Cartagena de Indias exudes colorful and romantic old-time charm. Nestled on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia, this city is a jewel of world heritage. Dubbed as the City of Heroes and Port of King, Cartagena holds a special place in Caribbean hearts. The stunning coastal queen is preserved within an impressive 13km of stone walls. When thinking of Cartagena de Indias, think of elegant colonial buildings, iconic architecture, cobblestone streets, sandy beaches, and rich fusion cuisine.
Rich in history, culture, and architecture, the city offers plenty of sights and activities to enjoy. Here is a list of top things to do in Cartagena de Indias.
The old town, with its spellbinding churches and palaces, transports its visitors to a bygone era. Situated in the heart of the old city, this walled town of Cartagena consists of two historical districts – El Centro and San Diego. Each district is packed with well-preserved colonial architecture including old churches, monasteries, palaces, plazas, and mansions. Oozing beauty and charm in this region of Cartagena are famous overhanging balconies and patios.
Perched on the San Lázaro hill, this castle is the greatest stronghold ever built by the Spaniards and the crowning landmark of Cartagena. Its massive structure dominates a whole section of the city’s landscape. The grand fortress was commissioned in 1630 and took 150 years to complete. Today, the visitors can stroll through its battlements and dark labyrinthine passageways. The writ large form of San Felipe makes every tourist on Cartagena excursion compel to visit the castle.
Today it is a fascinating museum and elegant Baroque fortress, the Palace of the Inquisition was synonymous with torture in the past. The most brutal inquisitions were carried out in the palace. The instruments of torture can be seen on display inside the museum. They reveal how bloody a task it was to root out heretics in colonial Cartagena. Sitting in the patio of the palace are models of guillotines and gallows. Alongside the grim equipment, the museum also houses pre-Columbian pottery, paintings, furniture, church bells, and armaments.
Just an hour away from Cartagena, situated within a national park, is the verdant archipelago. Tourists visit the islands to enjoy the well-preserved wonders of nature. Surrounded by turquoise waters, the island is breezy, beautiful, and a laid-back contrast to the city. Adjacent to the sparkling blue waters is white sand beaches studded with few palm trees. The fresh sea means you can find lip-smacking food on the island. Water sports such as snorkeling, kayaking, and scuba diving make Rosario Islands as adventurous as they are tranquil.
Situated just 11-minutes-walk away from the Palace of the Inquisition is the house of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Though admission in the house is not allowed, the gorgeous wall makes a visit to the casa worthy, especially for a literato. Enjoy the view, and soak up the history of this incredible place. Visit the home of one of the most famous Colombian novelist and journalist, known and respected worldwide as a literary genius.
No Cartagena trip can ever be complete without exploring the effervescent streets of Getsemaní. It is located just a 5-minute-walk away from the city’s old town. Dubbed as the sketchy neighborhood once, it is home to boastful colorful buildings, reggaetón music, inspiring street art, delicious street food, vibrant bars, and cafés. You can explore the beautiful gardens with their unique trees, and generally lose yourself in this quintessentially Colombian spot.
There are hundreds of things to do in Cartagena. For years, people have come to the city and fallen in love with its charm, and you will too. Just make sure that you make the most of this city with the plentiful array of amazing things to do in Cartagena.