Cartagena Colombia has become one of the most talked-about cities. You don’t have to spend 6 days in Cartagena, but you try to get at least a day or two in!
The Old City has to be on your Colombia itinerary because of the wild nightlife, fine dining options, and the countless activities that the city has to offer.
The Walled City is along the Caribbean Sea in Colombia, off of the northern coast. It is undoubtedly one of the more expensive cities in Colombia, along with Bogota, Medellin, and Santa Marta.
There will be tourists from all over the world when you travel to Cartagena.
If you choose to fly to Cartagena, you can fly to Rafael Núñez International Airport (CTG).
From the airport, there will be taxis lined up to take you to your accommodation. If you are staying in the center of Cartagena, the ride should be about 20 minutes.
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You can spend 1 day in Cartagena or a week there. It depends on what you want to do. If you want to just spend time in the center of Cartagena and then a day trip to the islands, I think 2 or 3 days in Cartagena should be enough.
If you have enough time and want to take things slowly, one week in Cartagena is perfect.
I ended up staying 6 days in Cartagena because I adored the city so much.
The weather is blistering but the locals are sociable. There are plenty of day trips that you can take from the city and sometimes you might be followed by street vendors. And be aware of the tourist traps and bargaining in Cartagena because it can happen to you.
Cartagena’s beauty will make you want to add more days to your Cartagena itinerary.
The colonial architecture and blooming vibrant flowers that hang from balconies will have you walking up and down every street capturing photos of the Old Town.
How Safe is Cartagena Colombia for Tourists?
If you stay in the center of Cartagena, I think you should be fine.
There are tons of travelers and people at all hours of the day and even at night. Just keep an eye out for your personal belongings and use common sense.
What is the Walkability Like in Cartagena Colombia?
You will see more people walking than driving in Cartagena, especially if you stick around the center. You will see some cars but the streets are very narrow and many of the streets are one way.
If you plan on leaving the center, you can use Uber, inDriver, or any other means of transportation that you prefer.
If you appreciate walking, like me, you can really walk anywhere in Cartagena. Just make sure to stay hydrated and apply sunblock to protect yourself from the harsh heat!
What You Will Need For Your 6 Days in Cartagena
Even if you stay longer or fewer days, you will most definitely need:
Where is the Best Place to Stay in Cartagena Colombia?
You will want to stay on Carrera 7 or somewhere around that area. Just keep in mind that Cartagena’s nightlife will be heard through most of the walls, especially if you are right in the middle of it.
If you favor somewhere quiet, it is best to get a hostel or hotel that is not right in the center. If you are a female and you are traveling alone, I recommend booking somewhere closer to the center because the streets can get quite dark at night.
There are numerous hostels and hotels in the center of Cartagena.
I do not suggest staying at Hotel Stil for a few different reasons: it is not near the center of town and if you are walking alone at night, you want to be in a well-lit area, the wifi connection is very poor, and inside of the hotel can get extremely loud.
Where to Eat
There are hundreds of bars and restaurants to choose from in Cartagena, specifically in the center. There are pizza places, burgers, fish, vegetarian, and more.
- Bam’s Burgers
- Café de La Manana
- Cafe del Mar
- Pan de Queso
For being one of the bars on the World’s 50 Best Bars, Alquimico is not as costly as I thought it was going to be. You can easily spend USD 20 on a beverage and some food. The rooftop bar is perfect for a nice cozy night.
This fast-food burger joint will be packed late at night. I got their vegetarian burger for COP 18,000 (USD 5). It was not the best veggie burger but the fries were pretty delish.
Café de la Mañana
Café de la Mañana is a breakfast restaurant on a side street inside the Walled City. There are multiple vegetarian options that will catch your eye. You can grab a falafel burger with homemade chips for less than USD 10.
Café del Mar
Personally, I think Café del Mar is overrated. Especially after paying COP 36,000 (USD 10) for a mojito.
Watching the sunset from that part of Cartagena is truly beautiful.
Anyhow, you can buy a cold beer and sit on the ledge with the locals for a sixth of the price, or less at COP 4,000 (USD 1) so if you’re looking to save, grab a cold one and skip the cafe.
