Finest Things to do in Cartagena Colombia

Best Restaurants in Cartagena, Colombia

Welcome to Cartagena de Indias! Here, the culture moves-away from the modern effervescence of cities like Bogota-towards awesome tropical atmospheres and colonial buildings. The pace of life is slow due to its coastal location in the Caribbean and the temperatures, which are much warmer than in other parts of Colombia.

However, despite the heat, there are still many awesome things to do in Cartagena, whether it’s learning about its Spanish colonial history or relaxing on the many beautiful beaches.

1. Playa Blanca (Baru Islands)

Isla Baru (Baru Island) is one of the closest of the many islands that lie off the coast of Cartagena. While it’s not as tropical or luxurious as some of the other islands in the area (for example, the Rosario Islands), there’s a lively atmosphere that’s hard to smack. People come here on weekends to swim in the azure water, relax on the sandy beaches and escape from the city.

Day Trip to the Baru Islands

Visit here on a day trip as one of the best things to do in Cartagena! Board a speedboat from the city and enjoy an exciting 45-minute boat ride to the island, where you can admire an exceptional view of the Cartagena skyline. Once there, visit Playa Blanca, where you can drink cocktails, relax on the sun loungers or even rent a jetski.

It’s a bit touristy and there can be some hustle and bustle on the beach in the middle of the day. For this reason, we recommend that you leave as early as possible in the morning to make the most of the island. Despite the crowds, it’s always a good thing to do in Cartagena, especially if you have more time for your trip.

How to get to Isla Baru

Reach Isla Baru by booking a boat to Playa Blanca. Tickets cost between 15 and 25 USD for a round trip. Many tours will also offer a drink, lunch or a deckchair for a higher price.

It is also possible to go by car or bus on the bridge that connects the island to the mainland.

Spend the night in Playa Blanca

However, if you want to enjoy the tranquility of Isla Baru, we recommend staying in one of the hotels on the island. After 16 hours, the day trips return to Cartagena, which means that you can enjoy a peaceful sunset from one of the most beautiful beaches in Colombia.

2. Gethsemane District

There is no better place to go out during your stay in Cartagena than Getsemani. This colorful and artistic neighborhood is home to some of the best restaurants and cafes in the city. In addition, it is also the lowest area, so you can enjoy delicious meals and stay in beautiful accommodation for a fraction of the price. It is also directly next to the old walls of Cartagena, so it is perfectly located.

Spend a few hours here and walk through the cute streets, filled with brightly painted houses and decorated with street art, hanging umbrellas and bunting.

3. University of Cartagena

The old walls are one of the main things to do in Cartagena and have great historical importance. For this reason, they are a UNESCO World Heritage site in the city. The walls are built around the beautiful old town and serve as a fortification for the city (they were built by the Spaniards to defend against oncoming strikes).

These days people come to the walls to climb to the top and see fantastic views of the new city. You will be able to see the skyscrapers light up at night; it is unique to see how much the city has grown and developed from this place!

Sunset on the walls of Cartagena de Indias

Sunset is the privileged moment for tourists and locals! Everyone comes here in the early evening to find their place, have a few beers and watch the sun go down with friends.

There are also many excellent restaurants at the top of the walls where you buy a cocktail or order food. However, the prices are above average due to the location. For this reason, if you have a limited budget, we recommend that you bring your own drinks or picnic. Enjoy this thing to do in Cartagena while the cool sea breeze refreshes you.

4. University of Cartagena

In the center of Cartagena (within the city walls), discover the more luxurious side of the city. Here you can discover beautiful historical buildings that house high-end hotels and chic restaurants. The tropical atmosphere continues because all the houses are painted in warm and vibrant colors, with pretty balconies and flowers.

The atmosphere of the area is fantastic—a place with beautiful parks where green parrots sit in the trees and charming churches are around every corner. In fact, you might be mistaken in thinking that you were walking around a city in southern Europe.

The only thing that gives it away are the Colombian ladies, dressed in brightly colored dresses, with fruits on their heads. Be sure to buy beautiful fruits at a very low price or take a photo for a small payment in the range of 5,000 – 10,000 K.

5. Sunset cruise in Cartagena

Due to its fascinating maritime history, sailing is still one of the best things to do in Cartagena. There is a lively port where many people still dock their boats, from cruise ships to fishing boats to catamarans.

If you are wondering what to do in Cartagena, taking the sea is a perfect idea! Join a sunset cruise, where you can enjoy an epic view of the city skyline from the sparkling ocean. At night, you will have the advantage of seeing the city light up after dark. Best of all, due to Cartagena’s notorious temperatures, being on the water is the perfect place to escape the heat and enjoy the cool ocean breeze.

6. Castle of San Felipe de Barajas

The Castillo de San Felipe is a large and beautiful sixteenth-century castle in Cartagena, Colombia. It is located right in front of the Getsemani Bridge and just a 10-minute walk from the clock Tower in the historic center. Most importantly, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, protected due to its importance in defending the city from past strikes.

7. The Havana Cafe

In the middle of the Getsemani district, discover the real Colombian experience at Café Havana. This lively bar hosts a salsa dancing experience, where you can hear wonderful live salsa music and watch people move in time to the smack. Even if you don’t feel like getting involved in dancing, have a Cuban cocktail and enjoy the show. You are bound to leave with a smile on your face!

8. Rosario Islands

The Rosario Islands are the jewel of Cartagena, a group of 28 islands that are not too far from the coast. The landscape here is absolutely magical, just like the Caribbean landscapes you imagine! Discover the beautiful beaches with their pristine white sand and water so clear that you can see all the patterns and colors of tropical marine life. Best of all, this perfect paradise is only an hour by boat from the city!

9. Bike Tour

Discover all the best things to do in Cartagena by participating in a fun, dynamic and active bike tour. You will meet other travelers and be led by an experienced guide who will be able to tell you many interesting facts and information about some of the most important sights. They will also be able to point you to hidden gems and secret places that you may not otherwise know, thus giving you an insight into the authentic life of Cartagena.

10. The Coffee Workshop

Nothing says “Colombia” like coffee! During your visit to Cartagena, you will not be short of fantastic cafes to enjoy a local cup of freshly ground coffee. However, if you really want to understand what the coffee culture is like in Colombia, take part in a tour of specialized cafes —one of the best things to do in Cartagena!

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