Whether you are a first-time visitor or a savvy local then you're in the right place. This is Cartagena and this is where you will find pretty much everything you could ever want.
The Jewel in the crown of the Caribbean, Cartagena de Indias has all the ingredients to be the ultimate destination.
Founded in 1533, the vast riches plundered by Spanish colonists turned the piedra corralina (the coral stone) into the most breathtaking city in the New World. Fast-forward 490 years and today Cartagena's unrivalled colonial architecture provides a stunning backdrop to one of the most culturally vibrant cities in the Americas.
There's more to the city than just the picturesque streets. Each corner of 'La Heroica' - as the city became known for its rich history of resistance and rebellion - hides a cultural treasure ready to be uncovered.
Dive into the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean in the Rosario Islands, soak up the contemporary aspirations of Bocagrande and Castillogrande, savour the sublime beauty and ultimate in luxury of the old town or cast off all your worries in the five-star beach-front resorts to the north of the city. Explore Basurto, the colourful market that sits in the shadow of the city's air-conditioned shopping centre, Caribe Plaza, or immerse yourself in the music that streams from sound systems sat on nearly every street corner of the city's most traditional barrio, Getsemani.
Cartagena has something for everyone and throws up a new reason to celebrate this wonderful city every day.
From festivals for writers, artists, filmmakers, clothes designers, musicians and architects to regional summits and inspirational leaders speaking at international conferences dedicated to every field of social and economic activity. Cartagena and its warm and wonderful people welcome everyone with their arms wide open.
If you haven't been yet, GO! If you are already here, STAY!
Beyond setting the benchmark for luxury hotels in Cartagena, the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara's restaurant, 1621, has played its part in raising the gourmet stakes for the city's blossoming culinary scene.María. Undoubtedly the best restaurant in town.
Executive chef Dominique Oudin ensures the culinary delights of this iconic restaurant set in the architectural splendor of the Santa Clara's luscious 17th century colonial patio more than match up to the restaurant's stunning backdrop.
Calle del Torno 39-29, San Diego, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia. +57 5 650 4741
Bogotá-born chef Alejandro Ramirez spent years under the tutelage of culinary kings—Daniel Boulud and Gordon Ramsay among them—before returning to his home country and opening María in 2013. The swanky restaurant is known for its expertly crafted cocktails and inventive seafood dishes, like cured salmon with a jalapeño infusion and sea bass with grilled bacon succotash. What’s more, María’s flamboyant dining room is filled with design eye candy: An oversize chandelier consisting of mini white pineapples is suspended from the ceiling, a psychedelic mural of a tiger covers an entire wall, and succulents accent each table.
Carrera 6 #34-56 Calle del Colegio, Cartagena, Cartagena De Indias, Bolívar, Colombia
The charming, no-frills eatery serves some of the city’s best ceviche. (Just ask Anthony Bourdain, who fawned over the fresh fish on an episode of No Reservations.) While you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, the lobster ceviche—which comes in a bright, citrusy broth with two packets of saltine crackers on the side—is life-changing. Take a seat at one of the outdoor tables during lunchtime for prime people-watching.
Cl. 39 #7 14, Cartagena, Bolívar. +575 660 1492
On an unassuming street corner just outside of the walled city, you’ll find Demente, a dimly lit hipster hot spot filled with trendy locals and well-informed visitors. It’s located in the up-and-coming Getsemani neighborhood—ostensibly the “Williamsburg” of Cartagena. The Spanish tapas–style menu is designed to let you leisurely graze on dishes with friends throughout the course of the evening. Grab a table around 9:00 p.m., settle into an aluminum rocking chair (the restaurant is filled with them), and prepare to stay awhile.
Cra. 10 #29-29, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia. +575 660 4226
It doesn’t get more romantic than dining late-night inside Alma’s open-air courtyard. Candles scattered throughout the space make for sultry mood lighting, and the food—like conch croquettes and slow-cooked lamb—is sophisticated yet unfussy. On Fridays, live music lures locals and out-of-towners alike.
Calle de la Universidad No. 36-44., Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia. +57 5 681 0050
Known for its signature tiraditos—raw fish marinated in yellow chili and served sashimi-style—the Peruvian-fusion eatery has become something of an institution in the old city. But the food isn’t the only reason to go. The restaurant’s owner also happens to be one of Colombia’s top mixologists, which means the libations (like a housemade limoncello) are just as impressive
Cl. 35 #4 - 42, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia. +57 5 664 2157
A coastal South American city with authentic Italian cuisine? Believe it. Inside the Tcherassi Hotel—a colonial mansion–cum–boutique property with a fashionable cult following—Vera serves authentic dishes (like mushroom risotto and fettucine aragosta) in a cozy, 63-seat indoor-outdoor dining room.
21, Cl. 38 #6, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia. +57 5 664 4445