The Ultimate Guide to Cartagena’s Colonial District: The Walled City vs. Getsemaní

Beautiful sunset over Cartagena, Colombia
Beautiful sunset over Cartagena, Colombia. Photo by: Starcevic.

Not sure where to stay in Cartagena? If you’re looking to immerse yourself in culture, a stay in Cartagena’s colonial Centro area is in order. But which is better, the Walled City or Getsemaní? Stick with us as we take a deep dive into Cartagena’s most historic neighborhoods, from accommodation to nightlife, and safety.

Cartagena is undeniably the jewel of Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Positioned on the Caribbean Sea, this historic port town attracts thousands of visitors every year due to its unique architecture and charm. In Cartagena, you can see the stunning juxtaposition of new and old. It is a beautiful sight to see the Miami-like skyline of Bocagrande whilst standing on the centuries-old city wall. But the true appeal to most visitors is the timeless beauty of the colonial neighborhoods of Centro and San Diego within the Walled City, and Getsemaní, just outside of it. These neighborhoods are iconic and, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, remain as a window to a past that has long gone by. 

Embark on a journey through Cartagena’s history! Ready to turn your Colombian dreams into reality? Click here and let’s start planning your unforgettable trip!

Cartagena’s Walled City: A Charming and Romantic Escape

Cartagena Colombia
Photo: Shutterstock

The historic center of Cartagena is surrounded by 11 kilometers of defensive walls. Built in 1586 to protect Cartagena from invading pirates, they now form a central part of the identity of the city. Nowadays, with no threat from conquistadors, pirates, or invasions, Cartagena welcomes thousands of visitors each year to stroll its picturesque streets. You are sure to be charmed by its cobbled streets and quaint, colorful buildings with flowering bougainvillea all year round. Cartagena has been named one of the most romantic cities in the world. Despite its historic facade, Cartagena is full of modern restaurants, trendy bars, and boutique designer shops. This makes it the perfect place to wander around for the afternoon, and well into the evening.

What is the Nightlife like in the Walled City?

Nightlife in Alquimico, one of Cartagena's best bars.
Nightlife in Alquimico, one of Cartagena’s best bars.

The nightlife in Cartagena’s walled city is unparalleled. As the sleepy heat of the day wears off, the city comes alive at night. Stroll through quaint plazas where artisans sell their wares, such as San Diego Square, or grab an arepa de huevo (Cartagena’s signature fried treat – the egg arepa) in Fernandez de Madrid Square.

The walled city is always buzzing with people until the small hours of the morning. You can find some of the best and most stylish bars and clubs in Cartagena inside the old town. Check out our guide to the best bars and clubs in Cartagena – all of which are located within the walled city. Some of our favorites include Alquimico for the best craft cocktails in town, and La Movida for a stylish nightclub with excellent music. The old town of Cartagena is super walkable and bar hopping is not only easy but recommended.

Where can I stay in the Walled City?

Luxury Villa in Cartagena Colombia
Luxury Villa in Cartagena, Colombia.

The old town of Cartagena probably has one of the highest ratios of hotels and Airbnbs per square meter than anywhere else. It is positively bursting with incredible locations to stay. Despite the fact that there are hundreds of hotels and hostels inside the walled city of Cartagena, we will always prefer to choose a villa over a hotel.

A villa rental is superior because you and your group will have the whole vacation rental to yourselves. The appeal of privacy, plus your own private garden, balcony, and swimming pool is just too much to pass on. Plus, the colonial architecture of the private villas in the walled city is second to none. You can even hire a private chef to cook up a storm for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, while you kick back on your private rooftop terrace. Sounds too good to be true? Check out our villas and see for yourself.

If you do fancy a hotel stay, there are some world-renowned options within the old city, such as the Charleston Santa Teresa or the Sofitel Santa Clara. The Santa Clara is a converted convent that looks onto the ocean and is steeped in history. It is even said to be the inspiration for Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s book “Of Love and Other Demons”.

Click here to let the journey begin and unlock the secrets of Colombia’s Colonial District with our tailored trip planning!

How safe is the Walled City of Cartagena?

If you’re within the walled city, you’re in one of the safest areas of Cartagena. The main streets are busy at all hours and are well-lit. As with any major city, it’s always good to have your wits about you. Pick-pocketing can easily happen, especially in large crowds. Don’t carry large amounts of cash on you, and make sure you take out some Colombian pesos rather than dollars if you want to buy any souvenirs in the street.

Speaking of money, make sure you always negotiate a price before purchasing a service. For example, getting in a yellow cab, getting a massage on the beach, or renting the horse and carts you will see around town. It’s always better to agree on the price beforehand to avoid getting scammed. And that photo with the beautiful Palenquera lady with the fruit basket on her head? It’s not for free. And finally, be careful when using dating apps. Make sure to always meet in a public place and keep your friends informed of your whereabouts.

Getsemaní: The Walled City’s Bohemian younger sister

Cartagena colombia Gesemani neighborhood
Beautiful street in Getsemaní neighborhood. Photo by: Priscilla Burcher

Getsemaní (pronounced het-sem-a-KNEE) was, historically, a slum where the slaves would live during colonial times. Until around 10 years ago, it was preceded by its reputation for being seedy and dangerous. Today, however, it is a totally different neighborhood. Getsemaní is a diamond in the rough; it is charming, without being perfectly polished like many parts of Centro. Enjoy its vibrant street art, much of which celebrates the essence of what it is to be proudly Afro-Colombian. The locals of Getsemaní have banded together to make the most of living right in the heart of one of Cartagena’s most touristic districts. Every family home has become a business; whether they are selling beers through their window, colorful canvases with local art, or cheap cocktails. Getsemaní was even named by Forbes magazine back in 2018 as one of the “coolest neighborhoods in the world”.

What is the Nightlife like in Getsemaní?

Getsemani Cartagena Colombia
Café Havana in Getsemaní, Cartagena, Colombia.

The nightlife experience in Getsemaní is very different from the experience in the walled city. It is a lot more chaotic and busy as there is a high volume of people in a smaller space. It is also a lot more relaxed in terms of the general atmosphere. The beating heart of Getsemani is Plaza de la Trinidad, where you will find many locals and tourists alike. Many people gather in this square during the evenings to chat, drink, and watch the street performers. Keep an eye out, and you might see Michael Jackson, or even Shakiro (Cartagena’s answer to Shakira which needs to be seen to be believed). Or if you fancy a $2 cocktail, head down to Callejon Ancho, where you will find a bunch of makeshift bars, blaring music, and the best vibes to get your weekend started.

There are also some great bars, restaurants, and clubs in Getsemaní. We like Seven Times, a cabaret-style club with different ambiances. Head to the famous Cafe Havana to dance salsa into the small hours of the night, or to Calle Dragones for some creative cocktails. We also can’t forget about dinner at Celele, a contender in the list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants (2022).

Our guide dissects The Walled City vs. Getsemaní. Intrigued? Click now to connect with us and start the journey toward a personalized Colombian experience like no other!

Where can I stay in Getsemaní?

Casa Santa Ana Cartagena
Luxury Villa in Cartagena, Colombia

Much like the walled city, Getsemaní also has its fair share of Colonial villas. Much like the villas in the old city, these stunning, centuries-old houses have private pools, terraces, and all the modern amenities. After the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of Getsemaní, entering your private villa feels like the perfect escape. Relax, party, or host in total privacy. Getsemaní has a much higher proportion of backpacker hostels compared to the Old City. Many of these are located on its main street, Calle Media Luna. There are also some more upper-scale hotels, such as Casa Lola, which stays true to the rugged yet charming vibe of Getsemaní.

How safe is Getsemaní?

Despite being a little rougher around the edges compared to the walled city, Getsemaní is also pretty safe. In recent years, safety has improved a lot in this area, as it has gotten more gentrified and popular. Still, it’s important to stick to well-populated areas such as the main square and the streets where the main bars and restaurants are. Don’t engage in conversation with homeless people or people selling things. All our previous recommendations for the walled city of Cartagena also apply here; no des papaya (don’t give papaya) as they say in Cartagena, and you’ll be fine! This local saying basically translates to don’t flash what you’re not willing to lose. If you stick with your group and go to reputable places, you have nothing to worry about. You’re sure to have the best time on your trip to Cartagena!

Eager to explore these historic streets yourself? Click now and kickstart the adventure of a lifetime with our expert assistance!

Unveiling the Vibrant Nights of Cartagena: A Guide to Nightlife Hotspots

Cartagena is renowned for its thriving nightlife scene. The warm Caribbean nights and tropical vibes all year round make the perfect mix for a night to remember.

While many come to the Colombian coast for the beaches, islands, and warm weather, many others also flock to Cartagena to enjoy the nightlife events and nightclubs. Cartagena is the proud home of award-winning bars and restaurants. Every night of the week, hundreds of people take to the streets to dance, drink, and revel in the delights of the city. No matter which month of the year you plan to be in Cartagena, you’re bound to encounter something fun and memorable, which will have you booking your next flight back to Colombia before you’ve even arrived back home.

