Where to Stay in Cartagena: 9 Best Areas for Your Trip [2021]

Where to Stay in Cartagena: 9 Best Areas for Your Trip [2021]

With this article, you will easily decide where to stay in Cartagena. I give you an overview of 9 neighborhoods, with their advantages and drawbacks.

I have been exploring Colombia since 2015 and have been to Cartagena 4 times.

Whether you want to have a romantic trip with your girlfriend or a party with your friends, no worries, I got you covered.

Let’s start with a short description of the best areas where you can stay in Cartagena.

Pick your Cartagena neighborhoods in 2 min

Stay in the walled city: for romantic travelers

Centro historico Street Cartagena

The old town is the most famous area of Cartagena. Here you will find beautiful colonial buildings transformed into luxury hotels. It is appealing, but it is (too?) expensive. You can choose between El Centro or San Diego (a little quieter). Our best place to stay is Casa Mantilla 3-37.

Stay in Getsemaní: for young travelers

Getsemani Cartagena

Getsemaní is a trendy neighborhood with streets covered with beautiful street art. There are many hostels, boutique hotels, bars, and restaurants to enjoy the festive side of Cartagena de Indias. Our best place to stay is Casa Isabel.

Stay in recent areas: for travelers who like modern apartments

Credit: @ayaladelrey

Bocagrande, Laguito & Castillogrande look like a little Miami. You will find large new hotels lined up along the beach that can accommodate hundreds of tourists. You won’t get the magical Cartagena vibe. Our best place to stay is Hyatt Regency Cartagena.

Stay in Manga: For travelers who want a quiet area

Manga is a quiet residential area with a few nice and affordable hotels. The nightlife is non-existent, but you will be close to Getsemaní. Ideal for travelers who don’t want to see people taking selfies 24/7. Our best place to stay is Casa del Puerto.

Stay near the airport: For travelers with a tight budget

Cabrero Cartagena
Credit: Braithner

Cabrero & Marbella are both within walking distance of the historic walled city. The few hotels in the area are not exceptional, but you will be close to the tourist places and the beach (for a reasonable price). Our best place to stay is Hotel Boutique Castillo Ines Maria.

Best areas to stay in Cartagena de Indias: The MAP

Where to stay in Cartagena MAP
Cartagena’s districts

The city of Cartagena de Indias is easily visited. The tourist sites are mainly in the Walled City. By the way, did you read our fantastic article about the best things to do in Cartagena?

It’s always a pain to take a 30-minute cab ride to get a coffee or eat in a good restaurant.

To enjoy Cartagena, you have to be close to the action! I recommend you to stay in one of the 9 following neighborhoods.

Where to stay in Cartagena, Colombia: El Centro

Centro historico Cartagena
San Pedro Claver

El Centro is the historical center where thousands of tourists and street vendors gather every day. The narrow streets are lined with colorful buildings, with their carved wooden balconies and fragrant flowers.

El Centro is among the best places to stay in Cartagena if you want to enjoy the romantic atmosphere present in the walled city. Have a good breakfast in your boutique hotel, and then stroll through the squares and the majestic baroque churches. In the evening, find a rooftop bar to enjoy the cool breeze or sit on the ramparts to watch the sunset.

Pros: Why should you stay in El Centro, Cartagena

  • You can split your visit days as your wish. The tourist sites are within the walled city: The Naval Museum, the Plaza de Santo Domingo, the palace of the inquisition, the church San Pedro Claver.
  • Best luxury hotels. The colonial architecture is sumptuous.
  • Perfect for first-time visitors to Cartagena.

Cons: Downsides of staying in el Centro, Cartagena

  • It is noisy early in the morning and there are only a handful of hotels with adequate soundproofing.
  • The value for money is not high for Colombia. Most of the hotels, bars & restaurants are too expensive.
  • You swim among sweaty tourists and wearisome street vendors all day long.

Best places to stay in Cartagena

Best luxury hotel in El Centro

Casa San Agustin Cartagena
Casa San Agustin

Beautiful colonial building with a courtyard pool. Top-notch Colombia’s hotel.

Best mid-range hotel in el Centro

Casa Mantilla 3-37 Cartagena
Casa Mantilla 3-37

A boutique hotel with 3 rooms decorated with taste. The perfect place for discreet lovers.

