The Ultimate Travel Guide to Cartagena, Colombia

The Ultimate Travel Guide to Cartagena, Colombia ByChristina Headed to Cartagena and wondering what you can’t miss? Here is my go-to Jetset travel guide to a perfect vacation full of dancing, drinking, and eating your way through this coastal Colombian gem. You’ll come to Cartagena for its tropical Caribbean vibes, but you’ll be blown away by the historic stone-walled old city, the colorful colonial architecture and the uniquely Colombian culture. Whether your idea of a vacation is sipping the world’s best coffee on a bougainvillea-laced balcony, heading to a lush tropical island just minutes off of the city, or salsa-dancing until 6am in one of Cartagena’s famous nightclubs (My favorites are La Movida, Alquimico, La Jugada, or Cafe Havana), Cartagena, Colombia has a ton to offer everyone. Turn on your JavaScript to view content Table of Contents On the rooftop of Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa There are two main areas to choose to stay in in Cartagena – the old city or the “new city”- the Miami-beach-like Bocagrande (which you can see is the area with the skyscrapers below) . They each have their pros and cons. From Bocagrande, you can step out of your hotel or Airbnb directly onto the beach, which is pretty ideal. But, that being said, the city beaches are nothing compared to the beaches outside of the city (like Baru or Rosario), so I don’t think this is a strong enough pro to stay here over Old Town. The gorgeous stone-walled Old City is Cartagena’s principal attraction – and  is where the best restaurants and cafes, and all the nightlife is, so if that’s where you’re going to be spending all of your time, it may not make sense to stay elsewhere.  Old town is packed with colonial architecture, beautiful churches and plazas, delicious restaurants, and Cartagena’s famous colorful mansions with their overhanging balconies… It’s definitely where you want to be. Honestly it doesn’t get any better than this hotel if you’re looking for where to stay for luxury in Cartagena. This boutique luxury hotel is one of the Leading Hotels of the World (which in my experience are ALWAYS amazing). Hotel Casa San Agustin is stunning in every sense of the word. It’s composed of three beautiful white houses, connected with bright clay rooftops, and a gorgeous view of the clocktower. Hotel Casa San Agustin has only 20 rooms and 10 beautifully-decorated suites in traditional Colombian style and sprawling balconies for sipping your Colombian coffee in the morning. The hotel incorporates modern amenities while maintaining pristine colonial architecture and a beautifully authentic vibe of Cartagena’s rich history. It is absolutely one of my favorite hotels I’ve stayed in in the WORLD, and a must if you’re willing to splurge on your vacation in Cartagena. Standard rooms are beautiful, but the premium rooms with private plunge pools or jacuzzis are definitely worth the splurge. Rates from $400-$500 per night. Hotel Casa San Agustin. Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa I LOVED this hotel. The location is awesome – right at the entrance to the old city and right by the boat docks (making it easy to get out to the Rosario Islands for a day trip!). The service was impeccable, and I loved the rooftop and the dreamy courtyard. Can’t beat this spot for a go-to Cartagena hotel.    My fiance Kenny (wearing his brand Kenny Flowers) living his best life at Hotel Charleston This boutique hotel from acclaimed Colombian fashion designer Silvia Tcherassi is set in a 250-year-old restored colonial mansion with original stone-walled rooms and private balconies. There are only 7 rooms, but 4 pools, creating an intimate atmosphere like none other in the city. Rates from $200-$300 per night. Look at how beautiful this hotel is – Tcherassi Hotel & Spa. The best places to stay in Cartagena with a group – Where I stayed with a group of 8 in Cartagena: This Gorgeous Apartment in the Old City, with a hot tub and these views every morning!!!!! Other hotels I like: This charming and tropical boutique hotel is the perfect choice for young 20-somethings traveling to Cartagena and hoping to be in the heart of the action. It’s decorated head-to-toe by young Colombian artists (the pictures don’t do it justice but CHECK OUT THIS PLACE!!!), so cool. Each room has vibrant and fun paintings of flamingoes, toucans, or other tropical touches. Each of the hotel’s eight bedrooms and 3 suites are individually styled, and their rooftop, open the public from 8am-1am, offers panoramic views of the walled city, two plunge pools, and a lot of icy cocktails. Their slogan “fancy doesn’t have to be boring” says it all – Townhouse is millennial luxury at its finest.  Rates are around $175/night for a standard double room. Book here. If you’re looking for a beach retreat right outside of the

The Ultimate Travel Guide to Cartagena, Colombia

The Ultimate Travel Guide to Cartagena, Colombia

Headed to Cartagena and wondering what you can’t miss? Here is my go-to Jetset travel guide to a perfect vacation full of dancing, drinking, and eating your way through this coastal Colombian gem.

You’ll come to Cartagena for its tropical Caribbean vibes, but you’ll be blown away by the historic stone-walled old city, the colorful colonial architecture and the uniquely Colombian culture. Whether your idea of a vacation is sipping the world’s best coffee on a bougainvillea-laced balcony, heading to a lush tropical island just minutes off of the city, or salsa-dancing until 6am in one of Cartagena’s famous nightclubs (My favorites are La Movida, Alquimico, La Jugada, or Cafe Havana), Cartagena, Colombia has a ton to offer everyone.

