Home to the Instagramable City, filled with bright colors and fun culture all around is Cartagena, Colombia.
After my Bogota trip, some friends and I decided to take a few vacation days to visit this beautiful city. We researched beforehand to ensure to hit the top spots first and at the right times.
So although we only had two full days to visit the top attractions, we were still able to get many of the top things to do in Cartagena done. I’ll share those with you now to help you plan your trip to Cartagena by ensuring you add the ones below to your itinerary!
Related Post: Best Place to Stay in Cartagena, Colombia
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All images taken by Cheers to Travel Blog.
Top Things to Do in Cartagena
Okay, so once you get to Cartagena – what do you do??
Let me tell you something. I only went for two days and that was not nearly enough time to take in all the beauty such a small city has to offer.
But since I knew this ahead of time, I made sure to do tons of research to ensure I could at least visit some of the best spots! Here is everything we were able to do and visit in the short time frame we were there.
Follow these tips on things to do in Cartagena to make the most out of your trip (even if you are going for longer).
Walk Along the Oceanside
Cartagena is such a beautiful, small city that pretty much revolves around the ocean. So why not enjoy the nature and take a walk?
There is sooo much to see all around that it doesn’t make sense to use a taxi for nearby destinations. If the location you are trying to get to is only a few blocks away, then WALK!
By doing this, we were able to see some attractions we didn’t even think of!
And whoa, how about that view of the city and ocean behind me in that first picture? Isn’t it beautiful?? We would have never been able to find that had we been in a car.
So out of all the things to do in Cartagena, I strongly recommend you take a walk along the fresh ocean air to discover some unique, local attractions. Plus some make for some great picture spots as well! 😉
Visit the Cartagena Sign
Okay… you CANNOT leave Cartagena without taking a picture with THE Cartagena sign, I mean.. just no way!
This sign is by far, the most beautiful and colorful one I have ever seen. Plus it’s HUGE! And if you look closely at each letter, you’ll notice each has its own unique art on it that represents a part of the Cartagena culture and community. Isn’t that super cool??
And once again, this city is just filled with scenery all over. So regardless of which way you turn, you are bound to get some nice shots. 👍🏻
However, this is a very popular free attraction so it does get pretty busy. We were lucky to arrive right before the crowd and the few people that were there were being courteous and allowed us our alone space in the pictures (thank you people!). So this is definitely one attraction you should plan ahead of time!
Watch the Sunset at Baluarte de Santo Domingo
Baluarte de Santo Domingo or Bastion of Santo Domingo, is another one of the great things to do in Cartagena. And if you can plan it out to where you can watch the sunset from here, even better.
However, watching sunsets in Cartagena seems to be a popular activity as all the top locations are usually busy during these hours. So you would need to get there early to find somewhere to post up and relax until the sun starts to set.
But let me tell you. This attraction is not only known for it’s great sunset views. The grounds you walk on and the walls you see were actually built as a defense mechanism back in the 17th century. It’s a piece of history that has remained alive throughout all these years. Therefore, this attraction is a great place to visit to enjoy the city’s history, architecture and beautiful views.
Walk the Streets of Walled City
The Walled City of Cartagena is absolutely a must see attraction! It is a small “city” with bars, restaurants and shops so almost like a local downtown area except all these walls are filled with bright colors and huge doors.
Have you ever seen so much historic color before?
Walled City is now also referenced to as the “Instagramable City” of Cartagena because of this. The pictures you take during the day are truly breathtaking and require little to no editing. The images speak for themselves as is.
But don’t be fooled by the word “small.” You will do plenty of walking here so make sure you wear comfortable shoes! My favorite ones to wear are the Sanuk Women’s Yoga Sling Sandals because you are literally walking on a yoga mat (seriously)! They’re the ones I wore during my trip when I didn’t feel like wearing tennis shoes. And I got them in nude so I wouldn’t have to worry about matching them since nude goes with everything. 😉
So remember, when walking the streets of Walled City, be sure to take your camera, look cute and wear comfortable shoes because this will be a place where you’ll want to spend a good chunk of your time.
Take a Boat Ride to Punta Arenas Playa
So you’re going to a city that’s surrounded by beautiful beaches – how can you not go to one?? That’s like, not even allowed!
If you walk along the oceanside like I recommended above, you will see plenty of boat ride options. Lucky for us, the Hilton Cartagena Hotel that we stayed at, had an exclusive private beach. This is where we found our boat ride to Punta Arenas Playa!
I know what you’re thinking… why take a boat ride to another beach when you are right by the ocean anyways? Well, sure. Of course you can enjoy the beach around you, but if you’re paying a bit extra to visit another part of the beach, it won’t be as crowded (so you can enjoy the water a bit more).
Plus, the boat ride breeze is just so nice!! And it’s not far at all. It only took around 30-40 minutes to reach Playa Punta Arenas from our hotel so it is totally worth the ride!
Have Fun at the Punta Arenas Beach
And lastly, enjoy the beach!! Walk along the ocean and feel the sand in-between your toes. Or sip on a tropical cocktail out of a coconut. Nothing is better than relaxing next to the ocean during your vacation. So take a break and chill! And once you’re done, get in the water and enjoy it!
Important Tips To Keep in Mind
I will admit that Punta Arenas Beach is not that big. So as you would on any trip (especially when traveling internationally), stay alert and cautious on your belongings. Tourists are always at higher risk and prone to robberies due to their lack of local knowledge so keep your eyes peeled.
And because this is such a small island, they will try to charge you for everything (including chairs and umbrellas). Therefore, when they offer you something, make sure you inquire on the cost beforehand to avoid any surprises at the end.
Also, don’t be afraid to negotiate or make deals! It may seem like they are trying to sell you everything and overcharge you (which they very well may be) but nothing is set in stone. So if you are not happy with a price on a product, service etc., give them a counter-proposal. Many times, they will accept if it makes sense.
But otherwise, we greatly enjoyed our stay at Punta Arenas Beach and you will too! Plus, we left with some unique, hand-made souvenirs to remind us of this little island. ♥
Ready to Go to Cartagena?
Who’s ready for a vacation? I know I am! 😅 This time around was too short of a trip so I will definitely be going back to check out missed attractions (yeah, there’s more things to do!). But I am so happy I was able to experience this the liveliness this city has to offer. And though it is a city in Colombia, it is quite different than other parts of the country. It is truly a one of a kind. 💕
Have you been to Cartagena or another city in Colombia? What did you think of this post? Please comment below as I would love to hear from you!
And remember, there is always something to be happy for… Cheers to travel! What are you cheering to today?– Lucy