15 Tips to Have Fun in Cartagena De Indias, Colombia

15 Tips to Have Fun in Cartagena De Indias, Colombia

Because of its troubled past, you will hear many nicknames to describe Cartagena de Indias. The magic city, The Heroic, The Rock Corral, The jewel of the Caribbean Coast. The mere mention of them allows you to travel through the history, from pirates and slavery to the revolutions for their independence. High yellow walls keep secret the narrow colorful streets of the old town. And from the outside, you can only sight two or three churches’ spires and their massive bronze bells. As the tourism in Colombia is jumping higher than a kangaroo under Vitamin C, many other extraordinary places are opening to the public. Hence, travelers want to optimize their trip and visit a maximum of places in Colombia. Ding, Dong, Ding - Do you hear the Cartagena's gongs?
Let's quickly find out 15 tips to have a great time in Cartagena in a minimum of days.

1. La Paletteria (Ice Cream)

La Paletteria (Ice Cream)
In Cartagena de Indias, you will soon realize the weather is hot. Instead of sweating buckets, you should imitate the Costeños - people living on the Caribbean Coast. Stroll and take the life easy. The best way to do it, it's to savor a fantastic ice cream! In La Paletteria, there is a wide variety of options, and they are all delicious. Try one made of local flavor like Guanabana or Arequipe!
Where to find it:
Price: Around 5 500 COP
Address: local 2, Calle. 35 #03-86, Cartagena
Opening hours: 11 AM - 11 PM
Offline reading and travel directions:
You can carry this article in your mobile device to read offline and create a self-guided walk to visit the venues featured herein with the GPSmyCity App (available on iTunes App Store or Google Play Store).

2. La Cevicheria (Lunch)

La Cevicheria (Lunch)
Now that you have eaten your dessert, it's time to think about something more significant. By being near the sea, restaurants have excellent fresh fish. It's a unique opportunity for you to try a ceviche. This seafood meal, typical from the Caribbean Region, is made of fresh raw fish cured in lemon juices plus other spices. One of the best restaurants to try it is La Cevicheria in the old city center. As it's a well-known place, I recommend arriving a little before the opening, around 12h45.
Where to find it:
Price: Around 35 000 COP
Address: Calle. 39 #7 14, Cartagena
Opening hours: 1 PM - 10h30 PM
Offline reading and travel directions:
You can carry this article in your mobile device to read offline and create a self-guided walk to visit the venues featured herein with the GPSmyCity App (available on iTunes App Store or Google Play Store).

3. La Cocina de Pepina (Dinner)

La Cocina de Pepina (Dinner)
I Love Getsemani district. More activities are going on, and you can find lovely tiny restaurants. La Cocina de Pepina is a small mom and pop restaurant where the owners cook with love and local products. Try la Posta Negra de Cartagenera! It's a Caribbean Coast specialty. The place is small - Around six tables - and you can't book in advance. But it will be one of your best food experiences in Cartagena de Indias.
Where to find it:
Price: Around 35 000 COP for a main dish
Address: Calle 25 #10B-6, Cartagena
Opening hours: 12 - 4h00 PM // 7- 9h30 PM (Except on Monday and Sunday)
Offline reading and travel directions:
You can carry this article in your mobile device to read offline and create a self-guided walk to visit the venues featured herein with the GPSmyCity App (available on iTunes App Store or Google Play Store).

4. Food Tour

Food Tour
Colombia has a wide variety of fruits - I LOVE all their juices - and many local staples. Even if the Colombian food is known to be oily and fried, you will be surprised to note there are more than Arepas and Empañadas. Through the local markets, it’s easier to appreciate the culture and the Colombian daily life. Especially in Cartagena, where almost none of the locals are living in the old town. I recommend you to opt for a food tour including the Bazurto Market.
Where to find it:
Price: Around 60 000 COP

5. Free Walking Tour

Free Walking Tour
It's one of my favorite activities when I arrive in big cities. It's every day, the guides speak English or Spanish, and they know a lot about their country! Seriously, they're doing a great job. Also, some of the guides are students in tourism. By participating, you are helping the local industry and the next generation. Is it not awesome? Moreover, you learn about the history of Cartagena de Indias - I bet you want to learn more about the pirates and the revolutions - and they have great stories you could repeat to your friends when you go back home. You have to book on their website first.
Where to find it:
Name: Free Tour Cartagena
Price: Tips
Meeting point: In front of the Naval Museum in the old town
Duration: 2 hours
When: 10 - 12h00 AM // 04 - 06h00 PM

6. Play the Woody Allen Game

Play the Woody Allen Game
There are many different color streets in the old city center. You will enjoy wandering below the flourish balconies and grab a fresh lemon juice. Find nine different color walls and take a picture in front of each of them. Once you're at home, create a patchwork. The result is stunning, and it's an ideal poster for the living room... or the door of the toilet.

7. The Street Art in Getsemani

The Street Art in Getsemani
Close to the old city center - 5 min away - there is another district called Getsemani. It's a more authentic part of Cartagena de Indias, and it's also a lot cheaper. Many backpackers like to hang out there at night and artists are paid to paint walls. They can let their imagination take over, and the results are astonishing. Calle de la Sierpe is one of the most famous streets.

