There’s so much to see and do in Cartagena that it can be nearly impossible to choose what to do during a visit. However, some attractions are simply unmissable.
Experience the very best of Cartagena with Culture Trip by joining our exclusive small-group Colombian Caribbean adventure, led by our local insider.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
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1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
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3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
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This 16th-century Spanish castle stands in a commanding location overlooking the bay of Cartagena and the city below. A Unesco-listed site, the castle is a maze of tunnels and turrets that is definitely one of the city’s must-visit attractions.
Another top beach day trip from the city, Playa Blanca can certainly get busy on weekends, but with good reason: the picturesque, white-sand beaches and palm trees make it the archetypal Caribbean destination.
This small, leafy park just outside the entrance to the Walled City would be fairly nondescript were it not for the fact that it is home to a small population of wild monkeys, iguanas and sloths. There can’t be a much more unexpected sight in the city than these sleepy sloths making their way through the park at dusk.
An easy day trip from Cartagena, San Basilio de Palenque holds the distinction of being the first free slave city of the Americas. A fascinating window onto Afro-Colombian culture, the village is a Unesco-recognised site, with its own unique language, customs and musical genres. You can visit with Culture Trip as a day excursion from Cartagena on our specially curated eight-day Colombian Caribbean tour, led by our local insider.
If you come to Cartagena, then you can’t avoid going out to dance. Quiebracanto and Cafe Havana are two of the best nightspots in the city. Both are located in the hip Getsemani neighborhood and are packed every weekend with revelers, dancing to the joyous strains of cumbia and salsa until dawn.
One of the busiest and most bustling squares in the Old Town of Cartagena, Santo Domingo Square is the perfect place to grab a cold beer in the sun and watch the world go by. It’s also surrounded by gorgeous old buildings and, at the center of the plaza, stands one of Fernando Botero’s most famous sculptures.
Cartagena’s bustling food market is not for the fainthearted: it’s a noisy, claustrophobic place, but it also offers a glimpse of a totally different side of Cartagena than the prim and proper Old Town. With amazing street food and a real local atmosphere, it’s worth coming early in the morning to see the fisherman arrive with their catch.
Cafe del Mar is thebestspot to take in the glorious Caribbean sunsets that Cartagena has in store for you: a trendy cocktail bar on the old city walls, it overlooks the Caribbean and – although it can get windy – there’s no better place to enjoy a piña colada at sunset.
Don’t be fooled: although the Palace of the Inquisition is one of the loveliest buildings in Cartagena, it was also the site of the some of grizzliest moments in the city’s history, as the Inquisition used it to imprison and torture suspected heretics. It’s now a fascinating museum, housing some of the original torture weapons, as well as all sorts of colonial artifacts.
Located at the site of a former jail, Las Bovedas is one of Cartagena’s best street markets and the perfect place to pick up any souvenirs you’ve been after from your trip. Each stall is housed in a former cell. It is said that the cells were so close to the Caribbean that prisoners would often find themselves knee-deep in seawater!
India Catalina was a local indigenous woman who played a key role in the Spanish conquest of Colombia, acting as an interpreter for Pedro de Heredia during the conquest after she was abducted from her village. By now an icon of Cartagena, Catalina is immortalized through this beautiful monument in the historic center.
A popular backpacker day trip, this active mud volcano, as well as being the smallest volcano in Colombia, is famous for its alleged healing properties. Up to 15 guests at a time can bathe in the dense, warm mud (with an optional massage), before heading to the nearby sea to be washed off. It’s dirty, relaxing fun!
This pretty, shady square in the heart of the Walled City is the perfect place to sit back and watch the world go by: local dancers often perform in the square, making for a festive vibe.
The theatre itself is a beautiful building, but it’s what’s inside that counts at the Adolfo Mejia Theatre: the stage curtain and magnificent cupola were both painted by famous local artist Enrique Grau and are some of the most gorgeous works of art in the entire city.
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meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.