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Exploring Cartagena: A Guide to its Cultural and Historical Gems

Beyond its romantic charm and stunning beaches, Cartagena is also rich in history and culture. The city’s impressive wall, built over 208 years, is a reminder of its past as a major port for the Spanish Empire, where gold and emeralds were shipped from the New World. The wall served as a defense against the constant threat of pirate and privateer attacks that plagued the Caribbean during that time. Four other must-see landmarks in the Old City include the Palace of the Inquisition, which is a historical museum showcasing the Inquisition period in Cartagena, the Convent of La Popa, a beautiful religious building that offers panoramic views of the city, the Cartagena Cathedral, a beautiful religious building dating back to the 16th century, and the Clock Tower, a symbol of the city’s rich history and culture.

Cartagena Weather

The best time to visit Cartagena, Colombia, is typically from December to April, during the dry season. This is when the weather is the most pleasant, with warm temperatures and minimal rainfall. The city is at its most vibrant during this time, with many festivals and events taking place. Visitors can enjoy the city’s beautiful beaches and outdoor activities without having to worry about the rain.

Guide to Cartagena

It’s also peak tourist season, so the city is bustling with activity, and there are plenty of options for dining, and entertainment. However, it’s also important to note that this is also the most crowded time to visit, so it may be more difficult to find deals on accommodation and activities. That’s where we come in!

Weather Averages in CartagenaCartagena

Where is Cartagena?

Cartagena is a coastal city located in the northern region of Colombia, in the state of Bolívar. It is situated on the Caribbean Sea and known for its historical and cultural significance. The city is surrounded by stunning beaches, crystal clear waters, and lush greenery, making it the perfect destination for both tourists and locals alike. It is easily accessible by air, with several major airports in the region and many flights connecting to Cartagena from major cities around the world. It is also well connected by road and sea. So, if you’re looking for an exotic and vibrant destination for your wedding or honeymoon, Cartagena is the perfect place to consider.

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Best Locations to Stay in Cartagena

There are two main places to stay if you are coming for a short vacation.

The number one option without question is the old city. The old city is compact and can be walked from one end to the other at a leisurely pace in about 20-25 minutes. There you will see the rich history and colorful architecture as well as an abundance of fine dining and authentic restaurants. A good selection of our luxury homes for rent are situated in the old city.

Where is Cartagena, Colombia?

The second place is just across the bridge in Getsemani. The Getsemani district until recently was a rundown part of city. Now it is active and a vibrant trendy district with many bars, clubs and restaurants where people go to party the night away. Getsemani is less than 10 minutes’ walk into the heart of the old city of Cartagena.

San Pedro Dome
Cathedral in Cartagena

Getting Married in Cartagena

Cartagena, located on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, is a truly romantic place to tie the knot. The Old City’s charming colonial architecture and picturesque streets provide the perfect backdrop for a memorable wedding ceremony and reception. The city offers an abundance of venues, from elegant hotels to charming plazas, that are sure to impress your guests.

In addition to the Old City, Cartagena offers a honeymoon or group getaway on the nearby Rosario Islands. A short 90-minute boat ride from the city takes you to these tropical paradise islands, where you can enjoy crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, and lush greenery. Whether you’re looking for a romantic escape or a fun-filled adventure with friends and family, the Rosario Islands have something for everyone.

Overall, Cartagena is an ideal destination for couples looking to get married in a romantic and idyllic setting. With its charming Old City and nearby tropical islands, there is something for everyone. From the service and reception in the Old City to the honeymoon or group trip on the Rosario Islands, Cartagena has everything you need to make your wedding day one to remember.

Getting Married in Cartagena Colombia

Restaurants in Cartagena

The old city has many restaurants catering to all tastes from local and simple to A la Carte International cuisines. In the evenings a longstanding favorite amongst the Bogota jetsetters that come down at weekends is the La Vitrola Restaurant with its live music.

Another firm favorite being the Restaurant Don Juan with its talented proprietor Chef Juan Felipe. The second picture to the right in this section is showing one of Don Juan’s dishes.

A notable restaurant is Vera at the Silvia Tcherassi Hotel with it’s signature dessert Giardino Di Cioccolato.

For a cozy romantic quite dining evening in a small setting there is Andante Allegro Vivace which is an authentic Italian creation by Juan David Urrea.

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Fine Dining

Getting Around the Old City

The Old City of Cartagena is a compact and easily walkable area, perfect for leisurely exploration. Walking from one end to the other in just 15 minutes at a brisk pace is possible, but taking your time and savoring the beauty of the colonial houses and the vibrant colors that adorn them is recommended.

One great way to experience the Old City is to combine a leisurely walk with a horse-drawn carriage ride. This will give you the opportunity to see, hear and absorb the rich history of the area while enjoying a unique mode of transportation. The horse-drawn carriages are a fun and romantic way to explore the charming streets and plazas of the Old City, and the knowledgeable drivers will provide interesting and entertaining commentary about the sights and landmarks you’ll encounter along the way. This is definitely an experience not to be missed when visiting Cartagena.

Guide to the Old City of Cartagena
Cafe Havanna Cartagena

Islas del Rosario (Islas del Rosario)

The Rosario Islands, located just off the coast of Cartagena, are a natural paradise comprising over 40 islands; this area has been declared a National Park since 1977 to protect the coral reefs, seagrass, mangroves, and the numerous animals that call it home. Visitors can explore the islands by boat and enjoy the crystal clear waters and secluded beaches.

