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How to Spend 3 Days in Cartagena

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During our 2 week trip to Colombia, we spent 3 days in Cartagena. Out of all the cities we visited during our time in Colombia, Cartagena was our favorite. Don’t get me wrong Bogota, Medellin, and Salento all had their own charms but the vibes in Cartagena were just amazing.

That being said, let’s jump into my 3-Day Cartagena itinerary.

how to spend 3 days in cartagena

Best Time to Visit Cartagena 

For the best weather, December-March is the best time to visit Cartagena. Days are warm and the nights are nice and breezy. Cartagena is humid year round, but it’s not as bad in the dry season. 

3 days in cartagena itienrary

Where to Stay in Cartagena

Soy Local Centro Histórico

Av Escallon, Dg. 35 #34-63, El Centro, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia

We stayed at Soy Local Centro Histórico, it was decent, but I don’t know if I would recommend it. Out of all the cities we visited Cartagena was the most expensive accommodation wise, and Soy Local was the most reasonably priced place to stay I could find in the area we wanted to stay in. The location was great and gave us quick access to a lot of the places on our itinerary, but the room wasn’t the cleanest and you could definitely see the wear and tear. 

If I were to return to Cartagena, I would opt to pay a little more and stay somewhere nicer. 

The two areas I’d recommend staying in are Getsemani or The Historic Walled City Center.

streets of cartagena colombia

Places to Eat in Cartagena

Ábaco Libros y Café

Cl. 36 #3-86, El Centro, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia

Ábaco Libros y Café is one of the most popular cafes in Cartagena with good reason. The coffee is really good and the cozy bookshop atmosphere makes it a great place to escape the bustling streets of Cartagena. 

Ábaco Libros y Café in Cartagena

Movich

Centro Histórico, Calle de Vélez Danies, No. 4 – 39, Cartagena de Indias, Bolívar, Colombia

If you’re looking for a place to grab sunset drinks in Cartagena, there’s no better place than Movich’s rooftop bar. Between the idyllic music playing in the background and the stunning views of Cartagena, Movich has the perfect ambience for post-sightseeing/pre-dinner drinks. 

view from Movich in Cartagena

Epoca

Calle de Arzopispado, Cra. 5 #34-52, Centro Historico, Cartagena de Indias, Cartagena, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia

Epoca is one of my favorite places we ate at during our time in Cartagena. We like it so much we actually ate there twice during our trip. It’s a great place to grab a coffee and/or breakfast.

Carmen

Calle 38 # 8-19, Calle del Santísimo, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia

Cartagena has plenty of top-tier restaurants, and Carmen is one of them. We were in Cartagena on Valentine’s Day so we decided to get dressed up and have a nice dinner. We did the tasting menu with wine pairings and it was incredible. We tried dishes and ingredients I probably would have never picked myself, but everything was delicious. I highly recommend this experience.

Alma

Calle #36, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia

Alma is another popular restaurant in Cartagena. Located in Hotel Casa San Agustin, Alma has a sophisticated yet inviting atmosphere. 

Maria Bonita Taqueria Cantina

Getsemani, Cartagena, Cartagena Province, Bolivar, Colombia

Maria Bonita Taqueria Cantina is located in a delicious taco shop in Getsemani. Don’t miss the cute flower wall where you can take some insta pics if that’s your thing.

Maria Bonita Taqueria Cantina in Cartagena

How to Spend 3 Days in Cartagena

3 Days in Cartagena Itinerary – Day 1

If you arrive early into Cartagena, chances are you won’t be able to check in until mid-afternoon. So after dropping off your bags at the hotel, hit the streets. 

If you like shopping, there’s plenty of shops to browse and pop into. You’ll also find people selling cheap earrings and souvenirs along the streets. You’ll need cash for the street vendors and some of the shops as not everyone takes cards. 

Also, if you’re looking for a midday pickup stop by Ábaco Libros y Café.

Sunset drinks at Movich

After wandering around and getting your bearings, head over to Hotel Movich for sunset drinks at their rooftop bar. If you’re visiting Cartagen in the winter, bring a light jacket with you if you get cold easily because once the sun sets it gets cool and breezy. 

