What to do in the old town of Cartagena, Colombia

With its narrow cobbled streets, colorful buildings, and enough restaurants to satisfy all tastes, there’s no wonder why the old town of Cartagena is considered one of the highlights of Colombia.

Although the city is very touristy, it has major charm and it is not to be missed if you visit Colombia.

Street vendors in the old town of Cartagena, Colombia
Colourful streets on a sunny day.
Balconies filled with flowers in the old town of Cartagena in Colombia, South America.
Street art and street vendors on a summer day.
Beautiful colonial architecture.

Discover the old town 

We allowed a full day to discover the old town of Cartagena, walking for hours, snapping pictures every step of the way, trying to see everything.
Although we normally mark the places we want to see in Lonely Planet or on a map, this time, we decided to walk and discover. Hence, we didn’t know where we were heading, what we were going to see, and it felt great.

One of the most Instagrammable spots in the old town of Cartagena.
Yellow buildings and flowery balconies.
Wearing summer dress by Saha Swimwear.
Beautiful streets in the old town of Cartagena, Colombia
Street scene in Colombia.
People walking on the street at sunset.

Visit the Palacio de la Inquisición

From our discoveries, Palacio de la Inquisición was the most striking. It was quite shocking to read about the tortures people were subjected to and seeing the tools they used. However, it’s important to know what was a big part of the world’s history.

On a more positive side, we also loved it because of its photogenic qualities. Almost every wall of the facades had a special color, a particularity that we loved.

Also beautiful are the views you can see from the walls surrounding the old town: the busy streets packed with cars, especially taxis who’s color blended perfectly with the houses’ facades. What a beauty!

Palacio de la Inquisition in Cartagena, Colombia.
Fashion photoshoot inside a museum.
Taking photos at the Palacio de la Inquisition in Cartagena, Colombia.
Saha swimwear dress photoshoot.
White dress and yellow walls.
Travel photo in Colombia.

  Photography by Bertrand Delvaux. Thank you Saha Swimwear for the lovely dress.

Know before you go:

When to go: We were there in March and the weather was glorious :).
How to get there: We took a minibus from Tayrona Park with Marsol and paid COP 65000 pp. Although the price was good and we were picked up at the hotel, the driving was awful, and we were not dropped off at the hotel in Cartagena as promised.
Where to stay: We stayed at Casa La Espaniola, a B&B about 10 min by taxi from the old town. We had a great time there. The owner, Blanca, was absolutely lovely, from preparing breakfast to answering all our questions. 
Where to eat: We tried a few places and one of our favorites was Nativo in the old town for a nice lunch and La Brioche for great fruit juices and croissants. 


If you like it, why not Pin it! 

Wandering the streets of Cartagena, Colombia.

Other top destinations in Colombia

OK, so you made it to Cartagena, visited the old town, posted as much as you could on Instagram, and now you are wondering what next. Well, let me tell you, the options are endless. From the difficult but rewarding Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) trek to sunbathing in Tayrona Park or coffee tasting in the Zona Cafetera, you will definitely not get bored. Oh, and then there is the wonderful Valle de Cocora. A must see. Happy travels!

41 Responses
  • Izzy
    March 23, 2016

    The featured photos look like they came straight out of a magazine! Kudos to the photographer, its just a purely-visual feast. I love how your blog is a personal style diary. I think that’s pretty niche if you ask me. I went to Colombia as a young girl but I hope to get back there one day in the near future seeing as it was my father’s favorite place in the world. I think its good you abandoned your Lonely Planet guide in favor of purely exploring. I’ve realized that some places featured in the guide have become so overplayed or have lowered their standards as a result of their fame so its sometimes better to take the advice with a grain of salt.

    • atunitsirc2014
      March 23, 2016

      Thanks Izzy. Colombia has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. Besides Cartagena there’s so much more to see: the coffee plantations, the spectacular Valle de Cocora, the difficult but rewarding trek to Ciudad Perdida. I think I could work for the tourism board of Colombia 😊. X

  • Edwina
    March 23, 2016

    I agree with Izzy, beautiful photos and nice, simple style blog! Colombia is on our travel list for the next few years, will look more into Cartagena.

    • atunitsirc2014
      March 23, 2016

      Thanks Edwina 😊.

  • Joe
    March 23, 2016

    Wonderful pictures! I know what you mean about feeling uneasy at how such a beautiful building was the sight of so much torture in the past; it’s one of those things that you can often encounter in places you visit.

    Good tips too – shame about the touts at Playa Blanca, but at least you know to avoid it next time 🙂

    • atunitsirc2014
      March 23, 2016

      Thanks Joe. Nothing is perfect, however Cartagena remains one of my favourite places in Colombia 😊.

  • Sarah
    March 23, 2016

    Great photos.
    Love the dress too – would be perfect for the current weather here in Nairobi but definitely not in white!
    I really like your details at the end. That’s the sort of thing I really need when planning a trip – transport, accommodation, food. Saves a lot of time (and trial/error) figuring out every stage of a trip.
    Keep your wanderlust spirit!!

