The best way to spend 48 hours in Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena: a city teeming with history set on the sparkling Caribbean coast of Colombia. With two full days in the city, wander the cobblestone streets and explore the vibrant neighborhoods to discover the traces of Spanish influence that still remain. Devour delicious seafood and browse shops and cafes set inside former colonial mansions. You will quickly with Cartagena’s colorful culture, historic Walled City, and sparkling beaches. Here’s how to spend 48 hours in the city.
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Stroll the old Walled City
Step back in time as you explore the colorful, colonial-style streets of the Walled City, which used to protect the city from invasions. These photogenic buildings are the emblem of Cartagena, and with their balconies overflowing with flowers, they are a perfect spot for pictures. Browse the unique shops for the perfect souvenir, with everything from designer dresses to artisan crafts. Then find a cozy bar or cafe and cool off with an iced latte or fresh smoothie.
Feast on fresh seafood at La Cevichería
Craving a steaming plate of fresh seafood? Enjoy a delicious lunch at the famous La Cevichería, which the late Anthony Bourdain once visited. Choose between paella, ceviche, shrimp empanadas, and many other types of fish typical to the region.
*Check out our guide to the top 5 Cartagena restaurants here!
Visit the Castle of San Felipe de Barajas
The Spanish spent 150 years constructing this iconic castle, which now stands as Cartagena’s crowning landmark. Tour the winding, underground passages, marvel at the impressive architecture, and learn more about Cartagena’s fascinating history. With an impressive entrance and complex maze of tunnels, this striking castle and UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-see while in the city. *Like to take a complete tour of the city of Cartagena including this amazing landmark? Be sure to click here for more info.
Option 1: Take a day trip to the village of Palenque
If you’re wishing to escape the city and learn about a whole other culture and language, visit San Basilio de Palenque, a small town where escaped slaves fled to in the 16th century. In 1691, the Spanish Crown officially freed the Africans in Palenque from slavery, making them the first freed slaves in the Americas. These former slaves maintained many African musical traditions and oral traditions, including the language known as Palenquero, which is recognized as the only Spanish-based Creole language in the world. Tour the important monuments and learn about the African king Benkos Biohó, who founded the fortified community and helped countless slaves escape. Visit people’s homes, where you will learn about traditional musical instruments and how to prepare natural plants for medicinal uses. *Interested in learning more about this important piece of Colombia’s history on a full-day tour? Click here to book now.
Option 2: Discover paradise on Rosario Islands
On a boat tour, jet around the Rosario Islands, an archipelago and national park located about 100 km off the coast, created to protect one of the most important coral reefs in the Caribbean. Explore Bendita Beach, a large peninsula jutting out into the sea. Bathe in crystal-clear waters and then relax on the white sand with a delicious plate of fresh fish and coconut rice. *Interested in a full-day tour to the Rosario Islands, complete with lunch, personal beach space, kayaking, and other watersports? Click here to book now.
Evening option 1: Watch the sunset at Cafe del Mar
Back in the city, head to Cafe del Mar, the perfect spot to enjoy the Caribbean sunset while sipping a tropical drink. Take advantage of the ideal photo opportunities along the city wall and savor your last evening in Cartagena.
Evening option 2: Dance salsa at the famous Café Havana
You can’t visit Cartagena without experiencing live salsa music at Café Havana, located in the hipster neighborhood Getsemani. You will realize just how important live music is to the people of Cartagena, and how it truly runs through their veins. Get there early for a table and stay until the world-class musicians start playing, covering a variety of salsa styles. Dance the night away with a crowd of both locals and tourists, and if you don’t feel like dancing, sit back and enjoy the music while sipping on a delicious mojito.
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