Updated: Jun 4, 2018
This gorgeous old city first made its way onto my bucket list with pictures of brightly coloured colonial houses and bougainvillea covered streets. It’s undoubtedly one of the most photogenic places I’ve been to, but there’s a lot more to the city than just its Instagram appeal. Here's a look back at our time in this incredible city and 11 things we highly recommend:
1. Stay in Patio Getsemani located in Getsemaní, a 10 min walk to the old city! This hostel was adorable, safe, and affordable. With an included breakfast, it was more like a low-key hotel than a hostel.
2. Try some papas rellenas (huge fried potato balls filled with ground beef and a hard boiled egg, YUM!)! Wandering around Holy Trinity square we came across countless food carts. Rule of thumb: eat where the locals eat, but make sure it's sanitary.
3. Wander the colorful winding streets, and take some IG worthy shots. Getsemani is just steps away from the Old City of Cartagena, but has a totally different vibe. If you appreciate wall art and graffiti then this place will be a feast for your eyes. Spend some time just wandering around and admiring all the works of art you can find.
4. Head over to Plaza Santo Domingo, in search of Juan Valdez (a Starbucks-like chain of sorts which serves the bombest iced lattes and alfajores) and some good shopping!
5. Try an alfajor, a caramel filled soft cookie.
6. Shop! Jose and I searched everywhere for the perfect matching bracelets (corny, I know). There are tons of artesenal stands on every corner.
7. Eat an arepa con huevo! A must try food staple in Cartagena, the arepa con huevo is the ultimate in breakfast comfort food. They're delicious corncakes fried in oil, then split and filled with an egg and fried again until the egg is just cooked. We tried ours at Pasteleria Mila.
8. Have dinner at Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa, set within "the walled city" this stunning hotel/restaurant at night is one of the most beautiful sights.
9. Take photos with the South American women dressed in traditional garb. These women are very unfriendly if you attempt to photograph them without tipping them. Be warned!
10. Karaoke with the locals at The Clock Pub. Have a blast at the Clock Pub by watching how seriously the locals take karaoke. Jose actually won the karaoke contest with his girl, Adele.
11. Last but not least, take a ferry to Isla Barú, a small island floating in the Caribbean located under an hour away from Cartagena. You can visit Isla Barú for the day, sunbathing on the shores of stunning Playa Blanca, or you can choose to stay overnight at a hotel or one of the many hostels such as Hakuna Matata, which is what we did. The crowds leave at 5pm, so you end up with an empty beach and the most magical sunset!
That ends our 11 Things You Cannot Miss in Cartagena. There is so much more to do in this historic and picturesque town, the list could go on forever, but I sure hope you find it helpful!
If you've already been, I'd love to hear some of your favorite experiences in the comments below! And if you liked this post, please be sure to share it. <3
Thanks for reading!