The best bars and clubs in Cartagena

Cartagena has many award-winning bars that offer tasty craft cocktails, live DJs, and impeccable vibes. One of our favorites is Alquímico, a three-story colonial townhouse with two different ambiances. Their mixologists make liquid art, and use creative ingredients and flavors. Right opposite, you will find La Jugada, a stylish nightclub with a rooftop bar. Keep an eye out for the fireworks and performances that take place on the roof after midnight. We also love La Movida, the place for all the beautiful people of Cartagena to see and be seen. With multiple ambiances and an outdoor terrace, La Movida will have you boogying all night long. When these clubs close, head to El Pasquín, another of Cartagena’s hottest nightclubs, which opens until 4 a.m. These places are some of the most high-class bars and clubs in Cartagena, so rock your hottest ‘fits and leave the sandals for the beach.

Alternative Nightclubs in Cartagena 

If you’re looking for a different vibe, head to Casa Cruxada. This nightclub-cum-restaurant attracts Cartagena’s alternative crowd. Located in an antique, crumbling building, with its trademark deliberately wonky window, you can enjoy different live DJs every night of the week. You will mainly hear electronic, house, and tropical beats. Or for something totally different and super fun for bachelorette or bachelor parties, make a reservation at Seven 7 Times. With multiple ambiences, from tropical, to urban, to cantina, there is something for everyone. Our favorite has to be the live burlesque show they do in the main salon, which is steaming hot and super entertaining.

Want more information on the best bars and clubs in Cartagena? Get the full scoop in our other blog post.

Events and Festivals in Cartagena 

Whilst the majority of major music festivals and concerts in Colombia tend to take place in Bogotá and Medellín, Cartagena has its fair share of events throughout the year.

The Wild Brunch – The wildest live music festival of the year

The Wild Brunch is one of the biggest events of the year, usually taking place a few nights before New Year’s Eve. With the arrival of the giant inflatable rubber duck perched in the Convention Center, the fun begins. See the hottest Latin and international artists and DJs in this surreal, colorful, explosion of sequins and fun. The costumes, makeup, dancers, and general vibes of this crazy festival are trippy and surreal. It is truly one of the best ways to end the year. This event takes place on the water’s edge, and you can even rent a boat slip to park your yacht right up next to the DJ.

New Year’s Eve – An unmissable party in Cartagena

 Of course, New Year’s Eve, just a night or two after the Wild Brunch party, is another one of the biggest events of the year in Cartagena. The whole city lights up in a giant street party, and all the hottest bars and clubs in town (see above) become hosts to incredible parties. Buy your New Year’s Eve tickets early because the best places always sell out. Make sure you leave plenty of time for wandering the balmy streets too. Soak up the best vibes at one of the peak times for nightlife in Cartagena. Contact the Two Travel concierge team today to get the latest info and tickets for New Year’s in Cartagena 2023.

Wakanda Festival – For the hottest Afrobeat vibes

If you’re into Afrobeat, Dancehall, and Champeta, Wakanda Fest is the one for you. This super cool urban music festival takes place right on the beach, for the ultimate Cartagena experience. Appreciate the best of Cartagena’s thriving local music scene and take the opportunity to dress up in your hottest outfit. The spirit of Africa is alive and thriving in Cartagena and can be found at Wakanda Fest.

November Independence Parade of Cartagena – for the Carnival seekers

If you find yourself in Cartagena around the week of the 11th of November, you will inevitably come across the Independence Parade and celebrations. These are enormous, carnivalesque parties that take place across the entire city to celebrate the independence of Cartagena. Colombia’s national beauty contest to crown “Miss Colombia” also takes place during this week. The parade is an incredible sight to behold; the main streets are closed and hundreds of dancers and performers parade down the street, with day parties turning into night. Don’t wear your best clothes if you join these street parties, as things can get messy! Locals love to spray foam and throw cornstarch and blue powder paint. Put on your oldest pair of sneakers, leave your valuables at home, and join in the fun!

Hot events at local island beach clubs – For boujee beach-goers 

Keep an eye out throughout the year for various events taking place at local island beach clubs, Fenix Beach and Blue Apple. They often host special events such as dinners hosted by local chefs, or beach parties with bonfires and guest DJs. With these events, return boat trips are often included. These beach clubs also double as hotels, so you can also book a night or two and boogie until dawn on a Caribbean island.

Tips for a memorable night out 

Staying safe in Cartagena is simple if you keep your wits about you and don’t make any foolish decisions. The center of Cartagena is a safe place, as it is buzzing with people at all hours of the day and night. As with any major city, it’s important to keep a close eye on your belongings to avoid pickpockets, and, as the famous saying here goes, “Don’t give papaya”. This basically means to not flash expensive jewelry or items in places they shouldn’t be flashed. While in bars and nightclubs in Cartagena, don’t leave your drink unattended or accept drinks from strangers. If you’re staying outside the walled city and need to get a taxi at night, make sure you negotiate the price before getting in. You can also use reputable taxi apps such as Uber and InDriver which are popular in Cartagena.

Whatever you end up doing in Cartagena, you’re sure to have a night to remember. Perhaps you’re in town for a special event, like one of the many festivals that take place in the city. Or perhaps you end up in one of the many bars or nightclubs of the historic center. Either way, the undeniably tropical vibes of this coastal city are always on point, and Cartagena nightlife will never let you down.

Need a villa for you and your crew to crash at after your night out in Cartagena? Or a yacht to carry on the party? We got you! Contact us today!

How to Rent the Best Boats in Cartagena

Looking to rent a boat in Cartagena? Look no further. From 80ft yachts to private catamarans to sleek speedboats, we have exclusive access to the best boats in Cartagena. 

The Caribbean Sea, which extends all the way from the Mexican Riviera Maya to Barbados, can also be enjoyed in Cartagena, Colombia. These warm, calm waters are best appreciated from Cartagena’s islands, and most importantly, from your own private boat. But how to get your hands on one of these beauties that you can see cruising Cartagena bay? Read on to learn all about boat rental in Cartagena and how to do it the best way. 

Renting a boat in Cartagena is an absolute must. One of the city’s main attractions is the beautiful blue sea, which starts at Cartagena’s city beaches and extends past Tierra Bomba Island, Barú Island, all the way up to the Rosario Islands and beyond. 

The Rosario Islands are made up of around 27 small islands, located around an hour from Cartagena city. One of the main benefits of renting your own boat is that you have the freedom to visit beautiful corners of the archipelago that you wouldn’t normally see otherwise.

With the help and guidance of your experienced Captain and First Mate, you can customize your trip to whatever works best for you and your group. Whether you’ve come to visit Cartagena with a bachelor or bachelorette group, a wedding party, or just a group of friends, a boat trip is always a good idea.

But, before you rent your boat in Cartagena, you have some important decisions to make first…

Shared boat or private rental?

Whether you want to charter your own private boat or choose a shared experience is totally up to you. It’s best to weigh up your options depending on various factors: budget, destinations, privacy, and experience. There’s no doubt that a shared boat wins in the budget category, as it’s the cheapest option.

However, if you ask us, a privately chartered boat wins all the other categories. By paying slightly more, you get a fully private and customizable experience. You are literally captain of your own ship, and can choose your destinations and playlist, bring your own food and drinks, and in general have a superior experience. Private boat rentals start at $450 USD a day for a speedboat, and $2,400 USD a day for a yacht that can fit up to 25 people. If you have a bigger group, chartering your own boat is a no-brainer, especially if you’re in Cartagena for a special occasion – a birthday, wedding, bachelor or bachelorette party. We can help with all of those!

Should I rent a speedboat, yacht, or catamaran?

Speedboats: Cost-friendly and agile

Whether you’re a seasoned seafarer or a nautical newbie, we have the right type of boat for you. If you’re looking for something cheaper for a smaller group, we have some gorgeous speedboats. Cheaper than a yacht, but certainly not scrimping on quality, speedboats are a sleek and stylish option to explore the islands in Cartagena. Equipped with Bluetooth sound systems, a bathroom (confirm with your concierge agent beforehand), and a cushioned area for tanning, we love partying on speedboats. 

Yacht: Stylish yet functional

If you are looking for something a little more boujee, or simply require more space, check out our yacht rentals. You are sure to feel like a superstar tanning on the flybridge of your own private yacht. Yachts are a lot more spacious, often distributed over two floors, with more private bathrooms than speedboats. They also even have private bedrooms if you want to chill and take refuge from the midday sun.

And with more space, comes more options. Want to bring a private DJ on board to keep the good vibes pumping all day? We have the perfect contacts. How about a private chef – the ultimate flex for your trip out to the islands? We have just the man. It’s easy to enhance your experience at sea on the best boats in Cartagena – just ask us how. 

Catamarans: For superior comfort and space

Catamarans are also a great option for those with a bigger group – we’re talking 25–35 people. The slower pace of catamarans make them perfect for partying and mingling. Host your engagement party or pre-wedding bash on a 50+ ft Catamaran and feel like a million bucks. We also love power catamarans, as you get all the comfort, space, and beauty of a catamaran, with extra speed and agility added in. With all that extra space to dance, you simply have to bring a private DJ and chef on board. It would be rude not to. 

Want to check out our boat inventory? Be our guest!

What’s included in my boat rental? 

