What to do and see in Cartagena District, Bolivar Department: The Best Things to do

May 22, 2022 Darleen Reid

Discover the best top things to do in Cartagena District, Colombia including Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, Walled City of Cartagena, Oceanario, Aviario Nacional de Colombia, Playa Puntilla, IslaBela, Bora Bora Cartagena Beach Club, Tierrabomba Island, Playa Blanca, Bateria del Angel San Rafael.
Restaurants in Cartagena District

1. Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas

Carrera 17, Cartagena 130002 Colombia +57 5 6421293 http://fortificacionescartagena.com/en
Excellent
51%
Good
36%
Satisfactory
11%
Poor
2%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 12,870 reviews

Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas

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 myom624 - Coquitlam, Canada

A hilltop fortress (but just a 5-minute-or-so walk up from the bottom) with a "quite sprawling" area above the ramparts, this is really a site for a "high-ground walk" in I would categorize as generally 3 parts: the Central Part with the "national flag" (a good-sized one for a nice photo-op) where there's also a tunnel to go down below which connects with the North Part (a straight walk for just about 5 minutes to the other side but where inside are also some "diverging paths" to wander around a bit); the North Part which is the "most spacious" of the three where there's also like a higher promenade along its one side for some direct views to outside through the openings among the battlements alongside; and the South Part which is actually a 2-level one with its upper level being the "highest part" of the entire fortress (and likely due to that physical position being the "most number" of cannons of the Fortress to be found at that specific location). And yes, to enjoy above apart from spacious grounds are also great views all around especially to the south with just a "pretty phenomenal" view of the city's skyline (generally around the Bocagrande Beach area with really quite a number of modern high-rises spread along an impressive length!) and also to the east with La Popa Hill (a distant-but-clear view of its convent on top with actually also interestingly some of the cannons of this fortress pointed in that direction for some "unique scene" I would say). Just somewhat on the downside though (not personally for me) is that this is a site pretty much "all outdoor" except for some rest shelters, but be sure not to miss the small souvenir shop on the upper level of the South Part (which despite its size has a pretty good collection of a variety of souvenirs). If coming from the "Walled City", after coming out of its east side is just about a half-hour walk pretty much just a straight way (until arriving at the north end of the Fortress which is where to turn right for a further short walk to the ticket entrance), and also to pass by "at about halfway" along the way is the India Catalina statue right beside a big lake (one commemorating the tribal woman who accompanied Conquistador Pedro de Heredia in his quest to establish Cartagena). And actually as for statues, there's also one right at the bottom of this fortress (just to the left after coming back out of the ticket entrance) which is just somewhat of an interesting one featuring a "sword-weilding" commander or such (with my initial impression being one for the Spanish defenders in the 1740's War, but the inscription below mentioning actually being one for the British attackers!).

2. Walled City of Cartagena

Calle 41, Cartagena 130002 Colombia
Excellent
76%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 22,769 reviews

Walled City of Cartagena

Reviewed By midwaytoheaven - Midway, United States

A PHOTOGRAPHERS DREAM! We loved exploring both the inside and outside of the Old City Walls of Cartagena. It is amazing that these walls still exist and standing after hundreds of years of history. Boy, if these walls could talk what stories they would tell. A MUST SEE when visiting Caratgena. BOTTOM LINE: What a fun place to see so much history in a compact area. You can wall atop many parts of the wall and get a different perspective of the old city, too. We found it fun strolling the old narrow cobblestone streets, seeing the Cartagena Cathedral, San Pedro Church, city hall, customs house square, shops, jewelry stores, historical statues, seeing street vendors, Yellow Clock squared and more. Plan to spend several hours strolling the streets and better appreciate the flavor of this walled old city. MY RATING: 9/10. Most of the old colonial homes have been nicely restored. You'll see some beautiful flowered balconies down every street. A photographers dream location. Photo and selfie stops around every corner!

3. Oceanario

Calle 31 69b69, 130001 Colombia +57 301 4141483 http://oceanario.co/
Excellent
54%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
13%
Poor
2%
Terrible
4%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 951 reviews

Oceanario

Reviewed By joserafaell89 - Bogota, Colombia

In San Martin de Pajarales Island (part of archipielago Islas del Rosario) this aquarium is a worth while place to visit any time. Well organized and presented, animals well kept and a great view f the caribbean sea!

