait patiently, you will be amazed ;).

They open at 12h30 so your best chance to avoid the line is to arrive at 12h00 and take a table outside!

Price: Around 35 000 COP for a ceviche 1 person

Address: La Cevichería, Cl. 39 #7 14, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia

 

 

 

E] I would like a ceviche, but I don’t want to pay a lot

 

 

Hey, no worries. It’also possible to eat a cheap ceviche.

Instead of passing through the clock tower gate, go on the right. Behind, you have a lot of Ceviche stands.

Choose the one you want, and they have the same price. They use this secret sauce from the coast, a mix of Mayonaise and Ketchup… It’s special, but it’s worth a try.

Price: Around 12 000 COP

 

 

F] I would like to drink a good coffee

 

 

As you maybe know, Colombia has excellent coffee beans. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes hard to drink a good coffee (Except Cafetera region).

In the old city center, you have the chain Cafe Valdez. It’s an ideal place to start your day.

Address: Old City center, cl 36.

 

 

G] Mum, where is my Ice cream – La Paletteria

 

 

Did someone speak about Ice cream?

Do you know there is a place with all the colors and flavors? Where the only sounds you will hear are: “Amazing, Yummy, Ooooh, Aaaaah.”

Interested?

Go to La Paletteria and try their ice creams!

Price: Around 5500 COP

Address: La Paletteria, 381-3899 Carrera 10, Cartagena, Colombia

Back to the Table of Contents

 

 


Hey! You’ve learned that Colombia is a paradise and now you want to know more about it? There are gigabytes of data about Colombia on the internet. But 80% of it is wrong or outdated. Save your time and energy. Check out my FREE Colombia courses.


 

 

 

V) Where To Go Out In Cartagena De Indias, Colombia

 

 

 

Are you looking for a party? You can find some cool and fun spot to dance when you visit Cartagena de Indias in 48 hours.

However, I prefer Medellin or Bogota to express my feeling with my body on crazy sounds.

 

 

A] Around the Plaza de la Santisima Trinidad (Getsemani)

 

 

Yes, it’s a perfect place to have dinner and also to start a lovely evening. People are doing shows like break dance, concert, practicing salsa…

Buy a beer in the shop for only 2000 COP, sit on the rock stairs of the church and socialize with the others!

Price: 2000 COP – Beer in the shop at the corner. 

 

 

 

B] Demente (Getsemani)

 

 

They have a great playlist, a lot of good liquors, an open space, and cocktails. If you are on a budget, it’s a little expensive…

Price: Around 18 000 COP a cocktail (I Believe…)

 

 

C] The Havana Club

 

 

It’s a Salsa Club where you dance and listen to live music. You have to pay an entrance fee, but it’s a great place to practice your salsa skill!

The band starts to play around 11h00 pm, and it can be packed at this time. So it’s better to arrive a little earlier.

Good cocktail but expensive.

Price: 20 000 COP the entrance with a drink

Direction: Calle Media Luna and Calle del Guerrero | Getsemaní, Cartagena, Colombia

Hours: 8 pm to 4 am (Except Sunday – 2 am) – Thursday to Sunday

 

 

D] Bazurto Social Club

 

 

Be ready to continue to dance on latina music in the Bazurto Social Club. Friendly waiter and a good cocktail. You can learn to dance Champeta, and the live music will start around 11 pm.

Can be a little crowded but the ambiance is unique. It’s one of the best clubs in the city. Don’t go there if you don’t like latin music.

Price: None (Normally)

Direction: Bazurto Social Club, Cra. 9 #3042, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia

Schedule: 7 pm to 3h30 am – Wednesday to Saturday. 

Back to the Table of Contents

 

Street Market Cartagena
Street Market Cartagena

 

 

 

VI) When To Visit Cartagena And Around

 

 

 

  • You have a raining season from April to September in Colombia.
  • The best weather will be from December to February if you visit Cartagena de Indias in Colombia.
  • However, it’s also the high seasons (Everyone is on holidays) with Semana Santa (Easter week). If you are traveling on the coast, you HAVE to book in advance during the Easter holidays.
  • You have more chance to have torrential rains in May, September, and October.

