6 Reasons Why You Need to Travel to Cartagena Colombia this Year

Travel to Cartagena Colombia red floral spring dress

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-tuhjee-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.

Travel to Cartagena Colombia Walled City Gate

One of the entrances to the walled city

Photography tools I love to travel with:
DSLR remote
Travel tripod
Selfie Stick with tripod + bluetooth remote (very nifty!)
iPhone SD card reader
Super affordable red floral dress (or here)

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.

Travel to Cartagena Colombia Walled City Hustle

Travel to Cartagena Colombia Palenqueras 1

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!

cartagent photo with palenqueras

Those pans are heavy and it was hot, but the Palenqueras were amazing as always!

Travel to Cartagena Colombia Palequera 3

Travel to Cartagena Colombia Palenque Founder Benkos Bioho

Statue of Benkos Biohó

Travel to Cartagena Colombia Palenque Heritage

The handprints signify their origins on the two continents

Travel to Cartagena Colombia Palenque Dance

Amazing performance and so much energy! They did a turkey mating dance that had me clutching my imaginary pearls like where yo parents at?

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.

Travel to Cartagena Colombia Cafe Havana

Travel to Cartagena Colombia Walled City Dancing

Go find this video on my Instagram highlights. Their dancing was so fluid and good

Travel to Cartagena Colombia Square Inside Walled City

Inside the walled city. There was music everywhere

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.

Travel to Cartagena Colombia fish rice plantains

Classic cuisine that you’ll find all over. Fish with coconut rice and plantains. This one was sooo good!

Travel to Cartagena Colombia Rosario Islands

One of the stops on the Rosario Islands tour

Travel to Cartagena Colombia Parrot

We had a guest join us for lunch. We all low-key freaked out until he returned to his cage

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!

Travel to Cartagena Colombia Getsemani Mural 1

Failing nicely at copying the pose lol

Travel to Cartagena Colombia Getsemani Mural 2

Travel to Cartagena Colombia Artwork

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!


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  • Rachelle
    July 17, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    Love the street art and architecture! Definitely on my list of places to see.

    • Belle
      July 18, 2018 at 12:20 pm

      It’s really beautiful and fun. You’ll love it! xx

  • Rachel Cossette
    July 17, 2018 at 5:19 pm

    It looks beautiful there, I’ve always wanted to visit Colombia.

    • Belle
      July 18, 2018 at 12:20 pm

      You should! It’s beautiful. xx

  • Cassie |White Sands and Cool Breezes
    July 18, 2018 at 10:14 am

    I love Colombia!!! I’ve haven’t had the chance to go to Cartagena but I’ve been to Bogota and surrounding areas and it is definitely beautiful. Can’t wait to go back myself!

    • Belle
      July 18, 2018 at 12:21 pm

      Yessss!! I’ll definitely be back to explore some other parts. xx

  • Marielle
    July 18, 2018 at 11:55 am

    You’ve definitely convinced me! It looks so beautiful and colorful there. I’ll add that to my travel bucket list!

    • Belle
      July 18, 2018 at 12:21 pm

      Haha. Yay!!! Hope you get to visit someday. You’ll love it. xx

  • Mary jingjing
    July 18, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    Wow i would love to visit this place too! Traveling is the key to learn about the world and the people practically!

    • Belle
      July 27, 2018 at 4:01 pm

      You got it! That’s why I love to travel. xx

  • Holly
    July 18, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    What gorgeous photos! I love that you’re debunking the idea that this is an unsafe place, and that you encourage people to do their own research. There’s a lot of great destinations that get a bad rep, but aren’t actually that scary if you look into them.

    • Belle
      July 27, 2018 at 4:02 pm

      Thank you!! There are so many places that unfairly get a bad rep so I love to do my own research to get a better understanding.

  • Molly
    July 18, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    That looks like such a fun place to visit!

    Molly and Stacie

    • Belle
      July 27, 2018 at 4:02 pm

      It is!! xx

  • Luci
    July 19, 2018 at 11:49 am

    Cartagena looks like a really beautiful place. I’m adding it to my bucket list.

    • Belle
      July 27, 2018 at 4:03 pm

      It really is. Photos don’t do it justice. xx

  • Megan
    July 19, 2018 at 11:58 am

    The architecture, art and colors are all so beautiful!!

    • Belle
      July 27, 2018 at 4:02 pm

      Yes!! Photos don’t do it justice! xx

  • Denay DeGuzman
    July 20, 2018 at 1:59 am

    Colombia has always been on my wishlist, but reading your post and admiring the beautiful images has sparked my feelings of wanderlust! Thanks so much for sharing the beauty of this wonderful destination.

    • Belle
      July 27, 2018 at 4:03 pm

      Haha. I love nothing more than to ignite some wanderlust sparks. Thank you! xx

  • Chenai
    August 2, 2018 at 4:41 am

    Oh wow! I am so in love with this travel post! After watching Narcos I was probably interested to visit Colombia out of curiosity and then I watched House Hunters and saw how much they have been developing the place and I suddenly needed to experience that beautiful side of Colombia more. Thank you for posting this! It sounds like such a beautiful place

  • Ebuka
    August 3, 2018 at 11:07 am

    This is so beautiful. Now making somebody want to visit Colombia.

    Btw, am so happy seeing your blog come alive. All those travels no be waste after all….

    • Belle
      August 3, 2018 at 12:36 pm

      Haha!! I know right? Colombia is beautiful. I didn’t even cover but the tip of the iceberg. Awww thanks so much!! xx