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Cartagena Travel Guide: What to Know, Things to Do, & More 

Cartagena is a city that has been high on my list for the last two years, and I finally got to make my way to its colorful beauty.

Located along the Caribbean coast of Colombia, Cartagena contains a world of history and culture. 

With its cobblestone streets, pastel-hued colonial buildings, and bustling plazas, this city attracts travelers worldwide to explore its rich heritage.

From the fortresses that once guarded its shores to the rhythmic beats of salsa music flowing through its lively streets, Cartagena captivates visitors with its captivating blend of historic charm and modern energy. 

In this Cartagena travel guide, I will tell you what you should know about visiting Cartagena and what I experienced to help you plan your trip. 

Christina Jane dancing with Palenqueras behind her
In this blog post, I’ll cover what you need to know about traveling to Cartagena, Colombia!

Table of Contents


Disclaimer: This blog post may contain affiliate links which means that if you book one of these activities using my link (which I know you will because you loved how helpful this blog post is *wink*I am going to receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting BCJ! 

Other Blog Posts On Cartagena:

Getting to Cartagena from Washington D.C.: Flight Details

I move around a lot, so where I fly out for my trips constantly varies depending on where I am. 

For my trip to Cartagena, I was based in the D.C. area and flew from the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) to the Rafael Núñez International Airport (CTG). 

As a Floridian, getting to places like Colombia and other countries in the region is usually a breeze. From D.C., it posed a bit of a challenge with multiple flights needed to reach Cartagena:

  • Washington D.C. to Miami: 2 hours and 30 minutes 
  • Layover in Miami: 2 hours and 37 minutes 
  • Miami to Cartagena: 3 hours 

I started my journey at 2 am to prepare for a 5 am flight and arrived in Cartagena at 1:17 pm.

My flight cost $553.70 with American Airlines, which was decent for the route and where I was flying from. 

American Airlines is not my favorite, but it did get me to Cartagena, so a win is a win. 

With the basic economy ticket, there are many restrictions, including being unable to choose your seat, landing me a beautiful five hours squished between strangers in the middle seat. 

This was so uncomfortable that I ended up paying $10 to select a seat coming back from Cartagena, so their business model is working. 

Streets of Cartagena
Streets of Cartagena | Photo by sara.illustration

Entry Requirements 

Entering Colombia as a United States citizen was extremely easy, as no visa is required when traveling there for less than 90 days. 

There is an online immigration form that must be filled out up to 72 hours before you depart for Colombia, but it takes less than 5 minutes to complete and asks for basic information regarding your purpose for traveling to the country. 

Otherwise, you should be good to go if you don’t plan on traveling to the country with more than $10,000. 

Of course, entry requirements to Colombia can vary depending on your nationality, so I recommend researching the requirements based on your specific circumstances to get the most up-to-date information. 

Currency Used in Colombia 

The currency used in Colombia is the Colombian Peso (COP). 

1 Colombian Peso is equivalent to USD 0.00025 at the time I am writing this blog post. This exchange rate means the U.S. dollar goes further here in Colombia. 

I found that things were either a few dollars less than they would ideally be in the States or significantly less costly, like Uber rides, which I’ll cover later in this post!

Upon arrival at the Cartagena airport, there are booths where you can exchange money. I brought a $100 bill and exchanged $50 at the airport. You will need money (unless you’re willing to pay in dollars) to get a taxi to your accommodation. 

Exchange rates are known to be more favorable outside of the airport, so I only exchanged some of the bills I brought with me. 

Getting money in Cartagena is relatively easy in places like The Walled City, where banks with ATMs inside are available for use. 

Language Spoken in Cartagena Colombia

Spanish is the official language spoken in Cartagena, Colombia. 

While English may be spoken in a few tourist areas, attractions, and accommodation facilities, it’s important to know that you must navigate that language barrier if you are a non-Spanish speaker. 

If you’ve taken Spanish language lessons in the past, Cartagena is a great place to flex your language muscles and practice what you know!

Thankfully, I was not traveling solo on this trip, and I had a travel partner who spoke Spanish (unbeknownst to me until she did on our trip!). 

If this is not the case for you, definitely download Spanish on Google Translate so you can use it even when you don’t have data, and be prepared with key phrases that relate to how much things cost, directions, basic introductions, etc., that can make navigating Cartagena easier! 

