A former key colonial port city of the Spanish Empire, Cartagena is quite possibly one of the most gorgeous cities you will ever see. Featuring lovely cobbled alleyways and romantic getaways; beautifully preserved colonial architecture and impressive beaches; fine dining and gastronomically good eats; trendy cafés and hidden gems, there’s little wonder why tourists continue to make Cartagena one of Colombia’s top tourist destinations. If you can endure the hot and humid climate of Cartagena, then you will not be disappointed by what this exceptional city has to offer.
Here’s a simple breakdown of 7 neighborhoods in Cartagena!
Reputation: Beautiful historic center
411: Home to some of the city’s top attractions, best hotels, finest restaurants and amazing bars, Centro is the heartbeat of Cartagena. As many as 350,000 tourists visit this former Spanish colonial city each day, and is recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site. Its romantic streets are full of beautiful homes painted with brilliant pastel hues of mustard, burgundy, lavender, orange, and many other vibrant colors. Be sure to visit the magnificent museum of Palacio de la Inquisición and the spectacular art gallery of Centro Cultural Español de Cooperación Iberoamericana on Plaza Domingo. At the end of the day, be sure to stop by Café del Mar to admire the beautiful sunset with a cool drink in hand and lovely breeze.
2. San Diego
Reputation: Gastronomic good eats
411: Situated next to Centro, San Diego is where you go to satisfy your gastronomic fix! Many of the city’s finest restaurants can be found on Plaza Domingo, including El Santisimo, La Cevichería and Juan del Mar. For foodies looking for good-cheap eats, don’t pass up La Sandwicheria and Pizza En El Parque.
Facebook/La Cevicheria Cartagena
Reputation: Bohemian haven for bars and clubs
411: Full of bars, clubs, sexy salsa dancing and great eats, Getsemaní is where backpackers and expats love to party! If you’re looking for live music and you love to dance, then you must check out Café Havana, Quiebra Canto, Malagana and Bazurto Social Club.
Reputation: Best beaches
411: Lined with boutiques, bars, spas, restaurants, casinos and cafés, Bocagrande is known as the Copacabana of Colombia, boasting some of the city’s most popular beach destinations. After a cool dip in the lovely emerald-hued waters of the ocean, head over to Juan Valdez for a cup of fresh Colombian coffee and don’t forget to take a stroll along the bay’s dock for a romantic evening. Restaurante Az-zahr offers an incredible Lebanese cuisine experience, while Restaurante Chef Julian will have your taste buds craving more with its savory paella.
5. Castillo Grande
Reputation: Home of luxury hotels and posh apartments
411: For luxury travelers looking for a true VIP experience, Castillo Grande has everything you need and more. Situated by the Bay of Cartagena, many of the city’s most exclusive hotels and apartments are located here, including Hotel Santa Clara Cartagena, Oasis and Hotel Caribe.
Facebook/Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena
Reputation: Cool beaches and chill spots to relax
411: Located right by Old Town, this district is where locals come to play a game of friendly beach football (aka soccer for the unfamiliar), leisure job along the breakwater or simply sit back on a nearby bench and relax with beautiful views of the ocean for your pleasure. This is the perfect place to get some exercise, especially on Sundays when certain roadways are converted into dedicated bicycle lanes. Museum enthusiasts should not miss the Casa Museo Rafael Nuñez.
Photo: Miguel A. Urueta M.
7. La Boquilla/Los Morros
Reputation: The Miami Beach of Colombia
411: Boasting an array of luxury condominiums and impressive beachfront property, La Boquilla is one of the most popular destinations for partygoers. Las Americas Hotel & Resort is one of many luxury resorts that line the beachfront. Some of the best wind currents can be found right off the beach, which makes it a dream come true for kite and windsurfing enthusiasts. Not to mention the scores of bars, concerts, sporting events and expansive weddings, La Boquilla has everything you need to party it up!
Facebook/Hotel Las Américas – Cartagena
Have you been to Cartagena? Let us know in the comments.