You’ve done the hardest part – you’ve picked your boat. Whether it’s a speedboat, yacht, or catamaran, you are sure to have the best time partying in Cartagena’s bay and beyond. But what’s included in the price that you pay for your boat rental? Every boat rental includes an experienced Captain and First Mate, fuel and taxes, and a cooler filled with ice (no alcoholic drinks included).

However, with Two Travel’s concierge services, we can most certainly help you with those small details. We charge a stocking fee and can fully stock your boat with beer and your favorite liquor and mixers. We can even arrange the delivery of your food and drinks! Believe us when we say it’s worth paying extra for the VIP treatment rather than juggling with bottles of tequila in foreign supermarkets at 8 AM. We can also make sure you have that sought after booking for lunch at one of the best beach clubs!

Speaking of timing, boat rental in Cartagena is from 9 AM to 5 PM. It’s important to not arrive late to the dock in the morning because it will eat into your precious time at sea. Most boats take just under an hour to get to the Rosario Islands – some take longer.

Due to safety reasons, boats must start their journey back to Cartagena from 3-4 PM, as the tides pick up in the afternoon. For the best day at sea, we want to ensure you have as much island time as possible. However, if you are looking for something out of hours, we can arrange sunset and evening tours, where we stay within the bay. 

How does pricing work for boat rentals in Cartagena?

We are upfront about our pricing on our boat rentals page. Keep in mind, however, that the prices advertised may differ depending on the size of your group. For many boats, there is a set price up to a certain number of people, and from there onwards, there is a set amount per person. For example, prices may be advertised as “From $600 for 10 people” – this is why the size of your group is important when asking for a quote. We only work with the best boats in Cartagena, and our pricing is competitive. 

Where should we visit on our trip to the islands?

Rosario Islands

There is a wealth of things to do and places to see from your privately chartered boat in Cartagena. Park your boat in party island Cholón to drink and mingle with neighboring boats. Swing by the “piscinita” (little pool) to snorkel and sunbathe. Or check out Pablo Escobar’s abandoned mansion and sunken plane (rumor has it) to learn more about the Narco history of Cartagena.

We can also arrange for you to stop off at a beach club if you fancy having lunch on firm ground rather than aboard your boat. If you leave early enough, you will have plenty of time to change locations several times. Our experienced captains can also give you their local tips and recommendations on where’s best to visit depending on the weather. 

What should we bring on our boat rental? 

As they say, it’s always better to be overprepared than underprepared. The sun this close to the equator is unforgiving, especially with the reflective glare of the sea. Bring plenty of sunscreen (at least factor 50), along with sunglasses and a hat, because there’s nothing unsexier than a sunburn.

Whilst stocking up on alcohol, don’t forget to bring plenty of water to put in your boat’s cooler. It’s also nice to bring some cash in case you want to buy any fresh oysters or drinks on the islands, and to tip your Captain and First Mate. Bring a towel and some beach-approved clothing.

And, most importantly, bring a pre-prepared playlist to plug into the boat’s Bluetooth speakers, so you can get the party pumping. Alongside what to bring, it’s important to mention what NOT to bring. Leave the Rolex at home, alongside any super nice jewelry, glasses, shoes or accessories you wouldn’t want to get wet or salty. 

Don’t fancy taking on the challenge of buying all the provisions for your boat trip? Check out our concierge services – we can sort it all out for you!

What do we do if the weather is bad? 

Cartagena is the city where it is sunny 360 days a year. But we do have a rainy season from May to October, where the weather is prone to the odd tropical shower. For days that are just a little drizzly – we certainly don’t let a little rain – well – rain on our parade! The party must go on, and you will find that once you are beyond the bay and heading towards the islands, it rarely continues to rain there too. Crank up the music and dive in the Caribbean Sea – you were going to get wet already, right?

We do get a few days a year when there are tropical storms and low visibility. The Coastguard is in charge of whether we can leave the dock or not. In the case of a last-minute cancellation due to weather conditions, you will get a full refund. It’s difficult to change dates, as your boat might already be booked for the next couple of days. 

How do I find the dock my boat is leaving from? 

There are several docks your boat might be disembarking from. All of them are either within – or a short taxi ride from – the walled city. Don’t worry, as we will embed a map showing you where the dock is located, with instructions on how to get there. The main docks that most of our boats leave from are either: Pegasus Dock, Todomar Marina, or Cartagena Nautical Club.

  • Pegasus Dock: This dock is conveniently located a stone’s throw from the famous yellow clock tower, 100 meters or so from the walled city. A lot of villas in Cartagena’s Centro district are within walking distance from this dock. Check the location on the map beforehand, however, to avoid any last-minute sweating.
  • Todomar Marina: Todomar is a privately-owned marina at the entrance of Bocagrande, Cartagena’s modern neighborhood. It can be reached by taxi in 5–10 minutes from most Centro locations.
  • Cartagena Nautical Club: This dock, located in the affluent neighborhood of Manga, is where you will find the majority of our bigger boats, especially yachts and catamarans. It is around a 10-minute taxi ride from the walled city. Leave plenty of time if leaving from this dock, as it gets busy and isn’t within walking distance. Taxi drivers will recognize it as “Club Nautico”. 

How do I book a superior boat rental experience in Cartagena?

Two Travel has the answers to all of your boat-rental questions (and beyond). The experience we offer is all-encompassing, and we don’t leave a single thing to chance. From the best boats, to top-quality add-ons and extras, your day on the islands in Cartagena is in safe hands. We can make your special day even more enjoyable by enhancing it with things like a private DJ and chef. Small luxuries that will improve your experience tenfold.

If you need more info or want to find out everything Two Travel’s concierge agents can do for you, get in touch with us today!

How To Plan a Beach Wedding in Cartagena

beach weddings in Cartagena

Nothing spells romance like sun, sea, and champagne on a white sand beach. If it’s always been your dream to plan and host a beach wedding, you will definitely want to add Cartagena, Colombia to your dream destinations list.

Cartagena, with its whimsical, flower-lined cobblestone streets and warm, crystal-clear sea, is one of the most romantic cities in the world. If you are considering a destination wedding, why not pick a place where you are almost guaranteed to have warm, sunny weather all year round? Cartagena, perched on the warm Caribbean Sea, is surrounded by stunning islands and beaches. You can even book a private island for your beach wedding ceremony, or take over a beach club for your special day. With the Two Lovers wedding planning team behind you, your imagination is the limit.

Romance, Culture, and History

Out of all the difficult decisions you have to make before your wedding day, the location shouldn’t be one. Cartagena is a no-brainer and is one of our favorite beach wedding destinations. Immerse yourself in its rich culture and history. Cartagena is the perfect mix of the modern and the traditional. You can customize your wedding to either one – or a mix of both – of these. As one of the most picturesque and Instagrammable places in South America, you and your wedding guests will enjoy every single day of your stay in the city, and not only the wedding day itself.

Planning for the Weather

Cartagena is well known for its warm climate and bright sunshine. However, it’s important to keep in mind that despite not having traditional seasons such as Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall, Cartagena does have rainy, windy, and dry seasons. You may want to avoid hosting a beach wedding in the months of October and November. These are the months with the heaviest rainfall. The dry season in Cartagena is from December to April, with January being the driest month. You can expect the breeze to pick up in these months too, which makes the weather beautifully fresh. But be aware that the temperature is always between 25°C and 32°C (77°F and 89°F) even at night, and the humidity makes it feel hotter. Plan carefully what you’ll wear on your big day. That being said, any time of year is perfect to visit Cartagena, as there is always something to do.

Aisle for wedding on the beach

It’s All in the Details

Once you’ve decided what time of year you want to have your special day, we can help you to plan your perfect itinerary. Keep in mind that all year round, there are usually around 12 hours of sunlight a day, from 6 AM to 6 PM. Because of the heat, weddings usually start late in Cartagena. You will want to find that sweet spot where you have daylight, but it’s not too hot. A 4-5 PM start is usually perfect for your beach wedding ceremony. This way, at around 6 PM, when the sun starts to set, you will have officially tied the knot. There won’t be a dry eye in the house when your wedding guests see the stunning newly-wed couple on the beach, with the sun setting into the blue Caribbean Sea behind you.

Choosing appropriate attire for a beach wedding

Keeping in mind that the climate in Cartagena is warm and humid, you will definitely want to dress accordingly. Think light, sleeveless dresses for women made of silks or chiffon. Leave the veil for church, and instead consider a flower crown for those boho, beachy vibes. For men, linen pants and open shirts are the way to go. Ditch the tux and embrace a more casual style for your beach wedding. Sunscreen is a necessity, and keep the makeup light and waterproof when possible. If you are actually planning on tying the knot on the beach, you may want to ditch the shoes completely. High heels and sand do not go well together. Try to make everything as easy for yourself as possible on your big day, so everything flows perfectly. And you will always have our team of expert wedding planners behind you every step of the way. We ensure that the wedding of your dreams becomes a reality.

