The Best Day Trips to Take From Cartagena

Colonial streets of Cartagena
Colonial streets of Cartagena | © OAGREDOP / Flickr

While Cartagena has many attractions, including San Felipe Castle, museums, beaches, water sports, as well as various restaurants and cafés, there are also seven great day trips to discover new and unique experiences.

San Basilio de Palenque

San Basilio de Palenque (declared a site of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO) is a village located 35 miles (56 kilometers), or approximately one hour, southeast of the city and can be reached by car or bus from the city. The village was one of the first freed slave cities in the Americas and still holds its indigenous traditions, culture, and language (Palenquero). The village has played an important part in Colombia’s history, being the birthplace of various musicians and genres including palenque and champeta.

San Basilio de Palenque

Mercado de Bazurto

The generally tourist-free Mercado de Bazurto (Bazurto Market) is a sensational, bustling, and lively market 15 minutes outside the walled city with stalls selling huge varieties of freshly caught seafood, fruit, and produce. The market’s chaotic scene is perfect for buying unique, fresh products as well as experiencing markets as locals do.

Mercado de Bazurto

Tierra Bomba Island

Tierra Bomba Island is a large island with an area of over 4905 acres (1,985 hectares) located opposite Bocagrande. The island can be seen from the shores of Cartagena but is rarely visited, and it’s home to over 9,000 people. The island can be reached by boat and has relaxing white sandy beaches, locally cooked traditional dishes, and a relaxing environment for a day trip away from the busy city.

La Boquilla and Mangrove Swamps

La Boquilla is a small fishing village between the sea and the swamp. Cartagena’s fishermen have historically constructed vast canal networks to allow fishermen to get from their village to the ocean. These canals stretch far and wide throughout the previous unexplored grassland, but today, these canals can be experienced by paddling down with canoes and discovering the ecosystem, extensive wildlife, and crab plants.

Mangrove Swamps


Usiacurí is a small, picturesque colonial village approximately 52 miles (83 kilometers), or 1 hour 40 minutes, from Cartagena. The town is one of the oldest on Colombia’s Atlantic coast, discovered in 1533 by Spaniard Francisco César. Today, the village remains relatively unchanged with Spanish-style colonial buildings, artisanal products, and a population of 9,000. The village thrives off artisan crafts produced with iraca (a type of plant) to create a variety of handmade items, including weavings.

Volcan del Totumo

The Volcan del Totumo—35 miles (55 kilometers), 1 hour, north of Cartagena—is a 49-foot-tall (15-meter) active mud volcano mound; 10–15 people can climb the steps up the side the top of the volcano and climb in. The dense, warm mud is relaxing and is believed to have healing qualities. Visitors can receive personal massages and then bathe in a nearby lagoon to wash off the excess mud.

Cartagena’s Mud Volcano

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