Hard to believe it’s “winter” in Cartagena in November: flowers are in full bloom, temperatures are nearly 90°F and humidity is over 70%!
I nearly forgot about the sweltering heat while wandering down charming streets and getting caught up in the beautiful brightly colored buildings. The colonial architecture instantly endeared me to this coastal city.
Taking photos with @omgitsrachlol had us both cracking up!
In addition to our hilarious photo shoots, my favorite activity in Cartagena was strolling atop the old city walls. Look for the stairs near Museo Naval Del Caribe.
Castillo San Felipe de Barajas is located just outside of the touristy neighborhoods of Cartagena. I recommend taking a cab there (6,000 COP) since I saw very few tourists on foot in that part of town.
Our two favorite foodie spots were La Mulata for lunch and La Paleteria for dessert. At La Mulata, I recommend the Pollo Pechuga Asado—grilled chicken breast with chimichurri sauce, guacamole salad and plantain chips (substituted for fries)—plus a mojito. At La Paleteria, I recommend the yogurt with red fruit, arequipe (caramel and cream) and oreo cheesecake popsicles. YUM!
A few more spots worth mentioning:
- La Cevicheria is an excellent dinner choice. (Be prepared: if you sit outside, you’ll endure nonstop performances by local buskers and also need mosquito repellent.)
- For a break from Colombian food, Pizza en el Parque offers a variety of toppings on thin cracker crusts.
- The desserts at Pastelería Mila are decadent!
- Abaco Libros y Cafe has books on Colombia worth perusing; plus they offer coffee and mixed drinks.
- There are loads of street vendors selling fresh fruit, arepas con queso and more!
- Finally, if you need a place to post up with your laptop, check out Cartagena DF where the gazpacho and croquetas are authentic! (Just be sure to avoid their coffee and tea which are instant.)
Because our stay in Cartagena was extended from a few days to a full week due to the temporary closing of Tayrona National Park, we upgraded from the lovely Hotel Portal de San Diego in Central to Hotel Allure Chocolat in Getsemani. The rooftop pool helped us endure the humidity and offered a view of the multistory hotels in Bocagrande. If you have a short stay, definitely choose from the many chic boutique hotels and B&Bs in Central, the neighborhood closest to the water and northwest of Avenida Blass de Lezo / Avenida Venezuela.
A “must do” when in Cartagena is taking a day trip or overnighter to Rosario Islands, the archipelago locally known as Islas de Rosario. Playa Blanca on Isla Barú is a popular public beach and numerous boats make the trip each day. We selected Gente de Mar resort for its private beach, wifi and lunch. (We also considered visiting the exclusive Coralina Island which limits the number of day trippers to 15, but that hotel has very limited beachfront.) The waters were perfect for swimming! I paid extra for an hour of snorkeling. Sadly, most of the coral I saw is dead, but there is a bit of new growth and still many beautiful species of fish.
Travel tip: taking cabs from the airport and around the city is affordable and efficient since they charge a flat rate by district (such as 10,000 COP from the airport to Getsemani). Just ask an airport official or your hotel to call a cab for you rather than catching one on the street.