The city of Cartagena is filled with color, good weather and exploration. It has a city feel with a beach vibe included. Some of the characteristics had me feeling at times that I was in more compact version of the city of Mumbai even though it was nowhere near it. The city is large and if you are not a speaker of the native language, a bit of advanced planning would be helpful as there are not a lot of english speaking people available in all places. This is true for things like transportation, restaurants and shops. I found most people to be kind and happy to help any way they can.
Where to Stay?
We are fortunate to have some amazing friends that are familiar with this lovely city. The advice we were given is to stay in the old city to really get a feel of the culture and pulse. The Hotel Santa Clara did not disappoint. It was located in the heart of the action, yet it provided a serene feel with its outdoor tropical garden, birds chirping and large poolside area to relax between a lovely courtyard. The breakfast/ brunch was full of variety in a lovely setting each morning.
What to do?
Walking around the old city through the cobblestone streets is a lovely way to get sense of what Cartagena is all about. The weather is hot so bring summer clothes and good walking shoes.
Visit the Rosario Islands via boat and do some snorkeling and relaxing for a day.
National Aviary of Colombia– Visit the bird sanctuary. There are birds of all types where you can get up close to see. It is very hot in the summer so take lots of water to hydrate and a hat and sunglasses.
Where to eat?
Don Ignazio – Fresh Italian fare that was tasty after a tiring day of exploring and walking. This was one of your favorites on our trip.
La Unica– Regional food with a quaint atmosphere in the heart of town.
Cande– Typical local food in with a local vibe and local entertainment while you eat.
Club De Pesca – Traditional cuisine in an open air restaurant with beautiful views.
Mar Y Zielo – Food that is traditional to the region.
1621 Restaurant – Restaurant with a rich history. Has traditional food and a large wine selection. There is a quaint and cosy vibe in this restaurant.
Where to shop?
A walk through the old city will take you to many cute and unique shops. There are shops from jewelry to clothing to local trinkets. There are many street vendor and performers as well along the way.
Plaza Bocagrande – A modern four story shopping center with a variety of shops.
Cala De Las Monedas – Shopping Area with bargain shops of all kinds.
There are also many Emerald dealers that sell all kinds of Emerald jewelry. Most are very touristy so be weary of fakes, however, you can find some that may catch your eye.