Start Planning Your Cartagena Vacation
Modern City: Old World Charm
Situated on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, Cartagena is an elegant, old port city that is inherently romantic and rich in culture, so it’s not surprising it’s a Unesco World Heritage Site. The walled Old Town, founded in the 16th century, is surrounded by 13 km of weather-worn cobblestone walls. However, Cartagena is much more than an epicenter of architecture: you can dine at fabulous open-air cafes, chill at chic bars, as well dig your toes into gorgeous white sand and relax under fringy palms on many of the nearby beaches. Whether you want an exotic beach getaway or want to learn a little history, or a little bit of both, Cartagena is where your vacation dreams come true.
Other Destinations in Cartagena
Travelers’ Trifecta: Old City, Bocagrande and La Boquilla
These three areas are where everything is happening and where you’ll want to explore. In the Old City, you’ll be blown away by the sensuous atmosphere and unparalleled beauty: majestic steeple churches, electrically colorful colonial buildings, mazes of quaint stone alleys, open-air cafes and balconies with cascades of bougainvillea that are picture perfect. Bocagrande is Cartagena’s hip, nostalgic nod to Miami Vice. You’ll find a wide swath of humanity, along with loungers and umbrellas, bars and restaurants and vendors. It’s poppin’ with fun. La Boquilla is about a 20-minute taxi ride from Bocagrande and it’s Resort Central. However, you can catch some rays and hang with the locals, take kiteboarding lessons and go snorkeling. You’ll want to hit all three of these areas when you’re in Cartagena.
Breath-stealing Beaches: In & Out of the City
After you’ve hit Bocagrande and want more of a remote beach vibe, get ready: you’ve got 19 km of beaches in the metropolitan area. However, if you want to head outside the city limits, nothing beats the platinum sands and aquamarine waters of the Rosario Islands, where you can also explore the coral reefs. But perhaps the most beautiful beach in Colombia is Playa Blanca, which is 45 minutes from the city, but it’s only reachable by boat. You can chillax on the snow-white sand and even go diving. If you want more water sports, head for Laguito.
Crowning Landmark: Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas
When you arrive Cartagena, you can’t miss this ginormous castle on a hill that peers over the city. Interesting fact: the construction started in 1639, but it wasn’t completed until 150 years ago. Nevertheless, it’s located at La Popa, the top of the city. You can take a chiva bus (party bus) there, where you can peruse the battlements, underground passages and gawk at the impressive architecture. Be sure to wear your walking shoes.
Cartagena Quick Facts
Cuban Peso (CUP), Convertible Peso (CUC)
110 volts (U.S. Standard), most modern hotel sockets are 220 volts. You will want to bring your converter.
All U.S. citizens must have a valid passort when traveling to and from Cuba.
Drink only bottled water.
Eastern Standard Time (UTC/CST -5 hours)
The peak travel season extends from mid-November through mid-March