I spent a few days in the beautiful city of Cartagena Colombia at the beginning of the month and I already want to go back. Today I’ll be sharing my experience with you and why you should add this to your to-do list: travel to Cartagena Colombia. Before we begin though, it’s pronounced kahr-tah-hay-nah and not kahr-tuh–jee-nuh like I was ignorantly saying before I did some research.
My trip was too short but Cartagena definitely holds a piece of my heart! When I mentioned I was going to Cartagena, one of the first questions I got was “why?” and my response was “why not”?
Six reasons why you need to travel to Cartagena Colombia now
1- Contrary to what you might think, it’s absolutely safe
The first thing that comes into people’s mind when you mention Colombia is Pablo Escobar and the war on drugs. That was the reaction I got from a lot of people when I brought up my trip. Friends I’m judging you, do better lol! If that’s still your impression of Colombia, you are missing out on so much, and I challenge you to break that stereotype. Remember what I said about the media in my post about solo travel? Take it all with a grain of salt and do your own research. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
I walked around a lot at every odd hour imaginable and I never once felt unsafe. Of course, you should practice the same safety precautions you would even at home.
2- The Energy is contagious
Let me tell you, this city was bustling with energy and friendly smiles from the walled city to the hip area of Getsemaní to the Rosario islands. Even with the heat (it was hot!), I was never without a smile on my face just taking it all in. There was music everywhere, people hanging out at the various squares, random dance performances at the gates of the old city, locals starting random chats with you, running into a Bumble match randomly on the streets lmao. You name it, it was contagious and I was here for all of it! I have a few videos on my Instagram highlights if you want to check it out.
3- It’s rich in culture and history
I won’t go into the culture and history here as a quick Google search will give you all you need to know. I will however talk about the Palenqueras; the beautiful and colorfully dressed Afro-Colombian women whose photos you’ve seen in many Cartagena travel photos. What most people don’t know though is that they are originally from San Basilio de Palenque, a town about 1.5 hours from Cartagena, and the first free settlement in the Americas established by Benkos Biohó. They’ve preserved a lot of their African customs and even have a unique language (Palenquero) which combines influences from Kikongo, Spanish and Portuguese. I visited during my trip with Alex from Experience Real Cartagena and I recommend it. Alex is the best!
4- You will dance till your feet hurt
You don’t have to search to find music in the city. As I mentioned above in my first point, it was everywhere, and you’ll even find free Zumba and Salsa lessons in a couple of the squares on certain evenings. However, if you want a whole night dedicated to just dancing, Cartagena has you covered. I checked out the Bazurto Social club (recommended) and Café Havana while I was there, and while they both had different styles of music, they were fun. They do get extremely packed though so keep that in mind. Since they were practically next door to my hotel, it was easy to check them out a bit earlier before they got too crowded. A popular way to experience the night life in Cartagena is to hop on a Chiva (party bus), but I decided not to go that route lol.
5- There’s so much great food to be found
And it’s fresh and delicious. Funny enough, one of my favorite meals was on the beach and it was included as part of a boat tour to the Rosario islands. PS: There are many companies that offer this tour but some are better than others so do your research. La Mulata and La Perla came highly recommended but sadly I didn’t get a chance to try them. Also, El Baron makes the best cocktails your tastebuds will every experience.
6- It’s extremely photogenic
Everywhere I looked called for a photo opp and it took me forever to write this post because I couldn’t sort through all the photos. It was one beautifully architected building after another with lovely colors. And can we take a second to talk about the murals? They were so lifelike and breathtaking, I couldn’t get enough of them! Also, be sure to check out the sunset from Cafe Del Mar or its immediate vicinity; spectacular!
I could go on and on but I’ll stop here for now. Next time, I’ll try to stay longer and also add Bogotá and Medellín to my itinerary. Have I convinced you to travel to Cartagena Colombia yet? I sure hope so! If you go, bring your bug spray and sunscreen and thank me later.
Share your thoughts or questions in the comments, and if you’ve been, let me know what you think!
Thanks so much for reading!