Visiting Cartagena feels like going back in time, thanks to its architecture around the city, specially at the Old Cartagena Town or the walled city.
On our first day, we visited Old Cartagena Town. But before entering by the main door, by the Clock Tower (La Torre del Reloj), and even when it was the middle of the day, very hot weather courtesy of the bright sun on top of us, we enjoyed a stroll by the Convention Center, the Camellon de los Martires and the water front.
Few blocks away, there is a restaurant La Cocina de Socorro, very popular and a nice place to have sea food or typical dishes. Don’t forget to try arroz con coco (rice with coconut) and patacones as side dishes. Yummy!
Old Cartagena town, it’s a city surrended by a great wall where it used to be the main city years ago. Today, you can walk by its streets and enjoy every single minute of it.
By the end of the day, before sunset, we took a ride by the old city in a coche (a horse-drawn carriage) while listening to some stories and history about the city. Just amazing!
Later, we watched the sunset at Cafe del mar listening to chill out music while having a drink. Nothing more relaxing than that! To begin a nice night, we enjoyed a local beer, for me a tropical drink is the better option, at the many bars and cafe in the squares around the old town, like Santo Domingo square, with live music and typical dances every other time and vendors walking around.
By night, it’s usually very windy, and most of the places are outdoors, so you might want to take something to cover yourself. Or if like me, enjoy the weather!
You don’t need a car in Cartagena, there are taxis everywhere, cheep and easy to catch them. During our second day, we took one taxi from the hotel. The driver gave us a tour around the city of Cartagena and Manga, telling us everything we needed to know. It was fun, and we’ve got to know everything in the city as a private tour. So don’t hesitated to ask a taxi to give you one.
Weather is really hot, don’t forget a hat and protection! Wear comfortable shoes since you’re gonna be walking a lot. And take your bottle of water with you everywhere, although before entering to any of the sites, there are always vendors with water and even beers for refreshment. Just be careful they might charge you more of what the real price is.
On the ‘taxi tour’, first we went to Club de Pezca a beautiful restaurant by the bay. Great place to enjoy an early dinner.
After a nice lunch, we visited La Popa, an old monastery on top of the mountain, where you can glance the whole city from a different – and highest – view. You can see La Popa from anywhere in the city, a large white house on top of the mountain.
Later, the taxi took us to Castillo San Felipe de Barajas. There are some tunnels underground, great spots for pictures, a shop on top of the castle and a gorgeous view to the great wall. On our way back to the old city, we passed by the statue of La India Catalina, a native woman that was sent away to learn Spanish so she can be a translator between the Indians and the Spanish colony.
Back in the old city, we made our last stop at Las bovedas. An area that used to be for prisoners and slaves back in the days, now you can buy variety of souvenirs for friends and family. There are different places to visit and enjoy during your time at the Old Cartagena.
Close to the Torre del reloj you’ll find Colon Square, nearby shops, cafes and a Hard Rock Cafe. By Bolivar Square, visit the Palacio de la Inquisicion. Other museums you can enjoy are The Gold museum which is free to enter, Naval Museum and The Modern Art Museum. Few steps away from the last one, you’ll find San Pedro Claver Church and Monastery, who was a protector of the slaves.
There are hundreds of stores where you can get gorgeous leather wallets or purses, or just a simple gift to take home. Just take a stroll around the old city, walk by its street and enjoy the ambience 24/7. One thing you may notice, the streets name change at every corner (inside the old city only), so it can be a little complicated if it’s your first time visiting.
In the following video you can get to know a bit more about Cartagena (click CC for subtitles):
Remember to keep clean the city.