Most people visit Cartagena to experience its beautiful architecture, wonderful museums, and stunning Caribbean setting, but it’s also home to a fantastic nightlife scene, with plenty of excellent bars and nightclubs to satisfy even the most hardened party animal. From swinging salsa clubs in the heart of the Walled City to late-night electronic joints, here are the best nightclubs.
Bazurto Social Club
Probably the most ‘Caribbean’ nightclub in the Caribbean, Bazurto Social Club is located just outside the Walled City, within a two-block radius of two more of Cartagena’s top clubs, Cafe Havana and Quiebra-Canto. With a young and fun crowd partying until 4a.m. every night between Thursday and Saturday, and a cracking live champeta band to dance to, Bazurto is the place to enjoy a really local night out in Cartagena.
If you fancy following in the footsteps of Barack Obama’s renegade secret-service agents, then Tu Candela is the place to visit. While we wouldn’t recommend continuing down their messy path, they were definitely spot-on with their club selection. Tu Candela is always crammed full of party-hungry guests, but the excellent atmosphere, diverse music selections, and well-priced drinks more than make up for the sweaty vibes.
Cafe Havana is the best place to show off your salsa skills in Cartagena. Located in the Getsemani neighbourhood, probably the nightlife capital of Cartagena, Cafe Havana is open five nights a week until 4a.m. With live salsa music, a beautiful bar, and plenty of ceiling fans – you’ll need those if you plan to dance as energetically here as the regular patrons – it’s easily one of the most enjoyable nightclub experiences in the city, so much so that Hillary Clinton even chose to dance the night away in Cafe Havana after the Summit of the Americas in 2012.
Another top-quality salsa spot, Donde Fidel is more of a bar than a club, but it’s still open until midnight and is mostly a place for dancing, so it makes the cut. It’s just inside the walls of the Old City and is also a really cool place to hang out with a quality rum during the daytime if the dancing isn’t really your cup of tea. However, if you want a taste of old-school Cartagena, Donde Fidel is definitely the place to go for a night out.
You’ll have noticed that most of the clubs on this list tend to focus on traditional Colombian music genres such as salsa and champeta, so Fragma Club will be a breath of fresh air for those travelers who can’t abide those Latin American styles. Actually located within the walls of the Old City, it’s Cartagena’s premiere electronic music venue and is always packed out with euphoric revellers until 4a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Open seven nights a week until 4a.m., Mister Babilla is a Cartagena clubbing institution at this point. It doesn’t really kick off until after midnight, so don’t expect to find much of an atmosphere earlier in the evening, but once the clock strikes midnight you’re in for hours of fun. Always packed full of a nice mix of locals and out-of-towners, Mister Babilla is another great place to go for less of the traditional music vibes than Bazurto or Cafe Havana, and more of a modern clubbing experience.
Another Cartagena clubbing institution – it opened its doors in 1979 – Quiebra-Canto is the third of the Holy triumvirate of Getsemani clubs completed by Cafe Havana and Bazurto Social Club. It’s another salsa club, but this one is definitely more pitched at experts than some of the previous ones. Having said that, even if you don’t fancy going toe-to-toe with some of the city’s top dancers, you can still enjoy some great cocktails while watching, or grab a seat on the wooden second-story balcony.