Cartagena is a city that is deeply connected to Afro-Caribbean culture. There is a significant amount of people with direct African descent and a legacy shaped by the transatlantic slave trade. This cultural influence is evident in everything from the city’s cuisine to its nightlife. Travelers can explore the city’s Afro-Caribbean roots, and visit museums and landmarks highlighting Black history. They also can connect with local communities to gain a deeper understanding of Cartagena’s unique identity. This vibrant coastal city is equal historic as it is diverse with everything that it offers.
Cartagena, Colombia, Quick Travel Facts
Play: Things To Do In Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena ATV Tour
The Cartagena ATV Tour is a thrilling and unique experience, along the Colombian countryside. The tour provides everything needed for a safe and enjoyable ride, including ATVs, helmets, bottled water and private transportation.
Riders can explore at their own pace and zip past lush mangroves. Along the way, they also will discover hidden beaches and take in stunning views of the Caribbean Sea. An experienced guide also accompanies them on the tour for additional safety. Guests will enjoy a refreshing dip in the sea and a traditional Caribbean lunch after the tour.
Brunch & Paint on a Secret Rooftop
Travelers looking for a unique and memorable experience in Cartagena will enjoy the brunch and paint. The fun happens on a hidden rooftop in the Old City with a glass of champagne to break the ice. The delicious brunch includes toast, tortilla, sausage, empanadas, arepas, fresh fruit, two glasses of mimosa and bottled water.
The company provides all of the creative supplies, such as brushes, paint and aprons. Travelers will learn painting techniques and create a perfect travel-sized souvenir.
Black Legacy Experience Tour
The Black Legacy Experience Tour highlights the hidden African heritage that lies within the vibrant city of Cartagena. The tour takes visitors on a cultural walk showcasing the essential role Black history played in Cartagena’s past and present.
Travelers will visit different landmarks, such as the monuments of Benkos Biohó and Kid Pambelé, and the traditional medicine yard. The trip concludes with lunch, and the chance to try ÑEKE, a traditional Colombian drink. During lunch, participants will learn more about the meaningful language and rich culture of the region.
Totumo Volcano and Mar Rosa Tour in Cartagena with Lunch
The Totumo Volcano and Mar Rosa tour provides travelers will the opportunity to dive into a true Cartagena adventure. This excursion includes roundtrip transportation and admission to the Volcan de Lodo El Totumo. There, travelers can take a relaxing mud bath. The volcanic ash and rich minerals creates a natural spa experience, and the stunning Pink Sea as a backdrop is perfect for relaxation. Travelers will enjoy a delicious lunch, while indulging in the experience.
Guest’s entry admission to Playas de la Boquilla also is included in the cost of the tour.
Excursion to the Rosario Islands with Lunch and Snorkeling
The group catamaran excursion to the Rosario Islands is a exciting and scenic day trip. It takes travelers on a breathtaking route to see the vibrant coast. Tour organizers provide snorkeling equipment and a delicious lunch. The sunset cruise also anchors at Isla Grande and Isla Bela for some unforgettable beach fun.
All fees and taxes are included in the price, which makes this excursion hassle-free.
Gourmet: Best Restaurants in Cartagena, Colombia
Executive Chef Jaime Rodriguez runs Celele Restaurant and combines modern gastronomy with the incredible biodiversity found in Colombia. Over the past few years, the restaurant has been recognized as one of the 50 best restaurants in Latin America.
The stunning interior design incorporates Afro-centric furnishings and natural earthy tones into the decor. The menu consists of local ingredients and fresh food with Caribbean-inspired cocktails, beers and wines. The appetizers, such as the shrimp tartare with Caribbean mamey chutney, complement entrée, like the Celele Style Pork. Some of the desserts include banana and coca leaf flour cake and Caribbean red flower meringue.
Located in the Getsemani Barrio, the Lunatico Restaurant has a delicious menu sourced from local farmer’s markets. The owners wanted to create a space that highlighted the racial diversity of Cartagena among the Indigenous, Africans and Spaniards.
The restaurant offers a variety of creative and Afro-Caribbean inspired recipes. The brunch menu has both imaginative dishes, like spicy Korean chicken benedict, and traditional Colombian breakfast options. Guests also can bring their furry friends to enjoy a night out at Lunatico.