Sunset drinks at Movich in Cartagena

The bar does serve food so you can get dinner there or find somewhere else to get food. As we were walking around we stumbled upon La Esquina del Pandebono which serves cheap meat pies. 

3 Days in Cartagena Itinerary – Day 2

Breakfast at Epoca

Kick off day 2 in Cartagena with breakfast at Epoca. I recommend the waffles or the egg sandwich if you like a more savory breakfast, and the honey iced latte if they have it. 

Epoca in Cartagena

Walking Tour or Hop-on Hop-off Bus

After Breakfast, take a free walking tour or jump on the hop-on hop-off bus. We had booked a free walking tour but too many people signed up so we unfortunately couldn’t join. With the free walking tours it’s first come first serve, so if they’re over booked those who show up later are usually cut from taking the tour. 

We were right next to a pick up for the hop-on hop-off bus, so we decided to do that when our tour fell through. There’s plenty of people walking around the bus stops selling tickets so just flag one down if you don’t pre-book your ticket.

3 days in Cartagena

The bus will take you all over Cartagena and as the name suggests you can hop-off to explore an area and then hop-on a subsequent bus. We opted to just stay on the bus, and get an overview of the city. If you can sit upstairs in the open-air area, although you’re in the sun, you get a breeze. The downstairs is “air-conditioned” but gets stuffy and never really cools down because the bus doors let the cool air out when they open to let passengers on and off. 

hop-on hop-off bus cartagena

Lunch at Maria Bonita Taqueria Cantina

Whether you stop to get off the bus here and there, make sure to hop-on hop-off bus near Getsemani for lunch at Maria Bonita Taqueria Cantina.

Walk around Getsemani / shopping

After grabbing some tacos from Maria Bonita, continue exploring the colorful streets of Getsemani. There’s tons of street art in the area as well as the insta-famous umbrella street, “Callejón angosto.”

Cartagena itinerary
Getsemani area in Cartagena

7-Course Tasting Dinner at Carmen

Put on something nice and make your way to Carmen for a culinary treat. They have a standard menu, and then a 7-Course dinner with an optional wine pairing. I recommend the tasting menu because it challenges you to try stuff you wouldn’t typically go for. All of the ingredients are locally sourced, and the menu changes with the seasons. 

3 Days in Cartagena Itinerary – Day 3

Catamaran Tour

For your final day in Cartagena, spend the day on the water. We took the Rosario Islands tour with BONA VIDA, and it was the highlight of our time in Cartagena. The tour leaves early in the morning and will take you out to the nearby Rosario Islands where you’ll have the chance to swim in crystal blue waters and enjoy some sunshine. 

There’s free soft drinks and lunch included in the tour, and there’s a bar where you can pay to get beers and cocktails.

Dinner at Alma

Once you’ve made it back to shore, shower off and take a break in your hotel room; being out on the water and in the sun can be tiring. 

After a little rest, head out for a final dinner at Alma. The ambience makes for the perfect place to have your last dinner in the city. 

Alma Restaurant in Cartagena

FAQS

Is Cartagena a good place to travel?

I think Cartagena is an awesome place to travel! There’s so many pretty streets, great food, and fun things to do in the city.

Do people speak English in Cartagena?

Yes, out of all the cities we visited while in Colombia, Cartagena was the one we found the most people able to speak English. In smaller towns like Salento, it was definitely less common.

Is Cartagena cheap or expensive?

I would say both. Cartagena is one of the more expensive cities in Colombia. In other places, we were able to find really nice hotels in good areas for a lot less than the mediocre ones in Cartagena.

On the other hand, the US dollar is strong in Colombia so things that would typically cost a lot in the states are a lot more reasonable. For example, our 7-course dinner at Carmen with the wine pairing was ~$90 USD, but the same experience would probably be over $150 in the states.

That being said, there are definitely lots of cheap eats in Cartagena and you can definitely visit the city on a budget.

I hope you found this 3-day Cartagena itinerary helpful. If you did, pin it for later!

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Cartagena pinterest pin
Cartagena pinterest pin

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