Get misplaced in Old Town, pattern streetside empanadas in Getsemani, and dance cumbia til daybreak earlier than heading off on a ship tour to discover the bay and close by islands…these are simply among the adventures to be had in Cartagena, Colombia.
A beautiful and historic coastal metropolis alongside Colombia’s Caribbean coast, in Cartagena you’ll be at a crossroads between the Caribbean and South America. Many vacationers use it as an introduction to South America earlier than heading east alongside the coast or down to the bustling destinations of Medellin or Bogota (or maybe a fast jaunt to Ecuador or Peru?).
We’ve coated all of the fundamentals for touring to Cartagena on this publish, together with:
- Travel price range
- Top cultural experiences in Cartagena
- How quick is the WiFi?
- Best native eats and drink
Ready to prep and plan in your journey to Latin America? Here are the highest 10 belongings you want to know earlier than visiting Cartagena, Colombia.
How Hard Is It on the Wallet?
Cartagena, Colombia ranks proper within the center when it comes to budget-friendly cities for vacationers. Setting your journey price range will rely upon what sort of excursions you need to do and the place you need to keep.
For starters, staying in the course of the historic Old Town is dearer than the close by neighborhood of Getsemani. Sit-down eating places within the Old Town can even be far more on par with U.S. and Western Europe costs than different areas of the town.
Cartagena additionally will get a 2.5 as a substitute of a 2 as a result of it’s one of many pricier locations for vacationers in Colombia. If you reside like a neighborhood in Bogota or Medellin, and even Santa Marta, you’ll discover that costs there are less expensive. Also, be aware that the native foreign money is COP (Colombian pesos). Here’s a little bit breakdown of what to anticipate for prices in Cartagena, Colombia:
Accommodation: Hostels in Cartagena can nonetheless be discovered on a budget for lower than 50,000 COP (11 USD) per night time. The metropolis can be full of luxurious motels, and costs are presently round 650,000 COP (150 USD) per night time.
Food: Some of Cartagena’s prime road meals like meat skewers and empanadas solely price a couple of greenback or two (greater should you’re in Old Town). Lunch or dinner at a non-touristy restaurant will set you again about 13,000 COP per individual (3-4 USD). Breakfast in Cartagena might be discovered for cheaper, and plan to spend lower than $4 on a plate of eggs, arepa, and low (or chocolate completo, most probably). If you need to be fancy, anticipate to pay about 100,000 COP for a two or three-course dinner for 2.
Transportation and excursions: Cartagena is fairly walkable so that you don’t want to fear a lot about transportation prices should you’re sticking to the town. The airport can be tremendous shut to city, and a taxi experience there’ll set you again about 13,000 COP (about $3 USD – be sure to have precise change in pesos, although!).
If you need to get the most effective worth on a tour, our suggestion is to head to a lodge or hostel in Getsemani and ask all about them at their data deck. You can do all the pieces from e-book a non-public boat tour of the bay, constitution a yacht to some close by islands (just a few hours off the coast), and a lot extra. Expect to pay about $100 per individual (should you’re in a gaggle of 4 folks) to constitution a ship.
Are the Locals Friendly?
Colombians are pretty and welcoming, and with some data of Spanish you’ll in all probability end up chatting away with nearly everybody you meet throughout your journey.
For reference, the web site Nomadlist charges Cartagena as “great” when it comes to friendliness in direction of foreigners. As with any vacation spot, some data of the tradition and language (full with an enormous smile) can go a great distance.
Basic Dos and Don’ts
Each metropolis in Colombia is exclusive, so your dos and don’ts record might be a little bit totally different relying on whether or not you’re in Bogota or a Caribbean space like Cartagena. Especially should you’re visiting Cartagena for the primary time, right here’s some issues to remember:
- Don’t drink the faucet water.
- Don’t depart your baggage unattended in touristy areas or flash your valuables whereas wandering the streets. This is understood in Colombia as “offering up papaya”.
- Don’t stroll round alone at night time. Old Town might be a little bit safer for vacationers as a result of most areas are well-lit and there’s loads of bars and nightclubs open in any respect hours. If you do enterprise off, all the time just remember to’re in a gaggle and use a experience share app (a lot better than a taxi at night time) to get from the place you might be to your lodge.
- Don’t simply casually ask locals about Pablo Escobar. This one goes from an enormous pet peeve to an outright no-no: Colombians don’t need to hear about what you consider Pablo Escobar or speak about him in any respect. The nation is working onerous to change its popularity, so assist them out a little bit by not mentioning the previous and be blissful that you just’ve been welcomed of their lovely nation.
- Don’t say you may’t dance. In Colombia, not dancing is de facto not an choice. A metropolis like Cartagena is full of tradition and dance is on the coronary heart of it, so it’s greatest simply to really feel the rhythm and float.
This is certainly not an exhaustive record of the cultural etiquette for vacationers to Cartagena, but it surely’s a begin. Make positive to learn up on extra dos and don’ts earlier than your journey.
Top Trending Things to Do in Cartagena
Landed in Cartagena and prepared to discover? Here are the highest issues to do in 2022.
- Charter a yacht to close by islands: Book a ship and an skilled tour information to discover some islands within the Caribbean which might be a day journey away from the shores of Cartagena. Top picks embody the Rosario Islands and Isla Grande.
