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Character-filled Cartagena

The stunning Spanish seaside port of Cartagena is a bustling modern city overflowing with heritage, riches and locals keen to help you part with a few pesos. This city has been inhabited by most of the great Mediterranean empires at some point or another, and with an abundance of bold architectural virtue and the charm of the ocean, there’s plenty to see and experience.

The top of your to-do list should be doing nothing! Nothing, that is, except marvelling at the stunning ocean views of the Murcia coast along the Sea Wall, hearing your footsteps echo on the marble floor at the remains of Augusteum,and dining alfresco at Café del Mar amongst locals infinitely better dressed than you are.

Cartagena’s Top 10

10. Civil War Museum Go on a covert mission into these galleries that were once used as protection from aerial attack.

5. Casa Fortuna The remains of this house date back over 2,000 years and provide a fascinating glimpse into daily life during the Roman empire.

9. Naval Museum Set sail over to a compelling collection of old ships and assorted navigational equipment.

4. Amphitheatre These colossal ruins were once used as a bullring, and are a remarkable example of Roman splendour.

8. House of Cervantes This house is a spectacular display of modernist architecture, including glassed-in balconies and statuesque bronze reliefs. Don Quixote would be proud.

3. The Old Cathedral Nestled on the Camino del Parque Torres, this 13th century cathedral is the oldest church in Cartagena.

7. Concepción Castle Soldier up to this hilltop castle that once served as a fortress for Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Arabs and Castilians, albeit not at the same time.

2. Town Hall A real gem of modernist architecture, this monumental structure dominates the city skyline.

6. Decumanus Take a stroll along the remains of an old Roman road all the way to a thermal bath at this fantastic archaeological site.

1. Roman Theatre Discovered only 20-odd years ago, this construction dates back to the first century CE and is one of the most important archaeological finds in Spain.

Cartagena History

  • Castillo de San Felipe – Fortress designed and built in 1657 by the Spanish to protect against pirates.
  • La Popa – A hill overlooking Cartagena and home to the Santa Cruz monastery from the 1600s.
  • Cartagena’s Historic Old Town – One of the city’s main attractions surrounded by the city wall.
  • Iglesia de San Pedro Claver – Found in the historic centre and in honour of the first saint of the new world and his work with the slaves.
  • India Catalina – A sculpture of an indigenous woman from the Colombian coast who accompanied Pedro de Heredia and acted as an interpreter.

Cartagena Art & Culture

  • Palace of Inquisition – Located in Cartagena where the Spanish Inquisition judged and convicted those accused of crimes against religion.
  • Cartagena Gold Museum – A miniature version of the one in Bogota, with a fascinating collection of pottery and gold from the Zenu people.
  • Museum of Modern Art – Housed in a house from the 1600s and offering changing exhibits.
  • Naval Museum – Opened on the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the New World.
  • Teatro Heredia – A stunning theatre with an ornate interior and offers presentations by the local ballet company.

Cartagena Shopping

  • Upalema – Visit this place for a unique experience and find specialized and top-quality handicrafts.
  • Abaco – Place with a great selection of books about the city of Cartagena and lots of English reading.
  • Plaza de Santo Domingo – Artisans set up each afternoon to sell a wide selection of local handicrafts.
  • Totto – Local chain store with great bags, purses, suitcases and more.
  • Las Bovadas de Santa Clara – Famous place in Cartagena to find local handicrafts and beautiful things.

Gay & Lesbian Cartagena

  • Ibiza Club Cartagena – Pleasant dance club sleekly decorated in white.
  • Cafe del Mar – Cafe set atop some of the local fortress walls attracts a mixed crowd.
  • Studio 54 – Great dance and electronic pop music fills the air of this lively place.
  • Vamos Colombia Tour – Offers fun and lively tours, excursions and activities.
  • Via Libre – Small, cozy bar located in the historic area of Cartagena.

Cartagena Outdoor

  • Playa Blanca – One of the best beaches around Cartagena on the island of Baru.
  • Islas del Rosario – Visit these small islands off the coast for beautiful excursions and activities.
  • Chiva Bus – Colourful, open-air buses going through the city.
  • Mercado Bazurto – The local central market and quite the experience with many options.
  • Manga Island – Wonderful place to take in the sights and architecture from the 1800s and 1900s.

Cartagena Sport

  • For great water sports and nature related activities, check out Isla Baru.
  • The Jaime Moron Leon Stadium of Cartagena offers great soccer games.
  • The Islas del Rosario have wonderful places for snorkelling.
  • To catch local baseball games, stop by the Tomas Arrieta Stadium.
  • La Boquilla beach offers wonderful kite boarding and wind surfing.