Finding your Dream Location

So, you know you want a beach wedding. Now, the next question is deciding which of the many gorgeous beaches on Cartagena’s coastline and surrounding islands is best for you. If you have always dreamed of an island escape, we highly recommend Fenix Beach Club. Located on Tierra Bomba island, the closest island to Cartagena, the logistics involved with boat transportation aren’t too complicated. Fenix has a stunning, boho, festival vibe and incredible catering options too. Hundreds of twinkling lights illuminate the beach at night. It gives an ethereal and magical feeling to your special day. They also put on a great party, and the DJ will have your guests dancing until the early hours. Another great option on the same island is Tamarindo Beach House. This location has a perfect beach and pool, giving flawless Caribbean beachy aesthetics for your wedding. 

For those willing to travel a little further (just 45 minutes by boat), Las Islas Baru is another stunning beach wedding destination. The peninsular island of Baru is well known for its crystal-clear waters. The secluded location of Las Islas has an intimate and romantic atmosphere. Its luxury huts have an uninterrupted view of the ocean and the surrounding tropical forest of the island. The hotel can host groups of up to 200 guests with the use of the private island Isleta, located just 5 minutes away.

Night wedding on the beach
Fenix Beach

For most beach weddings, the ceremony is generally symbolic, and the legal procedures are carried out separately at a notary. However, for a foreign couple to legally wed in Colombia, at least one of the two needs to have a permanent address in Colombia. If you simply want to have a destination wedding and do not reside in Colombia, the simplest way is to officially wed in your own country and have a symbolic ceremony in Colombia. This way, you avoid logistical headaches, translations, apostilles, and additional stress. However, our wedding planners are well-versed in legal jargon and can give you the best personalized advice depending on your individual situation. Same-sex weddings have been legal in Colombia since 2016.

Save yourselves from hours of grueling planning and stressing.

Your Honeymoon Starts Today!

After all the stress, socializing, and dancing that a wedding inevitably brings, you will want to kick back, relax, and spend some quality alone time with your partner. And why not choose a wedding destination where your honeymoon can begin the second you tie the knot? If you host your beach wedding in Cartagena, there will be no need to jump on another flight. You will already have paradise on your doorstep! There’s a wealth of things to do in Cartagena, especially for newly married couples. Take a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride around the historic walled city. Rent a catamaran or sailboat and sail off into the sunset together. Take advantage of the incredible gastronomic variety in the city and explore new flavors together in the bars and restaurants of the old town. Or book a romantic getaway to an island. There, you can spend your days lazing on the beach and your nights exploring lagoons with bioluminescent plankton or counting stars under a cloudless sky.

But Why Colombia?

If one thing is for sure, it’s that Colombians know how to host a great party. Colombian weddings are non-stop fun, as they combine all the traditions of a wedding in the US, plus the “hora loca”. Literally translating to “crazy hour”, the Hora Loca is a party within a party. Right after the clock strikes midnight, fun props are brought out, and live bands and dancers surprise and delight the guests. The bride and groom decide on the theme beforehand. It can be anything from Carnival to circus-themed, burlesque, or masquerade…the decision is yours! It’s the best way to get your guests up and dancing, and will undoubtedly make your wedding day memorable and unique. Our team are locals, and there isn’t anyone better to help you plan your beach wedding.

Planning a wedding is hard. And more so in a foreign country and language. Even if you or your partner has ties to Cartagena or Colombia, hiring a wedding planner will still be one of the smartest decisions you can make for your big day. Outdoor weddings have a million moving parts, and having a team who can make everything fall into place is priceless.

In conclusion, a beach wedding in Cartagena, Colombia is a magical and unforgettable experience. It combines stunning scenery, rich cultural heritage, and vibrant entertainment. With the help of the Two Lovers expert wedding planning team, you can create the wedding of your dreams and enjoy all that this beautiful city has to offer.

We are always happy to chat and help you plan your big day. Get in touch with our team today to make your Cartagena wedding dreams come true!

The Best Places to Visit in Colombia

San Bernardo del Viento Islands

It’s hard to pick just a few of the best places to visit in Colombia. In every corner of this magical country, there are different things to explore and traditions to fall in love with. The mix of landscapes, music, and gastronomy makes it a cultural melting pot that is unique in the world.

Colombia’s diversity is what makes it so special. It has snow-topped mountains, white-sand beaches, thick jungle, arid deserts, and metropolitan cities. Colombia has something for everyone. And on your Colombia vacation, we want to make it as special as possible. That’s why we have compiled this guide to help you plan out the vacation of your dreams with the best places to visit in Colombia.

Colombia is a vast country, with mountains and canyons running through its core and impenetrable jungle around some of its edges. One would need months or even years to fully explore it. However, on your vacation in Colombia, you can cherry-pick from some of our favorite destinations and stay one step ahead of other travelers. Explore the colorful streets of Cartagena and the crystal-clear seas of the Colombian Caribbean, then on to Medellín and the rolling hills of the coffee region. Take a trip with us as we explore the best places to visit in Colombia, and why you need to visit Colombia now!

Colombia: Just a short flight from the USA

Colombia is, on average, just a 3-hour flight from Miami and a 5-hour flight from New York. Its proximity and the ability to get great flight deals with multiple different airlines means that it’s possible to pop over for a short vacation or even a long weekend. Of course, if you want to visit multiple destinations, we would recommend a longer stay of a couple of weeks.

Climate and temperature in Colombia

Cocora Valley in Quindio, Colombia
Cocora Valley

Due to its positioning close to the equator, temperatures in Colombia are affected by altitude, not by the time of year. This means that if you head to the coast, you are always guaranteed to get warm, sunny weather all year round, and you can head to the mountains for cooler weather. Bogotá, at 8.660 ft above sea level, is notoriously grey and rainy. However, seaside destination Cartagena averages 80°F – 90°F (27-32 Celsius). As a perfect medium at 4,900 ft, Medellín is known as the “City of Eternal Spring”, with temperate, spring-like climates. If you’re looking to avoid the rain, April-May and October-November are when it is most likely to rain across the whole country.

Colombian people and Culture

Over the past few years, Colombia has been shaking off the negative stereotypes it got during the 1980s and 90s. Colombia has proved over and over again that it is so much more than its past. The warmness and friendliness of its people never fails to surprise and delight us. Colombia has been voted one of the world’s happiest countries, and the joy and good vibes of its people is infectious wherever you go. Colombian people love to embrace their multiethnicity. Indigenous, Spanish, African and Arab cultures all come together to make the modern Colombian. Different regions within Colombia have different accents, music styles, and gastronomies; all influenced by this same blend of external and internal influences.

Where are the best places to visit in Colombia?

Colombia is truly the country that has it all. So, depending on what you’re looking for during your trip to Colombia, you can surely achieve it. Below, we have detailed a list of our favorite places to visit and the truly unmissable destinations where you are sure to make life-long memories.

Cartagena and the Colombian Caribbean

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena is the jewel of Colombia’s northern coastline. Its colonial, UNESCO-protected walled city and sleek, Miami-like surrounding neighborhoods make it one of Colombia’s most popular destinations. Cartagena also has stunning islands and archipelagos nearby, such as the Rosario Islands and Baru, which boast crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches. There’s no better place to rent a speedboat or yacht than Cartagena. You can even rent out your own private island for parties! Live the dream!

Cartagena’s colonial center is like walking through a movie set; colorful houses lined with bougainvillea flowers; private swimming pools glistening in the afternoon sun, and palm tree-lined beaches. Many tourists highlight Cartagena as one of the best places in Colombia. Whether you’re there to party, relax, or shop; there’s something for everyone.

Cartagena is also home to some incredible restaurants and some of the best cocktail bars in the world (Cartagena’s very own Alquímico and El Barón were featured on worlds50best.com). You’ll hear us sing Cartagena’s praises in our blog post on the Best Restaurants in Cartagena.

What are you waiting for? Get in touch with us today to find the perfect villa and book your own yacht or trip to the islands near Cartagena!

Other notable areas on the Caribbean coast: 

Barranquilla is the fourth-largest city in Colombia and the location of the second-biggest Carnival in South America after Rio. During this time, this usually very organized city transforms into flurries of flowers and feathers. Music plays on every street corner, and the streets and bars fill up with people in colorful outfits dancing and drinking aguardiente, an aniseed-based Colombian liquor. Carnival is an unmissable spectacle for visitors. Dates vary, but Carnival de Barranquilla usually takes place between February and March, and warm up events take place throughout January. 

The San Bernardo Islands: If you have planned a visit to the Rosario Islands an hour from Cartagena by boat, don’t miss also getting to know the San Bernardo Islands. These gorgeous, unspoiled islands can be reached by direct boat from Cartagena (2 hours) or from the tiny fishing village of Rincón del Mar (40 minutes). On the islands of Mucura and Tintipan, you will find white sand beaches and crystal clear seas; a true Caribbean paradise. 

Minca, near to Santa Marta in Colombia
View from Minca

Minca, a tiny village tucked up in the mountains near Santa Marta, is the perfect destination for eco-conscious travelers looking to reconnect with nature. Explore waterfalls, tropical jungle, and check out the toucans and monkeys hanging out in the trees nearby. You can also visit a working coffee farm just above the town.

Medellín and the Villages of Antioquia

A trip to Colombia wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Medellin. It is without a doubt one of the best cities in Colombia. This sprawling, metropolitan city is built in a valley, so many houses and villas have incredible views over the mountain. Why not rent a penthouse with us, and watch the city lights twinkling like stars in the valley below you? Medellin is a party city, and we have the best contacts and recommendations to ensure that you have the best experience.

