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Situated in a bay that never sleeps, the colonial part of this heavenly city stands proudly behind historic walls, amazingly untouched by the centuries that have passed since their creation. The facades of its colonial houses — many over 400 years old — have silently witnessed the stories of thousands of visitors who have explored the city's streets, who have rested in its many quaint plazas, and prayed in its numerous picturesque churches. The city has a huge variety of attractions within the city walls, some just outside, and others still further afield. My guide focuses on the colonial city mainly, but if you have more than a day to spend in this beautiful Colombian Caribbean gem, I recommend venturing further afield, including a beach visit if possible, to get a better grasp of the history and culture that makes this port city so enticing.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nature Lover
  • Foodie
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Beach Goer

11 Places

6 City Tips

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Map

11 Places

Walled City of Cartagena

Historic Sites

Plaza de la Aduana

Points of Interest & Landmarks

Museo Historico de Cartagena de Indias

Specialty Museums

Museo del Oro Zenu

History Museums

Sanctuary of Saint Peter Claver

Churches & Cathedrals

Las Bovedas

Architectural Buildings, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Iglesia de la Trinidad

Churches & Cathedrals

Caffe Lunatico

Restaurants

Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas

Points of Interest & Landmarks, Castles

Teatro Adolfo Mejia ( Teatro Heredia )

Performances

Plaza Santo Domingo

Educational sites, Historic Sites

Diana G's City Tips

  • Families and couples might enjoy exploring the colonial streets of the city by horse-drawn cart. It’s a really special experience!
  • A fun evening activity is exploring the historic center by “chiva” (a traditional open-sided bus used in rural areas of Colombia). The beats of typical Colombian Caribbean music will play throughout your tour.
  • Luxury cruises depart regularly from Cartagena for the Caribbean. A nice way to extend your trip.
  • The ashes of the Colombian Nobel literature laureate, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, rest in this city in the “Claustro de la Merced.” If you haven't read any Marquez yet, make it your holiday reading!
  • If you only have one day in the city, stay inside the Walled City, where you'll find multiple tourist attractions.
  • Most places inside the walls have an interesting history, so I recommend exploring with a certified guide to ensure you don't miss a thing!
  • Walled City of Cartagena
    Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Diana G Says:

    The Walled City is a protected heritage site, and the historical epicenter of the city of Cartagena de Indias. Climb the walls themselves to enjoy unique views out to sea, and a bird's-eye view of the area's beautiful buildings, which date back to the colonial era. Then, climb back down to explore the numerous churches, plazas, museums, and other attractions which lie within their borders. Notice the unique mixture of Republican period architecture and more modern buildings of various styles, which makes the Walled City what it is today.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The streets are filled with street snack options. Try some sliced mango with chili, most likely offered to you by women dressed in typical colorful dress, known as "palenqueras."
    • You'll find "agua de coco" (fresh coconut water) for sale on carts throughout the Walled City. A very good way to stay hydrated!
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 164 things to do in Cartagena
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Beautiful! 07/15/2019
    • Beauty in every corner! 07/15/2019
    • Walled City of Cartagena
    Address:
    Calle 41
    Cartagena 130002
    Colombia
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
  • Plaza de la Aduana
    Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Diana G Says:

    Crowned by a statue of Christopher Columbus, this is the largest of the squares in the Walled City. With the tourist information center and money changers located here, it is a good place to start your exploration of the colonial streets.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • There are ATMs here if you need Colombian pesos.
    • This square is also the main entrance to the Walled City.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #26 of 164 things to do in Cartagena
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Another splendid square 05/20/2019
    • History of Cartagena including the slave trading 04/28/2019
    • Plaza de la Aduana
  • Museo Historico de Cartagena de Indias
    Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Diana G Says:

    Built in typical 18th century colonial style, this building functioned as the court of the Holy Office, as well as jail and torture chambers during the time of the Inquisition. The building's highlights include its balconies and main entrance, created in the baroque style, while the equipment used for torture is also an impressive (albeit gross) 'attraction.'

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Understand the context of this place better by hiring a guide — this will bring the place to life.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #55 of 164 things to do in Cartagena
    • Very poor museum and not worth a visit for any non Spanish speaker. 06/23/2019
    • Interesting 06/13/2019
    • Museo Historico de Cartagena de Indias
    Address:
    Plaza de Bolivar
    Em frente a Plaza de Bolívar
    Cartagena 130012
    Colombia
    Phone:
    +57 5 6644570
    Price range:
    $19,000 - $19,000
    Hours:
    Sun
    10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
    Mon - Sat
    9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Other:
  • Museo del Oro Zenu
    History Museums
    See more photos
    Diana G Says:

    This museum displays a beautiful collection of gold pieces made by the indigenous population known as the Zinú, who inhabited the region prior to the arrival of the Spanish colonizers. Jewelry on exhibit here includes nose rings and earrings, and you will also find wonderfully carved utensils and pottery samples.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The museum offers a guide service, which I recommend to anyone interested in learning more about the Zinú culture.
    • Closed on Sunday and Monday.
    • The museum overlooks Parque Bolivar, in the Walled City.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #27 of 164 things to do in Cartagena
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Temporarily relocated 07/07/2019
    • Looking for a gift 07/07/2019
    • Museo del Oro Zenu
    Address:
    Plaza de Bolivar
    Centro de la ciudad amurallada
    Cartagena 130001
    Colombia
    Phone:
    +57 5 6600778
    Hours:
    Sun
    10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
    Tue - Sat
    9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Sanctuary of Saint Peter Claver
    Churches & Cathedrals
    See more photos
    Diana G Says:

