Cartagena in Colombia is a cultural gem that most of you probably haven't heard of but you really should know about. As the first Spanish colony on the American continent and set in the picturesque backdrop of the crystal blue Caribbean, it's one of those up and coming places that you'll soon see as the next top places to travel to in the world.
In the 1600's, gold and silver is what did the talking as they were mined in the area and shipped out to Europe. Pirates run rampant in the area and so a walled fort grew to protect both shipping and the slave trade. It's a different time now as Cartagena now stands as one of the continent's greatest cultural treasures. Keep reading to find your 3 day Cartagena itinerary.
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I'll be honest with you, when I first heard about Cartagena, I said “where?” So let's start off with that. Cartagena is situated in the northern coast of Colombia and faces the Caribbean Sea.
Okay now that we have our bearings set straight, what's up in Cartagena?
Mazes of idyllic cobbled alleys, lovely architecture, spectacular diving and snorkelling, lush forests, rich culture your thing? As you go through the city and the surrounding hot spots, you'll find that Cartagena really has something for everyone.
The city of Cartagena itself is basically composed of two different parts. One is the remarkably intact walled colonial city, UNESCO World Heritage site, called “ciudad amurallada” and the other is the beachfront known as Bocagrande which is almost a mini-Miami and just a few kilometers southwest. The city is extremely walking friendly and everything can be explored by foot. Here you'll start to really appreciate the city's fabled past and experience its Caribbean charm.
If you're a foodie or partier, the food scene is diverse and the night scene is hopping.
Outside of that you have many more beach options if you want to soak in the crystalline clear waters or if hiking and nature is your thing, Tayrona National Park is just four hours away. Here, the jungle rolls right up to the edge of the sea and is well known for its unique coral formations.
Catch your attention yet?
3 day Cartagena itinerary
I've put together a sample 3 day Cartagena itinerary as a great starting point for your adventures to Colombia.
|Day 1: Explore the old city||Day 2: Islands and beaches||Day 3: One final hurrah|
|Summary||Hopping with energy and excitement, the first day is perfect to explore the old city and its plazas, museums, churches, and shops. Get your camera ready.||The easiest way to explore the Islas del Rosari and Isla Baru is via a day excursion. Or perhaps you just want to hit a beach and if that's the case make your way to Playa Blanca on Isla Baru. There are many companies out there so you'll have to do your research here but regardless, you're going to have a heck of a time out there.||With this being your final day in Cartagena, it's your chance to do a bit more slow paced exploring new neighborhoods and take in the best views of the city.|
|Breakfast||Free breakfast at the Casa San Agustin||Free breakfast at the Casa San Agustin||Free breakfast at the Casa San Agustin|
|Morning||-After breakfast, literally drop yourself within the old city walls and start strolling down bougainvillea-line streets|
-Literally just get lost and do things at your own place
|-Book an excursion with a company like Taroa Adventures||-If there's anything you feel like you missed inside the old city, take some time to roam around again right outside the hotel
-Venture out of the walled city and see Cathedral de San Pedro Claver and St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral which is steeped with history
|Lunch||-Play it by ear and enjoy one of the many sidewalk cafes or restaurants||-Something local on the island of Baru or provided by excursion company|
|Afternoon||-Plazas to keep an eye out for: Plaza Santa Domingo, Plaza de San Diego|
-Museum: Museo del Oro Zenu (very interesting gold museum)
-Church: Templo de Santo Domingo
-If you're wanting a guided tour, the Segway tours are great or hire one of the official tour guides near Cartagena’s Clock Tower gate for a half-day walk
-Catch a local dance performance by the Clock Tower gate if you pass by around sunset
|-Via the excursion, do things like snorkelling, 4x4 rides, meet locals, explore the mangrove forest, tan on the beach etc.||-Right by the cathedrals is the fortress Castillo de San Felipe. It's an impressive fort with a chance to learn about Colombian culture and their struggles in the days of Pre-Columbian times. Audio tour recommended. It may look like a place you can easily go in and out of but most people end up spending hours here so budget accordingly
-Then make your way to El Convento de la Popa for amazing views of the city as the sun sets. Oh and don't miss the 22 karat gold altar
|Dinner||-The highly recommended El Boliche Cebicheria (Centro Historico, San Diego, Calle Cochera del Hobo No.38-17, Cartagena, Colombia) is within the city walls and boasts fresh Colombian seafood and cerviche||-If you're back by dinner, consider Caffe Lunatico (Calle de la Media Luna, Getsemani No 10-81, Cartagena, Colombia) for its tapas. It's small in size but big on charm and tasty||-Not quite Colombian food but there's an amazing Indonesia restaurant called Saint Roque Restaurante Cafe (Getsemani, Calle Espiritu Santo 29-214, Cartagena, Colombia) that is worth checking out|
|Evening||-Take a walk along the city walls to walk off that delicious dinner||-Take it easy. Grab a gelato at Gelateria Paradiso or a drink at Cafe del Mar at the northwestern corner of the old city walls||If clubs are your thing, head out to Cafe Havana or Donde Fidel Salsa Club if you love salsa and tropical fun.|
|Accommodations||Casa San Agustin||Casa San Agustin||Casa San Agustin|