Turn on your JavaScript to view content

Table of Contents

On the rooftop of Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa

There are two main areas to choose to stay in in Cartagena – the old city or the “new city”- the Miami-beach-like Bocagrande (which you can see is the area with the skyscrapers below) . They each have their pros and cons. From Bocagrande, you can step out of your hotel or Airbnb directly onto the beach, which is pretty ideal. But, that being said, the city beaches are nothing compared to the beaches outside of the city (like Baru or Rosario), so I don’t think this is a strong enough pro to stay here over Old Town.

The gorgeous stone-walled Old City is Cartagena’s principal attraction – and  is where the best restaurants and cafes, and all the nightlife is, so if that’s where you’re going to be spending all of your time, it may not make sense to stay elsewhere.  Old town is packed with colonial architecture, beautiful churches and plazas, delicious restaurants, and Cartagena’s famous colorful mansions with their overhanging balconies… It’s definitely where you want to be.

Honestly it doesn’t get any better than this hotel if you’re looking for where to stay for luxury in Cartagena. This boutique luxury hotel is one of the Leading Hotels of the World (which in my experience are ALWAYS amazing). Hotel Casa San Agustin is stunning in every sense of the word. It’s composed of three beautiful white houses, connected with bright clay rooftops, and a gorgeous view of the clocktower.

Hotel Casa San Agustin has only 20 rooms and 10 beautifully-decorated suites in traditional Colombian style and sprawling balconies for sipping your Colombian coffee in the morning. The hotel incorporates modern amenities while maintaining pristine colonial architecture and a beautifully authentic vibe of Cartagena’s rich history. It is absolutely one of my favorite hotels I’ve stayed in in the WORLD, and a must if you’re willing to splurge on your vacation in Cartagena.

Standard rooms are beautiful, but the premium rooms with private plunge pools or jacuzzis are definitely worth the splurge. Rates from $400-$500 per night. Hotel Casa San Agustin.

Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa

I LOVED this hotel. The location is awesome – right at the entrance to the old city and right by the boat docks (making it easy to get out to the Rosario Islands for a day trip!). The service was impeccable, and I loved the rooftop and the dreamy courtyard. Can’t beat this spot for a go-to Cartagena hotel. 

 

My fiance Kenny (wearing his brand Kenny Flowers) living his best life at Hotel Charleston

This boutique hotel from acclaimed Colombian fashion designer Silvia Tcherassi is set in a 250-year-old restored colonial mansion with original stone-walled rooms and private balconies. There are only 7 rooms, but 4 pools, creating an intimate atmosphere like none other in the city. Rates from $200-$300 per night. Look at how beautiful this hotel is – Tcherassi Hotel & Spa.

The best places to stay in Cartagena with a group –

Where I stayed with a group of 8 in Cartagena: This Gorgeous Apartment in the Old City, with a hot tub and these views every morning!!!!!

Other hotels I like:

This charming and tropical boutique hotel is the perfect choice for young 20-somethings traveling to Cartagena and hoping to be in the heart of the action. It’s decorated head-to-toe by young Colombian artists (the pictures don’t do it justice but CHECK OUT THIS PLACE!!!), so cool. Each room has vibrant and fun paintings of flamingoes, toucans, or other tropical touches. Each of the hotel’s eight bedrooms and 3 suites are individually styled, and their rooftop, open the public from 8am-1am, offers panoramic views of the walled city, two plunge pools, and a lot of icy cocktails. Their slogan “fancy doesn’t have to be boring” says it all – Townhouse is millennial luxury at its finest. 

Rates are around $175/night for a standard double room. Book here.

Gallery image of this property

If you’re looking for a beach retreat right outside of the city, Blue Apple Beach House is your spot. This chill beach club slash hotel is owned by the same people as Townhouse in downtown, and is a super-cute, relaxed, very Colombian beach getaway. 

If the Miami-like bocagrande is more your style, the Intercontinental offers 360 degree ocean views and a swoon-worthy ocean-facing infinity pool and a bar filled with delicious fruity cocktails that will have you wondering if you should ever leave your hotel.

Rates are around $125-$200/night. Book at Intercontinental Cartagena

This modern elegant hotel in the heart of Cartagena’s Plaza de Aduana offers fashionable rooms, a modern aesthetic and a pretty unbeatable rooftop.  It’s a little oasis in the heart of the city. Rates from $200-$300 per night. Book at Sophia Hotel Cartagena

Explore Old Town Cartagena

You can’t leave Cartagena without exploring the beautiful stone-walled Old City.

Strategically located on the Caribbean coast, Cartagena was historically one of Colonial Spain’s most important ports. Stone fortresses and gigantic walls up to 30 meters thick and 11KM long line the city, which was so well protected after many pirates (most notably Sir Francis Drake) in the 16th Century attempted (and often succeeded) in sieges of the wealthy port city’s riches.  Strolling the historic Old City is like stepping back in time and losing yourself in the romantic historic plazas and vibrant, colorful cobblestone streets.

One of my favorite streets (and most colorful) is right where the restaurant Carmen is. Just type in Carmen to your google maps to get there!

Go emerald shopping!

Did you know that Colombia produces the highest quality emeralds in the world? If you, like me, love your jewelry, do not leave Colombia without emerald shopping! My favorite spot in Cartagena is Lucy Jewelry – let them know I sent you and maybe they’ll give you their best price