Cartagena is one of the hottest destinations of the world. Its charming Historical Center, the colorful streets and city squares, as well as the beautiful beaches and paradisiacal landscape that surround it, make it one of the most attractive places to visit in the Caribbean.
There are a few things that you should know before you start your trip. The most important one is to know that this amazing city will welcome you as one of its own. The warmth of Cartagena’s people and their positive attitude will make you want to stay for a long time.
These are 7 tips we give you to make sure that you have the best experience during the time you spend in Cartagena. Follow these recommendations and you will be able to create the coolest memories.
1. When is the best time to travel?
Cartagena de Indias has a typical tropical climate. It only has two seasons: A wet one, that coincides with the U.S. summer. And a dry one, present during the winter.
The best time to travel to Cartagena is probably from December to April. The average temperature during these months, goes from 28°C to 31°C, and, even though you can find some rain, it won’t be that much. It is the freshet time of the year, where you always feel the breeze’s presence.
It is also the perfect time to travel, because you get to experience the end of the year’s celebration at the beautiful Historical Center.
2. What do you need to travel to Cartagena?
In order to travel to Cartagena de Indias, the only thing you need is to want it. Besides that, there are not too many requirements. You must have a valid Passport, economic solvency –proof that you can afford the trip-, and the plane ticket for your return flight.
Although it is not mandatory to get any vaccination before you travel to Cartagena, it would be better if you get the Yellow Fever shot, especially if you plan to go to any place under the 1.800 meters above sea level, such as jungle areas or some Natural Parks. You should get it at least 10 days before your trip.
Colombian authorities also ask for a valid Visa to the visitors of these countries:
Albania, Argelia, Armenia, Bahrein, Bangladesh, Benín, Bielorrusia, Bosnia y Herzegovina, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Camerún, Chad, Comoras, Congo, Costa de Marfil, Egipto, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabón, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Ecuatorial, Haití, India, Kenya, Kirguistán, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lesotho, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldivas, Malí, Marruecos, Mauricio, Mauritania, Moldavia, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montenegro, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Níger, Omán, Qatar, República Centroafricana, Rwanda, Santo Tomé y Príncipe, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Swazilandia, Tailandia, Tanzania, Tayikistán, Timor Oriental, Togo, Tonga, Túnez, Turkmenistán, Tuvalu , Ucrania, Uzbekistán, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Zambia y Zimbabwe.
3. The tasty dishes you should try
First of all, you must know that the main ingredient on Cartagena’s cuisine is the coconut. It is often used on diverse plates to give them that special touch that you won’t find anywhere else. From soups, casseroles, and several preparations of rice, to the most amazing sweets and desserts.
There are so many good things you can taste in Cartagena. This is a list of five dishes you cannot miss:
Sancocho de Pescado
A succulent and dense soup. It is made from fish – the catfish is the most recommended-, a mixture of sliced potatoes, plantain, and yucca, coconut milk, and local condiments.
It is often served with coconut rice, patacones and a fresh salad.
If you are a beef lover, this is one dish you have to try. They take a whole anca tip, and leave it seasoned overnight. Then, they properly seal it with hot oil, and after that, it is boiled on a meat broth.
After it gets cooked to perfection, it is sliced and served with some delicious gravy. You won't stop licking your fingers.
The perfect companion for any kind of fish preparations. It is a bittersweet recipe that is not usually served as the main dish, but when it is properly prepared it is the star.
The secret for its delicious flavor comes out of the irresistible coconut milk, that is made by liquefying pieces of coconut with warm water. The rice is cooked on this water, with the same amount of both salt and sugar. Some recipes also include raisins.
Arepa E’ Huevo and Carimañolas
Always a good choice for breakfast, but these fried delicacies can be enjoyed at any time and place. When you arrive to Cartagena, you will find lots of shops and street vendors offering these preparations, made out of yucca flour and cornmeal.
The Arepa E’ Huevo is a type of cornmeal tortilla, filled with an egg and some ground beef. On the other hand, the Carimañolas are made out of a yucca flour dough and filled either with cheese or ground beef. The Arepa and the Carimañolas, are served well fried and with a side of suero (a kind of sour cream).
Do not leave Cartagena without stopping at one of these food posts. But, be careful, because these homemade dishes may be addictive.
Las Cocadas are either a choice for dessert or a sweet bite to have at any time. These kind of coconut cookies are the perfect gift to bring back with you on the way back home. One of the favorite recipes of Colombian Caribbean.
Las cocadas are just the gateway to a world of tasty sweets, made with delicious homemade recipes that will not disappoint anyone.
4. What to do?
One of the best things about Cartagena, is that there are a lot of fun plans you can do just by walking on their beautiful streets. Forts, colonial and republican architecture, old walls, and colorful houses are all part of the menu.
Here is a list of some of the plans you can experience in Cartagena de Indias, most of them conveniently located in the Historic Center of the city:
Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas
Go back in time and set foot in one of the most emblematic and historical places the city has to offer. The biggest military construction made by Spain on colonial times -built in 1657-.
