With her orange-brown tiled roofs, colourful church spires and shimmering Caribbean sea, Colombia’s northern queen is a sight to behold. Here’s where you need to go for a peek at Cartagena’s coolest panoramic views.
One of the biggest fortresses ever built by the Spaniards, Castillo De San Felipe de Barajas is an impressive structure. The site itself is fascinating; a complex network of tunnels that reverberate sound from miles away, creepy underground dungeons and original (some still loaded!) canons are just some of the things that visitors can explore here. Having been built high up on a hill just outside of the Getsemani neighbourhood, it goes without saying—the views from here are spectacular. The castle closes at 5 pm, so be sure to arrive with enough time to explore the site and, of course, to take in those awesome city views.
Located at the entrance of the Bocagrande neighbourhood, Plaza Bocagrande is a 3-storey shopping centre filled with cafes, restaurants and boutiques. Not convinced? Skip the shopping and head straight for the third floor. Up here you’ll find a spacious balcony offering unrestricted views of the Caribbean ocean and Bocagrande’s towering skyline. The best bit? It’s not a fancy cocktail bar or hotel, so this view will only cost you a Juan Valdez coffee. Come at sunset for the prettiest views.
Overlooking the Walled City’s central plaza and port, Sunset Gastro Lounge’s chic rooftop bar offers cocktails and good times with a spectacular view. Because of its location, it can get really busy, particularly at weekends. So, if you can, opt for a weekday and get here early afternoon to get a front row seat for watching the sunset.
Set atop a 150m-high hill—the highest hill in Cartagena—Convento La Popa offers unparalleled views over the entire (and we really do mean entire) city. In fact, it’s probably the only spot where you can truly get a sense of Cartagena’s size and strategic layout. Founded in 1607, the convent used to be a basic wooden structure that housed just a handful of nuns. However, two centuries later it was rebuilt, leaving a beautiful building complete with stone archways, a pretty flower-filled patio, and pristine white walls contrasting with an orange-red tiled roof. To get here, you’ll have to either brave a very sweaty, 30-minute uphill hike from town, or grab a taxi for around 50,000 COP (bargain hard).
If you’ve seen a few Insta shots of people posing by a beautiful rooftop pool, pina colada in hand, and an epic panoramic view of Cartagena as a backdrop, then it was probably shot here. The Movich Hotel has a pretty unbeatable location and, with its two swimming pools, hot tub, plush sun loungers, private pods and attentive poolside service, it wins top marks for a perfect Cartagena rooftop day. It may sound exclusive, but, with just a cocktail and a portion of paprika salt house fries, you can stay up here all day. Winner.
If you want to know where all the locals go for the best sunset view in the city, this is it. Grab a drink from one of the nearby vendors and pick a spot along Cartagena’s beautiful stone wall. Ahead of you, you’ll have the Caribbean sea backed by “new” Cartagena: Bocagrande’s impressive high-rise skyline. Behind, Cartagena’s most iconic Old City buildings, including the stunning yellow and pink-hued Cartagena Cathedral.
Often missed due to its slightly out-of-the-way location, Casa de la Cerveza is one of Cartagena’s best-kept secrets. Decked out with chic white loungers and low wooden tables, this al-fresco lounge offers epic views over toward Castillo de San Felipe, the high rises of Bocagrande and the ocean. Think Cafe del Mar, but without the crowds or vendors. Drinks are a little pricey, but you’re paying for the great views and cool vibes. If you’re in a group, the pitcher works out best.