Sierpe Cocina Caribé Fusión
This Caribbean food fusion restaurant specializes in seafood and farm recipes packed with fresh local flavors. At Sierpe Cocina Caribé Fusión, guests will enjoy a mouthwatering menu. The menu includes entrées, like the Tamarind Beef Loin with coconut risotto and desserts, like the Peanut Turron with coffee caramel sauce.
La Cocina de Pepina
La Cocina de Pepina has plenty of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes. The bar also has delicious wine, beer and Latin-Caribbean cocktails.
Guests praise the menu for its flavor profiles. Three popular dishes at La Cocina de Pepina are the Sea Bass ceviche, Boronía and Sopa Caribe.
Cafe San Antonio
Cafe San Antonio’s menu is very diverse, making it perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch or a quick coffee stop. Located right in the heart of Gestemaní, the restaurant also offers fresh-pressed juices and local coffees.
Guests can enjoy breakfast options, such as homemade oat pancakes with fresh fruit or avocado toast with eggs and bacon. There also are fresh seafood appetizers, Venezuelan dishes and American dishes. The menu has something to fit every traveler’s appetite.
Stay: Best Places to Stay In Cartagena, Colombia
Hotel Casa Noir Cartagena
Hotel Casa Noir Cartagena is located in the colonial Plaza Bolivar, which is close to Rafael Nunez International Airport. The rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV, separate toilet and shower and amenities, like dryers and bath sheets. After a day of enjoying the coastline, travelers can relax in the jacuzzi or the terrace.
For those travelers with car rentals, the hotel also offers parking.
Blue Apple Beach House
This relaxing and sustainable beachfront hotel is 20 minutes outside of Cartagena. Located on the island of Tierra Bomba, the Blue Apple Beach House is a laid-back and relaxing place to stay. Executive Chef Pedro Mosqueda’s hotel dining menu features Mediterranean and Colombian-Caribbean specialties using locally sourced and sustainable ingredients.
The hotel’s solar power and zero-waste policies make it an eco-conscious choice for green-conscious travelers. With a living wage policy in place, guests can enjoy their stay while supporting fair labor practices.
Lovely Duplex Loft Apartment
The Lovely Duplex Loft apartment is located near the Marbella area in Cartagena. It is about five minutes from Old Town and three minutes from the beach.
The beautifully designed loft has a spacious living room complete with stylish natural furnishings, lush plants and a large television. It also has an open kitchen with all the amenities needed to cook meals in-house. Guests can enjoy the shared outdoor pool, a dedicated workspace with WiFi, free parking and a pet-friendly policy.
Gorgeous New Studio in the Old City
This Gorgeous New Studio in Getsemaní is located on the first floor of a brand new stylish building. This stay is in a prime location because it’s close to the tourist destinations, while still being away from them.
This studio is perfect for couples, solo travelers and small groups. The apartment is an open space with a big window door for luminous daylight and fresh air. The bedroom area has two queen size beds with a private spacious balcony, an outdoor sofa and a jacuzzi. The terrace overlooks a luscious garden.
With security cameras on the property, safety is also a priority. Only registered guests are allowed on the property.
Get Away: Getting To and Around Cartagena, Colombia
Travelers can get to Cartagena, Colombia by flying into Rafael Núñez International Airport. The city’s main airport serves both domestic and international flights, making it easy to reach most major cities in Colombia. Visitors may need to connect through another airport to reach Cartagena, depending on their origin location.
Though it is possible to rent a car, navigating the city’s narrow streets and heavy traffic can be difficult. It’s not recommended to travel around Cartagena by car unless familiar with the local terrain and driving conditions.
Hiring a private driver or taking a taxi is the most popular, affordable and readily available option for travelers. Make sure that the driver uses a meter or agrees on a price beforehand to avoid overcharging. Another option is a ride-sharing apps, such as Uber or Cabify.
By Public Transit
Public transit can be a convenient and affordable option if traveling between Cartagena and nearby cities. There is a network of buses and colectivos. It may seem a bit complex if travelers are not familiar with the local bus system.
Buses are marked with their route numbers and destination, and fares are paid with cash or a rechargeable card. Buses can be crowded and slow during peak hours.
Explore Cartagena on Foot
The vibrant culture of Cartagena makes exploring the city on foot nearly idyllic. Travelers can enjoy charming plazas, colonial-era churches and quaint local cafes and restaurants. The narrow streets are filled with colorful buildings. The city’s historic walled center, known as the Old Town, is best explored on foot. The beautiful beaches easily can be accessed on foot. Make sure to bring comfortable shoes and stay hydrated.
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