- Sunset tour: You can have your very personal personal tour information manage a strolling tour of Cartagena’s most picturesque spots on the town. Enjoy some snacks, drinks, take the most effective photos for golden hour, all earlier than ending the day by the town wall to watch some of the wonderful sunsets within the Caribbean.
- Walking excursions: Traveling on a price range? There are just a few free or low-cost strolling excursions you may take part Cartagena. Take benefit of the free walking tour of Cartagena’s beautiful Old Town that’s been successful with vacationers for over eight years now. Another widespread tour is a strolling tour of Getsemani and San Diego neighborhoods, the place you may try funky murals and a few of Cartagena’s greatest road artwork.
How Safe Is It?
Cartagena has a a lot greater security index in contrast to different cities in Colombia. Currently, the town charges at a 82 whereas Bogota is at a 46, close by Barranquilla at 47, and Medellin at 46. But, there are nonetheless some issues to concentrate on whenever you go to Cartagena.
Pickpockets might be widespread, particularly in touristy areas and should you’re visibly carrying priceless gadgets (be aware the “don’t offer papaya” rule).
Watch out should you exit clubbing, as a result of there are tales of individuals being drugged after which mugged. Western males between the ages of 30-45 are usually the goal, and situations have even been recognized to happen in broad daylight, so be sure to hold your wits about you.
And should you’re an LGBTQ+ traveler, you’ll be blissful to know that Colombia recognizes same-sex relationships.
Travel Insurance Tips for Your Trip:
Travel insurance coverage is all the time a good suggestion when happening any sort of journey. Get your self coated (and, at a brilliant low price!) with the proper health insurance simply in case you get sick or in case your journey stuff will get stolen or misplaced sooner or later throughout your travels to Cartagena.
Local Eats and Drink in Cartagena, Colombia
With mouth-watering arepas and low for breakfast, recent tropical fruits all through the day, and every kind of native dishes to pattern for dinner, you’ll eat effectively in Cartagena. Here are the highlights:
- Cazuela de Mariscos: Cartagena is by the ocean, in spite of everything, so among the metropolis’s greatest dishes are seafood-related. This native dish is a seafood stew brewed in coconut milk.
- Ceviche: Try this native favourite Cartagena model, which is served with coconut milk and bitter cream.
- Posta Negra: This uber-local dish is likely one of the metropolis’s most beloved meals, which consists of beef eye rounds roasted in all the pieces from Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and even coca-cola.
Cartagena additionally has a powerful quantity of worldwide meals, so if you would like to ease into issues at first of your journey (or splurge on a meal), there are many cute cafes and eating places within the metropolis that serve pastas, sandwiches, pizzas, and different consolation meals.
What Are the Best Apps to Use in Cartagena?
It is likely to be useful to obtain these apps to your telephone earlier than your journey to Cartagena:
- Tappsi: Colombia’s different to Uber. This native taxi app that may enable you to safely hail a experience utilizing your telephone.
- WhatsApp: This is the principle messenger app most well-liked throughout Latin America, so obtain it should you haven’t already.
- Google Translate: If you need assistance with translation when taking a experience share or checking into your lodge.
- Babbel: An excellent language app for studying Spanish!
How’s the WiFi?
The WiFi sign doesn’t run tremendous fast contained in the walled metropolis of Cartagena, but it surely’s respectable. Most motels do have WiFi for company and you should buy an inexpensive native SIM card to use information and even hotspot your self. The common velocity in Cartagena 5 Mbps. If you want an web break for the afternoon, listed below are some cafes in Cartagena with good WiFi.
What Are the Top Cultural Experiences in Cartagena?
Cartagena is a metropolis full of tradition so you may loads of selection when it comes to unforgettable experiences. Here are some prime picks:
- Salsa classes (with a view, to boot): This amazing experience in Cartagena will get you transferring and shaking like a neighborhood. A real cultural encounter!
- Food tour: Are you a foodie who additionally occurs to be a e-book nerd? This tour might be good for you! Gabriel Garcia Marquez is considered one of Colombia’s most beloved writers, and this food tour integrates some native dishes loved by the characters in his books.
- Coffee tour: Cartagena is dwelling to some superb espresso homes and they’re an effective way to get to know Colombia’s iconic brew. There are just a few local cafes in Getsemani that provide espresso experiences which might be undoubtedly value trying out.
How Long Can I Stay?
Travelers from the U.S., Canada, the U.Okay., and extra can go to Colombia for leisure with out making use of for a vacationer visa beforehand. You can usually keep for up to 90 days in your first go to.
If you need to keep in Colombia longer, you may request to lengthen your keep on the local immigration authority. The present coverage permits for up to 180 days in a single calendar yr.
See what all the thrill is about and why Cartagena is an incredible vacation spot in Colombia in your journey radar. With a lot magnificence to uncover, you’ll be questioning why you didn’t plan a go to to Cartagena sooner!
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Disclaimer: Current journey guidelines and restrictions can change with out discover. The determination to journey is in the end your accountability. Contact your consulate and/or native authorities to verify your nationality’s entry and/or any modifications to journey necessities earlier than touring. Travel Off Path doesn’t endorse touring in opposition to authorities advisories