Pueblito Paisa in Medellin, Colombia
Pueblito Paisa

You can also take a tour with us to see the best places in town. Our tour guides are local and knowledgeable, with your best interests in mind. The tour we recommend to start with would be our Medellin City Tour. From rooftop bars to deep house nightclubs, a night out in Medellin will surely be one to remember. On an average Friday night, you’ll be likely to find us drinking cocktails in Provenza, Medellín’s most up-and-coming neighborhood. On our blog The Best Places to Party in Medellin, you can find our local recommendations.

The villages of Antioquia

Guatapé: If you need some downtime in the countryside to recharge after partying hard in the city, Medellin also has the perfect options. There are many “pueblos” – small towns – located just a couple of hours’ drive from the city. Guatapé is a popular destination, famous for its enormous granite rock “El Peñol”. This stunning natural formation has 740 zig-zagging steps up to the top. From the top, you can enjoy a refreshing “michelada” beer, and take in the gorgeous view of the lake and green rolling hills surrounding it. The town itself is picturesque and colorful. 

Guatape, near to Medellin in Colombia
Guatapé

We also highly recommend a trip to Jardín, Antioquia. Its name literally means “garden”, and this town does not disappoint. Its temperate climates and green hills make this town feel like a paradise. Stroll through the cobblestone streets, go horse riding, or take a local coffee tour. Ideal to spend a romantic weekend and disconnect from technology. 

If the cooler weather in the Medellin hills gets a bit too chilly for you, you can travel for around an hour and a half to Santa Fe de Antioquia. In this postcard-pretty town, temperatures rise to a warm 85°F (29°C), which makes a nice change from the weather in the rest of the region. 

The Coffee Zone

The Coffee region of Colombia, also known as the Coffee Triangle, is the area where three of Colombia’s departments meet; Caldas, Risaralda, and Quindio. Fly into the city of Pereira or Armenia and take a local bus to one of the quaint towns tucked into the hills. This area is one of stunning natural beauty and is home to the famous Valle de Cocora. Here, you can find some of the tallest palm trees in the world, reaching up to 197 feet. These wax palms are unique in the world and make for an incredible photo opportunity. To reach the trees, however, you must embark on a six-mile hike through a cloud forest, over rickety bridges, and over natural streams. Stop for a hot chocolate in a conveniently-located finca, where you can watch hummingbirds fly above your head.

Salento in Quindio, Colombia
Salento

Although visiting the wax palms of the Valle de Cocora is one of the main reasons tourists visit this area, the towns are the other reason why they stay. Salento, now a popular tourist destination in the area, is a must-see. It’s also the departure point for the hike to the palm trees. You also mustn’t miss Filandia, Salento’s lesser well-known sister, but no less beautiful. Come here to get all the same vibes as Salento, with fewer tourists. These colonial, colorful towns feel like something right out of Disney’s Encanto. Don’t forget to try plenty of coffee, as it can’t get fresher than this! 

Santander for nature and adventure

The department of Santander is slightly off the beaten path of tourists in Colombia. However, it is an area that has breathtaking nature and endless opportunities for adventure sports and adrenaline junkies. The town of San Gil is often frequented by people who are looking to go parasailing, white-water rafting, or hiking. You can even go ziplining or paragliding over the Chicamocha Canyon, a huge and majestic canyon in the area. At 2km deep, Chicamocha is deeper than the Colorado Canyon, and is the second-largest canyon in the world. 

Chicamocha Natural Park in Santander, Colombia
Chicamocha Natural Park

If you need to decompress after all the adventure activities in San Gil, Barichara is the place to head. Deemed “the prettiest town in Colombia”, Barichara is a colonial and romantic town. Stroll down the cobblestone streets and visit local artisan shops, marveling at its gorgeous views over the Suarez river canyon. Barichara is said to have hardly changed since its foundation in 1705. These towns and more are just a few hours’ drive from the city of Bucaramanga.

Two Travel Tips for a Colombia vacation

Traveling around Colombia is a true privilege, and you will find that coming once is never enough. Don’t forget to take into consideration our top travel tips to ensure that you get the best out of your Colombia vacation. 

Airports and Immigration

When you travel to Colombia, flying into the capital city, Bogotá, is cheaper and more convenient than other airports. The airport is well equipped for receiving international arrivals. Immigration queues at regional airports can sometimes be long and tedious, so avoid if possible. If you do fly direct to Cartagena, spend extra to get on the front of the plane, so you’re at the front of the immigration queue. Have on hand your physical vaccine card and the CheckMig app. 

Cash and Card transactions

In the bigger cities, card payments are totally common and accepted. Keep in mind that if you are given the option of paying in local currency (Colombian pesos) or USD, always select local currency. In the smaller towns, villages, or islands, cash is king. You can use an ATM to take out pesos rather than an exchange house, and make sure to decline the conversion rate offered – your bank will give you a better rate. 

Getting one step ahead with your vacation planning

Speak to the travel advisors at Two Travel to help build an itinerary customized to your needs. We have the best direct contacts and know the best places to visit in Colombia. We can get you everything you need for your Colombia vacation – accommodation, airport transfers, transport during your stay, the best activities, and bar, club and restaurant reservations. Cut out the stress and hustle of your vacation. Let us plan your trip, so you can sit back and enjoy the best bits. Not everything in Colombia can be booked online, or simply may not be advertised or accessible online. Our concierge and travel advisors are happy to do the hard work for you!

Get in touch with us today for a personalized itinerary and a full quote for your trip to Colombia!

Amare Beach Club Day

Amare Beach Club, Cartagena

Amare Beach Club is a firm favorite with locals craving a beach day without the crowds of tourists or the vendors. It’s only 10 minutes from the city, but you would never know it. It’s hidden on the far side of Tierra Bomba on a beach called Playa Linda (which translates to “beautiful beach”). Here you have a view of the ocean, the beach and the palm trees – what more could one ask for?!

Amare really is a gem of a place. The beach is huge and white. The sky is blue 320 days of the year, and the water is clean and clear. And at Amare, you can choose your style. Set back under the palms, you’ll find a gorgeous pool and plenty of places to relax. For those that want more “on the beach action”, head to the loungers set on the beach.

But it’s not just the setting that you’ll love at Amare Beach Club. You’ll also find excellent cocktails recommended by all the city’s bartenders, plus deliciously satisfying design-your-own bowl-style lunches. And look out for the regular events, featuring some of the best DJs in town (and some of the coolest locals!)

This beach club truly is for those in-the-know wanting to experience local Cartagenero culture at its coolest!

What’s included in the Amare Beach Club day pass?

  • Round trip by boat departing from Playa Hospital Bocagrande
  • Pool and beach access all day
  • Sunbeds and shade
  • Wi-Fi
  • $20 USD credit for food and drinks

Blue Apple Beach Day

Blue Apple Beach Club, Cartagena

Welcome to Blue Apple – one of the best beach clubs in Cartagena!

In their own words, “Blue Apple is an independently owned boutique hotel and beach restaurant with a strong focus on fun and also on sustainable tourism.”

Here, you can relax during the week and party and dance on the weekend. Blue Apple always has live music and DJs from Friday to Sunday, whereas the weekdays are more relaxed if you’re looking for a quieter time, maybe a horse ride or simply a delicious organic lunch and some cocktails by the pool.

Included in your day pass:

  • Round trip transfers in shared boat (departure from Cartagena 10am or 12pm, return from Blue Apple Beach 4pm or 5:30pm) – Make sure to choose the right schedule for you!
  • Sun longer, towel and use of club facilities
  • Mid-morning snack
  • 2 course lunch (menu restrictions aply)
  • Alcoholic cocktail
  • 15 minutes massage
  • Unlimited drinking water

2024 Guide to the Best Restaurants in Cartagena

Photo by: Carmen

Foodies, rejoice! Gastronomy in Cartagena is BIG. Hidden amongst the cobbled streets of the walled city are some of the most talented chefs in Colombia. Wining and dining is our passion. We know all the best restaurants in Cartagena, from the classics to the new kids on the block. Read on for our definitive guide to the best restaurants in town.

Cartagena, being a touristic city, is a gastronomical melting pot. You can find an abundance of traditional dishes from the Colombian coast such as coconut rice, fried fish, and patacones. However, you can also find a varying range of flavors like Asian, Italian, Lebanese, Spanish, and everything in between. Due to its privileged location on the Caribbean coast, you can also expect some of the best (and freshest!) seafood of your life. It’s possible to eat at a different restaurant for lunch and dinner for every night during your trip to Cartagena, and still not even scratch the surface of the incredible restaurants that are on offer.

Along with the enormous variety of cuisines, Cartagena also has a huge variety of prices. From haute cuisine fine dining experiences at Alma or Carmen, to casual courtyard dining at La Cevichería, to $2 street pizza at Zazzy’s, there is something for everyone on the Cartagena restaurant scene. Some finer restaurants do have a dress code, so keep this in mind and save your sliders for the poolside, and get your long pants pressed! In Cartagena, high season is almost all year round, so make sure to make reservations in advance, especially if you have a bigger group and are looking to dine out on a weekend.