Cartagena Events

Muster up your best royal attire for The Three Kings Festival in January.

Feel the rhythm of Cartagena pumping through your feet at Carnival Cartagena, an annual bonanza taking place in February.

Magnificent floral decorations and majestic religious statues are the highlights of the Semana Santa de Cartagena, heldduring Easter week.

Salsa your way into melodic bliss at July’s Le Mar de Musicas.

For your own action-packed Roman conquest, make sure you are in Cartagena in September for the Fiestas de Carthagineses y Romanos.

When To Go

For summer heat and plenty of sun, August is the best time to head to Cartagena.

January is the coldest month in Cartagena, but that’s all relative as the average temperature is still 12°C (54°F)

Getting Around

The bus network in Cartagena is a convenient, inexpensive way to see the sights.

The best way to explore the coastline is to take a stroll, and the same goes for getting around the cobblestone alleys.

Cartagena also has an excellent railway system for getting around and out of the city.

HotelClub Blog

Top Rail Passes to Explore Europe

Hotels in Cartagena

Recommended hotels

From US$79

1 Sonesta Hotel Cartagena

4 stars
4.3 / 5

Carrera 9 No 35 104 Map

Book 60 days in advance and save 40%

Situated on the northern part of Cartagena, Sonesta Hotel Cartagena makes for an ideal base with its comfortable accommodations, friendly service and ideal location featuring views of the Caribbean... More

From US$75

2 Hotel Regatta Cartagena

3 stars
4.0 / 5 2 reviews

Bocagrande Cr 1 N 5-82 Map

FREE WiFi,Local Calls and more

With its suitable accommodations, friendly gracious service and convenient location, Hotel Regatta Cartagena makes for an ideal business or vacation base for travellers. The tastefully decorated... More

From US$175

3 Bovedas de Santa Clara Boutique Hotel

4 stars
3.5 / 5

Carrera 8 No. 39-114 Map

FREE Wifi and FREE access to the meeting room!

Ideally situated in the historic centre of Cartagena de Indias amidst heritage sites, learning destinations and corporate hubs, Bovedas De Santa Clara Boutique Hotel Cartagena creates a convenient... More

From US$94

4 Hotel Delirio

3 stars
4.5 / 5

Calle de la Iglesia 35-27 Map


Providing comfortable accommodations with convenient access to must-visit local attractions, Hotel Delirio creates a fitting base for travellers looking to explore this northern Colombia coastal... More

From US$51

5 Hotel Barlovento

3 stars
3.0 / 5

Bocagrande Cra. 3a No. 6-23 Map

Book 15 days in advance and save 16%

Business travellers and holidaymakers find a comfortable home-away-from-home at Hotel Barlovento Cartagena. This value-for-money property in Cartagena offers suitable accommodations and convenient... More

From US$30

6 Hotel San Felipe Plaza

2 stars
3.3 / 5

Cra. 9 # 31-72, Av. Centenario Map

WiFi and 2 Kids Free

Holidaymakers can explore the Bolivar Department capital with ease by booking a stay at Hotel San Felipe Plaza which offers comfortable and affordable accommodations set in the historic walled city... More

From US$80

7 GHL Corales de Indias

4 stars
Not yet reviewed

Carrera 1 No 62 198 Map

25% off per night

Corales de Indias overlooks the beach, just north of the city and just 5 minutes away from the historic downtown, shopping and great restaurants and nightlife. Amenities include: Each room... More

From US$92

8 Hotel Almirante Cartagena Colombia

4 stars
3.5 / 5 2 reviews

Av. San Martin Calle 6 Esquina Bocagrande Map

Book 30 days in advance and save 50%

With a wide variety of exceptional facilities under one roof, the tranquilly situated Hotel Almirante Cartagena Colombia is perfect for a relaxing weekend away or a longer business stay. ... More

From US$81

9 Hotel Atlantic Lux

3 stars
4.2 / 5

Avenida San Martn # 8 - 20 Map

Free WiFi

Business and leisure travellers in Cartagena find ideal base at the chic accommodations and easy beach access at Hotel Atlantic Lux Cartagena. From this value-for-money hotel, tourists can venture... More

From US$126

10 Las Americas Torre del Mar

5 stars
2.0 / 5 1 reviews

Anillo Vial Sector Cielo Mar Torre 2 Map

15% off per night

Sophisticated and stylish, the luxurious Las Americas Torre Del Mar provides deluxe accommodations and a host of amenities catering to discerning travellers. The Cartagena property boasts... More

Does not conform to **** by European standards. Rooms nice and large and good restaurants., large gym. That's it.... Staff does not speak English, only the reception. Generally very overpriced,...
9 Oct 2013
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