Situated at an average height of 2 m a.s.l., Cartagena always welcomes you with a new adventure. The "Fortified City" lies 702 mi (1130 km) away from the capital Bogota by bus, and it is considered among the most sought out destinations in all Latin America. Founded in 1533, Cartagena is the capital of the Bolivar department and its situated right next to the seashore of the Caribbean sea, which positions the city right next to to beautiful beaches like la Boquilla, Castillo Grande or Bocagrande. On your route through the urban area you will be surrounded by unique streets where you can relive the history of Colombia through its colonial architecture. Its historic center has been declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO.
Travel tips for Cartagena
Cartagena is a quite safe city but, as in any other city of the world, caution is always a recommendation. The historic center is quite safe, but away from there it's really important not to separate yourself from your personal belongings to avoid losses that would complicate your trip. It's not recommended not to be in the street late at night, especially in the most distant neighborhoods.If you have planned to move around the regions in Colombia, you might be asked to have the yellow fever vaccine. Other vaccines that you should consider -in case you travel to the jungle- are the tetanus vaccine and the hepatitis A/B.The electric current kind used in Colombia is 110-volt AC (110 V), with a frequence of 60 Hz. We recommend you to have a plug adapter if you travel to places that use other voltage to avoid that the electronic devices suffer a short-circuit and don't work.
Best time to visit Cartagena
The best time to visit Cartagena is the period from December to April, the dry season.
Climate in Cartagena
The climate in Cartagena is tropical and presents an average temperature of 80.6 °F (27 °C) to 84.2 °F (29 °C). The humidity of the air is 80% on average.The rain level ascends considerably from May to November, with its highest peak in October.
Things to do in Cartagena
Cartagena is a destination really interesting since it has been declared the "heroic city", because in a war period the city supported 3 months without supplies. Its historic center has been declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO, so the colonial adventure is assured. A must see in Cartagena is the fortified city and the Zenu museum.
Nightlife in Cartagena
Café del Mar Cartagena
Location: Calle 9 N° 1528 Hours: 7:00 p.m. - 3:00 a.m. Prices: it doesn't say A good place where you can have beer and taste the various cocktails that this place provides, besides having a gorgeous view over the city and the sea. Have a good moment with friends, the prices can be a little expensive, keep it in mind.
Taboo Crossover Club
Location: Calle 24 #10-56 Hours: it doesn't say Prices: it doesn't say Rumba and a lot of fun waits for you in Taboo, with a great offer in cocktails for you to enjoy an unforgettable night with friends. Life music with DJ's, VIP atmospheres and 2x1 promotions in cocktails that will do that you won't wish to leave Cartagena.
Location: Calle 31 #3-38 Hours: 8:00 p.m. - 3:45 a.m. Thursday to Sunday Prices: it doesn't say Large rooms and great service to start with rumba. Youthful music, cocktails and people from all over the world to get to know is what waits for you in the nightclub Babar, enjoy in the bar all the national and international drinks, another reason to stay in Cartagena.
Bazurto Social Club
Location: Calle 31 #3-37, Getsemani Hours: 7:00 p.m. - 4:00 a.m. Thursday to Saturday Prices: it doesn't say A special place, Bazurto Social Club captures you with its fun character, colored, raucous and appealing at the same time, a place that praises the Colombian Caribbean culture. Located in the historic neighborhood of Getsemani, you will enjoy a great variety of dishes and cocktails, drinks of tropical fruits mixed up with liquors of diverse places all over the world. Party and celebration is made by the dancers, singers and life musicians will be present tonight in your soiree to make you live the real Cartagena spirit.
Where to eat in Cartagena?
La Vitrola Restaurant
Location: Calle 33 N° 2 - 01 Calle Baloco Hours: 12:00 p.m. - 12:30 a.m. Monday to Friday Price: An average of 79500 COP/ 86.50 PEN per person One of the most traditional restaurants of Cartagena, you will enjoy an excellent food with life Cuban salsa music bands. You will have a personalized service, a pleasant atmosphere with brilliant flowers to cheer up anybody's day; don't you be surprised seeing an important celebrity from the city. Children are not allowed and there is an strict code of clothing (you can't use sandals nor shorts).
La Mulata Restaurant
Location: Calle Quero 9 58 San Diego Hours: 11:30 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday Price: it doesn't say It's a beautiful and quite colored restaurant that offers to the visitor various typical dishes to make his choice, with adequate rates and the service is great, so it's a welcoming place. There are marine dishes and refreshing drinks to put up with the climate of the city.
La Olla Cartagenera Restaurant
Location: Av. San Martín N°5 -100 Bocagrande Hours: 12:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. everyday Price: it doesn't say The Olla Cartagenera has a diversity of dishes so as to taste, refreshing drinks and wines to accompany your marine tasty plates. It's a pleasant environment and a dedicated service, combined with a tidy and brilliant atmosphere.