One of the best ways to experience the Rosario Islands is to stay in a private vacation home. These homes offer the ultimate privacy, with the feeling of having the entire world to yourself. Many of these homes are located on secluded beaches and offer breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea. Visitors can arrange for private boat trips, including lunch, for a must-do day trip, or even an overnight stay in a private home.

The Rosario Islands are perfect for those looking for a relaxing and secluded vacation. Whether you want to spend your days lounging on the beach, snorkeling and swimming in crystal clear waters, or exploring the islands on a boat, there’s something for everyone. Visitors can also take part in activities such as diving, fishing, and kayaking. The islands are also home to a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, iguanas, and a wide variety of birds.

This Natural Park is perfect for those looking for a relaxing and secluded vacation away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The crystal clear waters and the vibrant coral reef, along with the lush greenery of the mangroves, are sure to make this a memorable trip. With so many options for activities and accommodations, the Rosario Islands are a must-see destination when visiting Cartagena.

Rosario Islands

Bars, Clubs and Nightlife

The Old City of Cartagena is a popular destination for visitors, with its many restaurants, bars, and other amenities. However, it’s worth venturing beyond the Old City to explore other neighborhoods, such as Getsemani. This up-and-coming district is known for its street art, unique restaurants, and small boutique hotels. It is a trendy and vibrant area, already well known for its clubs and bars that cater to party-goers well into the early hours of the morning.

The area is also home to a number of trendy restaurants and local bars and is expected to continue to grow and improve. This neighborhood is perfect for those who want to experience the more authentic and real side of Cartagena and is definitely worth a visit.

La Vitrola Restaurant Cartagena
Rosario Islands
Rosario Islands

Private Boat trips to the Rosario Islands

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day on the beach or an adventurous island-hopping experience, the Rosario Islands have something for everyone.

One of the best options to get to the islands is to hire a private boat. This allows you to set your own itinerary and make the most of your time on the islands. We can provide a private boat, including a fully trained skipper and his first mate, to take you on a day of fun in the sun island hopping. Our boats typically accommodate up to 14 people, and lunch and drinks can be provided throughout the day. You can also choose to make a stop off on the beach for lunch or at a private home. Your skipper will be at your disposal and will work around your wishes for the day.

The Rosario Islands are an ideal destination for those looking for a secluded and private island experience. With its crystal clear waters, lush greenery, and a variety of activities, the Rosario Islands offer a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. With the option of hiring a private boat and having the flexibility to design your own itinerary, a day trip or a stopover night in a private home in the Rosario Islands is definitely a must-do when visiting Cartagena.

Private Boats for Hire

Walk around the Old City Wall

Walking around the wall that surrounds the Old City of Cartagena is a popular activity for both visitors and locals alike. The wall is 4km in circumference and offers a unique perspective of the city. Many people choose to walk the entire wall, taking in the sights and sounds of the city as they go.

One of the best times to walk the wall is in the evening when the sun is setting. This is when locals can be seen hand in hand, taking in the beautiful sunset and the golden-colored evenings. The wall provides an excellent vantage point to see the silhouettes of people as the sun sets. It’s a great opportunity to take in the city’s rich history and culture, as well as the natural beauty of the Caribbean.

Additionally, if you’re looking for the best views of the sunset, make sure to head to the west side of the wall. The sun sets directly in front of the wall on this side, providing an unforgettable view of the city. Walking around the wall and watching the sunset is a must-do when visiting Cartagena. It is a perfect way to end your day and savor the beauty of our charming Old City.

Walking on Cartagena Old City Wall

Why not Buy a Mochila Bag while in Cartagena?

The Mochila is a traditional artisan bag from Colombia that has become famous around the world for its bright and multi-colored designs. The Mochila is made by the indigenous Arhuaco tribe, who are from the North of Colombia, specifically, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, located about 3 to 3-1/2 hours north of Cartagena.

When visiting Cartagena, it’s a great opportunity to purchase a Mochila. Not only will you be supporting local artisans, but you’ll also be taking home a unique and beautiful piece of Colombian culture. Originally Mochilas were woven with natural fibers such as agave and cotton. However, over time Mochilas have come to be made with industrial fibers that are known for their durability and long last.

Mochilas are perfect for everyday use, and they come in different sizes and designs, so you’re sure to find one that suits your style. They make great souvenirs, and you can be sure that you’re getting a high-quality product that was made with care and attention to detail. The Mochilas are hand-made by the indigenous people, which makes them unique and exclusive. They are a perfect way to bring a piece of Colombian culture and tradition home with you.

Mochila Bags
Colombian Emerald

Colombian Emeralds

Colombian Emeralds are considered among the finest and most valuable gems in the world, known for their beautiful green color. These precious stones are mined from the earth and have a long history in Colombia, where they are known for their high quality and intense green color.
When visiting Cartagena, visitors can find a variety of emerald shops where they can purchase these precious stones. Many of these shops offer a wide range of emeralds, from small souvenirs to large, high-quality gems. These shops are run by skilled craftsmen who can provide visitors with a detailed explanation of the history and quality of the emeralds. Visitors can also find a variety of emerald jewelry, such as rings, earrings, and necklaces, which can make great souvenirs or gifts.

Emeralds are a unique and beautiful way to remember your visit to Colombia, and Cartagena is a great place to purchase them. Whether you’re a collector or simply looking for a special souvenir, you’re sure to find something that suits your taste and budget in the city’s emerald shops.

The Best Time to Come to Cartagena

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