Street Art in Cartagena
The alleys of Getsemani are filled with so much beautiful artwork.

Time Zone 

Colombia’s time zone is Colombia Standard Time, which is GMT -5. Colombia’s time zone corresponds to CST during DST and EST for the rest of the time.

Coming from areas in the U.S. that follow EST, there was no time difference, which always makes traveling smoother. 

Weather

Cartagena has a tropical climate that gives consistent warmth and sunshine throughout the year when it’s not raining. 

Average temperatures usually range from the mid-70s to the low-90s Fahrenheit, so you can expect to be basking in the sun during your visit. 

I traveled to Cartagena during the winter season in the United States, and I greatly appreciated it. I soaked up all of the sunlight I could.

I did not find the heat overbearing unless I was directly in the heat for extended periods.

With this being said, I would pack heat-friendly clothing: flowy skirts, dresses, shorts, airy shirts, etc. 

Safety 

Safety is a topic that comes up often when discussing travel to Colombia in general due to crime reports. 

Over the last few years, Cartagena has risen as a popular tourist destination, making it one of the safest places to visit in the country.

Thankfully, I did not have any issues, but I did observe a lot of drunk people wandering the streets alone (both foreigners and locals), which leads me to share this advice:

At nighttime, I would be cautious about walking in certain alleyways, as the lights are dim, and the chance of running into drunk individuals is high.

However, even at night, there always seemed to be a lot of people around, so I recommend staying with the crowd and around people at all times as opposed to wandering on your own. 

I did not experience any sketchy incidents in Cartagena, but I can see how they happen at night. 

Cartagena Travel Guide
Photo Credit: Photo by Alejandro Alfaro M

Getting A SIM Card 

Upon researching how to get a SIM card in Colombia, it became obvious that either I would have to go out of my way to get one or purchase an e-SIM card before arriving that would cost a bit more compared to the prices in-country.

However, time was more valuable on this trip, so I got an e-SIM card from Holafly

I purchased the 5-day unlimited data plan. 

While I could have gotten a better deal waiting to purchase a physical SIM in Colombia, getting an e-SIM card was priceless and helped me save more time overall. 

Do you need a SIM card in Cartagena? 

I highly recommend having a SIM card when traveling in Cartagena. This is mainly because you will need data and service to order Uber and even research directions and places to visit while you’re out and about. 

Holafly Platform Dashboard
Once you purchase the SIM card it will be “saved” in your dashboard like this until you are ready to install it for use.

My Experience Using An E-SIM for the First Time 

Installing my e-SIM card was a matter of following a few (literally maybe 3) steps provided by the company.

What I liked about using Holafly for the first time was that when I purchased the SIM card, I had to activate it and use it immediately. 

I installed the card while waiting to board my flight to Colombia. I did experience issues with the card working right away when I landed, but this was quickly fixed after an hour or so. 

I contacted the Holafly team, and I’m unsure what they did or if they did anything, but as soon as I told them the issue, my SIM began to work!

My card did not come with a phone number or the ability to make phone calls, but I never needed to make calls during my trip. 

Any calls I had to make could be made through WhatsApp or the “Free Call” feature within the Uber app, and all data is accessible. 

Overall, I highly recommend using Holafly for an e-SIM and look forward to using the brand again on my future trips. 

Getting Around

There are several ways to get around Cartagena that are all fairly easy to use and navigate, especially if it is your first time visiting the city. Cartagena is, so far, the city where I have had the easiest time getting transportation to and from places without any headaches.

Taxi 

Taxi is the primary form of transportation in Cartagena and is the easiest to use. The cabs in the city are easily identifiable, being a bright yellow with their registration numbers plastered on the side of the vehicle. 

Taxis are everywhere in Cartagena. Always waiting for their next passenger, hailing a taxi cab is simple and easy. You can wave or raise your hand to indicate that you need a ride, and a cab will come. 

The only catch is that you must speak Spanish or know enough words to communicate where you want to go. The taxi driver will name a price, and if it’s fair to you, you’ll hop in, and you’re on your way to your destination! 

A tazi in the Getsemani Area

Uber 

Uber is available in Cartagena and is another option that is seamless to use. Once you input the details of where you want to go, you’ll get a list of ride types to get to your destination. 

