Cartagena has easily become one of my favorite cities to travel to. Being from Colombia, I find this city a cultural mix of historic meets modern. You can walk down the old city and encounter the most alluring old fashioned doors that in actuality are modern hotels, restaurants and boutiques.
As far as finding things to do, it’s pretty evident that walking the streets alone is a plan in itself. If you’re one of the people that loves to do the main attractions that a city has to offer then I recommend some of the following!
Visit the Castillo De San Felipe De Barajas: This historic fortress built in the colonial era, is definitely one of the main sight seeing attractions for all people who are fresh travelers to Cartagena. There is a tour that takes you underground in the tunnels, which I only recommend for people who are not claustrophobic! It’s pitch black and you’re underground but it’s worth it!
Take a boat to Islas De Baru: If you talk to your concierge at whichever hotel you’re staying at, they can arrange a boat to take you to the islands around Cartagena which are made of the clearest waters I’ve ever seen. There’s beach hotels where you can spend the day and eat some of the traditional foods the islands has to offer such as Mojarra Frita (fried fish).
Street Shopping/ Las Bovedas: Cartagena is also known for the local street vendors that lay their artisanal knick-knacks for tourists. If you want to get a full-on experience, visit Las Bovedas (located near the Santa Clara Hotel) where vendors have their on locale and sell hand-made goods from all over Colombia. Pro tip: always, always ask for a discount!
Tcherassi Hotel & Spa: This trip, I stayed in the new hotel by Colombian fashion designer, Silvia Tcherassi (who also has a beautiful store in the old city). She continues to out-do herself with her impeccable designs and what she offers a traveler to Cartagena. It’s well located, trendy, the staff is incredible, the rooms are beautiful and the food is amazing! I highly recommend a stay here, and if you book in advance, you can score a good price!
Bovedas De Santa Clara: This boutique hotel is the sister of one of the most famous hotels in all of the city, the Santa Clara. Located right next to the main one, Bovedas is the perfect hotel for anyone who wants minimalist luxury while on their trip. You have access to all the amenities of the main hotel, and the simple yet chic decor of this hotel will serve as the ideal stay to fully relax. The rooms are white, bright and very spacious and its located in one of the best areas of the city!
Cartagena has an amazing culinary scene with some of the top chefs owning restaurants in the walled city. I would say that most restaurants have ace food, regardless of the price point. Here are some of my favorites spots.
Juan Del Mar: This place is mainly for the ambiance, live music and location. When you come here, you’re guaranteed to have a good time. I’m not a big fan of seafood, but for those who are, this place has it all. Make a reservation with anticipation because it’s hard to get a table during high seasons!
Restaurante Club the Pesca: Here, you’re practically paying for a view. Located outside of the walled city, it gives travelers the opportunity to explore the outskirts and see another side of the city. The food is nothing to rave about, but it’s mainly a beautiful more romantic restaurant and a bit on the pricier side but it’s definitely one of the most famous ones in the city and the location is worth it!
Hope you enjoyed this mini roundup of some of my favorite aspects of the old city! See you next week for Art Basel!