Cartagena is like something from a storybook. Set within eight miles of stone walls dating back hundreds of years into the city’s rich colonial past the city is a warren of cobbled lanes imposing churches and romantic balconies and plazas. Step out of this old town centrethough and you’ll discover a plethora of modern city distractions. Bocagrande in particular is bejewelled with top restaurants dazzling new apartment blocks and some of the best coffee shops on the Caribbean. Cartagena is a city of true colonial splendour and modern charm.
Areas & Neighborhoods in Cartagena
Old Town — Clearly the main attraction in Cartagena the historic old town is incredibly well preserved and arguably the finest example of Spanish colonial heritage in the world. With civil and military architecture including coral-stone forts that date back over half a millennium Cartagena’s old town has to be seen to be believed.
La Popa — This hilltop area affords visitors a spectacular view down over the harbour area. It’s also home to the fabulously restored 17th century Santa Cruz monastery which is also where you can enjoy the renowned image of the Virgin of La Candelaria. From the nearby San Felipe fortress you’ll be able to immerse yourself in a widescreen vista of Cartagena’s heritage.
Playa Blanca — Cartagena’s finest beach for swimming Playa Blanca is a also home to many of Caratgena’s cheekier street vendors. So if you want to take your chances to haggle for seafood or jewellery you’ll have plenty to keep you busy here. If however you simply want to get into the sea and cool down then Playa Blanca can’t be beaten.
Sportbaru — If Playa Blanca sounds a bit too hectic for your liking then you should certainly make the effort to head down to this tranquil spot on Isla Baru in the bay of Cholon. Here you will find plenty of watersports boat tours eco hikes restaurants and bar and can even hire a beachfront cabana if you fancy staying overnight.
Things to See in Cartagena
Cartagena is festooned with incredible heritage and architecture. There’s hardly a church in the old town that isn’t worth checking out but Iglesia de San Pedro Claver and La Catedral are both particularly jaw-dropping. There are a number of museums in the city as well. The Palacio de la Inquisicion has a particularly spine-chilling history located as it is in the building where the Spanish Inquisition tortured judged and convicted people accused of heresy.
Things to Do in Cartagena
Cartagena boasts a great lively nightlife particularly in the Bocagrande district where you’ll find plenty of great cafes restaurants and clubs to while away the evenings. If however you want to get active then of course you can make the most of the watersports activities available up and down the coast and in particular in Sportbaru.