    • atunitsirc2014
      March 23, 2016

      Thanks Sarah. Wow, Nairobi! I would love to go there one day 😊. X

  • Jen Morrow
    March 23, 2016

    Great photos! Yes, Cartegena is top of my list to visit. I am disappointed to read about pushy vendors on the beach, otherwise sounds lovely!

    • atunitsirc2014
      March 23, 2016

      Thanks Jen 😊. X

  • Monica
    March 23, 2016

    Gorg pics and dress! I’ve been to Colombia twice but haven’t had the chance to go to Cartegena yet. Definitely will go next time! Thanks for sharing your experience.

    http://www.thewanderlusteur.com

    • atunitsirc2014
      March 23, 2016

      Thanks for the compliment and comment Monica :). X

  • Christine K
    March 23, 2016

    Enjoyed reading about your visit and also the lovely photographs. Will definitely return to your blog for more of your experiences. Thanks for sharing.

    • atunitsirc2014
      March 23, 2016

      Thanks to the lovely comments Christine :).
      X

  • DrifterHannah
    March 24, 2016

    Wow, what a dress. Such beautiful photos. I was in Tayrona NP about 6 years ago now. I’d love to go back to Colombia. I recently got friendly with a Colombian girl and she wants to show me around – one of the best ways to see a country, with a local!

    • atunitsirc2014
      March 24, 2016

      Thanks for the compliment Hannah 🙂 and yes, having a local showing you around means you’ll get to see many hidden gems. You lucky girl :). X
      Cristima

  • Wanderlustingk
    March 25, 2016

    Stunning photos. Whoever is the photographer is quite talented and it makes me want to go to Columbia.

    • atunitsirc2014
      March 25, 2016

      Thanks, I will pass on your compliment to Bertrand,the photographer. You can check his website,the link is in the post.
      Thanks for the visit.
      Cristina

  • Lance Kerwin
    March 28, 2016

    Great pictures!:)
    I miss Cartagena. One of my favorite places in Colombia. I was there in late 2013. Will definitely go there again!:D

    • atunitsirc2014
      March 28, 2016

      Same here, Cartagena was one of my favourite places in Colombia.
      Thanks for the visit Lance.
      Cristina

  • noel
    March 28, 2016

    Beautiful tour, it is a gorgeous city, and I love all the colors and you make a nice image prop/counterpoint with the white dress.

  • Renata
    April 5, 2016

    I fell in love with Cartagena when I visited Colombia 6 years ago. Such a charming place! Luckily I had the chance to stay at a hotel inside the Old Town, and it is simply fantastic! I’m eager to return there and this time bring along my husband. Oh, and your pictures are awesome!

    • atunitsirc2014
      April 5, 2016

      I agree that it is a charming place and has made it on my “places to go back to” list :). Thanks for the visit and the compliment Renata.

  • best online hotel booking
    June 17, 2016

    Very interesting information!Perfect just what I was looking for!

  • Antwan Lutman
    June 22, 2016

    Thanx for the effort, keep up the good work Great work, I am going to start a small Blog Engine course work using your site I hope you enjoy blogging with the popular BlogEngine.net.Thethoughts you express are really awesome. Hope you will right some more posts.

  • Marc
    July 10, 2016

    Great pictures. It seems like a nice place to visit since almost the war is coming to an end.

    • atunitsirc2014
      July 10, 2016

      Indeed, Marc, Colombia is a nice country to visit, and some places that a few years ago were considered extremely dangerous (i.e Medellin), have now transformed and are welcoming more and more visitors.
      Thanks for the visit.

  • Mirela
    July 29, 2016

    Beautiful pictures and dress, so perfect for the walk. Some pictures reminded me of Trinidad, Cuba. Cartagena, straight to bucket list

    • atunitsirc2014
      July 30, 2016

      Thank you, Mirela. I have not been to Cuba, but you’ve made me curious. Trinidad, Cuba straight to bucket list 🙂

  • Laura @ Grassroots Nomad
    July 29, 2016

    Gorgeous photos! It looks like such a beautiful city to explore 🙂

    • atunitsirc2014
      July 30, 2016

      Thank you Laura. It was fun, and hot 🙂

  • Kelly | A Pair of Passports
    July 29, 2016

    Beautiful photos! I love the colors in Cartagena!

    • atunitsirc2014
      July 30, 2016

      Me too. I never though I would like yellow so much 🙂

  • danik the explorer
    August 6, 2016

    OMG! I love this post but the photography is outstanding! 🙂

    • atunitsirc2014
      August 7, 2016

      Thank you, Danik :).

  • Annemarie
    August 11, 2016

    Wow, you’ve got such stunning photos and this place looks magnificent! I’m now inspired to visit Colombia.

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *