Yes I did feel in love with Cartagena! I have also to say that I had the chance of discovering the city in the best conditions as Pierre lived there for a while and therefore knows quite well the place. Apparently it’s becoming quite touristic lately but I think I can say that I have a very good selection of spots to live the real experience!
Basically Cartagena is split between the historical center, where you have all this beautiful colonial houses , I clearly advise you to stay in this area (Getsemani & old town), then you have Bocagrande where all the big buildings are located, mostly a residential area (Hilton and a lot of AirBnB are there), and also Manga where we went several times as the port is just there. Then you have an island in front ( Isla de Tierra Bomba) with 2 beach clubs where you can spend the day, it’s only 15 minutes by motorboat and the beach club provides the shuttle service.
So we divided our time between the city exploration, 2 days at the Beach clubs and 4 days on a sailing boat trip. If you want to explore the islands a bit further Cartagena you have several options. In the city you will be proposed by so many tour guides to bring you to Rosario Islands (40 min by motor boat), or Playa Blanca. I don’t recommend going there with them as it’s really the mass tourist attraction. The best option is to have private tour organized by some people I met and I will put all their contact below in the article.
Regarding the food the typical meal is fish with coconut rice and patacon (fried plantain bananas), huge crush on the coconut rice for me and I think I had some everyday! Then you have more sophisticated restaurant but be careful it can be disappointing so follow the list 😉
Shopping wise you will see at every street corner some local crafts like mochillas bags, jewelry, dresses etc.. But you have to search for the right street markets to find good stuff. Otherwise I have a few cool adresses of shops with Colombian designer but the prices are the same than in Europe.
Finally regarding the accommodations, we stayed at the Sophia Hotel a beautiful boutique hotel which is perfectly located in the old town, with a rooftop and in a quiet area. I saw different others hotels in Cartagena and usually the rooms face the street which is nice in terms of view but not in terms of noise, the city is very noisy with all the taxi honking day and night and a very intense nightlife. So If you want to be able to sleep I advise you this area. I took a lot of pictures next to the pool, you will find more pictures taken at the Casa Cochera del Gobernador which is as well a gorgeous hotel!
- Maria : Colombian cuisine but with a modern twist! Super cool deco.
- Caffe Lunatico: Tapas but done with a Colombian touch
- Alma: also contemporary Colombian food in a beautiful place
- Marzola Parilla Argentina: Ok this is Argentinian food but really one great meat and the restaurant is decorated very originally
- Blue Apple Beach House: Beautiful place, one of the best lunch I had!
- Fenix Beach club: Great parties and chill during the day, nice vibes.
Island boat trip contact Jota Gutierrez : 0057 3016933686