In Cartagena, there is an option for a motorcycle, which I love and was always less expensive than ordering a car! I didn’t get to try it out, but I would love to on my next visit to Cartagena. 

Using Uber in Cartagena was extremely impressive and efficient for me, as drivers typically arrived within 1-2 minutes, no matter where I was ordering from. If only this were the case in every city! 

There’s also no option for cash with Uber in Cartagena, so the money is deducted from the card you have on file, adding a layer of convenience that keeps more of the local currency in your pockets. 

Public Bus 

There is a public bus transportation system in Cartagena that I saw driving around often. It’s called Transcaribe and, according to locals, is pretty efficient. It can get extremely packed inside, but it seems reliable. 

However, you have to have a card to ride the bus, and I was also limited in time, so I have to add it to my list of things to do in Cartagena on my next trip there! 

Transcaribe Bus in Cartagena
Image Credit: Transcaribe

Walking  

Walking can also be a great form of transportation, depending on where you are staying in Cartagena. I found some areas to be walkable while others were not, so it ultimately depends on where you find yourself. However, if you can walk, it’s free!

Where I Stayed: Airbnb in La Boquilla 

From what I’ve seen, many people usually stay in an Airbnb or a hotel when traveling to Cartagena. 

With Cartagena having a great selection of stunning, intimate boutique hotels, I originally planned to lodge at one of them. Still, they were pricey and out of my budget, so I turned to Airbnb. 

After searching for days, I wanted to give up, but I finally came across an option that caught my attention and is where I ended up staying during my time that I’m excited to include in this Cartagena travel guide.

Cartagena Airbnb
Image Credit by Airbnb

We stayed at the Dominique in the Cielo Mar neighborhood of Cartagena. Only 10 minutes away from the airport, its building structure mimics an upscale apartment but is more of an aparthotel style, as it is known for hosting guests through Airbnb.

Amenities 

Rooftop Pool and Lounge 

Dominique has a GORGEOUS rooftop pool with jacuzzis, an infinity pool, and several places to lounge. The atmosphere and vibe were perfect for relaxation or a good time, with music and laughter filling the air, adding a beautiful touch to the property. 

Parking Space 

I didn’t rent a car, but if you happen to be traveling around Cartagena with a vehicle, you’ll be able to park it at the facility without any issues or having to worry about outsiders having access to the vehicle since the space is somewhat inside of the property. 

Private Jacuzzi (Room Specific)

Inside the Airbnb, one of the rooms has a door to the balcony that leads to a built-in private jacuzzi with stunning views of other luxury-style apartment buildings. 

The private jacuzzi adds for a spicy night if you’re traveling with your partner or just an intimate activity that calls for bonding with a friend. 

Personal Jacuzzi on Balcony
Our Airbnb came with a personal jacuzzi on the rooftop! The water was cold sadly, but still a nice touch if that can get fixed.

Gym

I actually completely missed that there was a gym here, which tells you how much I was trying to work out while on my trip, lol, but it is listed as an amenity.

Wi-Fi (Room Specific)

Wi-Fi was included in our stay, which was helpful, especially for my travel buddy, who did not have phone service during her time in Colombia. This allowed her to stay online and in touch with her loved ones while we traveled.

Convenience Store

The Airbnb has a convenience store just to the right of the building. This was very convenient for when we needed toiletries, snacks, water, and other small items during our trip.

Washer and Dryer (Room Specific)

While I didn’t need to do any laundry, I appreciated the fact that if I needed to, the relevant utilities were made accessible to me. 

Inside of the Airbnb

Our apartment on the 7th floor contained two bedrooms and two bathrooms. During my stay, the Airbnb was listed for $143/night. We stayed four nights and checked out on the 5th day for $498.82. 

As a boho-chic decor lover, I immediately fell in love with the setup of Airbnb and how it was designed. 

