Cartagena, which is situated on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, was established in 1533. One of the principal ports where gold and silver were shipped back to Spain and where slaves from Africa entered South America.
As a result, Cartagena has a number of historical tourist attractions on display. Due to the city’s vulnerability to pirate invasions, Cartagena’s Old Town has a fortified wall surrounding it for protection, and a magnificent fortress towers over it.
Aside from having some of Colombia’s best cuisine and a mild climate, Cartagena also boasts a vibrant nightlife where you can dance the night away to champeta and salsa at one of the many pubs and clubs the city has to offer.
Best Places to Visit in Cartagena, Colombia
On the beaches to the north of the city, kitesurfing is another well-liked activity in Cartagena. Additionally, if you have more than a day or two, think about leaving Cartagena for a day excursion to visit the renowned Magic Mud Volcano or the stunning beaches of Islas del Rosario.
Our list of the top things to do in Cartagena will help you discover the city’s attractions and learn more.
1. Visit the Walled City
Colombia’s brightest glory is Cartegana’s lovely walled city. A sizable portion of the city’s historic core is covered in breathtaking architecture, most of which has been painstakingly restored.
Open spaces and restaurant-lined squares are accessible from narrow streets. In the evenings, little bands set up in restaurants and roving musicians take to the plazas, creating the atmosphere of a scene from a Gabriel Garcia Marquez book.
2. Ride in a Romantic Horse-Drawn Carriage
One of the most well-liked activities in Cartagena, despite the city’s walled-in colonial architecture, is a horse-drawn carriage ride. The clip-clock sound of horse feet may be heard as you go down practically any street in the old city, where horses appear to outnumber cars.
The finest place to begin a tour is from the Plaza de los Coches in front of the Torre del Reloj, which is the main entrance with the recognizable yellow clocktower.
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Empty carriages will stop for you everywhere in the city, but this is where you should begin your journey. Touts are eager to sell you a tour, as horse-drawn carriages are lined up along one side of the square.
3. Explore Getsemani’s Streets and Plazas
The lovely suburb of Getsemani is located just outside the walled city. The spectacular architecture, wooden balconies, and winding alleyways are some of the same features that this area and the walled city share.
Getsemani, however, has a lot more of a genuine Colombian vibe and is more residential in character. It also feels less touristy. While some streets provide secluded retreats, others are popular for their nightlife.
4. Catedral Santa Catalina de Alejandria
Especially at night, when the towering spire is lit up like a scene from a fairy tale, the Catedral Santa Catalina de Alejandria is one of the most photographed structures in Cartagena’s old town. You can see it when strolling through the streets of the old city.
The 1612-era structure has lately undergone a thorough restoration. If you can look inside, you can see enormous columns supporting towering arches.
5. Food in Cartagena
The old city center offers excellent dining, and the chefs here work to make each meal special. The eating areas and restaurant designs, which range from chic to eccentric, are attractions in and of themselves. Astonishing restaurants with delicious Colombian food and cuisine from around the world make up the restaurant selection.
Eating at a restaurant perched on the old city wall of Cartagena and taking in the ocean view is one of the most popular tourist activities when it comes to dining. This experience is available in two places.
6. Explore the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas Tunnels
Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, which is perched on a hilltop a short distance from the city’s walls, is recognized as one of the greatest Spanish forts ever constructed in the New World. The triangular shape of its overall architecture and intricate tunnel system set it apart from other Spanish forts. The tunnel network is the fort’s most spectacular feature.
7. Watch Street Performances at Plaza de los Coches and Torre del Reloj
Many visitors use the Torre del Reloj, also known as the Puerta del Reloj or Boca del Puente, as the main entrance to the ancient city to enter the walled city. The enormous yellow clocktower that protrudes from the top of the gate makes it easy to spot. Particularly at night, peddlers of trinkets, musicians, mimes, and other artists set up shop in front of the clocktower.
Plaza de los Coches, a sizable, triangular-shaped square just inside the city wall, is sometimes crowded with people milling around for no apparent reason other than to appreciate the historic structures and the queue of horse-drawn carriages standing by to take visitors on tours of the city.
8. At Plaza Bolivar, Unwind
A little shade is always a welcome comfort in Cartagena because it is a hot, muggy environment. The Plaza Bolivar, which lies in front of the Palacio de la Inquisicion (Palace of the Inquisition), is one of the best locations in the ancient city to locate this elusive luxury. Huge trees give shade against the sun as they surround a horse statue of Simon Bolivar.
9. Attempt and Experience Street Food Nighttime at Plaza de la Trinidad
It is worthwhile to pass by the Plaza de la Trinidad in the evening even if you don’t have enough time to visit Getsemani on its own. This square in front of the church is a magnet for locals and tourists for reasons that may initially appear inexplicable.
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In the early evening, the plaza comes alive with activity, and the church steps are crowded with people. You might be able to impulsively join a dance lesson here, watch fire jugglers or twirlers, or come across a unique act that you won’t see in other parts of the city on any given night.
10. Experience Plaza Santo Domingo’s Ambience
It is a relief to reach this spacious area after negotiating a maze of tight alleyways. Plaza Santa Domingo’s Iglesia de Santo Domingo dominates one side, but one of the square’s most recognizable elements is the reclining woman monument by Colombian sculptor Fernando Botero. Rubbing the statue for luck is customary.
This magnificent city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast transports visitors to a different time period, like flipping through the pages of a history book. The walled city of Cartagena has been beautifully maintained, in contrast to many historic cities that merely offer a glimpse of their once-glowing past.
For first-time visitors, Cartagena is a city full of unexpected joys where you can enjoy outstanding eating experiences along with distinctive sights and things to do throughout the day and at night.
Horse-drawn carriages add to the ambiance, while historic structures like the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas and the Convento La Popa de la Galera make for engaging tours. Plazas are bustling with activity.
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