8. Read a Book Written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Read a Book Written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Gabo is one of the most famous writers in South America. He is known for popularising Magic realism, a literary style where magical elements appear in realistic situations. Gabo grew up on the Caribbean Coast, and many of his books have been inspired by the lifestyle of the Costeños and the experience he had during his childhood. Find a nice Cafe in the old town, order a tinto (Black coffee) and start reading "One hundred years of solitude" or "Love in the time of Cholera" to observe a Colombian world through Gabo's eyes.

9. Sunset from the City Walls

Sunset from the City Walls
Like everyone, I love sunsets. And I have to admit the ones in Cartagena are pretty damn cool. Sit on the city walls and admire the sun going down behind a blue ocean. I like to stay near Cafe del Mar. You can grab a beer from the street sellers and listen to live music from the Cafe. Or you can order a cocktail at the bar.
Where to find it:
Address: Cafe del Mar, Baluarte de Santo Domingo

10. A Local Dance Show

A Local Dance Show
Image Courtesy of: young shanahan
Just after the sunset, you should hurry up to Plaza de Bolivar, Every night, there is a dance show on percussion music. The frenetic pace of the dancers is hypnotical and will carry you to another dimension. I challenge you to be as fast as they are. You can feel the energy floating all around the group, under the regard of the Simon Bolivar's statue.
Where to find it:
Address: Plaza de Bolivar, old town

11. The Nightlife on Trinidad Square

The Nightlife on Trinidad Square
If like me, you're quickly bored to be surrounded by luxury restaurants and shops, I invite you to wander in Getsemani at night. And more particularly around Trinidad Square. Every night, from 7h00 pm until late, locals and foreigners are gathering on the square to share beers, try various street foods and assist to different street shows. Talented kids are playing music or promote their new break dance skills. There are loads of fun and a great vibe. In my opinion, it's the perfect way to begin an unforgettable night.

12. Salsa at the Famous Havana Club

Salsa at the Famous Havana Club
Image Courtesy of: Francisco Osorio
Colombia is a country where the body speaks as much as the mouth. They all have learned the basic steps of cumbia, bachata, salsa since they're three years old. Fortunately, they're also willing to teach it to every foreigner. Havana club is a famous bar where bands are playing live salsa music. It's one of the best Colombian music experience you could have in Cartagena de Indias, even if it's a little too small to dance proper Salsa. You should consider arriving early - around 9 pm - as the bar is usually full around 11 pm.
Where to find it:
Address: ESQUINA, Carrera. 10, Cartagena, Getsemaní
Cover: 25 000 COP
Opening hours: 7h30 PM to 04h00 AM // Wednesday to Sunday

13. Champeta at Bazurto Social Club

Champeta at Bazurto Social Club
If you're tired of listening to Salsa, maybe you could learn something a little different. Would you like to dance Champeta? At Bazurto Social Club, you can eat first then learn a few Champeta steps on stage with teachers and live music. As for any well-known clubs in Colombia, the place will be probably crowded. Also, don't expect listening to European music.
Where to find it:
Address: Carrera. 9 #3042, Cartagena, Getsemani
Cover: Around 15-20 000 COP if there is a band
Opening hours: 8h00 PM to 04h00 AM // Wednesday to Sunday

14. A Trip to Isla Baru, Playa Blanca

A Trip to Isla Baru, Playa Blanca
Unfortunately, the beaches in Cartagena de Indias are not pleasant. But no worry, you can spend a great time on superb beaches on the Rosario islands. Playa Blanca is accessible by shuttle or boats from the old center. Many Colombians are going there to enjoy the clear water, the white sand, a fresh Aguila and to escape from the city. It's a touristic place, therefore you should avoid traveling to Playa Blanca on weekends. The best option to enjoy the beach without many people around is to spend the night in one of the posada (hotel) on the beach. The accommodations are unpretentious and don't expect to have access to running water. But the bucket showers are part of the charm of this experience.
Where to find it:
How to get there: Bus ou Boat / 1 hour
Prices: 50 000 COP Bus and 100 000 COP boat - Round trip

15. Explore Isla Grande

Explore Isla Grande
Isla Grande is a fantastic option if you want to have a taste of island life. There is a little town, many accommodation options, and lovely beaches to chill. You shouldn't book a day tour - I did it, it was horrible. Instead, book a 1-way with your hostel on the Isla Grande or take the boat directly from the dock in Cartagena. A stay for 1 or 2 nights will let you enough time to snorkel around the islands, wander through the mangroves or perfect your tan.
Where to find it:
How to get there: Boat / 1 hour
Price: Around 50 000 COP - 1-way

Author Bio: During his globetrotting trip, Thomas fell head over heels for Colombia and quickly realized that lots of the information about the country is either missing or not quite accurate for us travelers. Thomas then started his epic blog, Tomplanmytrip to help all travellers to discover the secrets of Colombia.

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