Airbnb Cartagena Living Room
Image Credit by Airbnb

Bedroom One’s Features

The features of the bedroom I stayed in were:

  • Queen-sized bed 
  • Air conditioning 
  • Huge mounted flat screen TV
  • Walkway with several cabinets, drawers, and shelves for storage
  • En-suite bathroom

Bedroom Two 

The features of the other room are:

  • Two single beds 
  • Huge mounted flat screen TV
  • Door leading to the balcony 
  • Direct access to the jacuzzi on the balcony 
  • Closet-like area with shelves and cabinets 

Bathroom Two 

  • Located right next to Bedroom Two 
  • Shower 
  • Toilet 
  • Full wide-sized mirror 
Bathroom Two
Image Credit by Airbnb

Kitchen 

The kitchen was extremely well stocked with everything and more that we needed during our stay. 

  • Three seated chairs at the kitchen island 
  • Refrigerator 
  • Microwave 
  • Pots and pans 
  • Dishes and silverware 
  • Stove and Oven 
  • Coffee Maker
  • Wine glasses
  • Blender 
The kitchen area of the Airbnb

Living Room

  • Sofa bed 
  • Plants 

Balcony 

  • Jacuzzi 
  • Outdoor Seated Furniture 

Laundry Room/Closet 

  • Washer and Dryer 

My Review of the Airbnb 

I really loved my stay at Dominique while in Cartagena. The apartment building alone is absolutely gorgeous. 

As for the apartment unit I stayed in, I would live there myself if I was given the opportunity. I am a picky person when it comes to my living arrangements, so that is saying a lot! 

The Airbnb is located about 15-20 minutes from the city center, which worried me a bit at first because I’ve never been to Cartagena and did not know how this would play out or if it would be an issue. Thankfully, it was very easy to get in and out, and the location actually ended up being a great escape from the mild crowds in places like Getsemani.

The decor was soothing and calming for me, and again, as a boho lover, I can tell that the hosts really worked to ensure that guests had absolutely everything they needed while staying. 

The only issue I experienced was cold water running in the showers and the jacuzzi, so we couldn’t get in when we planned to. I’ve taken colder showers, but it was a bit annoying, especially when having to shower early in the morning. 

Other than that, I had a fabulous stay. I would book this Airbnb again and highly recommend it. 

Insider Tip: There is a walkable taqueria spot just down the street called “ Taqueria Mexico Puerto Vallarta” that you can check out if you get hungry during your stay!

Where to Eat 

I did not get to check out the food scene in Cartagena as much as I would have liked to due to many of my tours, including food, and the way my schedule panned out. However, here are a few places I did visit:

Erase Un Café 

As a self-proclaimed cafe babe, I live for a beautiful chic cafe, so when I learned about Erase Un Café, I knew that I would be having breakfast there. 

Erase Un Café Storefront
Erase Un Café Storefront

Nestled within the vibrant streets of the historic walled city, this café offers a charming European-style ambiance with a Colombian flair. Known for its Colombian coffee flavors and specialty desserts, Erase Un Café offers an aesthetically pleasing dining experience. 

I had breakfast here one morning and ordered a French-style breakfast with passionfruit juice, which was delicious. For 53,000 COP ($13.55), it included:

  • Croissant or waffles, accompanied by egg omelet, ham, bacon, pesto sauce. (I opted for no meat)
  • Cold drink (natural juices or lemonade) or Hot (cappuccino, Americano, mocha or espresso)
  • Mix of seasonal fruits
Croissant sandwich with french toast

Getsemani for Street Food 

I went on a hunt for street food in Cartagena and, shockingly, had a hard time. I found all of the lemonade and fruit stands in the world, but trying to get actual food was a challenge. However, many Colombians have told me that Getsemani is the best place to obtain street food in the city. 

As you step into this historic neighborhood, you have a better chance of running into street vendors and food carts lining the cobblestone streets. 

From arepas to crispy empanadas, visiting Getsemaní for street food is a culinary experience that captures the essence of Colombia’s vibrant food scene.

Pizzeria Aquanile 

After partying on a Chiva bus, we randomly came across Pizzeria Aquanile, this salsa-themed Italian spot in Bocagrande, for a late-night bite. 

Serving burgers, seafood, pasta, and more, the menu goes beyond traditional pizzas. I ordered a classic cheese pizza, my favorite, and it was delicious. 

My favorite part of eating here is the live entertainment. The restaurant has live entertainment daily during its high season, adding an interactive element to the dining experience. The pizzeria usually has salsa music, but we also got a hint of jazz with the live saxophone player! 