Best buget hotel in El Centro

The Clock Hostel
The Clock hostel

Hostel with well-designed dorms (with air conditioning) and a good atmosphere.

Best apartment in el Centro

Casa Pombo
Casa Pombo

Beautiful 16th-century house with high ceiling rooms, flowered courtyards, and stone arches.

Best tips to enjoy your stay in Cartagena

→ Visit the old town in the early hours of the day. There are few tourists and the light is spectacular.

→ Drink a cocktail at the Alquimico’s rooftop.

→ Watch the sunset from Cafe del Mar on the city walls. Go there early.

Where to stay in Cartagena, Colombia: San Diego

Centro historico Cartagena

San Diego is the neighborhood that is adjacent to El Centro. It is still part of the old city. The colonial architecture of the buildings will seem less impressive at first glance.

Then, if you pay more attention to the details, you will realize that this district is more authentic. The colorful houses are home to families, not just stores and restaurants.

The small winding streets are less used by tourists and have just as much charm. As you walk along, rest in the small square of San Diego and look for the house of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

If you are not interested in staying in the most luxurious hotels in Cartagena, then San Diego is an excellent alternative to El Centro.

Pros: Why should you stay in San Diego, Cartagena

  • You’ll meet fewer tourists when you wake up.
  • You’ll still be soaked by the romantic vibe of the walled city.
  • I love the bright colors used to paint the walls.

Cons: Downsides of staying in San Diego, Cartagena

  • As for el Centro, it’s expensive. You won’t find the best hotel deals.
  • There are still many tourists.
  • It’s noisy.

Best places to stay in Cartagena

Best luxury hotel in San Diego

Sofitel Santa Clara Cartagena (1)
Sofitel Legend Casa Clara

Superb hotel with spa & courtyard pool surrounded by lush vegetation. Beds are from another world.

Best mid-range hotel in San Diego

Casa la Cartujita
La Cartujita

With only 7 rooms, this former convent turned boutique hotel offers good value for money.

Best buget hotel in San Diego

Viajero Hostel Cartagena (1)
El Viajero hostel

Nice private rooms & dorms. Various cozy chill-out areas to hang out and meet people.

Best apartment in San Diego

Vista al Caribe Apartment
Vista al Caribe

Furnished apartment. Owners are always available to answer your questions. Facing the sea.

Best tips to enjoy your stay in Cartagena

→ Book a table at Carmen and ask for their CHEF’S SEVEN-COURSE tasting menu.

→ Take several pictures with different poses with the colorful walls of the houses in the background. It makes a perfect photo montage.

→ Enjoy the rooftop of the Town House Hotel: Pool and cocktails.

Where to stay in Cartagena, Colombia: Getsemaní

Getsemani Cartagena

Getsemani is a neighborhood mainly known for its street art and the cool bohemian/party atmosphere.

I like its location. You’ll be a 15-minute walk from the walled city. And you can easily take a cab to the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas and the Convento de la Popa.

You will find many small cafes and restaurants, perfect for lunch.

The streets of Getsemaní can be quite noisy if your hotel is located near Plaza Trinidad. For a quiet stay, choose your accommodation near the city walls.

Pros: Why should you stay in Getsemaní, Cartagena

  • Ideal for enjoying Cartagena’s nightlife without breaking the bank.
  • All the tourist sites are within walking distance.
  • Neighborhood life is more authentic and pleasant (even if there are still many tourists)

Cons: Downsides of staying in Getsemaní, Cartagena

  • From Wednesday night, you will see a lot of drunk and noisy backpackers.
  • Streets get dodgy in the late hours of the night. Avoid isolated alleys.
  • Not many hotels with a swimming pool or a cool rooftop.

Best places to stay in Cartagena

Best luxury hotel in Getsemaní

Capellan Hotel
Hotel Capellan

Just outside the gates of the old city. Upscale hotel with an amazing rooftop terrace and restaurant.

Best mid-range hotel in Getsemaní

Casa Isabel
Casa Isabel

Small boutique hotel located in a quiet area of Getsemaní. Excellent value for money.

