What to do in Cartagena – Things to do in the Walled City and beyond

Welcome to Cartagena! The city of sun, sea, and arepa de huevo. Cartagena has been charming tourists with its colorful, flower-strewn balconies and cobbled streets for decades, but its popularity has exploded in recent years. If you’re looking for things to do in Cartagena, you’ve come to the right place. When you ask us locals what to do in Cartagena, you will truly experience the best of this magical coastal city.

Walking through the streets of Cartagena’s walled city is like walking through a romantic movie set. Colorful bougainvillea flowers bloom all year round, fresh fruits are abundant on every street corner, and the crystal-clear sea is warm and inviting, visible from the rooftops. The warm climate of our city (averaging 30°C / 86°F all year round) is also reflected in the warm and friendly personalities of its people. But Cartagena is so much more than its walled city district. Outside the walls is a living, breathing city which is as fast-paced and busy as any other. Our aim is for you to fall in love with the Cartagena that all tourists see, and the authentic Cartagena that belongs to us locals.

So what can you do in Cartagena? With so many activities to choose from, we want to steer you clear of the tourist traps. We want to send you to the heart of our favorite city in the Colombian Caribbean.

A Palenquera walks through the colorful colonial arches of the walled city

Unearth 500 years of history in Cartagena’s walled city 

With its Colonial history, the streets of Cartagena positively heave with secrets of the days of old. Tales of slavery, witchcraft, pirates, and conquest shroud Cartagena. Events which stay firmly in the past – but continue to be revealed through the city’s Colonial architecture. Keep an eye out for the brass animal door knockers on the heavy wooden doors in Centro; each one tells an individual story about that house. Take a walking tour with us to learn more about the fascinating history of Cartagena. 

 

Cartagena also happens to be one of the most photogenic cities in South America. If you want to explore all the most Instagrammable spots with a professional photographer, our Cartagena photo tour is the one. Whether you’re here to make everlasting memories with your partner, or you’re visiting with a bachelor or bachelorette group, don’t let the memories fade. A photo is worth a thousand words, so let your trip to Cartagena speak for itself.  


Want to discover more tours that we have available for you? Check out our tours page and get in touch for more information!

CARTAGENA-STREET-FOOD-TOUR
The famous arepa de huevo - egg and ground beef encased in a fried corn patty

Explore Colombian culture through its food 

Culture is language, music, dance… and food. Colombian food is not only delicious, but also extremely varied, and can be found on every street corner. The traditional food in Cartagena is inspired by its proximity to the sea, and the rich cultural influences of African, European, and Indigenous cultures. You will find a lot of seafood, fresh fish, coconut rice, and meat soups. Food in Cartagena isn’t generally spicy, but it is extremely flavorful; with garlic, onion, and cilantro present in almost all dishes. 


Discover Cartagena with us through its gastronomy. Whether that be in the local market, eating fritos (local fried foods) in the street, or dining the finest haute cuisine in one of the restaurants in Centro. We can even give you a live cooking class with a local mom! It’s the best and most authentic way to get a real taste of homely cooking. Learn the skills to bring back to your own home with this unique experience. And going back to that arepa de huevo we were talking about, Colombian street and market food is an unmissable experience and just has to be tried first hand. Join us on our street food tour and try the best of the best from reputable street food stands across the city. From exotic fruits to local delicacies, we will show you a whole new world of gastronomy. We are passionate about connecting people and culture through food.

A birds eye view of Bora Bora Beach Club in the Rosario Islands

Take a trip to Cartagena’s Rosario Islands 

A trip to Cartagena wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the nearby islands and archipelagos. Cartagena, being a coastal city, does have city beaches, from Castillogrande to Bocagrande, all the way along to la Boquilla. But for the best beach experience, we recommend day-tripping to an island. You will find many islands near Cartagena. Some of our favorites are Barú (where you can find the famous Playa Blanca), Tierra Bomba, and the Rosario Islands. The Archipelago of Rosario is a group of around 28 islands, around an hour’s boat journey from the city. Here, you will find the most crystalline waters and white sands; a true Caribbean paradise. 

There are many options for exploring the Rosario Islands of Cartagena. You can rent a private yacht, catamaran, or speedboat to explore the islands on your own schedule or go to a beach club on a shared boat. What we love about renting our own boat: you get more privacy as the boat is just for you and your group. You can also get more time on the water, and the freedom to jump in and snorkel in specialized swimming spots. You can also park your boat and party next to other boats, such as the famous party spot Cholón. Bring a bottle of rum and party all day long!

You can also day-trip to a beach club. What we love about beach clubs: if you prefer a more budget-friendly option that is more structured, beach clubs are for you. The day pass also includes lunch and a sun lounger at your beach club of choice. Spend your morning soaking up the rays with a cocktail in hand – yes please! We can arrange day trips to some of the best beach clubs in Cartagena: Blue Apple, Bora Bora, Makani, and more!

Already dreaming of your beach escape? Check out our Island tours page to browse your next adventure

Grab a drink and come dance with us!

Explore Cartagena’s Nightlife and get dancing!

Cartagena comes alive at night. As the sleepy heat of the afternoon dies off when the sun sets into the sea, a new city emerges. A city of hedonism, party, and so much fun. If you come to Colombia and don’t learn to dance Salsa, Champeta, or Cumbia, did you even come to Colombia? The bars and clubs in Cartagena at night become full of people dancing, drinking, and having a great time. And the warm evenings mean it’s always pleasant to be out until late. 

Two left feet? No worries! We got you! You can take a dance class with us, and soon you will be swaying your hips like a local. Moving your body is always a good idea, and we are more than happy to teach you all our secrets. Dancing is one of our favorite things to do in Cartagena. Cartagena is also home to some of the best bars in the world, as voted in worlds50best.com. You can visit Alquímico bar or El Barón and try some expertly poured cocktails from some of the country’s best mixologists.

Street art celebrating Cartagena's afro culture can be found in Getsemani

This is just a brief glimpse of all the things that you can do on your trip to Cartagena. There is so much more to be explored. Our passion is showing you our true culture, taking you out of your comfort zone, and helping you make the most of your vacation. So, asking the locals, what is Cartagena for us? 

Cartagena is the buzzing rawness of its local market. Cartagena is the serenity of a white beach; warm seas gently lapping against the shore. Cartagena is crumbling Colonial structures with a glistening hidden oasis inside. Cartagena is salty sweat and sandy hair. Cartagena is the smell of fried foods sizzling on a street corner. Cartagena is dancing salsa in a bar, flowing with the rhythm of a stranger. Cartagena is all this and more, and yours to discover on your vacation.

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