Out of all the amazing places in the world, Cartagena Colombia definitely holds a special place in my heart from the especially warm locals to the cultural and colorful walled city, delicious food and lively rooftops I can’t wait to go back! What makes Cartagena a popular destination are a few factors: it’s a quick 2.5-hour flight, it’s an extremely reasonably priced city and the weather is superb. Cartagena is the perfect city to experience if you’re looking for a great time without breaking the budget.
I decided to stay in an Airbnb that was 10 minutes from Cartagena’s walled city. The Airbnb was a one bedroom, two bathrooms set up with a large balcony in a condo building that overlooked the beach. One of my favorite portions of the building was that it had the most amazing rooftop pool, due to Covid restrictions they only allowed a few people to visit it at a time where they were on their own. Which worked out perfectly for me! A secluded gorgeous pool with breathtaking views? COUNT ME IN!
Transportation: I opted to use a trusted taxi driver for my entire trip. He was always on time, in an airconditioned vehicle and had tons of suggestions on where to go to get the most of my stay. The wonderful thing about staying in Cartagena is that most rides are 15 minutes max due to the concentration of the city. He was so professional that he even helped me to find a deal for my covid testing and went inside with me to make sure everything went smoothly. The customer service was truly top tier.
Boat Day: It’s only right that you take a boat to visit some of the islands of Cartagena. The water in Cartagena itself isn’t the prettiest, but it quickly transforms into crystal blue waters once you take the 45 minutes to an hour ride to the islands. The boat ride was my favorite part of the trip.
You have several options on what type of boat you would prefer to take- Some people opt for a boat that has a group of strangers on it for a cheaper price, or you can rent out your own boat depending on what you are interested in. There are boats that range in size and luxury all to meet your needs.
I went to the Rosario Islands. One of the islands was a legitimate party on the water, filled with great music, and people serving food through the water to your boat. I couldn’t ask for a better experience!
I highly recommend wearing sunblock and reapplying it throughout your entire day I got a nasty sunburn that kept me indoors for the next day. Also bring some water, towels, and a few snacks in case you get hungry before you reach the islands, or in case you can’t hold your liquor.
Walled City: The walled city of Colombia is one of the most magical portions of Cartagena. Filled with bustling people, restaurants, bars, shops and entertainment you can even get a horse drawn carriage to take you to your destinations! If you are checking out the walled city during the day, I suggest trying out the yummy street food. It is beyond tasty and quite frugal. You can also shop around for clothing, accessories, souvenirs- you name it!
If you are going out at night, or to a rooftop please be aware that if you are wearing heels it will be one heck of a mission for you. It is quite a journey of several flights of stairs, sometimes with a very steep incline, that are not forgiving. Sometimes you will have 4 flights of narrow stairs to climb while passing people bringing trays of food- trust me, it is NOT for the weak.
Restaurants: Every restaurant in Cartagena has its own appeal that makes it so unique. As a foodie, I take my meals very seriously and my taste buds were not disappointed. The tastes of Cartagena are tropical and contain rice, meats, fish and coconut infused flavors! And although I tried out a multitude of places, my favorite restaurant was Cande’ Cocina
Filled with decor that leaves you in complete shock, this restaurant was one of a kind. It even had a live show that was very interactive during your dinner. The presentation of the food was next level with fish that is opened in a tied leaf and drinks that were served out of shells! The service was top notch with many servers who dish the food for you and even someone in the restroom to help you.
There is a giant tree in the center of the restaurant decorated in gold ornaments and glowing light fixtures that takes your breath away. Candles and ornaments are artistically placed around the space to for a romantic and warm feeling that penetrates the ambiance from the moment you step inside.
Pricing & Affordability: One of the best things about Cartagena is how affordable it truly is! From a casual dining experience with the locals, to the fanciest of dinners Cartagena does not break the bank. Many of the Cartagena accommodations are not pricey and include a complimentary breakfast with your stay.
Racism & Safety?: As a black woman traveler I am very conscious of both my safety and treatment while I travel; and I can honestly say- In Cartagena I was treated like a celebrity! Everywhere I went both men and women complimented me and made me feel absolutely beautiful and at home. I even found a mural painting of a woman who looked exactly like me- it was uncanny to say the least.
In terms of safety, Cartagena is city where you should pay attention just like everywhere else in the world. People will hustle to make a living but I did not at any point feel as though I was in danger.
Whether you are taking a quick trip or want to stay for a while, Cartagena is the place to venture out to. It’s safe, beautiful, full of a vibrant culture, great customer service and its guaranteed to give you memories for years to come. P.S. I’m actually going back in February 2023- and I cannot wait.