Located on the Caribbean coast, this incredible city feels as relaxing as an all-inclusive resort, with the added perks of having historical landmarks, fun nightlife and all the amenities found in a big city. The minute you get off the plane you’re hit with a wave of humid, tropical air, before making your way into the terminal where you’re surrounded by ads for the beach resorts the area is famous for.
At the core of the city is Cartagena’s old town, a Unesco World Heritage site. Hidden behind a historic stone wall bordering the entire perimeter of the town, protecting it from the chaos of modern Cartagena, lies a maze of cobbled alleys, colourful colonial architecture covered in bougainvillea vines, and churches that cast their shadows across plazas. The city’s romantic flare is further expressed by the silhouettes of embracing couples within the wall’s windows, amongst the setting sun.
The gorgeous stone-walled Old City is Cartagena’s principal attraction – and is where the best restaurants and cafes, and all the nightlife is, so if that’s where you’re going to be spending all of your time, it may not make sense to stay elsewhere. Old town is packed with colonial architecture, beautiful churches and plazas, delicious restaurants, and Cartagena’s famous colorful mansions with their overhanging balconies… It’s definitely where you want to be.
There are so many pretty churches and cathedrals in Cartagena! While we were there, the Pope was coming to visit so all of the important religious buildings had been given repairs and a thorough clean to prepare for viewing by his holiness.
During high season, which spans the months of December and January those traveling on a strict budget will need to be satisfied with a dorm bed, even outside of El Centro. Those traveling in groups might be able to find an apartment to rent on the outskirts of the city for a bargain price, but we recommend visiting Cartagena during non-peak season. You are much more likely to find budget options in March than you will around the Holidays, and you might even be able to haggle the price down for longer stays.