With colorful buildings, tropical climate, and fresh seafood, Cartagena is where travelers can have it all. A major port founded in 1533, Cartagena sits along Colombia’s northern coast bordering the Caribbean sea. One of the main attractions is the walled city; enclosed by miles of stone built to keep out invaders. But many adventures lay beyond that man made border where the locals live, shop and dine. After a girls weekend in Cartagena, I’ve put together a list of 10 things you should do while you are there.
Brush up on your Spanish. A few locals speak English but it’s still a great opportunity to practice what you know. Even a little can go a long way and many will appreciate your efforts.
Get lost in the walled city. Throw out your map, put down your phone, and wander leisurely through the narrow, cobblestone streets. Admire the colonial architecture filled with vividly colored buildings, restaurants, and plazas.
Watch the sunset at Cafe del Mar. The famous bar sits along the wall facing the water. Plan to arrive at least an hour plus before sunset to find a good table. Order a round of drinks and watch the sun fall behind the horizon.
Walk along the wall. Seven miles of imposing stone accompanied by fortifications and bastions were built to defend the city against possible pirate attacks. There are several ramps along the wall that allow access to walk up. Take a stroll in either direction while enjoying the breeze and the view.
Visit the aviary. See over 138 species of birds, including Colombia’s national bird the Andean condor, at the largest habitat in South America.
Soak up the sun. Only a 15 minute drive from the aviary, Playa Blanca is a destination for both locals and tourists. Negotiate a price for a few chairs (a few rounds of drinks will do) with a bar and secure a spot.
Eat some ceviche then eat some more. A staple for most Latin American coastal countries, Cartagena is a destination for ceviche. Enjoy traditional ceviche of fresh seafood tossed with citrus and herbs or Cartagena’s adaptation of cooked shrimp with a tomato-mayo dressing.
See the murals in Getsemani. The Williamsburg of Cartagena, Getsemani is an up and coming neighborhood with a thriving art and food scene.
Go salsa dancing. Or just enjoy the live music if you are rhythmically challenged. Find Cafe Havana at the corner of Calle 30 and Carrera 10. The coverage charge is $10 USD and music starts at 11:15PM.
Have a cigar. Because why not? Avoid buying them from a street vendor as they’re probably not real.
What are your top things to do in Cartagena? Share them in the comments!