Don’t speak Spanish, or simply don’t fancy spending your well-earned vacay on hold? We got you! Just hire our concierge services. We can call in for you and make any and all reservations you need.

 

Cartagena’s historic center – known locally as Centro – is a hub for restaurants, bars, and villas. It is usually here where you can find some of the more high-end establishments. Most restaurants in Centro can be found inside beautiful 17th Century colonial buildings. They are rustic and visually stunning – often boasting internal courtyards, exposed brick arches, and palm trees. Dining in a colonial house adds to the irresistible charm of the Cartagena experience.

Carmen Cartagena – Best for fine dining Colombian fusion

Photo by: Carmen

Head chefs Carmen Angel and her husband both studied at Le Cordon Bleu, the most prestigious culinary institution in the world. Their experience and passion for local, fresh ingredients make Carmen Cartagena stand out above the rest. The restaurant is situated in an intimate and elegant colonial house downtown, and the menu is a celebration of local flavors, many of which are unique to Colombia. At their Cartagena restaurant, they also serve freshly caught lobster, octopus, and crab, presented in unique and creative ways. At Carmen, every plate is a work of art. Their à la carte menu is your best option for an optimal dining experience. Every tiny detail is executed to perfection, from the attentive service to the award-winning wine list and the innovative craft cocktails. For anyone looking to impress – think proposals, anniversaries, or milestone birthdays, Carmen is the place to come. 

Price: $$$
Dress code: Smart 
Reservations needed?: Yes

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo by: Don Diablo

Don Diablo is inspired by Colombian meat, which is dry-aged in an exclusive cellar to bring to your table an unparalleled experience of flavor and texture. In a cozy and elegant atmosphere, Don Diablo is a proposal that seeks to vindicate the national beef innovation with modern culinary techniques and grill. Its menu offers a proposal of 100% Colombian meat dry-aged at home and grilled on a grill of our own design with local firewood. Vegetarian and seafood options are also offered along with a handcrafted cocktail proposal and a premium wine list.

Price: $$$
Dress code: Smart/Casual 
Reservations needed?: Yes

Apogeo – Best for Mediterranean experience with a view

apogeo restaurant in cartagena colombiaPhoto by: Apogeo

In a corner where the Mediterranean and Latin passion converge, this fantastic restaurant is born as a place that goes far beyond gastronomy. Here, cuisine becomes a universal language woven with art, exclusivity, and mystery. Apogeo is a space where the unexpected and the sublime merge, where each dish is a masterpiece and each ingredient a shared story. For this restaurant, the connection with the client is the true reason for being. Every detail, from the choice of ingredients to the live music, is carefully selected to create an unforgettable experience. In addition, the experience will be enhanced by enjoying one of the best views of the walled city on its fabulous rooftop, where the Caribbean breeze and the Cartagena nights will make you experience moments to remember.

Price: $$$
Dress code: Smart/Casual 
Reservations needed?: Yes


La Cevichería – Best for seafood and people-watching from the plaza

Photo by: La Cevicheria

If you went to Cartagena and didn’t pass by La Cevicheria, did you really even go to Cartagena? This cute seafood restaurant perched on the corner of Plaza San Diego may seem small and unassuming, but don’t underestimate it, as La Cevichería is infamous in Cartagena. It even appeared in restaurant magazines and TV shows when Anthony Bourdain visited on his show ‘No Reservations’. Its blue and white color scheme and outdoor dining tables give off a Mediterranean vibe, with a Caribbean twist. The food is also fresh, healthy, and Mediterranean-inspired with a distinctly Colombian flavor. The use of coconut gives a strong nod to the Caribbean, and its homemade hot sauce is unbeatable. So grab a seat, and enjoy the spectacle in the plaza put on by the famous Cartagena street performers (here, Michael Jackson is well and truly alive and comes out to dance every night).

Price: $$
Dress code: Casual
Reservations needed?: No reservations accepted, get there early and queue!

UMA Cantina Peruana – Best for authentic Peruvian 

Photo by: UMA

Come join us for a Pisco Sour at UMA restaurant in Hilton’s Hotel Nácar inside the Old City of Cartagena. This remarkable Peruvian-inspired restaurant will soon also be opening doors in Medellín and Miami. There will be no need to travel to Lima as you can find the best Peruvian gastronomy right here in Cartagena. From traditional ceviches to tiraditos (fish sashimi) and anticuchos (beef heart), it couldn’t get more authentic than this. The food is fresh, colorful, and visually stunning. We loved the grilled octopus with bok choy and shiitake mushrooms. It was truly some of the best octopus we have tried – and we know our seafood! We also still salivate thinking about the black spaghetti with tiger milk and prawns. You can even get the famous Inka Kola (if you’ve been to Peru, you will recognize this fluorescent green soda). UMA is perfect for a romantic night on a special occasion, or for exploring the majestic flavors of Latin America with friends.

Price: $$$
Dress code: Dress nice
Reservations needed?: Recommended

Restaurante La Única – Best for authentic Mexican food

La Unica restaurant CartagenaPhoto by: La Unica

If, after a few days in Cartagena, you have eaten yourself into a ceviche and lobster stupor and want to try something different, we absolutely love La Única. It’s a Mexican restaurant that actually has branches in Mexico – so you know it’s legit. This modern cantina will take you far away from the stereotype of a Mexican restaurant and allow you to focus on the quality and artistry of its food. From tacos and guacamole to grilled octopus and juicy steaks, La Única Cartagena will not disappoint. This restaurant is the perfect place to come with a group of friends, as it has a fun, playful vibe and has great music – from in-house DJs to live mariachi bands. Share a tequila or two with friends and let the good times roll!

Price: $$
Dress code: Smart/ Casual
Reservations needed?: Highly recommended 

Lobo de Mar – Best for Mediterranean fusion with style

The owners of one of our favorite clubs in Cartagena – La Movida – also have a restaurant in the center of Cartagena. We knew their taste was impeccable, as we always have an amazing time at La Movida. So it was no surprise to find Lobo del Mar quickly becoming one of our go-to options in Cartagena’s gastronomy scene. The menu is extensive and varied, but everything is exquisitely prepared. From fish and seafood (the tuna tartar is unmissable) to burrata pizza in their wood-fired oven, to pork belly bao, everything is spot on. The décor is distinctly Cartagenian; you will be charmed by their high ceilings, vintage tiles, and indoor plants. And don’t leave without trying one of their signature cocktails, which are a celebration of local liquors, fruits, and flavors.

Price: $$
Dress code: Dress chic to go out clubbing afterwards
Reservations needed?: Not always needed but definitely recommended for bigger groups and peak times

Want to learn more about La Movida club and our other Cartagena faves? Check out our Best Bars in Cartagena blog!

Buena Vida Marisquería – Best for cheat day and good times

Photo by: Buena Vida Marisqueria

Everything about Buena Vida Marisquería – from the decoration, to the music, to the menu – characterizes the Cartagena we know and love. Colorful, fun, and irresistible are three words we would use to describe this seafood restaurant. While its dishes, such as the crab nachos, seafood mac and cheese and desgranado de camarones aren’t light on calories, they sure are full of flavor. It’s no coincidence that this restaurant’s name means Good Life, as you are guaranteed to have a good time at this restaurant, which consists of 3 floors of deliciousness. The first two floors are for the seafood restaurant, and the top floor is an adults-only rooftop bar with an impressive cocktail menu and smaller snack options from the restaurant. Come with a group of friends to start off an unforgettable Cartagena night. 

Price: $$
Dress code: Casual chic
Reservations needed?: Highly recommended at peak hours

Candé – Best for an immersive Cartagena experience 

Candé CartagenaCandé

If Cartagena were a restaurant, she would be Candé. A lot of the culture of a city may come from its gastronomy, but we mustn’t forget about the rest. Music, dance, and traditional dress are all things that Candé incorporates into its dining experience to ensure that its diners are fully immersed in the Cartagenero experience. Enjoy the live musical show at both lunchtime and dinner time, and watch professionals dance the Mapalé and Cumbia, traditional Colombian dances. Stimulate your senses whilst you tuck into some incredible food. Make sure you leave room for dessert, however, as their menu features local delicacies you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Culture, music, and tradition all come together at Candé to provide an unforgettable experience for families, groups, and couples alike. 

Price: $$$
Dress code: Dress smart!
Reservations needed?: Yes. Make sure to request a table where you can see the show.

Feel free to cancel your upcoming flight to Peru, because Cuzco Cartagena has everything you need. Cuzco has really put itself on the map as one of the best restaurants in Cartagena. However, it is so much more than just good food. The entire experience offered at Cuzco Cocina Peruana makes for a fantastic night out. Enjoy live music by the glowing pool, some of the best ceviche in the city (and that’s saying something!), and romantic moments below the Colonial arches. Make sure to try chicha morada, a traditional Peruvian drink, but stay for the lobster risotto, a Two Travel favorite. The three varieties of sangria are enough to give you a merry start to your night.

If you’re looking for a lively restaurant with a youthful feel, you can also go next door to Baruco by Cuzco. There, you’re also sure to find awesome food and great cocktails to boot.