Aquanile Pizzeria
Image Credit: Pizzeria Aquanile

Alma Restaurant and Bar 

Located inside Casa San Agustin, one of Cartagena’s most popular and stunning hotels, Alma is also high on the list of must-eat restaurants for many. 

This upscale establishment has an elegant ambiance with a touch of tropical flair. The restaurant’s name, “Alma,” means “soul” in Spanish.

The restaurant’s stylish décor, chic furnishings, and soft lighting set the stage for yet another intimate dining experience.

Alma Restaurant
Photo Credit: Alma Restaurant

We did not have reservations when we visited (which I highly recommend), so we were seated at the bar, which is still a luxurious experience. 

I ordered the Creamy Mushroom Rice with Oxtail. This meal is described as “Slow braised oxtail served with creamy mushroom rice and Cherry tomato confit.” for 92,000 COP = $23.44. 

I couldn’t finish my meal, but it was good and well-portioned for the price. I would love to return to Alma, have a full dining experience, and try another meal on my next trip to Cartagena. 

Creamy Mushroom Rice with Oxtail

Things to Do in Cartagena  

Cartagena is filled with entertainment and engaging activities to do that this Cartagena travel guide would be incomplete without including. While I can’t fit them all here, in this section, I’ll list some things to do in Cartagena and recap what my experience was like participating in some of the activities.

Have A Night Out on A Chiva Party Bus 

Lining the streets of Cartagena at night, you can’t miss the colorful, long buses with flashy lights blasting Latin music with a load of passengers dancing and celebrating life onboard. 

A literal vibrant fiesta on wheels, boarding a chiva bus was a great introduction to Cartagena’s nightlife. 

Chiva Party Bus 
Photo Credit: Hi Cartagena

These party buses typically provide passengers with rum and great vibes while driving through the streets of Cartagena. On these buses, your only job is to party and create memories with other passengers for hours. 

We did this bus on our first night, and it did not disappoint! With little communication leading up to the night we were supposed to board, we got a text earlier in the day to meet the bus at a certain location in Bocagrande, then got a phone call once the bus arrived and hopped onboard.

On our way to sit down, we were handed coke and a bottle of rum, and the rest was history! We danced with the other people on board, “competed” with people on other Chiva buses to see which bus was better (partied harder), and even stopped at a plaza for pictures and vendors at some point. 10/10 experience and highly recommend it. 

More Chiva Party Bus Experiences in Cartagena:

Enjoy Live Entertainment During Dinner 

I quickly noticed that live entertainment while dining at nighttime is a staple for many establishments in Cartagena, lucky for visitors! 

Having dinner with live entertainment in Cartagena is more than just a meal – it’s an immersive cultural experience that adds an extra layer of excitement and vibrancy to your meal. 

This is an opportunity to see Cartagena’s rich cultural heritage come to life through its music, dance, and theatrical performances, giving you a memorable night out.

A few places I know that offer live entertainment are Member’s Only, Candé, and Carmen

Fire Performance at La Movida
La Movida has fireshows on certain days of the week late at night! | Photo Credit: La Movida

Dance and Take Pictures with Palenqueras 

If you travel to Cartagena and don’t dance with palenqueras, did you even visit!? All jokes aside, the rich history of the Palenqueras is worth reading up on before your visit. 

These Black women, who can be found in various alleyways and meeting squares, embody the vibrant culture of Colombia’s Afro-Colombian community. 

Christina and Shang dancing with the Palenqueras
We found some Palenqueras during my birthday photoshoot and it was so fun dancing with them!

Originating from the town of San Basilio de Palenque, the first free African settlement in the Americas, Palenqueras are known for their colorful dresses. 

These women carry baskets of tropical fruits on their heads as they navigate the bustling streets of Cartagena, offering a slice of local life and adding a touch of charm to the city’s vibrant atmosphere. 

Today, many make a living by taking pictures with tourists, which includes dancing with them as they sing to you. 

Stroll the Streets in Getsemani 

Getsemaní is the area of Cartagena that I can guarantee will make your heart melt in the city. There’s so much to take in and admire, which is why a simple walk around the neighborhood is warranted to appreciate its beauty fully. 

Its colorful walls and doors, lively plazas, and eclectic street art are just a few things you can expect to experience as you wander through the streets of Getsemaní. 

