Local: Cartagena

One of the most enchanting cities in South America, Cartagena seduces visitors with its old colonial architecture, unique musical, artistic and culinary talents and charming beaches and islands. For centuries, it was a mecca for gold seekers. Its wealthy residents built elaborate mansions and palaces in the historic center, many of which have now been converted into richly designed hotels and restaurants. It is no… Read more »

If you want to experience a less hectic side of Cartagena, head across the old city to trendy Getsemani neighborhood, a diverse area with rich cultural heritage and a favorite hangout for locals. We walked around during the day taking in the welcoming smiles of some of the locals and enjoying the eclectic street art. Calle de la Sierpe was originally home to the 2010… Read more »

We love Cartagena’s art scene and some of our favorites are NH Galeria Nohra Haime, Museo de Arte Moderno and Teatro Adolfo. Cartagena’s light-filled NH Galeria Nohra Haime showcases contemporary artists from Colombia and modern pieces include renowned pop artist Nadín Ospina’s pre-Columbian-style Bart Simpson statue. The intimate Museo de Arte Moderno has an impressive collection of paintings and works by sculptor Enrique Grau. Teatro Adolfo… Read more »

The extensive, pedestrian-friendly walls that surround the old city were built in response to Francis Drake’s siege of Cartagena in 1586. The best way to explore the iconic landmark is by foot, enjoying the warm sea breeze as you enjoy views of the picturesque streets. Dawn is a good time to explore the Murallas and assure the best possible pictures of your trip. Someone suggested… Read more »

When the temperatures rise, and the turquoise waters of the Caribbean become even more alluring, try to skip the hectic city beaches and take a day trip to a nearby island. We highly recommend a private tailor-made boat trip, where you can discuss your needs and preferences with your skipper and sit back as your sail to a perfect beach getaway. We suggest idyllic Rosario… Read more »

In Getsemani, the Centro Cultural Ciudad Movil, a grassroots cultural center, attracts locals for salsa dancing and live Afro-Colombian rhythms. The vibe can get a little hippie, but if you want to experience authentic Colombian and Caribbean beats, this is the place to go. The Plaza Santa Trindad is the epicenter of the night in the district. Go Salsa dancing at  La Havana  or Quiebra Canto,… Read more »

Only 20 minutes away by car you will find Convento de Santa Cruz de la Popa, standing 150 meters high on a hilltop, the highest point of Cartagena. Visit for the views alone, which overlook Cartagena as a whole and not just the old city, or go inside the convent to see the artifacts and learn about the history of the area. On your way… Read more »

Carmen is a unique experience of sensations and flavors, a culinary mix that uses native ingredients, carefully selected from all corners of Colombia and prepared with a delicate Asian touch. Everything on the menu is great, but the spicy shrimp Tacos Caribe and the succulent No Me Llames Cazuela seafood soup are the highlights of the house. Do not miss the local fruit cocktails, Andino… Read more »

A charming family run small restaurant , La Cocina de Pepina, with only eight tables and a notable portrait of Gabriel García Márquez paying homage to his longstanding custom. María Josefina Yances Guerra, one of the great Colombian chefs, believed in keeping traditional cuisine alive and expressing the soul of its people in her food, a mission faithfully followed nowadays by her nephew. Caribbean soups,… Read more »

The unpretentious atmosphere does not hint at the outstanding quality of the food served in this charming cebicheria. An excellent choice to savor exquisite fresh cebiches, as well as the traditional arepas as starters. There are plenty of other dishes as well, including marvelous seafood combined with tropical fruits. We simply loved the spicy tamarind cebiche and the grilled king prawns with local butifarra sausage and quail… Read more »

The most famous and recognized restaurant in Cartagena repeatedly sparks lively debates about whether La Vitrola’s food really is the best in town. We liked it, but it cannot be denied there are other equally excellent options in Cartagena. Frequented by A-Listers in all fields, politicians and all sorts of celebrities, the ambiance is reminiscent of a 50s Havana, with delightful live Cuban music and… Read more »

This enchanting old style neighborhood bookstore is a perfect respite from the bustling streets. The charming brick walls, wooden shelves and large rectangular tables welcome visitors to browse, sit and sip what is considered the best coffee in the world: Colombian coffee. We suggest you try the delicious cheesecake or banana cake to accompany your coffee and sweeten your day! There is a wonderful selection… Read more »

This place is super relaxed and easygoing, nothing special in terms of decor, yet serves the best meat in town. It is actually an Argentine restaurant, the South American country reputed as having the best meats in the region. Rib eye, tendereloin and various other cuts perfectly cooked in the parrilla (grill) are on offer. We recommend our favorites, the vacio and the bife de chorizo,… Read more »

This small coffee house is our choice if you would like to sample the farandula, a typical Colombian soup, or just have an afternoon coffee. Mila also has some of the most famous pastries in Cartagena and we highly recommend the Porteña chocolate cake with truffles or the coconut vanilla and dulce de leche dessert, both mouthwatering and worth every calorie!

The Santa Clara has become an institution in Cartagena. It is set in a beachfront area with stunning sea views and the historic center a stone’s throw away. A former monastery, dating back to the 17th Century, the wonderful external areas and marvelous interiors were renovated in keeping with its historical heritage. A wooden motif with vintage Colombian furniture, iron chandeliers, rustic bricks and stylish… Read more »

Located in the heart of the old city, this renovated building is the second hotel by a very successful hotel group in Cartagena. A pleasant lobby area, cozy interiors, water mirror and vertical gardens make the Tcherassi a delightful stay in town. We particularly like the rooftop eating area, as well as its small and shallow pool, very convenient to refresh during hot days. Its… Read more »

Set at an impressive 18th-century estate that once belonged to the Count of Pestagua, this luxury home-away from home property is very lovable, with its typically charming Cartagena colors and a colonial decor. There is a lovely inner courtyard with immaculate hanging plants and palm trees, frescoed corridor walls and a cozy swimming pool. The accommodation consists of 11 classical suites distributed around the noble… Read more »

One of the newest boutique hotels in the historic walled city of Cartagena, Casa San Agustin is a top-pick. The owners maintained the authentic colonial features in its rooms and common areas, and the elegant décor and relaxed Colombian style atmosphere are in keeping with Cartagena’s heritage. Casa San Agustin has twenty-four rooms and six suites that flawlessly mix colonial style and modernity, offering all… Read more »

Located in the heart of the old city, this colonial mansion has been expertly converted and renovated into a small hotel which stylishly mixes Cartagena’s golden age with modern comforts. The original renovation consisted of only 7 rooms and Tcherassi became so sought after that an extension to a new building was soon built to accommodate demand. Although there are now 42 rooms, the hotel… Read more »