Where to Stay:
If you would like to keep out of touristy areas, stay in Boca Grande since it is a short cab ride to Vieja Cartagena and there are restaurants in the area.
Where to Eat:
Keep in mind the prices are going to be a lot higher in Vieja Cartagena than outside the walls but if price isn’t an issue than check below for some great food suggestions.
El Baron Plaza San pedro
La Cevichera: Mentioned the show Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown
La Vitrola: Upscale with good food and dancing
Alma - Good food
Juan Del Mar – This spacious restaurant & bar in the heart of old town is like a rite of Cartagena passage. The menu is full of Colombian delicacies, as well as some international and Italian favorites. Book a table on the upper terrace if you want to soak up the best view of the square (this is where Colombia’s president eats when he’s in town!) The restaurant is busy year-round and features a live band 7 nights a week.
Outside Vieja Cartagena:
La Cocina de Pepina
Restaurante La Casa de Soccoro - Pricier option but you will not be disappointed.
Oh! La La- The food was great but what caught our attention was how aesthetically pleasing this restaurant is on the inside and out.
Remember: Cartagena specializes in seafood; you can still find meats, but their central cuisine is fish.
Where to Dance:
Alquímico: Awesome 3-story bar
Cafe Havana: Great for salsa dancing
La Movida: Club feels
La Jugada: Club feels (less intense than La Movida)
What to do:
Islands Hopping: To visit the islands around Cartagena you can rent out a boat or take a ferry there.
We opted for the ferry and purchased tickets with Liza Tour once we got there. The ferry is the most affordable option, but it can also be overwhelming once you arrive at the pier since you there will be a lot of people trying to sell you tickets. You can ask for Liza Tours, and they will take you to their salesman.
For 77.000, pesos you will get a meal of fish or chicken and the option to go to Rosario Island for about 2 hours and then to Playa Tranquila. The cheapest you can get these tours for will be 60.000 not including fees which come out to 77.000 Pesos
(Prices reflect the time of travel in August 2019)
There are so many islands; the most popular one is Playa Blanca. On the other side of Playa Blanca is Playa Tranquilla, which is where we went since we wanted to avoid the crowd. There we rented an umbrella with chairs for 15.000 or 20.000 Pesos.
Rosario Island - Doesn’t have a beach; only snorkeling and an aquarium and it’s 30.000 per activity. What draws the people to this Island is the water, and it is one of the 46 Natural National Parks of Colombia.
Keep in mind: For large transactions or if you’re paying with a credit card they might ask you to take a short boat ride to their office and pay there.
Get there early because the last ferry comes back at 3:30 PM
To rent out a boat check out:
Here you can select the type of boat you would like according to the number of people and add on all kinds of food, snacks and drinks including alcohol ( or bring your own).
La Chiva Tour
Around 25.000 Pesos per person includes a bottle of rum and coke, an empanada halfway through the ride and free entry to a club after the ride.
*Get there early so you can sit closer to the front and the live band
Walk around Old Town
The Castillo San Felipe de Barajas- Built in the 1700’s this was the city’s defense fortress.
Getsemani - Right outside the walled city, if you walk down carrera 9 you will hit a magnificent display of hanging umbrellas and colorful houses.