Traditional music, flashy cafes, vibrant street vendors, and bohemian boutiques are also aspects of Getsemani that add to its charm. 

Learn How to Fuse Colombian Flavors in A Cooking Class 

Taking a cooking class in Cartagena is an immersive way to explore Colombian cuisine’s flavors and culinary traditions. The local food in Cartagena was always cooked using fresh ingredients and spices. 

Participating in a cooking class is a chance to learn directly from local chefs who share their expertise and passion for traditional dishes such as arepas. 

I booked a cooking class, and I was able to learn how to make shrimp fried rice while having some hands-on time in the kitchen during my class. It was a great experience, as the chef’s passion for cooking shined through. 

More Cooking Class Experiences in Cartagena:

Enjoy Views of Beaches from an ATV 

Riding an ATV along the picturesque beaches of Cartagena is an exhilarating and priceless experience. While ATV riding is a common vacation activity where you go, ATV riding is equally important, and Cartagena has the views!

I rode an ATV with Cartagena ATV Tours for almost 3 hours, and it didn’t disappoint. We were taken to three different beaches and stopped for 15-20 minutes at each to take in the views and snap pictures.

Christina Jane ATV riding in Cartagena
Started my birthday ATV riding in the morning! The ride was rough for me, but the views were beautiful.

 At one point, we stopped for drinks and were given complimentary plantains. The tour ended with included arepas as well, which was my first time having one. 

More ATV Riding Experiences in Cartagena:

Take A Mud Bath Inside of A Volcano

One of the most popular activities, just outside of Cartagena, is taking a mud bath inside the Totumo Volcano. 

Located about 45 minutes outside the city, near the town of Totumo, the “volcano” is filled with thick mud that is believed to have therapeutic properties for the skin.

Visitors to the mud volcano can climb up the stairs built around its sides and descend into the crater to experience the unique sensation of floating effortlessly in the dense mud that makes it impossible to sink. 

After the mud bath, visitors can rinse off in a nearby lagoon or use buckets of water provided by locals. 

I was interested in visiting the mud volcano, but I opted out of it for time purposes due to its messy nature. However, I will definitely do it in the future to say I did it!

Mud Bath Experiences in Cartagena:

Dive into Cartagena’s Background at the Museum of History 

It is not commonly spoken about when researching things to do in Cartagena, but you may be surprised to hear that a Museum of History exists in the historic district. 

Filled with various exhibits, each depicting knowledge of the journey to Cartagena’s existence, a visit to the museum is a great way to brush up on the city’s history. 

From the pre-Columbian era to the present day, the museum comprehensively explores Cartagena’s cultural heritage, political struggles, and societal transformations.

Photo Credit: Museum of History

Take a Day Trip to Palenque 

One of the highlights of my trip, a visit to Palenque, the first free African town in the Americas, is an absolute must. 

Palenque is the first free African town in the Americas that you can visit on a day tour!

Founded in the 16th century by Africans who fled slavery, Palenque became a sanctuary for those seeking refuge from the oppressive conditions of slavery. The town developed its distinct culture, blending African traditions with indigenous and European influences.

Today, you can tour the town and experience its music, dance, and traditional practices, such as drumming and storytelling, which have been passed down through generations.

It remains a symbol of resistance, resilience, and cultural pride, serving as a living testament to the enduring legacy of African heritage in the Americas.

More Palenque Tours in Cartagena:

Private Chef 

This was my birthday trip, so I wanted to bring my new year of age with a twist on dinner. Instead of going out to eat, I decided to book a private chef experience in our Airbnb. 

Private Chef preparing an appetizer
Private Chef preparing our first course

Booked through Airbnb experiences, a chef came to our place and prepared a 4-course dinner right in our kitchen in front of us. 

It was so special, and I highly recommend doing this activity to add a unique touch to your itinerary and Cartagena experience. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Cartagena cash-dominant or can I use my card to pay for most things?

Cartagena is not cash-dominant, in my opinion. I recommend always having cash on you. However, I was pleasantly surprised that card payment was accepted at most establishments I visited. 

This makes it easier to plan and manage the cash that you have on you. It also eliminates the need to visit the ATM frequently. 

The most I needed cash for were for street vendors, so I would make sure to have cash for that purpose. Other than that, I used my card to pay for most purchases.