 

Fortunately, you have another small dry season in July and August. It’s for me the best time to visit Cartagena de Indias. 

Best time to visit Cartagena de Indias, Colombia in 48 hours: July and August

 

Read our Post to learn how to avoid tourists and rains

 

An old green wood shop in Getsemani, Cartagena de Indias
A beautiful green wood shop in Getsemani

Back to the Table of Contents

 

 

 

VII) Safety in Cartagena

 

 

 

  • Yes, Cartagena de Indias is safe for the visitors. I think the old city center is one of the safest places in Colombia (For a big city). You can walk at any time of the night inside the old town.
  • You maybe need to be a little more careful after 2 am in Getsemani. If the parties are still going on, you will have a lot of people on the street, so it’s not a problem.
  • The Street Media Luna is also very touristic (even at night). However, it’s a little dodgy on the left side (with the old city on your back), so stay in the street.
  • Don’t walk at 2 am in the poor neighborhood. Also, the way to go to the Castillo El Felipe de Barajas is dangerous. Take a taxi.

 

Always follow the simple rules below:

  • Don’t play the flashy tourist.
  • Don’t give papaya. It’s a Colombian expression. It means that don’t provide them with the opportunity to rob you. In the big city, use your camera when the place is touristic and always have a look around first.
  • In the public transport, be careful with your pocket and bags.
  • Never put your day bag below your seat in a bus
  • Don’t walk alone at night in a deserted street
  • Give attention to the advice of the locals
  • Smile and say “Hola.”
  • If you go out, take only the money you need for the night and a photocopy of your passport
  • Follow your instinct (Yes I know, this one it’s hard at the beginning). You will see, you’re improving every day
  • If a local put pressure on you and ask you to act fast, say “No.” It’s usually a lie
  • If a local don’t look at you in the eyes when he speaks to you, think about it twice

 

Tips to find the best travel insurance

 

 

Do you have some others advice or recommendations? Please share your experience!!! 🙂

Back to the Table of Contents

 

 

 

VIII) My Ideal Itinerary To Visit Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

 

 

 

I have also included an expedition to Isla Baru in the itinerary below. You have less than 48 Hours in Cartagena and 24 Hours on Isla Baru.

Note:

It’s better to arrive a Saturday in the afternoon. So you can enjoy the nightlife on the first night then go on Sunday to Isla Baru and sleep there. You will generally avoid the flow of tourist.

 

12h00 pm – Arrival Bus Terminal Cartagena de Indias

01h00 pm – Arrival to the hostel

04h00 pm – Free walking tour of the old town

06h00 pm – Sunset near the Cafe Del Mar (Check the hours for the sunset)

08h00 pm – Tapas in the restaurant Demente and enjoy the square de la Santissima Trinidad

10h30 pm – Cafe Havana club or Bazurto Social Club or both

 

———————DAY +1———————

 

10h00 am – Cafe a Juan Valdez

12h00 am – Lunch at La Cevicheria (Open at 12h30 but could be very busy)

02h30 pm – Bus to Pasacaballos then a moto taxi to Isla Baru – Playa Blanca

04h30 pm – Arrival In Playa Blanca – 

06h30 pm – Swim with the Bioluminescent Phytoplankton

09h00 pm – Hammock night

 

——————–DAY +2———————-

 

Morning: Chill on Playa Blanca

03h00 pm – Shuttle to go back to Cartagena

04h00 pm – Arrival at Cartagena

05h30 pm – Ice cream at La Paletteria

06h00 pm – Show at Plaza de Bolivar

07h00 pm – Restaurant La Cocina de Pepina

Departure at 10h30 am the next day

 

Total Hours in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia: 45 hours

Total Hours in Isla Baru: 24 hours

 

Back to the Table of Contents

 

 

IX) Bogota or Cartagena? Medellin or Cartagena? Help!

