"It is hard not to fall in love with Cartagena".
When I said that the city was part of my photography plans, that's all I heard. Despite being highly touristy, Cartagena is really a show of colours and beauty that started from the moment our taxi surpassed the walls of the walled city, that were constructed to defend the old port from pirate attacks, during the bloody Spanish colonisation.
Also known as Cartagena de Indias, the city is a major port founded in 1533, located on the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Coast Region.
All the colours, the palenqueras, the tropical fruits, the carriages and the flowers that descend from the cutest balconies of the houses frame the scenery that seems to have jumped out of the incredible Gabriel Garcia Marquez's books. All this accompanied by a 30 degrees heat blends perfectly with the city of tanned and smiling people.
In addition to touring the city, trying the best food in world, getting lost and finding ourselves among the charming little streets, we decided to follow the line of the wall by the sea and found the Café Del Mar and El Baluarte San Francisco Javier both restaurant/bar/ lounge known for being the best places to watch the sunset in the Caribbean ocean.
With the moon in place of the strong sun, we went beyond the walls to the Getsemaní neighbourhood, home of pumped hostels, markets and nightclubs, such as Demente and Café Havana, a little piece of Cuba in Colombia and one of the best salsa houses in City. The decor is incredible and it counts on big bands that put everybody to sing, dance and of course to cool off with a frosty margarita.
Design, charm and culture are everywhere in the city that won our hearts. If you're planning to visit here some tips for you:
Where to stay:
Airbnbs are a great option and many of them offer a house keeper that can cook you some local food and take you to local markets. (That's what we did and loved it).
If you're keen to a younger scene: Media Luna Hostel - the party hostel with its famous parties on Wednesdays, located at the neighbourhood of Getsamaní.
Where to eat
Brekkie & Coffee:
- Epoca espresso bar: Located at Hotel Casa Del Arzobispado ( Calle Del Arzobispado #33-24) They have 100% specialty Colombian coffee, breakfast and brunch all day).
- La Vitrola (traditional international-Italian food. Highly recommended, for this one you need reservations).
- Don Juan (international food, this is one of my top restaurants in Cartagena)
- Juan Del Mar (on plaza San Diego and Jairo. One of the best pizzas, they have 3 restaurants together, a pizzeria/Italian, seafood and Peruvian).
- El Boliche (best ceviche of Cartagena even better that the cevicheria that has become more commercial)
- Harry's (delicious! International plates, this restaurant is located inside the Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa, also a must).
- Agua de Mar (This is a GinBar with excellent food, also one of our favorites)
Bars with good food:
- El baron (small bar with the best cocktails in town, great Panini’s also)
- Demente (located in Getsemani - the new upcoming colonial area of Cartagena. The place has a great music/ambience to have tapas/small plates to share. Food is good!)
- Maria (is like Demente but more upscale)
- La Movida (one of the best gastro pub but it converts into a club with 2 ambient of house and crossover/Latin music)
- Sinsentido (recently opened, it's a cool club owned by New Yorkers they have electronic music during weekends and theme nights like jazz, salsa, etc. during weekdays)
- Basurto Social Club (it's really cool, and more relaxed, they have a band that play life champeta music typical music from the region like reguetton. It's cool to experience).
- -La Jugada (same style as la Movida)
To have a drink and relax / watch the sunset:
- Donde Fidel (this is a relaxed place around the torre del reloj, you can sit outside and enjoy watching people pass by. They sell my favorite beer called Costeñita which is a small light beer, perfect to chill the heat. They play salsa music and you can also watch soccer games there).
- El Baluarte San Francisco Javier (restaurant bar on top of the walls perfect to catch a breeze and a drink and watch the sunset with live music at nights. Excellent cocktails!)
What to do:
Apart from eat the best food in the world and explore the most instagramable places I have ever been you can also explore te islands around Cartagena. Daily boat trips to the Pirate Islands, Rosario and Playa Blanca.
To better understand the whole history of Cartagena, visit the Palace of the Inquisition and also known as the Historical Museum. The exhibition covers from the period before the arrival of the Europeans until the independence of the famous city.
Enjoy! Cartagena is safe beautiful and clean, and now I'll be the one telling you "It is hard not to fall in love with Cartagena"!!