There's no real need for a map or a schedule in Cartagena; every street is picturesque, every turn in the road reveals another cobblestone street, colourful floral window boxes, and yet another picture perfect plaza. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the bougainvillea-draped city is often compared to Antigua in Guatemala or Cusco in Peru and really is one of Latin Americas most attractive colonial cities, with boutique hotels and endless photo opportunities.

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Why we think you’ll love it

  • Wandering around the maze of streets past the beautifully restored colonial buildings, enjoying some of the country's finest restaurants and partying the night away in Colombia's party capital. What's not to love?

Our guide to holidays in Cartagena

Whether you choose to explore Cartagena on foot, by horse and cart, or on the back of a brightly-coloured chiva (traditional bus), there are many specific sights to see, as well as indulging in the delightful pastime of simply soaking up the atmosphere on the streets and in the cafés and bars.

The heart of the city is the old town, which is divided into inner and outer sections, and south of here lie the three affluent districts of the peninsula. The real colonial architectural gems are within El Centro and San Diego, in the inner section of the old town, where churches, monasteries, plazas and mansions appear round every corner.

Cartagena's walled old city is itself a fortress, and around the city there are others to visit; notably Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, generally considered to be the greatest ever built by the colonising Spanish.

The film adaptation of Colombian Nobel prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez' 'Love in the Time of Cholera' was largely filmed in Cartagena's historic quarter and as a testament to the city's charm, the film's director Mike Newell has now bought a house in Cartagena.


Top picks for Cartagena

Karmairi

Karmairi

Cartagena

Karmairi, Colombia’s first beachfront boutique hotel, is located on Manzanillo Beach and has a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere.

Where to stay

Casa Pestagua

Casa Pestagua

Cartagena

The former residence of the Count of Pestagua in 18th century Cartagena, Casa Pestagua has been lovingly restored by Colombian architect Alvaro Barrera to create the boutique hotel it is today.

Where to stay

Sofitel Santa Clara

Sofitel Santa Clara

Cartagena

The modern and stylish hotel has been beautifully converted within the shell of a convent built in the 17th century.

Where to stay

Ananda Boutique Hotel

Ananda Boutique Hotel

Cartagena

Located in the heart of the walled city of Cartagena, in a hip area full of trendy boutiques, art galleries and restaurants, and just a few streets away from the city’s historic centre.

Where to stay

Casa San Agustin

Casa San Agustin

Cartagena

Casa San Agustín is located in the historic centre of Cartagena, a city steeped in centuries of history and one of Latin America’s most beautiful, vibrant, and romantic destinations.

Where to stay

Tcherassi Hotel & Spa

Tcherassi Hotel & Spa

Cartagena

Following an extensive two year restoration, a 250 year old colonial mansion in the heart of Old Cartagena is now the ultra-stylish boutique Tcherassi hotel.

Where to stay

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