Price: $$
Dress code: Smart chic
Reservations needed?: Book a couple days in advance

Agua de Leon is also a local designer brand for adults and (extremely stylish) kids. Their restaurant is on the same vibe as their clothes. Visually stunning, perfectionist by nature, and great to show off on a Friday night. Their Colombian dishes are a sentimental ode to traditional local flavors, but with a contemporary twist. The fried costeño cheese with truffle is the perfect example of this; mixing the familiar, salty flavors of any Colombian childhood with the sultry umami of truffle. The restaurant itself is an architectural beauty, reminiscent of some of our favorite restaurants in Provenza, Medellin. Understated yet elegant are the words to describe the experience at Agua de Leon, an unmissable experience on your trip to Cartagena.

Price: $$$
Dress code: Dress to impress
Reservations needed?: Yes

Alma Cartagena

Situated in the super stylish boutique hotel Casa San Agustín, Alma is fast-becoming known as one of the unmissable culinary experiences in Cartagena. Its gastronomic concept pays homage to Caribbean Colombian cuisine and its traditional flavors, with a high-class and contemporary twist. We love going on weekends to enjoy the live Cuban son music, and the atmosphere is always warm and inviting. It’s the perfect spot for a romantic meal. Although fresh fish and seafood are the stars of the menu, Alma also offers vegan options and premium cuts of meat.

Price: $$$
Dress code: Smart. Long pants and closed shoes for men are a must.
Reservations needed?: Yes. Reservations are tricky so book ahead.

Getsemani is Centro’s younger, cooler sister. It’s the nightlife district where you can find the majority of the clubs and bars. People also gather at a central square, Plaza de la Trinidad, at night, to drink beer and watch street performers. It has a lot of incredible restaurants tucked away inside the colonial arches of its cobbled streets. Read on to find our favorite restaurant recommendations in Getsemani, Cartagena.

Celele one of the best 50 restaurants in South AmericaPhoto by: Celele

Celele by Proyecto Caribe Lab – Best for a gastronomical experience 

Hidden away in an unassuming colonial house in Getsemani, the bohemian neighboring barrio to Cartagena’s walled city, lies Celele. Voted as one of the “50 Best Restaurants 2020” and winning multiple other awards for their innovative menu and concept, chefs Jaime Rodriguez and Sebastian Pinzón have really hit the nail on the head. Celele is more than just a restaurant; it is a study of gastronomical anthropology. The chefs have travelled Colombia, talking to indigenous peoples and rediscovering long-forgotten flavors and methods. The food is visually stunning, and each dish has a profound cultural significance behind it. Celele restaurant celebrates the rich biodiversity of Colombia, taking humble ingredients and giving them a high-class spin. 

Price: $$$
Dress code: Smart casual
Reservations needed: Yes

Want to know more about bars in Cartagena? Check out our Guide to the Best Bars in Cartagena!

If the streets of Cartagena remind you of Cuba, Calle Dragones bar and restaurant will transport you straight to 1950s Havana. This charming joint is perched on top of the famous salsa club La Habana in Cartagena’s buzzing night district, Gesemani. It was designed with an old cabaret in mind, evoking the golden age of Cuba. Everything about it exudes luxury and glamour; and you can enjoy food, drinks, and music in all of its three ambiences. Cuban chef Luis Pous explores, through his food, Cuban gastronomy and its Asian influences. We loved the pork dumplings with kimchi alioli and truffle essence and the New York steak matured in Colombian coffee beans. The flavors are revolutionary for Cartagena, a city dominated by fish and pizza.

The cocktail menu doesn’t fall far behind, and in Calle Dragones you can find some of the best cocktails in Cartagena. Certainly the best Old Fashioned. And, in true Cartagena style, you can enjoy the fresh air and live DJ from the rooftop terrace, while you watch the night revellers below you. And, of course, if you fancy joining them, you can pop downstairs to La Habana and dance the night away.

Price: $$$
Dress code: Smart chic
Reservations needed: Not necessary but recommended for busy dates

La Cocina de Pepina – Best for comforting Colombian home cooking

If you want to feel like you have been invited to the kitchen of a Colombian abuela, head down to La Cocina de Pepina. Located in a yellow Colonial house in Getsemani, this unassuming restaurant has won multiple gastronomic prizes. La Cocina de Pepina has local, fresh flavors and really captures the essence of local fare from Cartagena. Be prepared to try something new – whether it’s the tart corozo juice – a local berry a bit like a cranberry – or the mote de queso. Mote (pronounced mo-tay) is a cheese soup thickened with yam and yucca – new comfort food unlocked!

You will soon be eating like a Cartagenero (local to Cartagena) as you fall in love with the diverse flavors of the Caribbean. With African influence and of course the influence of the offerings of the Caribbean Sea on its doorstep, Cartagena has a world of flavor. Come for lunch – but be prepared to wait for a table at this popular local spot!

Price: $
Dress code: Casual
Reservations needed: No reservations accepted. Be prepared for a short wait at busy times

With so many restaurant choices in Cartagena, and new ones popping up every day, this list really could go on forever. We feel the need to make a few honorable mentions for some old favorites of ours with the Two Travel seal of approval. For those days when you really need a great steak, Quebracho Argentinian Grill is your best bet. They offer prime cuts any Argentinian would approve of. If Italian is your thing, Don Ignazio will transport you to the backstreets of Florence. Don’t forget to stop by Verona for some of the best pizzas in Cartagena. If you loved Cuzco and are craving more Peruvian food in your life, definitely check out Gran Inka Gastro Bar. And finally, if you had a long night out on the town and dinner feels like a long time ago, head to Zazzy’s Pizza in the Clock Tower Square to get an authentic New York slice until 3am.

 

Dining in Cartagena is nothing short of a cultural experience. Don’t forget that we are here for you to make life as easy as possible. We can call and make reservations on your behalf, as well as resolve any other issues or questions you may have!

Don’t work harder, work smarter, and let Two Travel Concierge take care of you and your group!

2024 Guide to the Best Bars in Cartagena

El Baron, Cartagena
El Barón, Cartagena

Cartagena is a party city. Tourists and locals love the Cartagena nightlife, but with so much choice, it’s easy to miss the best cocktails. Read on for our 2024 Guide to the Best Bars in Cartagena. From the ever popular Townhouse brunch to Alquimico and El Barón, these are the Cartagena party places not to miss.

The buzzing, vibrant city of Cartagena comes alive at night. When the heat of the day cools down, a new city emerges. And part of what makes Cartagena’s nightlife so unforgettable is its many bars. Most of the best bars are located within the picturesque walled city in Cartagena. From Instagram-worthy rooftops lined with palm trees to three-storey mansions serving uniquely crafted cocktails, Cartagena’s bars are built to impress – and they don’t disappoint. If you’re wondering where to find the best bars in Cartagena, look no further. It’s been our pleasure to try out every one of the following bars to give you the best recommendations.

Alquimico for craft cocktails

The award-winning Alquimico is a must for any trip to Cartagena. The mixologists are true artists making craft cocktails in minutes. The menu is a treat for the senses and we love how they use local flavors and ingredients, grown on their organic farm in the Colombian countryside. They frequently change their menu, always keeping it fresh!

Alquimico, Cartagena

We guarantee you’ll never have another cocktail like this one. Colombian rum infused with borojó (a locally-grown fruit also known as an aphrodisiac), anyone? If you’re into dancing, there are two ambiences to choose from. The DJ on the first and second floors plays popular Colombian tunes and throwback classics. Meanwhile, up on the rooftop, you’ll be treated to more tropical vibes. No matter what day of the week it is, Alquimico is bound to be buzzing. Get there early to avoid the inevitable queues!

If you’re in Cartagena for NYE, get tickets for Alquimico’s party here.

Townhouse for Brunch

Townhouse rooftop bar, Cartagena

If day drinking is more your vibe, we couldn’t recommend more highly the Boozy Brunch at Townhouse.

On Saturdays and Sundays, for $30 USD per person, you can have bottomless food and drink from 11am until 3pm. Yes, you heard us right. Unlimited mimosas, Bloody Marys, beers and juices, accompanied by delicious bite-sized brunch plates to help absorb the booze. Sounds like the perfect hangover cure to us!

It also helps that the Townhouse rooftop is a super cool place to hang out, with a birds-eye view over the walled city, a cute plunge pool to cool down in, and Instagram-worthy neon signs to pose next to once the fourth mimosa has kicked in.

And if the brunch is so good it turns into sunset drinks, Townhouse also offers an evening menu. The music is always spot on. It’s the perfect place to chill with friends or pre-game at the start of your night.

Cafe Del Mar, Cartagena
Cafe del Mar, Cartagena

Café del Mar Cartagena for sunset by the sea

A trip to Cartagena wouldn’t be complete without visiting the renowned Café del Mar. Perched on top of the historic city wall and boasting some of the best sunset views, Café del Mar is a great option for groups and couples alike. This Ibiza-style upscale lounge has frequent DJ live sessions playing ambient house and Balearic beats with incredible views over the walled city. We recommend getting there early, around 5pm, to grab a good seat for the sunset, which will usually be at around 6pm. Or you can hire our concierge services, and we will make a reservation for you. Alongside delicious cocktails, liquors and local & imported beers, you can enjoy fresh seafood snacks as you watch the sun sink into the Caribbean Sea.

