Explore the Vibrant Heart of South America! Cartagena, Colombia

My friends and I went on a five-day trip to Cartagena, Colombia and I must tell you all about it!

The colourful streets, rich culture, arts, and culinary delights were truly captivating. Colombia is great for everyone, from solo travelers to groups and black travelers. This blog post is all about our trip to Cartagena, a city we fell in love with.

Let’s get into the details…

Download Colombia 5 Day Travel Itinerary

Places We Visited

Cartagena stands out with its unique vibe among Colombia’s popular tourist destinations, including Bogota and Medellín. Our choice of accommodation was GHL Collection Armería Real Hotel a colonial-style hotel in the charming neighbourhood of Getsmani, which added to the overall experience.

Picture with the Palenqueras

Fun Things We Did:

  1. Tried Street Food: We took a food tour and tried lots of yummy Colombian food. Watch my food rating video We tried about 13 bite-sized foods and different fruits, some of which I’ve never seen. Book Food Tour
  2. Explored Totumo Mud Volcano and Pink Lake: We couldn’t resist the opportunity to infuse ourselves in the Totumo Volcano and visit the nearby Pink Lake, Salinas de Galerazamba, one of the 49 places on Earth with a pink lake. The colour of the pink lake varies at different seasons of the year. Book Tour Here
  3. Took Photos on the Street: We had a street photoshoot featuring the iconic Palenqueras (women in colorful dresses) and the picturesque streets of Getsmani.
  4. Walked Around the Walled City: We visited the historic Walled City of Cartagena, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  5. Explored Castillo San Felipe: We explored the imposing Castillo San Felipe, a 16th-century fortress. It gave us a glimpse into Cartagena’s colonial past and panoramic views of the city. Book Tour Here
  6. Spent a Day at Eteka Beach Resort: We relaxed at a beach resort and enjoyed soaking up the sun sitting on the sand. Book Eteka Beach
  7. Restaurants We Loved: Our culinary adventures also included dining at Restaurante Candé, Restaurante Nami, and Restaurante Bar 1533, where we savored the diverse flavors of Colombian cuisine.
  8. We strolled on the popular black sand beach right next to the Cartegena sign! Don’t forget to take pictures with the sign if you ever visit.

Other Things We Would Have Loved:

While our trip was filled with incredible experiences, there were a few other activities we wished we had the opportunity to try:

  • Salsa Dance Class: Colombia is renowned for its vibrant salsa scene, and taking a dance class would have allowed us to immerse ourselves further in the local culture.
  • Cooking Class: Learning to prepare traditional Colombian dishes would have been a fantastic way to take a piece of the country’s culinary heritage back home.
  • Nightlife or Party Bus: To truly experience Cartagena’s vibrant nightlife, a visit to the city’s renowned clubs and bars, or hopping on a party bus, would have added an extra dose of excitement.
  • Rosario Islands: This white sand beach with crystal clear water would have been a great addition to our itinerary since I enjoy snorkeling.

Cool Things I Learned:

  • The Palenqueras aka women in colourful dresses are one of the most photographed icons in Cartagena
  • Colombia’s Pink Sea, Salinas de Galerazamba is one of the 49 places on Earth with a pink lake
  • Colombia is a fruit paradise. I tried many fruits, some of which I’ve never seen before

Can you guess how much I spent for 5 Days in Colombia? If you’d like to find out, check out the cost breakdown video

Traveling Safely in Colombia

Despite some reservations about traveling to Colombia, we found the country safe and welcoming. As female travelers, we never once felt unsafe. I suggest learning a few Spanish words and get used to saying ‘no, gracias’, which simply means ‘no, thanks’, if anyone tries to patronize you

Never speak or ask about Pablo Escobar; they don’t like it. While ride-sharing apps like Uber are kinda illegal, we found them to be a convenient and reliable mode of transportation during our trip. I wouldn’t recommend using Uber far outside of the city just in case you pass through a police checkpoint.

5 Days in Cartagena, Colombia Travel Vlog

Interesting Information About Cartagena, Colombia

I loved my stay in Cartagena! I’d love to check out Medellin and the country’s capital Bogota on my next visit to Colombia. There’s so much history to learn and architecture to see in Bogota. Cartagena’s captivating blend of history, culture, and natural beauty offers a truly unforgettable experience. Here are some interesting information to know:

  1. If you happen to visit Cartagena during a festival, you’re in for an even more vibrant and lively experience. The city is known for its colorful festivals, such as the Cartagena International Film Festival (FICCI) and the Hay Festival, which celebrates film, literature, art, and culture.
  2. Cartagena offers a wide range of boutique hotels that are often located within beautifully restored historic buildings, featuring courtyards, balconies, and rooftop terraces with stunning views. Staying in one of these boutique hotels adds an extra touch of luxury and authenticity to your experience.
  3. The city is a shopper’s paradise, offering a variety of options for those looking to indulge in retail therapy. From traditional markets selling handmade crafts, jewelry, and textiles to high-end boutiques offering designer fashion and accessories, Cartagena has something for every taste and budget.
  4. Colombia is famous for its emeralds, and Cartagena is home to the Emerald Museum. It’s a fascinating place to learn about the history, mining, and craftsmanship of these precious gemstones. 
  5. Cartagena’s coastal location offers plenty of opportunities for water-based activities. We took a boat tour around the bay, enjoying the refreshing sea breeze and panoramic views of the city’s skyline. Snorkeling, scuba diving, and sailing are also popular activities for those seeking adventure and underwater exploration.
  6. As the sun sets, Cartagena comes alive with a vibrant nightlife scene. The city offers a diverse range of options, from rooftop bars with stunning views to salsa clubs where you can dance the night away. Getsemaní neighborhood is particularly known for its lively bars and clubs, where you can enjoy live music and dance to the infectious rhythms of salsa, reggaeton, and cumbia.
  7. If you have extra time, consider taking day trips from Cartagena to explore the surrounding areas. One popular option is a visit to the picturesque town of Playa Blanca, known for its white sandy beaches and turquoise waters where you can relax, swim, and snorkel in pristine Caribbean waters.

Travel Tips

To enhance your travel experiences, here are a couple of travel tips we learned from our trip to Colombia:

1. Exchange Money into Local Currency: While it may be convenient to exchange money at the airport, it’s advisable to do so in the city center, at local banks, or at ATMs for better rates. Avoid buying foreign currency in your home country to ensure a favorable exchange rate.

2. Traveling in Groups: Planning a group trip with close-knit friends can lead to significant cost savings on accommodations, tours, and transportation, making it an excellent travel-saving hack! More over sure to grab my travel planner to make your group trip seamless.

3. Download Splitwise: This app came very handy to split our travel costs. Especially when one person paid for the hotel, another for transport, and the other activities. Avoid drama on your trip by downloading Splitwise!

Conclusion

Our trip to Cartagena, Colombia, was amazing. We loved the colorful streets, delicious food, and friendly people. Despite the negative publicity, we found Colombia to be safe and welcoming, with friendly locals and a rich cultural heritage.

Whether you’re a solo traveler, part of a group, or seeking a black-friendly destination, Colombia should definitely be on your bucket list. So pack your bags, learn a few Spanish phrases, and get ready to explore the wonders of Colombia firsthand.

Happy Travels!

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