Best buget hotel in Getsemaní

Casa del Pozo
Casa del Pozo

Hostel with good private rooms and air conditioning. Excellent vibes and helpful staff.

Best apartment in Getsemaní

Apto interior Cartagena
Apto Interior

Safe, clean, quiet, and private location. Walking distance to many tourist attractions.

Best tips to enjoy your stay in Cartagena

→ Head to the Plaza de la Trinidad around 7 pm. There are always street performances.

→ Eat at the delicious Celele restaurant.

→ Have a snack and a nice cup of coffee at Cafe Mural.

Where to stay in Cartagena, Colombia: Bocagrande

Credit: @ayaladelrey

Bocagrande is composed of modern hotels with rooftop pools built along the beach. This narrow strip of land (3-4 streets) is located south of the historic Walled City.

Bocagrande lacks romance and authenticity. Instead of lovely 18th-century buildings and flowered balconies, you will find packs of tourists heading to the beach with their bath towels. Unfortunately, this long beach is not very sexy, with its army of street vendors and colorful plastic chairs.

Still, Bocagrande has its advantages. The hotel rooms are comfortable, with air conditioning, and for a better quality/price ratio than in Getsemaní or the historic old town.

Pros: Why should you stay in Bocagrande, Cartagena

  • You are close to the walled city (5 min by cab or 20 min by foot).
  • It is one of the richest and safest neighborhoods in Cartagena.
  • This is a good option for families and groups of friends who plan to stay a week in Cartagena. You will save on the price of the rooms and have a quick access to the beach.

Cons: Downsides of staying in Bocagrande, Cartagena

  • Don’t go if you are only staying 2 nights in Cartagena. You’ll miss all the fun.
  • There are many tourists.
  • You won’t find lovely boutique hotels.

Best places to stay in Cartagena

Best luxury hotel in Bocagrande

Hyatt Regency Cartagena (1)
Hyatt Regency

The infinity pool of this beachfront property will be perfect for your sunset cocktail break.

Best mid-range hotel in Bocagrande

Oz hotel luxury
Oz hotel Luxury

New and modern hotel with a well-filled rooftop bar. The staff is excellent & ready to help.

Best buget hotel in Bocagrande

Balcones de Bocagrande
Balcones de Bocagrande

Beach is a block away. Bed and room will be worth your buck. The staff is very friendly.

Best apartment in Bocagrande

Apartamento Lujo Edificio H2 Plaza
Apartamento Lujo Edificio H2 Plaza

The view from both sides is insane. Same for the infinity on the 12th floor. Modern apartments.

Best tips to enjoy your stay in Cartagena

→ Choose a hotel with a rooftop pool. The view is fantastic.

→ Eat local on the beach at the Kiosko El Bonny.

→ Go shopping at the commercial center el Bocagrande plaza (if you’re bored).

Where to stay in Cartagena, Colombia: Laguito

Laguito hotel Hilton
Credit: Hilton

Laguito is a tiny neighborhood in Cartagena composed of about 40 buildings. It is located at the tip of the peninsula (just after the Bocagrande neighborhood). Some major hotel chains are established there (including the Hilton).

From the top of the hotel’s rooms, travelers will have a beautiful view of the Caribbean Sea and the lake, occupying 50% of the area.

Like Bocagrande, Laguito is not of tourist interest. On the other hand, you have several beaches nearby. They’re the best in Cartagena.

Pros: Why should you stay in Laguito, Cartagena

  • The view from the hotel’s rooms for sunset are great.
  • Thanks to the presence of the lake, the area is a little less oppressive than Bocagrande.
  • You’ll find many apartments with air conditioning to rent.

Cons: Downsides of staying in Laguito, Cartagena

  • You’ll have to take a taxi to head to the historic walled city or Getsemaní.
  • I prefer the vibe in the old town.

Best places to stay in Cartagena

Best upscale hotel in Laguito

Cartagena hotel Hilton

Perfect to have a nice rest with your kids. The staff speaks good English, and the pool is huge.

Best apartment in Laguito

Lago y Mar Apartamentos (1)
Lago y Mar Apartamentos

The views of the lake and the sea are perfect. Cozy & well-furnished apartments. With a small pool.