The tourist places to see in Cartagena are:
La Ciudad Amurallada (The fortified city)
Location: Following the Avenida Pedro de Heredia Hours: all day Price: free entrance Declared Heritage of Humanity, this part of the city is the one that was fortified in the 16th century and there you can appreciate old mansions, streets that still preserve little details and decorations from the colonial period, even it's preserved 6kms of the fortress that limited the access to the city in that period (in total, the fortress had 11km). You can go with a guide to get to know the most representative places, besides the stories and legends that keep a city as old as Cartagena, but don't you forget a parasol and water to get the best out of your route.
Museo del Zenú
Location: Cra. 4 No. 33-26 Plaza de Bolívar Hours: 08:00 to 12:00 and 14:00 to 18:00 Mon - Fri / 9:00 am - 17:00 Sat. Price: free entrance Located in the old city, the zenu museum is a place that harbors the legacy and culture of the zenu's culture goldsmithing and of the settlers of the Colombian plains. You can appreciate 135 lappets of melted filigree in the second area, while the first exhibits a sample of the different archaeological areas of the Colombian territory. In the third area it's described the interesting system that helped to face the recurring floods of the region and that allowed the subsistence of the zenu culture, which you can find descendants in the region.
El Barrio Getsemaní
Location: In the streets 24 ,25 y 32 Hours: all day Price: Free entrance The creation of the neighborhood was done in the middle of the 16th century and takes this name of Getsemani from the suitable conditions of the land to the olive tree cultivation. It's a neighborhood of multicolored houses and historic spaces that transport the traveller to the colonial period; you can also see sculptures forged in iron that decorate diverse places around. Here you can taste some typical dishes or buying interesting handicrafts as a beautiful souvenir of your visit. It's a popular place that transmits all the joy and brotherhood characteristics of the city of Cartagena.
Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas
Location: Historic center Hours: all day Price: 25 000 COP Adults (29,00 PEN) / 10 500 COP Children minor of 13 years old (12,30 PEN) This fortress was built in the second half of the 17th century by the Cartagena governor, Francisco de Murga, and served as defense of the city from pirates, corsairs and enemies. It's located in the San Lazaro hill and the cost was around 13235 pesos of gold. In the visit through the castle you can see replicas of cannons in position ready to defend the fortress, go across various tunnels and visit rooms as old as the legends that surround this place that cost a lot of african slaves lifes to be built.
A tour on Segway across the city
Location: Calle Del Tejadillo, #06-26 | Local 108, Centro, Edificio Mirador del Tejadillo Hours: from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Price: 130 000 COP (152.00 PEN) for 1 hour - 210 000 COP (245.50 PEN) for 1.5 hours If you look for a different way of getting around the fortified city, or you wish to get to know the most interesting places that offers the city in a more comfortable way, enjoy a tour on a segway completely personalized with guides that will tell you the details that you can not miss in your visit to Cartagena. It's as well an interesting service that you can benefit a lot in little time. Even if the price is a little bit expensive, you will be satisfied for sure.
Viaja en carroza (trip in a carriage)
Location: El Laguito, Edificio Atlantis Hours: it doesn't say Price: 40 000 COP (46.70 PEN) You can get around the city and be amazed, but if you do it in a carriage it will be an enchanting experience and if you add a bottle of wine, you can be sure that you will never forget it. If you already found the special person or you want to visit the city with family or friends from other perspective, different from a bus, don't you lose this opportunity in a route where you will learn about the most interesting legends of the place or the most captivating stories of the city with more than 400 years of history.
The things to do in Cartagena
Fly with paramotor
Location: Playas El Laguito If you like to try new experiences, you enjoy the height excitement and you don't fear having nothing under your feet, the travel with paramotor is for you. As opposed to paragliding, the paramotor is made with the help of a huge fan that propels you or the travelers to reach heights of 30-500 meters. Go and fly with a professional instructor and you will have a privileged view over the city; you can ask for photographs and a video in order to remember this impressive experience.
Location: Cr 1ra #1a - 81 Feel the closest emotion to fly or floating in the air on your own, practicing this new sport. It works using special boots fixed to a flat surface that on the lower side eject pressurized water, which is soaked up by a hose connected to it; the athletic is hanged up and can make interesting somersaults in the air or under the water, enjoying the panoramic view over the beaches where you practice it.
Location: Historic center, Hostal Calamari Slide through water with the ease of fishes, feel the wind and adrenalin propelling yourself to try pirouettes each time more risky. The kitesurf combines paragliding, flyboard and surf in a discipline where the only requirement is bravery. The athlet is on a board and is carried along by a kite that propels him forward, with just some courses you will have a lot of fun and you probably never forget this experience.
Typical dishes in Cartagena
Arroz con frijolito morado
It's a delicious combination that includes violet beans, rice, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. The beans are steeped the previous day and when they start to be soft, you add the rice, ground garlic, onion, salt and pepper. One of the most representative dishes of the Colombian gastronomy.
Arroz con coco
It's a sweet and sour dish that is accompanied by fried fish and it's served with slices of fried banana and salad. The white part of the coconut is liquefied with lukewarm water and it's filtered until there is only a white liquid that you can add brown or white sugar, depending on the color you want to have. The rice is boiled in this liquid and at the end you add salt and raisins.