    San Pedro Claver was a Jesuit priest, known for dedicating his life to helping slaves as they arrived in the 'New World.' He lived in the monastery next door to this impressive cathedral for most of his life, and the museum housed here tells the very moving story of his heroic endeavors.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • If you have a special interest in the history of the city, this place is a must.
    • There is a peaceful garden in the courtyard of the cathedral — a nice escape from the busy streets.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #6 of 164 things to do in Cartagena
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Choose your guide, don’t let him choose you 07/07/2019
    • Lovely Church With Jesuit History 06/16/2019
    • Sanctuary of Saint Peter Claver
    Address:
    Carrera 4 No. 31-00
    Centro Histórico. Plaza de San Pedro Claver.
    Cartagena 130002
    Colombia
    Phone:
    +57 5 6644991
    Price range:
    $5 - $5
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Sat - Sun
    8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Las Bovedas
    Architectural Buildings, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Diana G Says:

    The Vaults of Santa Clara are located to the northeast of the Walled City. Once used as a prison and armory, today its 47 arches — which make up 23 domes — are home to a wide variety of craft shops.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The handicraft prices are somewhat high here, but if you only have little time to shop for souvenirs, this place is the best solution due to its variety.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #43 of 164 things to do in Cartagena
    • More expensive than in the other touristic areas, shop elsewhere if you can 07/05/2019
    • Highs and lows 07/03/2019
    • Las Bovedas
    Address:
    Between the Santa Catalina bastion and the former Santa Clara convent
    Cartagena
    Colombia
    Phone:
    +57 300 2985048
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    8:00 AM - 6:30 PM
    Other:
  • Iglesia de la Trinidad
    Churches & Cathedrals
    See more photos
    Diana G Says:

    Iglesia de la Trinidad, the Church of the Holy Trinity, in the Gethsemane neighborhood, is where the expansion of the city — through the construction of more important temples outside the walls — began. (The convent of San Francisco and the Church of the Third Order Church, also in this area, were next in line.) Today, the popular Gethsemane neighborhood is filled with cafes, bars, restaurants and accommodation options — as well as local homes — making it a great place to get a feel for the city's authentic, modern-day culture.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The church is open daily from 8am to 6pm.
    • There are far fewer tourists in this neighborhood than inside the Walled City.
    • Gethsemane is a 5-minute walk outside of the Walled City.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #11 of 164 things to do in Cartagena
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Evening Entertainment 05/18/2019
    • The Hub of Getsemani 05/08/2019
    • Iglesia de la Trinidad
    Address:
    Plaza de la Trinidad en Getsemani
    Cartagena
    Colombia
    Phone:
    664-2050
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
  • Caffe Lunatico
    Restaurants (Seafood, Spanish, Fusion, Gastropub)
    See more photos
    Diana G Says:

    Located in the neighborhood of Gethsemane, just outside the Walled City, this restaurant blends Caribbean food with Spanish flair, and its decor is as memorable as its delicious dishes. Go for the tapas so you can try a few different things while you're here!

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • This place is a good stop off the tourist path.
    • Breakfast is highly recommended here too — so you could start your day here before exploring the Walled City.
    • Prices are very reasonable for the quality.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #39 of 804 restaurants in Cartagena
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Couples 07/11/2019
    • Great food! 06/20/2019
    • Caffe Lunatico
    Address:
    Calle Espiritu Santo 29-184
    Cartagena 130001
    Colombia
    Phone:
    +57 320 3830419
    Price range:
    $5 - $18
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    11:00 AM - 11:00 PM
    Other:
  • Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas
    Points of Interest & Landmarks, Castles
    See more photos
    Diana G Says:

    On foot from Gethsemane you can reach the majestic castle and military fortress of San Felipe, one of the largest in the Americas. Built by Spanish settlers to protect the city, its amazing location — 40 meters above sea level — makes it one of the must-see viewpoints of the city.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Hire an audio guide at the entrance to bring the history of the castle to life.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 164 things to do in Cartagena
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great views - but little shade! 07/15/2019
    • What a View 07/15/2019
    • Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas
    Address:
    Carrera 17
    Cartagena 130002
    Colombia
    Phone:
    +57 5 6421293
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Other:
  • Teatro Adolfo Mejia ( Teatro Heredia )
    Performances
    See more photos
    Diana G Says:

    Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the Walled City, the interior of this historic theater has been amazingly restored, and features stunning boxes and balconies.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Ask for a guided visit; they are scheduled regularly throughout the week.
    • Sometimes this theater hosts folkloric dance shows and other performances in the evening. Check at the tourist information center in Plaza de la Aduana.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 6 Concerts & Shows in Cartagena
    • An unexpected jewel. 04/05/2019
    • A gem of a theatre 04/02/2019
    • Teatro Adolfo Mejia ( Teatro Heredia )
    Address:
    Calle 38 101
    Cartagena 130010
    Colombia
    Phone:
    +57 5 6646023
    Other:
  • Plaza Santo Domingo
    Educational sites, Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Diana G Says:

    Plaza Santo Domingo owes its name to the Church of Santo Domingo, an example of beautiful architecture characterized by stunning balconies. With its large selection of cafes and restaurants — many with outdoor seating — it is the ideal spot to start your night out in the Walled City.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • This place is perfect for a romantic evening stroll, or a family walk before or after dinner.
    • This area is very lively until around midnight.
    • In this square you can see some famous sculptures by the renowned Colombian artist, Fernando Botero.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #9 of 164 things to do in Cartagena
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Family vacation 07/10/2019
    • It’s a plaza 07/07/2019
    • Plaza Santo Domingo
    Address:
    Carrera 3 and Calle 35
    Cartagena 130010
    Colombia
    Other:
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