Best penthouse in Laguito

Penthouse Laguito
Cartagena dream rentals

Amazing sea view, spacious apartment, jacuzzi on the terrasse. The beach is across the street.

Best tips to enjoy your stay in Cartagena

→ The view at night is magnificent. Choose an apartment or a room on the top floor, facing the lagoon and Bocagrande.

→ You’ll be in front of Isla Tierra Bomba. Take a boat and head to a beach club for the day.

Where to stay in Cartagena, Colombia: Castillogrande

Castillogrande is an upscale residential area with few lodging options. If you want to stay in a modern hotel with a swimming pool and air conditioning, focus on Laguito and Bocagrande.

Where to stay in Cartagena, Colombia: Manga

Club de Pesca | Credit: Lintizaa

Manga is a residential area with a handful of old mansions converted into shopping centers and hotels. The district spreads out along the bay of the city. Bocagrande is on the opposite side. It is pretty when the night falls and the buildings light up.

You won’t find any bars in the area at night. However, there are a few good restaurants scattered around.

Manga is close to Getsemaní. You’ll have to cross a bridge to get there. Depending on where you are based, count 10-20 min of walking.

The prices of hotels and restaurants are more affordable. Therefore, it is a good option for travelers with a small budget who do not want to stay in the recent areas of Bocagrande and Laguito.

Pros: Why should you stay in Manga, Cartagena

  • It’s a quiet residential district.
  • You will be close to Getsemaní. It’s ideal if you want to enjoy the nightlife of this Cartagena neighborhood.
  • There are cheaper hotels.

Cons: Downsides of staying in Manga, Cartagena

  • Few hotel options.
  • I did not feel unsafe, but the streets are empty early in the night.
  • You won’t find a cute little coffee to grab a snack.

Best places to stay in Cartagena

Best mid-range hotel in Manga

Casa del Puerto Manga
Casa del Puerto

Super friendly staff, great pool area. Lots of attention to detail, nice decor, and amenities.

Best budget hotel in Manga

San Jacinto hostel
San Jacinto hostel

Excellent value for money. The staff is friendly and prepares an excellent breakfast.

Best apartment in Manga

Bahia 79 Apartasuites
Bahia 79 Apartasuites

Modern, well-furnished apartments, comfortable to stay in. Good internet speed and friendly staff.

Best tips to enjoy your stay in Cartagena

→ Eat at the Club de Pesca, one of the best seafood restaurants in Cartagena.

→ Watch the sunset from the Fuerte San Sebastián del Pastelillo.

Where to stay in Cartagena, Colombia: Cabrero

Cabrero Cartagena
Credit: Braithner

Cabrero is a district just outside the historic center, towards the airport.

It is a residential area close to the beach, which is of interest to travelers who want to save money. The old city is within walking distance. However, I would recommend you take a cab at night.

Pros: Why should you stay in el Cabrero, Cartagena

  • Affordable hotels and a lot of apartments.
  • You can walk to the beach or the historical center.
  • You’re close to the airport.

Cons: Downsides of staying in el Cabrero, Cartagena

  • It’s not as safe as other parts of the city (mentioned in this article).
  • No luxury accommodation.
  • The district is not appealing.

Best places to stay in Cartagena

Best upscale hotel in Cabrero

Ermita Cartagena
Ermita Cartagena

Comfy rooms and good food. The rooftop pool is divine to watch the sunset.

Best mid-range hotel in Cabrero

Hotel Boutique Castillo Ines Maria
Castillo Ines Maria

Close to the old town and the beach. Rooms are basic and clean. Great atmosphere.

Best budget hotel in Cabrero

Juna hotel
Juna hotel

Affordable family rooms with air conditioning and wifi. Lovely staff. Nearby the beach.

Best tips to enjoy your stay in Cartagena

→ Book your hotel on Avenida Santander if you get there for the day of the independence of Cartagena. You’ll see the parade from your balcony.

→ Visit the museum Casa Rafael Núñez. Free entrance.

Where to stay in Cartagena: Marbella & Crespo

Marbella & Crespo are similar to the Cabrero district. It is the area around the airport. They’ve no particular charm, but you will be able to find cheap accommodation.