Mote de queso costeño
It's a soup prepared based on yam, coconut and lemon juice and ingredients as onion and garlic fried with a little bit of salt that is later mixed in the first preparation. This plate also has coastal cheese in little squares that are boiled with the soup, that give a soft texture to the palate and have a delicious smell.
Pargo rojo frito
It's a fish preserved in the lemon juice, that you add garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and onion cut in slices; and you leave it in cold for an hour. Then you separate the liquid to fry it in warm oil. When it starts to float, you turn it over and you serve it quite warm.
It's a marine dish that has shellfish as piangua (a mollusk) and boiled prawn titi, carrots, beans, celery, sweet pepper, coconut milk, thyme, among other ingredients. It has a colored presentation due to the diversity of ingredients and a unique flavor.
How to reach Cartagena
Cartagena by train
There is no available information of a train that covers the route Bogota - Cartagena.
Cartagena by flight
The distance between Bogota to Cartagena is 404 mi (651 km) in a straight line. Rafael Nunez is the international airport in Cartagena and has a lot of flights from all over the world. There are direct flights from Bogotá, Cali, Bucaramanga, or Medellin and abroad from Mexico, Miami, Panama, Guatemala and San Jose de Costa Rica. The most frequent Colombian airlines are Avianca and Aerorepublica and the most common international airlines that fly to Cartagena are LATAM, Copa Airlines and West Caribbean.
Cartagena by bus
The distance from Bogota to Cartagena is 665 mi (1070 kms) on the highway. There are 8 bus companies that provide the service of long-distance route from Bogota to Cartagena. The most important private bus operators that cover this route are Expreso Brasilia, Berlinas del Fonce and Copetran.
Accomodations in Cartagena
Sico's Hotel Beach
Location: Carrera 9 #38-14 La Boquilla Rates: 25000 COP/ 27 PEN - 80000 COP/ 86 PEN It's a low-cost accomodation where you can spend the night and enjoy its proximity to the private beach. The inexpensive rooms are shared in bunk beds. Some rooms have a space where you can relax, as well as the courtyard. The kitchen is shared, has free wifi, free parking lot, a beautiful terrace and air conditioning, besides being located near the airport.
Hotel Casa Isla de Mango
Location: Carrera 30 28 - 85, Manga Rates: 30000 COP/ 32 PEN - 140000 COP/ 150 PEN This hotel has all you need to spend a quiet stay, all the rooms have TV and private bathroom. You will also have free wifi, air conditioning, free parking lot and it's placed close to interest places as the airport or the historic castle San Felipe de Barajas.
Tu Onda Beach Hostel
Location: Calle 47 No 3A - 48. Neighborhood Marbella Rates: 50000 COP/ 54 PEN - 160000 COP/ 171 PEN Lodging with diverse rooms with colored decorations that allow to the visitor having a great stay. All the rooms have private bathroom and cable TV, besides free wifi in the lodging, air conditioning, and reception desk 24/24 and has its own bar. The low-cost rooms are shared.
Media Luna Hostel
Location: Calle de la Media Luna N° 10-46, Getsemani Rates: 75000 COP/ 80 PEN - 210000 COP/ 257 PEN This hostel has shared rooms of 8 beds, the bathroom is also shared, and has private triple rooms. The reception desk opens 24 hours a day, you can use the pool and you will be at just 12 minutes from the beach if you wish. There is also free wifi, a terrace and a bar with various drinks available.
Posada La Fe
Location: Calle 28 (Callejón Ancho) #10 B 48 Getsemani Rates: 220000 COP/ 240.5 PEN It's a beautiful and restful place to have a great stay in Cartagena. Its rooms include air conditioning, private bathroom and satellite TV. You will have outdoors pool, free wifi, transfer to the airport if you wish and even pets are allowed. Friendliness and good service from the staff are another feature that we must mention.
The Epica House Luxury Hotel
Location: Calle del Colegio No 34-37 Centro Historico Rates: 570000 COP/ 611 PEN - 932500 COP/ 999 PEN The Epica House is acutely decorated and offers a beautiful view over the city, has sauna, outdoors pool, library, diverse gardens and the rooms are large and soundproof. You can access to free wifi, air conditioning and transfer from the airport if you need it. A boutique-hotel among the most selected of Cartagena.
Important dates in Cartagena
Festival Internacional de Música
One of the most important events of the city that gathers famous national and international music bands. There will be around 40 concerts and talks in the most appealing scenaries of the city. The learning of classic music is promoted among children and teenagers.
Fiestas de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria
The image of the patron saint of Cartagena leaves its usual place to make a saint route to La Popa hill, a festival that shows the religious devotion of the population.
Festival Internacional de Cine y Televisión
This annual event brings together all the public interested in the film industry, film-makers, actors, musicians and there the trophy of the India Catalina is given to the best works of the Ibero American cinema.
The Heroic City celebrates two reigns for the independence and the beauty that exhibits the candidates from the city. Cartagena was the first Colombian city that rised up against the Spanish yoke, declaring itself free and independant in November the 11th 1811.