I wanted to start this post with a disclosure — I am calling this post a diary instead of a guide, because I hate when people visit somewhere once and style themselves an expert. Full disclosure, I am no Cartagena/Colombia travel expert (this was my first trip). That said, I do think there is value in sharing what you did or learned through your personal experience with others, especially if they are like minded or share a similar vacation aesthetic.
If you love history, architecture, color, food, beaches, and a good deal, then you need to add Cartagena to your travel list. As a photographer/blogger, I immediately fell in love with the look of the city — colorful colonial homes with blooming flowers on every balcony and street. As a historian, I was fascinated to learn more about the historical importance of Cartagena, one of the oldest and most important cities in Latin America (founded in 1533). And I think everyone would love the city’s delicious food and fabulous island beaches, all of which is very affordable (thanks to a 3 to 1 exchange rate).
So, here is a run down of everything we did, complete with a Google Map, of course!
Wander Cartagena’s charming streets – My two favorite streets (and where I took the most of my pictures) were luckily close to my adorable hotel, the Calle de Los Siete Infantes and Carrera 8. I also loved wandering the far more local Getsemani neighborhood (just outside the walled city).
Enjoy an amazing sunset view and cocktail at the Hotel Movich.
Venture out to one of Cartagena’s amazing islands for white sandy beaches and crystal clear water.
If you’re feeling super adventurous, you can take a half-day excursion to “El Totumo,” a local mud volcano where you soak in its “healing” mineral mud. Afterwards you are washed vigorously in the river by local women (who I could tell have washed a lot of children over the years). It is quite the experience!
Enjoy fresh fruit from a street vendor. Or hydrate with a fresh coconut.
Salsa dance with some handsy locals at Donde Fidel.
Grab some street food and watch some amazing dance performers in the Holy Trinity Square in Getsemani.
The amazing San Felipe Castle (it is worth the climb on a hot day)
The Saint Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral
Saint Pedro Claver Church
The Palace of Inquisition
The Museum of Gold
The Torre del Reloj
Finally, I am sharing my all of my favorite places to stay, places to eat and drink, and places to shop in the map below (which you can also access and save here).