El Barón for artisan cocktails

El Barón, once a tiny hole-in-the-wall, has recently expanded due to its popularity amongst locals and tourists alike. This award-winning Cartagena bar boasts some of the best artisan cocktails in town. It wins the prize for some of the most visually pleasing food and drinks. Enjoy people-watching from one of its outdoor tables in San Pedro Square with a Gin Basil Smash in hand. Or head indoors after dark to peruse their extensive wine menu. We absolutely love the intimacy of this bar, which seems to have it all: great coffee and food for the daytime, and unique, avant-garde cocktails at night. They even have a Cuban cigar menu, where you can match your puro to your rum, Scotch, or Cognac, and enjoy Cartagena to its fullest.

If you’re in Cartagena for NYE, get tickets for El Barón’s party here.

Mirador Gastro Bar for dancing with the locals

If you’re looking for somewhere to get your boogie on, look no further than El Mirador. It’s a trendy rooftop bar with privileged views overlooking the famous Clock Tower and towards bohemian Getsemani. This bar has a great mix of Colombian locals and foreigners, which means one thing: dancing is inevitable. El Mirador is an awesome place to visit on a Saturday night and share a bottle of whiskey or rum with a group of friends. Its central location means that it is easily reachable on foot from your villa in the walled city, so you and your group can walk home without needing to split a taxi.

Don’t have your villa booked yet? Contact us, and we can hook you up with the best and most exclusive properties in town.

Movich Hotel Rooftop for the best rooftop view

The Movich Hotel has made a name for itself as another one of the best sunset spots in Cartagena. The bar of this swanky hotel is located on the rooftop. It’s open to the public as well as hotel guests. Get there early for the best table and enjoy the view over the picturesque rooftops of the walled city. This bar creates a perfect chill ambience with its soft house playlists. Kick back on the comfy lounge furniture and enjoy the soft breeze bouncing off the terracotta tiles of Cartagena. If your sunset drinks leave you feeling peckish, you can enjoy Caribbean-style bites. The menu is paired perfectly with their exquisite cocktail menu.

La Movida for the best party in Cartagena

La Movida Club and Bar is where the beautiful and elite of Cartagena hang out. Often dubbed as the “best party in town”, La Movida is a fusion of old-school American Speakeasy and Latino lounge. Make sure you come dressed to impress, as the bouncers on the door may turn you away if you rock up in flip-flops and shorts. Open Wednesday to Sunday until 3am, La Movida really starts kicking off after midnight. Don’t forget to ask your Two Travel concierge to book you a VIP table, as this small joint really fills up on the weekends. La Movida Cartagena is a unique experience, so grab a Gin & Tonic, and come and party with us in its colorful courtyard.

La Jugada Club House for the cool crowd

La Jugada is one of the tallest clubs in Cartagena’s old town, with four floors in total; three inside, and a beautiful tropical rooftop terrace. If you’re seeing a trend here, you’re not wrong in thinking that rooftop bars are big in Cartagena. There’s never a dull moment in La Jugada Club House, as they like to occasionally set off fountain fireworks from the Pink Flamingo bar on the roof. Why? Because it’s Saturday night in Cartagena, what better reason do you need? Its 1920-style art deco decoration is enchanting, and the interior filled with mirrors and wrought iron is a nod to the decadence of past decades. If you were planning a night in La Movida, you should know that they are also the same owners of La Jugada. Their impeccable taste and penchant for attracting the young and beautiful crowds will soon become clear.

If you’re in Cartagena for NYE, get tickets for La Jugada’s party here.

51 Sky Bar for those that like heights!

The only contender from our list outside the walled city, 51 Sky Bar is a must-see on your trip to Cartagena. This bar is on the 51st floor of the Hotel Estelar Cartagena de Indias in the modern and exclusive neighborhood of Bocagrande, Cartagena’s own answer to Miami. It boasts 360° views over the modern skyscrapers, which light up impressively at night, and further on, towards the seemingly endless Caribbean Sea. Enjoy live music and light bites such as sushi and Peruvian ceviche, but stay for the cocktails, which are perfectly crafted and well-balanced. We love to get things spicy with their tequila-based cocktail, Atrevido, shaken with jalapeños and black pepper.

51 Sky Bar operates with a strict reservations policy, so make sure you book before you go. Or let our concierge do it for you, and don’t show up late to your reservation! This super modern bar will give you a new perspective on Cartagena, and is sure to take you up to dizzying heights.

Casa Cruxada, Cartagena

Casa Cruxada for any time of day or night!

If you need to escape from the salsa music and reggaeton that you will inevitably hear in the Colombian coast, head down to Casa Cruxada. Here, you can hear live DJs play minimal techno beats and deep house. This club / bar / restaurant is in an enormous, crumbling Colonial building that feels like it is coming apart at the seams, in the best way possible. Its dark ambience and far-from-flawless decor only accentuate the perfection of its menu and playlists. But Casa Cruxada in the daytime is also a sight to behold. The light illuminates what in the nighttime becomes dark nooks and crannies, revealing the stunning architecture. The Spanish owners have crafted an incredible menu that is a gastronomical treat from breakfast to dinner. This multi-faceted bar is the perfect place for dinner and drinks, and after-midnight cocktail schmoozing, and everything in between.

Find out more about the beautiful city of Cartagena, choose a villa in centro, or contact us craft a special itinerary for you and your group. We promise you’ll get the best out of the city.

How to Buy Property in Colombia

Villa Arzobezpalda

More and more foreign investors are looking to buy property in Colombia. Tourism in major cities like Cartagena and Medellín is driving up demand (and prices) for vacation rental properties. So buying property in Colombia is now considered an increasingly lucrative passive investment opportunity.

But how do you buy a property in Colombia? Two Travel are not just on hand for your vacation. We also offer property purchase and management services for foreigners who want to buy a property (turnkey, remodel, plot), gain a passive income and have a place to stay in their favorite Colombian city.

Our concierge team works hand in hand with lawyers, notaries, tax and visa experts, and have partnered with property concierges, Double Double to expand our real estate offering and expertise.

Here’s our Guide on How to Buy Property in Colombia.

Which Colombian cities represent the best property investment opportunity?

Colombia is becoming a more and more popular tourist destination, with direct flights from the US and Europe meaning over 4.5 million people visited Colombia just before the pandemic, and as the pandemic eases, we’re seeing those tourist numbers bounce back up again.

Most tourists spend time using Cartagena and Medellín as a base to explore the Caribbean coast and the famous coffee zone. We recommend both of these cities to people looking to buy a property as a vacation rental in Colombia. And it’s easy to offer that property at a good price for rent through platforms like AirBnB.

Is the cost of property rising in Colombia?

Yes, property values in both Cartagena and Medellin are consistently on the rise. Both Cartagena and Medellin present vibrant economies and real estate continues to show strong and consistent growth, with prices rising in both cities as they become increasingly popular tourist destinations.

Expect to pay at least $600 million pesos ($160,000 USD) for properties in the tourist zones of Bocagrande in Cartagena or El Poblado in Medellín. However, the demand for vacation rentals is high, especially during the high seasons, where you can expect to charge higher rates for accommodation in sought after locations like these. You can expect upwards of 10% return on investment if you manage and market your property well.

How do I find a property to buy in Colombia?

If you’ve visited Colombia, you no doubt fell in love with the warmth of the people and the weather. Many investors buy property having visited as tourists initially. We recommend that you visit the areas you’re interested in, and then talk to a property concierge like us to help you find a property that meets your needs.

Online property listings sites are not great in Colombia, and you’ll often find out-of-date information on these websites. Partnering with a property concierge is highly recommended, so you find properties as they come onto the market, especially in competitive locations like Cartagena and Medellín.

Once we’ve helped you find the investment property of your dreams, we can guide you through the process and be on hand to negotiate the best deal for you, even if you’re not physically in Colombia at the time of the sale.

Do I need to speak Spanish to buy property in Colombia?

Speaking Spanish is very advantageous when doing business in Colombia, but we always recommend working with a bilingual guide and lawyer when buying property. Contracts and legal processes can be difficult to understand if you’re not fluent and a specialist in Colombian property law. The lawyers that we work with are trusted experts when it comes to foreign investment in property.

Do I need a visa to buy property in Colombia?

No, you do not. But you may be eligible for a Colombian investment visa through the purchase of a property.

What else do I need to know to buy property in Colombia?

The purchase process often moves very quickly. You could find a property and close the sale in as little as one week! Location is extremely important, and you should always ensure the legal checks on the land titles and construction rights are completed correctly. We can also advise you on requirements needed for renovation and remodelling.

The purchasing process in Colombia is completely different from many other countries. There is no title insurance and there is no Escrow. Our attorneys know the real estate laws and will do all the title and background checks to make sure the paperwork is in proper order before any contracts are signed.

You’ll need to pay some taxes and fees when purchasing property in Colombia. The fees usually amount to 1.65% of the property value. We will always inform you of all the fees involved.

There’s more information about our property purchase and property management services here, or contact us for an initial consultation. We’re on hand to help you buy and manage your property in Colombia.