Top Things to do in Cartagena Colombia

After exploring the depths of Cartagena, I can honestly say that it is both such a relaxing and adventurous place. One you definitely have to put on your bucket list.

There are so many things to do Cartagena Colombia. Whether you are wanting to find the best beaches to relax on, visit a volcano, or go on an amazing hike. There is something for everyone!

How Much Time Should You Spend in Cartagena Colombia?

We stayed for 5 days which I thought was a good amount of time to explore the city and surrounding area. My only regret is not exploring the rest of the country due to our pre-booked Machu Picchu Trek. (Read why I would NEVER pre-book Machu Picchu in Advance!)

Are you concerned about the safety of Colombia? Check out what I thought about Cartagena Colombia safety while backpacking with myself and another girl.

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Top Things to do in Cartagena Colombia:

1. Beaches

Bocagrande

This beach won’t give you white sand or turquoise blue waters but if you don’t feel like venturing too far away this beach is a great option. The salty ocean water is always beautifully warm and faces the Caribbean, so you can’t go wrong. This is also an amazing spot to watch the Sunset, see the photo below!

Boca Grande, Cartagena beaches, things to do in Cartagena colombia
Afternoon spent swimming and strolling along Boca Grande
Boca Grande, Cartagena beaches, things to do in Cartagena colombia
Sunset at Boca Grande
Castillogrande

This beach seemed like it had a lot more locals on it, and less vendors than Bocagrande. It’s still nice and close to the town, so you won’t get the white sandy beach, but I’d say worth a visit! You seriously can’t go wrong with any beach that’s on the ocean and a part of the Caribbean.

Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of Castillogrande, but you can expect the same kind of sand and waters as the above Bocagrande.

Playa Blanca

Playa Blanca, meaning “White Beach” houses the most beautiful white sand and turquoise waters. But be aware that you will be heavily harassed by locals trying to sell you things. “No Gracias” & “Estoy Bien” will be your two new favourite phrases.

Despite that part, it was BEAUTIFUL. We had the best day, being taken from our hostel at 830am with a one-hour bus ride to the beach, and then left the beach on our bus at 3pm. There are many ways to get to the beach, you can also boat in from Cartagena. The round-trip bus ride cost us $45,000 Colombian Pesos, or $11 USD each and was well worth it.

Tip! Locals will swarm you when you first get to the beach to try and get you to sit at one of their chairs. It’s not mandatory, you can just sit on your towel. But if you stay near the beginning of the beach the prices are a lot cheaper than if you walk further down. Some of the chairs and shade you can get for free near the beginning of the beach.

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Overpriced yet delicious Pina Colodas on Playa Blanca
Playa Blanca, Beaches of Cartagena, Colombia Beaches, Things to do in Cartagena Colombia
Playa Blanca

2. Islands

Punta Arena

If you’re looking for an affordable beach to spend the day at, this is the one! We didn’t get a chance to go but I’ve heard great reviews from it. Juan Ballena does excellent tours hear.

Rosario Islands

This is probably the most popular island destination, and thus of course, your most expensive. A friend I had met from Chicago did a full day tour with scuba diving, lunch and island hopping here for roughly $270,000 COP, or $70 USD.

Barú

The beaches on Barú are quaint and intimate, with the exception of Playa Blanca (mentioned above), which is the most expensive of Barú’s beaches. You can’t go wrong here for a relaxing, white sand filled afternoon.

3. Town of Cartagena

Castillo San Felipe de Barajas (Castle of San Felipe de Barajas)

This was a great way to spend a couple of hours if you’re looking for something to do in Cartagena. It’s $25,000 COP to get in, $6 USD, and well worth it. This old fortress has so much history and is so beautiful to walk around. You can walk all the way up to the top to get an amazing view of the city and then explore the tunnels underneath.

Castillo, things to do in Cartagena, Castillo San Felipe de Barajas
Top of Castillo San Felipe de Barajas
Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, castillo, Cartagena, things to do in Cartagena Colombia
Castillo San Felipe de Barajas
Cartagena’s Old Town

Cartagena’s Old Town has the best little shops and restaurants and was probably the liveliest place of all of Cartagena. An amazing way to spend an afternoon. Make sure to stop for lunch somewhere and have fun getting lost in all of the cute little streets.

Cartagena old town, things to do in Cartagena Colombia
Cartagena Old Town

4. Volcano Excursion to Volcan de Lodo El Totumo

Our hostel had a great deal on visiting this mud volcano for the afternoon. I was a little skeptical at first but it turned out to be one of my favourite things to do in Cartagena Colombia!

It’s like something you can never do again, very unique and just outright interesting. It cost us 50,000 COP or about $13 USD for the day. Our hostel arranged the shuttle which took about an hour to drive out to, then you get inside the volcano which is pretty much a giant mud bath, then you get washed off in a river by some local ladies.

An experience I don’t think I’ll need to repeat but I’m happy I did it!

Volcano Cartagena Colombia, things to do in Cartagena Colombia
Inside Volcan de Lodo El Totumo

All in all, Cartagena Colombia was an amazing place and I wish I could have spent more time in this beautiful country. If you get a chance to visit Colombia, be sure not to miss this destination along with the other hot spots: Santa Marta and “The Lost City Trek“, Bogota, and Medellin and surrounding cities.

Any things to do in Cartagena Colombia to add that you absolutely loved? Scroll down and comment them below!

Want to read more about South America? Check out more South America destinations here!

Author

Who is Kira? Digital marketer by trade, traveller by heart. Just a regular 20-something Canadian girl that fell in love with travelling. All it took was a solo backpacking adventure around the world. Kira is a total beach bum and loves everything to do with the outdoors. Especially hiking, biking, yoga, and cooking up delicious vegan friendly recipes. Take a look around and don't be afraid to hit that contact button to get in touch.

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