Top 9 Things to do in Cartagena, Colombia

February 1, 2018 Rosalyn Ihle

Cartagena, a gorgeous fishing village on Colombia's Caribbean coast, has excellent beaches, a historic old town (that's entirely walkable) and beautiful colonial architecture. It's also one of the safest places in the country, so it's no wonder it's a popular port of call for cruise ships. Need a break from exploring the cobblestone streets? Stop at an outdoor cafe for excellent pastries and people-watching.
Restaurants in Cartagena

1. Walled City of Cartagena

Calle 41, Cartagena 130002, Colombia
Excellent
76%
Good
20%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 18 reviews

Walled City of Cartagena

Reviewed By Marceserra - Berlin, Germany

I love Cartagena. It is a beautiful place to visit. The food is magnificent, people are friendly and the weather is great! This is one of Colombia´s treasures! There are many hotels. Some are very exclusive boutique hotels and there are others that are not that expensive.

2. San Felipe de Barajas Castle

Avenida Antonio Arevalo, Cartagena, Colombia +57 5 6566803
Excellent
51%
Good
36%
Satisfactory
11%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 10 reviews

San Felipe de Barajas Castle

Cartagena was always a desirable conquest for pirates and enemies of the Spanish Crown; and for this reason, the defense of the city from these threats was a question of priority for its inhabitants from the first decades of the existence of the city. Once the primitive nucleus of Cartagena and the outlying district of Getsemani were fortified, there was a need to erect a structure on San Lazaro Hill that would prevent an enemy attack from its peak, since the hill dominated the walls and the only entrance to the city, the Media Luna Entrance in Getsemani. In addition, this hill was the intermediate point between the city and the nearby Popa Peak, where some heavy guns and canons were installed between 1769 and 1780 to cross fire with the castle and make an enemy attack more difficult from the large beach of Playon Grande in Pie de la Popa.

Reviewed By Wineaux FromAlexandria - Alexandria, Virginia

.... but it can get pricey. The Castillo is probably the #1 historical tourist attraction in Cartagena. The cost to get is about $8 US. Not bad ... but then if you want a guided tour that’s additional $8-10 US. (At some point I stopped counting.). But the tour is worth it ... you will learn a lot about the founding of Cartagena. Apparenty, the City was a victim of French, English, and Pirate attacks before the Castillo was completed.

3. Plaza de La Trinidad

Cartagena, Colombia
Excellent
57%
Good
38%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 167 reviews

Plaza de La Trinidad

Reviewed By AnnonTraveler5150 - Orange County, California

Historic plaza where the 1st throws of independence from the Spanish began. Getsemani is my refuge away form the touristic sprawl they call Cartagena. Real people live here. Working class apartments next to boutique hotels, hipster bars. Known for its street art, which by now (2018) has faded.

4. Sanctuary of Saint Peter Claver

Carrera 4 No. 31-00 | Centro Histórico. Plaza de San Pedro Claver., Cartagena 130002, Colombia +57 5 6644991
Excellent
51%
Good
38%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 2 reviews

Sanctuary of Saint Peter Claver

Four hundred years ago jesuits established in Cartagena and founded a school and a church in downtown. During the XVII century a father called Pedro Claver dedicated all his life to the protection of the african slaves and became saint 300 hundred years later. To keep alive his legacy, jesuits came back to the city at the end of XIX century and started to collect pieces for a museum that includes precolombian, religious and african caribbean art and, of course, the chamber and other spaces where the saint lived and died. Nowadays it is the museum with the most complete collection of religious art in Colombian coast, and the building preserves the spirit of Claver, the spirit of Human Rights.

Reviewed By MIHorseman - Haslett, Michigan

This church is dedicated to Saint Pedro Claver. He dedicated his life to ministering to the African slaves brought to Colombia to construct the fortifications. The saint's body resides in a glass enclosed case at the altar. The architecture inside the church is very interesting. There are massive columns and arches. The altar is massive but relatively simple.

5. Caribe Jewelry and Emerald Museum

Bocagrande, Calle 5 No 2-51, Cartagena 130012, Colombia +57 5 6654625
Excellent
60%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Caribe Jewelry and Emerald Museum

Reviewed By Ron S - Point Edward

Very dedicated staff with a passion to talk about the history of Emerald mining in Colombia. Lot's of beautiful Emerald rock pieces on display in the museum. The store display area with the Emerald gemstones created into jewelry is very impressive. We found the Emerald...MoreHello, Ron! Thank you very much for visiting the Emerald Museum, we really appreciate your review. It is very important for us to know your opinion. Welcome back anytime!

6. Iglesia de la Trinidad

Plaza de la Trinidad en Getsemani, Cartagena, Colombia 664-2050
Excellent
52%
Good
35%
Satisfactory
11%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 552 reviews

Iglesia de la Trinidad

Reviewed By Joseph G - Montreal, Canada

We were lucky the first time we visited to find the church open even though there was no activity on inside; we were able to admire its simplicity and discretion with beautiful two series of arched columns and attractive wooden ceiling.
The yellow coloured church, built in the 1600's, is located in a very popular plaza that is the natural hub of the Getsemani neighbourhood. Quiet during the day, at night it is much more crowded and lively.

7. Plaza de San Diego

Calle San Diego, Cartagena, Colombia
Excellent
47%
Good
39%
Satisfactory
12%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Plaza de San Diego

Reviewed By Pirmin O

Plaza San Diego is one of my favorite spots in Cartagena. The square is beautiful with trees and lights at night. A lot of people are hanging around making music and enjoying their drinks. Around the square there are multiple good restaurants and bars. I enjoyed the music and drinks at the Cuba 1940, but for the food I would definitely go to Malanga Bistro Caribe (they serve good drinks too). In any case, don't miss out on Plaza San Diego while in Cartagena.

8. Plaza Santo Domingo

Carrera 3 and Calle 35, Cartagena 130010, Colombia
Excellent
48%
Good
39%
Satisfactory
11%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 3 reviews

Plaza Santo Domingo

Reviewed By cheshiretraveller57 - Knutsford, United Kingdom

This is a really busy place. It has the oldest church in town - built in 1539 - and the amazing "Gertrudis" statue from Fernando Botero. There are loads of places to eat and drink and street vendors galore. It's a picturesque but noisy square. Not the place for a quiet stroll but worth a visit.

9. Plaza de San Pedro Claver

Cartagena, Colombia 45756644991
Excellent
47%
Good
44%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 186 reviews

Plaza de San Pedro Claver

Reviewed By worldsmymuse - Chicago, Illinois

There's always something going on here, but it's not overwhelming. With several restaurants bordering the plaza with outside Seating, it has the feel of a European plaza. There are charming metal sculptures and the backdrop of the church as well. Eat at The Baron . . . but make a reservation! (The cocktails are sublime.)

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