If you go to North-Colombia, there’s a big chance that you will stay a few days in Cartagena. Partly because several airlines (like KLM) nowadays are flying directly to Cartagena, this city is a popular starting or finishing point for a trip through Colombia. In the old center you will find beautiful colonial buildings and nice squares. The city lies on the Caribbean coast of Colombia and there is a nice atmosphere. But what can you do in Cartagena?
Cartagena is a good base to visit Tayrona Park, Minca or Palomino. Yet many people have a love / hate relationship with Cartagena; Although the city has a beautiful historic center, the old town center is pretty ruined by street vendors. You will be approached by souvenir vendors and props on every corner of the street. The many carriages that drive through the old center for tourists do not really contribute to the atmosphere either. Yet Cartagena also has super nice sides, you just have to know where you need to be. Here are five tips:
1. Sunset at the rooftop bar Movich
For us it’s clear why this is number one in this overview: you cannot leave Cartagena until you have taken a sunset with Movich. This hotel is located in the old center and from the roof you have a breathtaking view of the city. The rooftop bar is (unless there is a private party) freely accessible, even if you do not sleep in the hotel. Make sure you are there on time(before 5 p.m.) so that you can get a good lounge area for the sunset. Cheers!
Address: Centro Historico, Calle de Vélez Danies 4 – 39
2. Streetart Getsemaní
Wander through the streets of “upcoming” hipster district Getsemaní. Here you will find cool street art and there is a cozy atmosphere. In the evening it becomes increasingly crowded around the central square. You will find many musicians, dancers and other street artists there. In Getsemaní you will also find nice restaurants (see tip 5) and if you compare it with the historic centre and San Diego it is a lot cheaper here . Tourism is also increasing considerably in this neighborhood, but the number of street vendors here is considerably less than in the other towns.
3. Beach Bocagrande
The advantage of Cartagena is that it lies on the Caribbean coast. The disadvantage of Cartagena is that it has no special beaches. However, I can imagine that after a long flight you need to bake for a few hours on the beach. And that’s fine in Cartagena; grab a taxi to Playa Bocagrande, rent a beachbed and enjoy the warm climate. Although there are nice waves (watch out for your sunglasses, mine drowned here) you can also enjoy swimming here. Also on the beach, the sellers are generously represented, so with this; you’ve been warned. Tip: download a chilly playlist on Spotify and don’t forget your earbuds.
4. Shopping Plaza Bocagrande
If you are in the Bocagrande district, you can immediately visit the Plaza Bocagrande shopping mall. Here you will find nice shops and you can enjoy a beautiful sunset. On the third floor you will find a number of cafés, including our favorite coffee bar Juan Valdez (the Starbucks of Colombia). Get a nice cup of Colombian coffee there and drink it on the long narrow balcony, with fantastic views of the ocean (especially during the sunset!). On the top floor of Plaza Bocagrande you will also find a cinema with air conditioning. Dont’t forget to check their website, because tourists get extra discount in a lot of stores.
5. Italian food at Di Silvio Trattoria
Colombia is not particularly known for its good cuisine. An ‘empanada’ in its time is delicious, but we have also regularly eaten at international restaurants. You will find many Argentinian steakhouses, Peruvian restaurants and in Cartagena you will find the tastiest Italian in Colombia: Di Silvio Trattoria. Tasty pizzas, pasta and bruschettas in combination with an attractive design. It’s often busy there so you may have to wait for a table but that’s worth it.
Address: Getsemaní, Calle de la Sierpe # 9a-08

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