 

 

 

It’s a tough question, and unfortunately, I can’t answer for you. All depends on what you are looking for.

  • In Bogota, you will find a lot of museums, electronic party and cold night. It will be better to visit with a person from there.
  • Medellin is a great city to live in. People are warm, Poblado’s district has excellent coffees. A lot of different parties and charming villages in the departments. Great weather.
  • In Cartagena, you have a lovely city center. The San Bernardo’s islands and Isla Baru are amazing.  It’s a good start for the Caribbean Coast. But Isla Baru is jam-packed during the weekend. Sweltering weather.
 
Horse drawn touristic carriages
Horse drawn touristic carriages
 

 

 


Other Fantastic Destinations Around Cartagena


 

 

 

X) Where To Go After Cartagena de Indias, Colombia?

 

 

 

Now that your visit to Cartagena is over, where should you go next?

 

 

A] Isla Mucura and San Bernardo Islands

 

 

Would you like to live on an island for a few days? With almost no tourist?

It’s possible!!!

You can reach Isla Mucura and Casa En El Agua by speedboat from Cartagena

 

Read our guide about the Archipelago of San Bernardo! 

 

Sunset in Isla Mucura

 

 

B] Extreme sport in San Gil

 

 

Did you plan to go down south to Bogota?

Why don’t you stop half way in San Gil?

It’s THE Extreme City Sport with paragliding, canyoning, and kayaking. There is also a charming colonial town nearby: Barichara.

Also, don’t forget to check the waterfalls and rivers around if you have time ;).

My favorite hostel was Sam’s VIP.

 

 

C] Santa Marta

 

 

Would you like to travel more East on the Caribbean Coast? Discover the Tayrona Park, live in the Serra Nevada in Minca or directly on the beach in Palomino?

All these places are located near the city of Santa Marta.

I’m not a big fan of Santa Marta so you can sometimes try to catch up another bus connexion to avoid sleeping in the city.

If you are traveling alone, the price for the private shuttle will be the same than taxi + bus.

 

Read our detailed travel guide

 

 

D] The Beach towns of Capurgana and Sapzurro

 

 

Do you have the next trip with San Blas Adventures to go to Panama City? Or would like to sleep in the Darien Gap?

You have to take a bus in the direction of Necocli first and then take a speedboat.

Capurgana and Sapzurro are two beautiful places with many cool activities such as diving and chasing waterfalls.

Be ready for your next adventures!

Back to the Table of Contents

 

 

 

Conclusion  

 

 

Cartagena de Indias in Colombia is the biggest city of Colombia on the Caribbean Coast.  You can arrive by flight, bus or boat at an affordable price.

Two districts are famous: The old city center and Getsemani. Pick up the neighborhood where you want to sleep and go to the discovery of the city: big war wall, paving stone, colorful wall and plants living on the balconies. Find the secret squares and excellent restaurants. After the sunset, enjoy the nightlife in Getsemani.

Also, it’s the perfect place to organize an expedition to Isla Baru with your day bag. Sleep in a hostel on the beach and enjoy the moment.

Because it became touristy,  it’s a less authentic part of Colombia. It’s a place your add on your itinerary for a few days because you are already traveling on the coast.

Looking for another itinerary and pictures? Read the 3-days Cartagena de Indias‘ guide written by BlackgirlZen.

 

Palenqueras with fruit - credit: Matyas Rehak / Shutterstock
Palenqueras with fruit – credit: Matyas Rehak / Shutterstock

 

 

Essentials about Cartagena de Indias

 

Time in Cartagena de Indias: 48 hours

Time in Isla Baru: 24 hours

Budget a day: 130 000 COP (According to the itinerary)

Weather: Really hot

Safety: Getsemani, Boca Grande, and the old city center

Time to go: December to February – July to August

Backpacker Profile: Party and lover of Old city

 

 

Other Fantastic Destinations Around Cartagena

 

 

More Information About Cartagena And Colombia

 

 

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Cartagena de indias Colombia things to do

essential info about Cartagena Colombia

 

 

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