4. Aviario Nacional de Colombia

Km 14.5 via Baru, Isla Baru 130017 Colombia +57 322 5529134 [email protected] http://aviarionacional.co/
Excellent
79%
Good
17%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 501 reviews

Aviario Nacional de Colombia

Reviewed By 740mareer - Christchurch, New Zealand

Our hotel organized the transport for us which cost 60,000 per person. The entrance was also 60,000 per person for foreigners but only 40,000 if you are a local. The birds were stunning, I loved the entire morning wandering along the walkway taking pics and at 11.30 they had a bird show which was a pleasure to watch, The 2 hours allocated by the transport for us to view seemed adequate, there was a drink, ice cream stop along the path, also clean toilets. Bring sun block and insect repellent - youll need it. So worth going to this place, its wonderful.

5. Playa Puntilla

Isla Baru Colombia
Excellent
43%
Good
44%
Satisfactory
12%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 115 reviews

Playa Puntilla

6. IslaBela

Cartagena, Islas del Rosario, 130019 Colombia +57 300 5605865 [email protected] http://www.islabela.co
Excellent
58%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
11%
Poor
7%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 76 reviews

IslaBela

Visit the beautiful islands of the rosary on a private and exclusive beach, away from the vendors and the crowded beaches of Cartagena. We offer you pick up at the hotel in the mentioned points, a fast boat will take you to Islabela where you will be completely comfortable in the places assigned to enjoy a turquoise sea and a typical Caribbean dish with all the flavor of the local people.

Reviewed By TrWorldTraveler - Bloomington, United States

During our vacation in Cartagena, we stayed at Casa Lola boutique hotel in Gestemani. Looking on the island choices, the hotel concierge, Leiniker Severiche recommended us Islabela and booked us a day trip. We were taken by car from our hotel to the port near the clock tower. The boat had 40-45 people for this day trip. The islabela beach was beautiful. We were greeted with welcome drinks. It was a very relaxing place with lounge chairs under beach umbrellas, hammocks, nice restaurant and local handcraft stand. Our lunch (grilled or fried fish) which included on the day trip price was yummy. We also ordered couple cocktails ( coco loco and pina colada) seafood ceviche, shrimp cocktails prior to our lunch. Everything was delicious. The boat trip in the morning is easy, but beware the return one to Cartagena specially on a choppy day, it might be adventurous and a little scary. Ours was good, we were lucky that the weather was ok in the afternoon. Highly recommended !

7. Bora Bora Cartagena Beach Club

Isla Grande, 130019 Colombia +57 318 5778458 [email protected] http://www.boraboracartagena.com
Excellent
64%
Good
16%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
6%
Terrible
6%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 211 reviews

Bora Bora Cartagena Beach Club

Enjoy with us an unfogettable day at the beach in our exclusive Beach Club at Rosario Islands, just one hour from Cartagena. We offer a Full Day service wich includes: Speed Boat Transportation, Welcome Cocktail, Beach Bed and Typical Lunch (3 options). In addition we have several options for food and beverage a la carté and the best view in a true paradise. We also offer additional activities like Paddle Board, Snorkel, Kayak and Spa Service Book now!

Reviewed By larar267 - Toronto, Canada

Highly recommend this experience for a day. We are a family with 2 16 years olds and we all loved it. The beach club is immaculate, the water is pristine, the food is excellent and the service is impeccable. We upgraded to the beach house experience and we were not disappointed. We are staying at the Conrad resort this week just outside Cartagena (and we are generally pasty Canadians) and we found it to be much, much hotter at the beach club - so slather on the sunscreen and be careful in the sun. The boat ride there was beautiful - about an hour from the harbour. The only downside was the boat ride back at about 3:30pm. It was VERY choppy. My teenagers and husband loved it but I was uncomfortable (yes they say I am a wimp). All in all an excellent excursion!

8. Tierrabomba Island

Isla Tierra Bomba Colombia http://colombia.travel/en/cartagena/tierrabomba-island
Excellent
30%
Good
36%
Satisfactory
13%
Poor
8%
Terrible
13%
Overall Ratings

3.5 based on 173 reviews

Tierrabomba Island

Reviewed By fcscr17 - Medellin, Colombia

great place great view safe and clean good ameneties nice beach and waves good food and panoramic recommended

9. Playa Blanca

Isla Baru Colombia
Excellent
29%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
19%
Poor
10%
Terrible
14%
Overall Ratings

3.5 based on 4,458 reviews

Playa Blanca

Reviewed By andreaswmatthes - Playa del Carmen, Mexico

It is a beautiful beach. There are a lot of Colombians who think so too. Lots of beach chairs and tents, lots of small restaurants who serve cold beers, juices and fried fish or chicken. We unfortunatly came on a rainy day but still had fun

10. Bateria del Angel San Rafael

Bocachica On the Hill of Horno, Isla Tierra Bomba Colombia
Excellent
100%
Good
0%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5.0 based on 1 reviews

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