This beautiful city abounds with many different and very exciting streets and alleys, but what neighbourhoods should you visit for the best experiences?
A city of contrasts, it has everything from colonial relics in the centre to fancy hotels on the strip at Bocagrande.
Read more below and find out which neighbourhoods to visit in Colombia’s Cartagena.
A 13-kilometre-long wall surrounds the Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, one brightly-coloured, well-preserved colonial building after another outdoes the next, and between them run narrow cobbled streets like something from a fairy tale.
Many of the beautiful buildings, which lend the neighbourhood a unique atmosphere, have today been converted into cafés, restaurants, hotels or shops.
The Old Town is home to two neighbourhoods: Centro and San Diego.
Caribbean charm by the bucket-load interspersed with throngs of people, that’s Centro in a nutshell! This charming district offers fascinating architecture, picturesque streets and a jumble of expensive hotels and shops.
Walking around Centro, just taking it all in is a wonderful experience in itself. But naturally there are also sights to see as you make your way through the streets. One of the top sights is the San Pedro Claver Church, the mere presence of which is breathtaking. Then round off your day enjoying a pleasant dinner, a drink or a nice cup of coffee with the perfect sunset view along the Caribbean coast.
Although the area does attract the crowds, it is a definite must-see on your tour.
A stone’s throw to the north-east of the expensive hotels in Centro is the San Diego district. There is an altogether different and relaxed vibe here than in the tourist hotspot.
Stroll through the streets, sit yourself down at a chilled café and enjoy the more relaxed part of the Old Town.
After a quiet start to the morning, you can wander over to Las Bovedas, a former prison, which today houses a market selling handmade crafts. Buy some souvenirs in a prison cell to take home with you to the rest of the family.
If you need a bite to eat after your shopping trip, Plaza de San Diego is one of the best places for delicious Latin American cuisine.
Beyond the walls of the Old Town, you’ll find a neighbourhood that is really quite something. Once a hive of criminal activity, the Getsemaní district has undergone a transformation over the past few years.
One of the things that makes the neighbourhood so special is the street art that adorns the gable ends of many buildings. The art adds edginess to the colonial architecture still found in this neighbourhood.
In addition to its trendy charm, the area also boasts some beautiful squares. At the heart of this hip street art neighbourhood – and the place for music and art – is Plaza Trinidad, where you can buy fresh fruit from the street vendors if you need a sweet treat during the day. In the evening, dance music fills the square – so have a dance or enjoy the square from one of the many restaurants or cafés.
Getsemaní is an area you simply have to visit.
The Bocagrande district is situated on the isthmus south-west of the Getsemaní district and the Old Town. And the area stands in stark contrast to the Old Town.
Gone are the colonial buildings, replaced by high-rise buildings and luxurious, hip areas. So if you want to see another side to the city, this neighbourhood is the place to do so.
It is also perfect on one of the more sweltering days in the city as you can enjoy a swim – with a glamorous view to boot! The beach is in many ways reminiscent of Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro, and street vendors, sun loungers and parasols are permanent fixtures.
Don’t forget to bring sunscreen and a good book with you, or an extra set of clothes to explore the trendy shops after your swim.
Manga is a slightly anonymous neighbourhood, south of Getsemaní. If you fancy visiting a quiet neighbourhood away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, then head down to Manga.
See the huge yachts docked by the beautiful promenade, have a nice evening meal or simply enjoy the peace for a while.
Just outside the Manga neighbourhood is the Bazurto Market. It’s a wonderful experience, but it can be a lot to take in. Everything from key rings to pineapples is sold here, and the vendors come from all over the country. If you want to visit the local market, by all means do so, but leave your valuables at home.
A whole host of experiences await you if you opt for a holiday in Colombia and Cartagena.
Check out our holidays to the country and feel free to contact our travel consultants if you have any questions.
Llamatours.co.uk – the Latin American Experience