Pan de Queso
This bakery has cheese everything. Grab a piece of cheesy bread to start off your morning and walk on the shadow side of the street through the city.
Other Restaurants on Carrera 7
**Don’t overlook the street food in Cartagena. The fresh mango, papaya, and watermelon will satisfy your taste buds on an unbearing hot day.
If you want to try some local cuisine, there is this place where you can get the BEST street empanadas. It will be on Carrera 7, walking toward Carrera 8 and Calle 37. Out of the 6 days in Cartagena, I ate here for at least 3.
Getsemani has a few local street vendors too.
Things to Do
- Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas
- Centro Comercial la Serrezuela
- Convento de la Popa
- Las Bóvedas
- Spend a few hours at El Totumo- the mud bath volcano
- Take a day tour to the Rosario Islands
- Take a photo with the Palenqueras
- Take a walking tour of Cartagena
- Visit Getsemani
- Walk around Bocagrande
- Walk through Parque Del Centenario
Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas
Check out Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, the hilltop fortress with a tunnel system that was built in the 1600s. The entrance fee is entrance fee COP 25,000 (USD 7). You can spend an hour wandering around the fortress. Take in the views of the city and catch a nice breeze while you can.
From the center of Cartagena, you can walk to Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas in about 20 minutes. If the sun is beating down, don’t forget to lather yourself in sunblock and wear a hat and sunglasses.
Another option is to use inDriver to book a ride. Just be sure to set a reasonable rate and a driver will accept your fair and pick you up from your desired location.
If you choose to walk here/back from the center, you can stop at Getsemani and check another site off your list.
Centro Comercial La Serrezuela
Grab a coffee and relax in the AC at this mall, or go shopping and check out some brand-name apparel.
Convento de la Popa
If you are up for it, Convento de La Popa has even more views of the whole city. I don’t want to say it’s important to see but if you miss out on going, you’re not missing too much.
The ticket to get in is COP 13,000 (USD 3.5).
If you decide to grab a taxi from Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, most of the taxi drivers will offer to stay at Convento de La Popa and bring you back down for around COP 50,000 (USD 13).
From the fortress to Convento de La Popa it will take about ten minutes. It is not advised to walk there because the roads are windy and steep with no sidewalks and walking through the neighborhood may not be too safe.
Walking through the Convento de La Popa will take about 20 minutes.
If you’re looking for some gifts to bring home, these former 18th-century dungeons now have some shops where you can buy souvenirs.
You can walk on top and investigate the area while you walk through the tunnels. The cool breeze from the ocean will make you want to stay longer but 20 minutes should be plenty of time.
Take a Photo with the Palenqueras
Take a photo with the iconic Palenqueras. The women balance fruit baskets on top of their heads while they walk. You’ve seen them in photos and souvenirs, and if you’ve walked along Bocagrande, you’ve seen the statue.
If you decide to take a picture, please make sure to give them a tip because this is their job.
Take a Walking Tour of Cartagena
The Walled City contains important history that you might want to learn about. The glowing streets and houses have deep history and meaning to the city.
Most of the walking tours are free but will take donations. It is highly suggested that you donate to support the guides, so please do!
You can hop on a tour by the Plaza Santa Teresa or ask your hostel or hotel for another option.
You can’t spend 6 days in Cartagena without seeing the umbrellas!
Walk through the street art and under the hundreds of flags. Sip a beer and listen to some music. This place is known for its colorful umbrellas and countless hostels.
Getsemani is a chill area of Cartagena that you won’t want to miss out on seeing! There are a few restaurants and bars along the road, you will see murals and paintings that will capture your eye. You can also book a room here if you are looking for a quiet, less expensive stay in Cartagena.
Walk around Bocagrande
Bocagrande is popular for its long, sandy beaches. It is a 25-minute walk from the center of Cartagena.
There are casinos, beach bars, fast-food chains, cafes, and of course many Colombian restaurants. You can walk along the beach or sit down and enjoy a cold beverage at one of the beach bars.
Bocagrande has many shops to pick up a souvenir or just do some browsing.
Walk through Parque Del Centenario
If you’ve traveled around Central or South America, this may not be so exciting to you. If you are lucky enough, you can see a sloth or two inside this park. They will usually be high up in the trees. The park will be closed shut during the night.