10 cosas que se debe hacer en Cartagena
Our last major trip together was to Cartagena in August of 2019. We were desperate to get out of town, to do a little cultural investigation and to take a class - one of our favorite things to do when we travel, so we get first hand access to culture and linguistic nuances, plus deeper conversations than we can have with the people that work the desk at the hotel.
You can easily fall in the Cartagena tourist trap if you’re not careful, so hopefully this is a great option to see the city, get out of town, and be one part traveler, one part tourist.
- Getsemani - We didn’t do an official walking tour of the arte urbano, because we found a great one online, however there are some free walking tours that are offered for just the cost of a tip. In the Getsemani neighborhood, you’ll find such beautiful street art, amazing graffiti and super cool community inspiration. We’ve done street art tours in Buenos Aires, Montevideo, San Francisco and more and this was top notch.
- Rumba en chiva - Such a fantastic way to see the city, to learn a little, to experience the vallenatos and to chat with people from all over the world.
- Food truck park - Maybe don’t quote us on the location, since we had just gotten off the Chiva bus, but at Parque de la Marina (or right near there) there is a small park with this amazing spot full of food trucks. We were super bummed to only have found this gem on our last night in Cartagena.
- HOSTELS, not hotels - We skipped on the fancy hotels for a few hostels and could not have been happier. They are clean, well attended, conveniently located, and are more likely to contribute significantly to the local economy, rather than to some international corporation. Plus, the majority of hotels with rooftop pools also have bars and welcome guests! So you can take advantage of a mimosa by the pool at beautiful places like Townhome, Allure Chocolat and _____ without paying a crazy price. We stayed at Maloka in the walled city and Selina in Getsemani. Maloka was one of the best hotel values that we have ever experienced. Breakfast included, GREAT coffee and really cold air conditioning...you’ll see what we mean.
- La Casa en el agua - Also a hostel, this was, by far, one of the most memorable, fun, crazy experiences that we’ve had on any trip. Be warned...it’s a party. Like non-stop, so if you’re not the up-until-dawn, dance-all-night kind of person, you may want to look for another option in the Santa Catalina islands, and there are many. You CAN sleep in rooms, but we highly recommend the hammocks. I know that sounds crazy but the sea breezes are something that you will never forget. Do a quick visit to Santa Cruz de Islote. It’s incredibly interesting.
- El Barón - let’s be specific: the Gin Basil Smash at el Barón. See picture. Mic drop.
Comida callejera - tip: come with small bills and coins, since most kiosk owners don’t offer change. Do not walk away without an arepa con huevo. It’s amazing. In Getsemani, head to the Plaza de la Trinidad in the evening for a sampling of other delicious options. When we were there, the Arepas Venezolanas cart was one of our favorite meals. My fingers are crossed for you that it’s still there!
- Gran Inka Cartagena - Peruvian food in Colombia? ¡Sí, porfa! This restaurant on the ground floor of a beautiful hotel boasts some of the most delicious ceviches and delicious, Colombian takes on the classic Pisco Sour.
- Drinks at Café del Mar - the view is amazing and it was relatively tourist free, by our estimation.
A Cooking class - we found ours on AirBnB for a great price. Our chef’s girlfriend met us in town and took us in a taxi to their home on the beach, which was the BEST experience! We learned to make our own arepa de huevo, empanadas and a bunch of other things, plus had some great conversation. We spent the afternoon only speaking Spanish, but if you’re bringing a less multilingual partner, they speak English, too.
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