What to Expect When Exploring Cartagena

Streets of the Old City.
Cartagena Colombia is one of the top tourist destinations in South America. | Photo by Reiseuhu on Unsplash

Formerly called Cartagena de Indias by Spanish conquistadors, this lovely, vibrant, and culturally rich city in Colombia is a favorite international destination among travelers coming from all over the world.

Incredible beaches, picturesque locations, savory food, fun local attractions, and beautiful Colombian women; this city has it all and more.

With that said, consider exploring Cartagena. There are so many things to do and see in this colonial city. Check out the list below to start planning your Colombia trip.

The Old City is a sight to behold!

Medellin has Plaza Botero, Barranquilla has Carnaval de Barranquilla, and Bogota has its luscious parks and ecological reserves. What about Cartagena? What does it have that makes it worth visiting?

With confidence, Cartagena’s Old City is the principal attraction.

It might not have iconic monuments, grandiose festivals, or natural attractions, but the city itself still draws thousands of tourists. It’s easily one of the most majestic and scenic cities in South America.

Upon entering the Old City, you’ll be greeted by colorful and vibrant houses. Besides the phenomenal and distinct colonial architecture, you’ll also find a wide selection of bars and restaurants for when you get tired from walking.

Here are some suggestions of things to do while in the Old City of Cartagena Colombia:

You can take pictures with the iconic palenqueras.

They’re known as Colombia’s famous fruit ladies and Cartagena’s unofficial poster girls. Almost every Colombian travel magazine has a page dedicated to them.

Typically, these are local women who take on the role of a palenquera. They’re seen wearing brightly colored and loose dresses, with their signature basket of fruit effortlessly balanced on their heads. You’ll find them roaming around the streets of the Walled City since their main livelihood is posing for photos for tourists.

Native woman carrying a fruit basket.
Aside from the street food, try the exotic fruits. Fruit ladies can be found anywhere in Cartagena. | Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

They’re very warm and friendly. If you see one, don’t be afraid to ask for a photo. But remember, photos with them are not free, so don’t forget to tip them afterward.

Taking photos without their knowledge is strongly discouraged. It’s disrespectful, not to mention you’re depriving them of their right to earn income. Be a good tourist and tip.

Local street food can be found anywhere in the city.

Though you’ll find plenty of luxurious yet affordable restaurants in the city, don’t ignore the street food scene. Give street vendors and their food a chance. You’ll find an abundance of them scattered throughout the city’s streets. For starters, try out these interesting fares:

The fascinating street art in the Getsemani neighborhood will not disappoint!

Barrio Getsemani is a laid-back neighborhood where most tourists on a budget go to drink beer, listen to street musicians, snack on grilled arepas, and take pictures of incredible street art and murals.

It only takes you 10 minutes to walk there from the Old City. It’s clean, budget-friendly, and there are tons of interesting things to do.

Street murals.
Make the most out of your Colombian travel by taking lots of photos. | Photo by Jorge Gardner on Unsplash

There are many exotic islands and beautiful beach resorts for you to visit.

There aren’t a lot of picturesque white-sand beach resorts within the city. If there is one, it’s most probably crowded with locals and tourists. It’ll be hard to enjoy it. The best option you have is to go island hopping.

Take a boat excursion and explore Cartagena’s many tropical islets. Here are two must-visit islands:

Other fun and exciting things to do in Cartagena.

There are just so many things to do and places to see that it’s not possible to enumerate them all. However, we can suggest these three additional things you should do while in Cartagena:

1. Rumba on a Chiva Party Bus - Dance to traditional Colombian music, drink unlimited alcohol, and eat amazing local food while being chauffeured through historic neighborhoods in Cartagena. The Chiva Bus is an interesting take on nightlife on wheels.

2. Take a volcanic mud bath - Volcan del Totumo is merely a few minutes away from Cartagena. It’s a famous tourist spot where visitors can enjoy a mud bath inside the volcanic crater. It only costs four dollars, which is a quite reasonable price considering it’s such a unique experience.

3. Go bargain hunting and souvenir shopping - Finish your Cartagena trip with a shopping spree. Take your time looking for handcrafted local items as they make great souvenirs for friends and family back home. If you prefer a more modern shopping experience, head down to one of the city’s biggest shopping malls, Mallplaza Cartagena - El Castillo.

Native bags.
End your Colombian travel by buying souvenirs. | Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

Join Our Singles Vacation Tour

Are you planning a trip but don’t know where to stay in Cartagena? Do you dread the thought of traveling alone?

Book a singles vacation tour! You get to meet gorgeous Colombian women while exploring Cartagena. Doesn’t that sound exciting? Register on our website to find out our available tour dates.