It constituted an impenetrable fortress, and it was the best defense against pirates and enemy armies. Do not forget to walk through its ingenious system of tunnels, where the few who managed to penetrate were easily defeated.
Price of admission: 25.000 COP.
Torre del Reloj
It is the “gateway” to the Walled City. The meeting point for people from all over the world, who gather there to start a day full of adventure and pleasure. A representative symbol of Cartagena that was established in the nineteenth century. It once was the entrance of a slave market, but now it leads to one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Located at downtown, and surrounded by the old wall, this amazing place has several streets and squares full of beauty and history. This colonial zone was declared a Mankind Historical Heritage site by the UNESCO, and once you walk around it, you find a magical atmosphere of romantic and nostalgic memories. Once you are inside the walls, you do not want to leave.
Elegant and well-known restaurants and hotels have chosen this place not just for its beauty, but also for the artistic and bohemian side you experience all around.
It is a recurrent filming set, and the favorite place for the different cultural events that are held on the city.
San Diego and Getsemaní
These are neighborhoods you can walk by at the Historical Center. San Diego, full of colonial streets, and Getsemaní, with colorful and tropical facades, are both a delight for locals and tourists.
Have your camera ready and well charged, because you will not stop taking pictures in each of the beautiful corners of this unforgettable area of Cartagena
To wander around these cool sites, you can walk, ride a bike or get onto a classic horse-drawn carriage. Either way, you will have the best of moments just by standing one evening at one of the squares, museums or chapels, where you will have the opportunity to share the local culture with people from all over the world.
Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo Islands National Natural Park
This is not just any beach plan. It is a whole experience of relaxation and adventure at some of the most paradisiacal islands around the Cartagena shore. Take a boat and set route to these white sand beaches, where you will get to enjoy a revitalizing moment surrounded by nature and a peaceful environment.
Whether you feel like taking a swim or dive around the coral reef, you won´t find any better place to do so. You can relax the whole day at the beach, but you can also have fun practicing water sports or canoeing around the quiet waters.
To upgrade this experience a little bit more, you cannot forget to contemplate the fauna and flora richness, where lots of birds, coral fish, and amphibians wander around. Be sure you enjoy yourself without doing any harm to this fragile and beautiful ecosystem.
5. How to enjoy the local music?
There is a diverse variety of sounds and rhythms going on in Cartagena right now. But, without a doubt, there is no other as attractive and contagious, as La Champeta. Whether is at a Disco, or in a cell phone, this catchy music is played all around the city, and it is danced by both, grownups and children.
It has African influences and it was originated at the poor neighborhoods. Its lyrics are inspired on the adventures and experiences of local daily life. It was named after a type of machete that slaves used to work the fields.
Once you are in Cartagena, you can stop looking for excuses not to dance. So, start stretching out, because La Champeta will make you move every muscle of your body.
There is not place where you cannot enjoy this local dance. Either if you are in a disco or in a beach, day or night, you can take its positive vibrations and party everywhere.
Vallenato, Salsa, and Son Cubano are also listened, along with classical and electronic music. All kinds of genres are welcome at this jewel of the Caribbean. Dance on!
6. Direct flights to Cartagena
As Cartagena keeps growing as one of the favorite tourist destinations of the world, more airlines, from different nationalities, are adding more direct flights to Cartagena to fulfill the increasing demand.
Most of tourists come from the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico. But there is a wide public that also come from Europe, Australia, and some Asian countries.
On the first semester of 2018, 100.814 foreign visitors came to Cartagena. Most of them thanks to the most frequent operation of direct flights.
You are just one flight ticket away from traveling to Paradise.
These ones are the airlines that operate from, and to Cartagena:
Aerolínea de Antioquia, Air Canada, Air Transat, American Airlines, Avianca, Blue Panorama Airlines, CanJet, Copa Airlines, Delta Airlines, EasyFly, JetBlue Airways, KLN, LATAM, Spirit Airlines (by the end of the year it will have two new weekly flights from Orlando) , TAME, Viva Colombia.
7. Pay the right amount
After you arrive to Cartagena, you won’t have to worry about getting yourself overcharged for anything. Local authorities have established a fair list of prices, so you can spend the right amount of money without getting concerned about being tricked.
Whether you are at the beach, the islands or any street on the city, you can go online and check the prices for the things you will buy during your adventures, and make sure you won`t suffer any abuse. This is the price list:
Double Tent (4 chairs):
Beach Umbrella with 2 chairs:
Single Tent (2 chairs):
Cold Coconut Water:
Bottle of Water:
: 24.000 COP.
Águila Light Beer:
Club Colombia Beer:
Always remember to talk to the vendors and agree on the values before you order or sign up for anything. Feel free to ask around for different prices and let authorities know if you ever feel either robbed or unsatisfied. Do not forget to tip if you feel you were properly attended.
Get your bags and your passport ready. Cartagena de Indias awaits you.