Where to stay in Cartagena: Tell me who you are

Depending on your expectations, your itinerary, and your budget, some areas of Cartagena will be more convenient for you.

1# Where to stay in Cartagena to plan a bachelor party

You decided to organize a trip to Cartagena for your buddy’s stag party.

It’s a great idea.

I bet you want to be close to the bars and nightclubs. The coolest areas of Cartagena at night are Getsemaní or the Walled City.

But, as you know, they’re pretty expensive, and it will be complicated to find accommodation with a nice swimming pool —you will need one for your hangover.

The easiest option will be to rent an apartment in Bocagrande.

2# Where to stay in Cartagena to party and meet people

There is nothing better than hostels to meet other travelers. The atmosphere of Getsemaní, with its street art and unpretentious bars, appealed to me right away.

Head to Trinidad Square to watch street performers and buy cheap beers at the local store. Then, watch Colombians dancing salsa in Quiebra Canto or Café Havana.

Clubs and bars in the Walled City are a lot more selective and expensive.

For those reasons, I think the best hotels for you are in Getsemaní.

3# Where to stay in Cartagena for your honeymoon

The historic center has everything you need to stir up your passions.

Put your bags down in a boutique hotel with 18th-century colonial architecture, then discover the colorful streets on board a horse-drawn carriage. In the evening, admire the sunset from a sailboat and have dinner in the courtyard of a gourmet restaurant.

This trip to Cartagena will be pricey. I hope your friends gave you enough money at your wedding.

Stay in San Diego to enjoy the romantic setting of the old city and wake up in an alleyway less overrun by tourists.

4# Where to stay in Cartagena to enjoy the beach

It’s a tricky question.

Do you want a beach paradise or a beach of any kind?

The city of Cartagena does not have lovely beaches. These large stretches of gray sand in the shade of the skyscrapers are not my cup of tea. Moreover, they are always full of tourists and vendors.

Oh, I forgot to tell you that the seawater is murky (and probably polluted).

-Pssst, here you can find the best Cartagena beaches.

But if you plan to spend a short week in Cartagena and you love the beach, then you should stay in Laguito and Castillogrande. Beaches there are correct and not too crowded. And you can take a boat to Tierra Bomba.

5# Where to stay in Cartagena to feel safe

Laguito, Castillogrande, and Bocagrande are among the safest neighborhoods, along with the Walled City.

The other neighborhoods are safe during the day, but you should avoid hanging out alone at night.

As a rule of thumb for large Colombian cities:

  • Never leave your stuff unattended.
  • After 10 pm, call a cab if the streets are empty.
  • Learn more Colombia safety tips

6# Where to stay in Cartagena if you have little time

It’s a no-brainer.

You should stay in Getsemaní, el Centro or San Diego.

All the sights, bars, and restaurants are within walking distance. Allow at least one full day to visit the city. We explain in this article how to visit Cartagena.

Bonus: Where to stay in the Rosario Islands

Isla Grande Rosario
Isla Grande Rosario

Lovers of paradisiacal beaches will be disappointed in Cartagena.

Do not give up. There is a solution.

The Rosario Islands are 1 hour away from the city. You will find fantastic eco-hotels, white sand beaches, turquoise water, and cocktails under the palm trees in this idyllic environment.

Many agencies offer one-day tours. I don’t recommend it. Due to the time spent on transportation, you won’t get to enjoy the islands as much as you should.

To do it right, you should stay 1 or 2 nights in the Rosario Islands. Choose between Isla Barú, Isla Grande, or a little private island. Each one has a different atmosphere, with its advantages and drawbacks.

The bottom line

The interest of Cartagena lies in the romantic atmosphere of the walled city and the festive vibe of Getsemaní. If you are planning to spend a short time in the city, find a place to stay close by so you can enjoy all the sights without taking a cab.

The problem is that the hotels in the historic center are expensive. If this is not in your budget, the adjacent neighborhoods such as Manga or Cabrero will be a good alternative.

Finally, travelers who want a terrace with a swimming pool without breaking the bank will have to choose an apartment in Boca Grande or Laguito.

Continue to plan your trip to Cartagena

Where to stay in Cartagena

I fell in love with Colombia in 2015. Through this website, we help every month thousands of travelers to plan their trip to this beautiful country.