Cartagena in 72 Hours
Updated: Jul 1, 2022
There are few places in the world that are objectively as beautiful as Cartagena. This is not the place that you have to go hunting for that one beautiful street, this is the place where every street is that beautiful street. Every time you turn a corner, the buildings are exploding with more hues that the last and balconies are spilling with vibrant flowers. The only drawback is the humidity, which is so intense, it puts Florida's humidity levels to shame. But nonetheless, the food, the culture, the buildings, everything else is worth bearing the heat.
Best places to eat & drink in Cartagena
Carmen Restaurante—If you take only one thing from this blog post, let it be this: go to Carmen and do the seven-course meal; you won't regret a single bite! Each course comes with a different drink and each one is absolutely fabulous, that's all.
Mistura Cartagena—Sushi in Colombia? I know, but it was fabulous. We also got a seafood rice dish that did NOT disappoint. Mistura had some fun gin drink options too; fair warning: those drinks were huge!
Buena Vida Rooftop—This place was shockingly good. I honestly just thought we were going to get a couple fun drink (out a a conch shell—how fun) and watch the sunset, but we ordered this local shark stew flautas that ended up being one of our favorite things we ate on the trip. The bar on the rooftop at Buena Vida is open seating, but if you want a table, you need to make a reservation; they also had a live band on the rooftop, which made for a super fun evening!
Holes in the Wall—If you walk by a place and the menu looks good, go inside, even if it's empty. I found almost everywhere had good food, some places are just cheaper than others. We found this one place called Gualtila in the middle of nowhere and had super yummy ceviche and yucca fries.
El Baron—El Baron was a super cool bar open day and night—it was a little on the pricier side but the drinks were fabulous, and it was in a great location.
El Arsenal: The Rum Box—El Arsenal was another place we sort of stumbled upon, but wow, what a great find! Their drink were fabulous, and we didn't have time for their rum and chocolate tasting but a lot of people had come for it, and it looked amazing!
Best things to do in Cartagena
Coffee tour—When you think Colombia, you think coffee. Unfortunately, many of the coffee farms are pretty far from the coast in the mountains so time didn't allow for us to go visit those, but it did allow for us to spend 2.5 hours in a cafe in Getsemani with a crazy ex-engineer turned espresso enthusiast to learn and taste everything he knew about coffee. This tour was so educational yet so fun and very caffeinated—he walked us through traditional Colombian brewing methods as well as brewing methods around the world, let us try a handful of types of coffee (brewed in different ways) and even gave us each a bag of coffee beans to take home. I can't recommend this experience enough!
Arte Getsemani—I was on a mission to buy art in Cartagena, and that I did in the Getsemani neighborhood. There's one street in particular that is an entire wall with hung up art pieces by different artists, and you can get there by simply typing "Arte Getsemani" in your phone map.
Walk around—I know this is the most annoying thing to read in a travel post, but it's true, you have to give yourself time to walk around. We barely even left the walled city, and I feel like I didn't see everything in it!
Best places to stay in Cartagena
Amarla Boutique Hotel Cartagena—I genuinely cannot recommend this hotel enough. Amarla has only seven rooms, so this is the most "boutique" hotel I've ever stayed in, but it allowed for the staff to be super attentive and kind. They served complimentary breakfast each day that was so delicious, and you could enjoy it by the pool or in the jungle-esque lobby.