Recommendations: Cartagena, Colombia
Where to Stay:
- The Old Town: On a broad level, there is no other location in Cartagena worth staying. There are plenty of hotels to choose from, all of your dinner options will be here and you'll want to spend a lot of your time just walking in the walled city.
- Bastion Luxury Hotel: This was a boutique hotel located in the Old Town. It was clean, the staff was friendly and it was the perfect jumping off point to explore the old city. Most importantly, it had a rooftop pool with great views which was a perfect spot to unwind with a mojito after a day of touring.
|The entrance to the Old Town.
What To Do & See
- Castillo de San Felipe: This is one of the only attractions outside of the old city that may be worth visiting. It is the massive fort that protected the city for centuries (with the exception of the few times it fell). We went here one morning and walked around it for about an hour which is all the time you will need. I thought it was really impressive and there was also great views of the city. We walked here from the Old Town but otherwise is a cheap cab ride.
- The Wall: Circulating the Old Town is a massive fortified wall that was also used to protect the city. My recommended option would be to climb up the wall close to sunset, grab a Aguila (and perhaps a Cuban) and then sit back and take it all in.
- Plazas: There are a number of plazas in the Old Town and the most famous is the Plaza de Boliviar. While some are in the shadows of famous churches or statues, the best part about any plaza is to just kick back and relax with a drink. The Fernandez de Madrid was a favorite of ours by our hotel but there are plenty to stumble upon.
- Old Town: No matter what you do decide to see, the most enjoyable experience will be getting lost in the narrow colorful streets of the Old Town.
- Rosario Islands: If you want to check out the beach in down town Cartagena then go for an hour or two. It's not that nice but we wanted to see what it was like. The really nice beaches are the Rosario Island beaches and if we had an extra day we would have done this but didn't have time.
|Sitting on a cannon at Castillo de San Felipe
Where to Eat: An important thing to note is that for any place we went for dinner, we made a reservation in advance on ticartagena.com
- La Vitrola: We dined here for dinner one night. They had live music, a fantastic wine list but be sure to order the grouper and octopus.
- Cuzco: Our hotel recommended this Peruvian spot. It was unreal. You really can't go wrong with any options, particularly the seafood but be sure to try the ceviche.
- La Mulata: This is a great spot for lunch, especially for anyone on a budget. It had a laid back vibe and an a great fish filet.
- La Cevicheria: We didn't go here because we couldn't get a reservation and when we went to check it out, the wait was well over an hour. I heard from multiple sources that this place was a must.
- La Paletteria: This is the must have dessert in Cartagena. It's essentially different flavored popsicles but they are extremely addicting. It's ok if you end up 2, 3, 4 times a day...kind of like us.
- Espiritu Santo: This is a very popular spot for lunch. They are known for their filet of fish lunches.
|The different flavors at the Paletteria
- Plazas: The plazas were really lively at night and if my memory serves me correctly, Plaza San Diego that was the liveliest.
- Cafe Havana: This is the famous salsa bar and is known as the place to go to around town. You have to go early if you want a seat as it's not that big and the music starts around 11.