Is Cartagena safe for tourists?

Cartagena is generally considered safe for tourists, especially in the tourist areas within the historic walled city and Bocagrande. 

However, like any city, it’s essential to remain vigilant and take precautions to ensure personal safety, such as avoiding isolated areas at night and keeping an eye on belongings in crowded places.

Getsemani Walk
I never felt unsafe at any time while in Cartagena. We did have one brief encounter with a drunk man from the States, but that was not anything to worry about.

What should I pack for a trip to Cartagena?

Here is a quick packing list of what I recommend packing when visiting Cartagena:

Is Cartagena worth visiting?

Absolutely! Cartagena is a touristy destination that has been on my list for years, and it did not disappoint. 

I didn’t find it to be overhyped or overrated at all, but that is because I usually travel without much expectation based on what I may have seen online. 

Cartagena has a great restaurant scene, plenty of activities to do if you’re visiting as a tourist, and an extremely chill place that isn’t overcrowded with tourists (when I visited in late February). I will definitely be back! 

Relax Spa Cartagena
I booked a spa service at Relax Spa and they went all out with the decorations!

What is Cartagena known for?

Cartagena, Colombia, is known for its rich history, stunning colonial architecture, vibrant culture, and beautiful Caribbean beaches. 

The city’s historic center, surrounded by 13 kilometers of well-preserved colonial walls, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a treasure trove of cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and charming plazas. 

Cartagena is also renowned for its vibrant cultural scene, lively music, dance, and festivals celebrating the city’s Afro-Caribbean roots. 

Cartagena’s culinary scene is diverse and flavorful, offering a fusion of Colombian, Caribbean, and international cuisines. Beyond its cultural and culinary offerings, Cartagena boasts beautiful beaches and nearby islands, making it a popular destination.

Overall, Cartagena was worth the hype! I loved it and would love to do one more trip just to finish off my bucket list!

Final Thoughts on Cartagena  

Cartagena was a beautiful destination for me. Only a three-hour flight from Florida, it’s also a quick getaway from the States, which makes it even much more worth the journey.

I’m happy that I finally got the opportunity to visit and check the city off my list, although there’s still so much I have to see and do on the future trips I will take back to Cartagena.

The city has a very chill nature to its atmosphere that drew me in. It is a touristy destination, but I found that I was not overwhelmed at all and didn’t feel like there were many people there, although the streets were always filled. 

With Medellín and Bogota also on my Columbia list, I think Cartagena was a beautiful introduction to what Columbia has to offer.

I hope this Cartagena travel guide was helpful for you as you plan your trip to Cartagena!

Please feel free to comment any questions you may have below! I’d be more than happy to help anyway that I can 🙂

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  1. Chiva rides are so fun! I have done them in Ecuador but didn’t realize they were popular in Colombia, too! Great tips for a fun city.

  2. Wow wow wow! What a thorough and detailed post about Cartagena. I was supposed to go last year, but the trip fell through. When I end up going, I’m going to have to reference this post. I also recently used Holafly for my first eSIM experience and overall, it was a great service. I had some issues installing, but their customer service was super helpful and patient! I’ll definitely use them again. Thanks for sharing about your trip. I’m excited to use this blog to help me plan my own 🙂

    1. Hi Larissa,

      Omg! Interesting to hear that you also had issues installing the eSIM, as I was taken aback by that but would use them again! Love that the guide was helpful for you!

  3. This trip looks like it was soo much fun. Looks like you did a lot in those 5 days. I need breaks in between. I don’t know how you it.

  4. Thank you so much for such a comprehensive guide to this wonderful city. I’m currently planning a trip there for me and 9 of my friends and this was soo helpful, especially with the links you included. This just made me even more excited to get there already lol.

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Christina Jane Travel Writer

About The Blogger

I’m Christina, a travel blogger and content creator from Fort Myers, Florida.

Being Christina Jane is my way of inviting you to join me on my travel ventures by sharing the knowledge gained from my adventures and experiences— both good and bad.

This travel blog is filled with helpful travel tips, information, and is a recollection of the lessons I’ve learned and experiences I’ve had while traveling.

My goal is to curate a space that interconnects my love for travel and transparency and I hope you will join me on that journey. 

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