Cartagena, Columbia is the first South American country I have been to and it won’t be the last. Today, I am sharing seven things you should know before visiting. Contrary to popular believe, it was safe and I had an amazing time. The saying “seeing is believing” is simply the truth. I love girls trip (with the right mix of folks though, lol) and so I am glad I got to experience a new country with a group of amazing women cos let’s face it traveling with your family is very different from with friends, lol. In so many ways, Cartagena reminded me of Havana, Cuba from the colorful walls, bustling old city, the people and some of the food. You can read about my Cuba trip HERE.
It’s affordable to visit
This is usually the first question I get about my trips and I can honestly say aside from Havana, Cuba, it is the next cheapest place I have been to. We rented the penthouse suite in a residential building close to hotels which had room for up to 10 for under $900 for 3 nights. We each had our own bed except for 2 people who shared the master bedroom just to give you an idea of how big the space was. We flew Jet blue (we had a connection) and bought our tickets well in advance (mine was under $400) In total I spent less than $900 for 4 days, not bad hey? Your dollar goes a long way too, I can’t remember the exact exchange rate but it was about 260 pesos to a US dollar.
View from our rental property, I am wearing a custom cover up by RaGa Resortwear
The walled city of old Cartagena is a must see
Old city as it’s popularly referred to is the main attraction in Cartagena. It’s where you will find the picturesque backdrops you see on Instagram. The colorful colonial style buildings, the well manicured flowers, the paved roads, the Palenqueras, street food, night life, name is, you will find it here. It is also so different depending on the time of day, it transforms into this magical place with lights and so much action at night.
There is also Getsemaní section of Cartagena, famous for the wall graffiti. It’s a bit on the rugged side, but definitely worth visiting to see the amazing wall art. We spent most of our time in Old city. It is super easy to navigate around this area, that has an actual wall surrounding it. You can learn more about old city HERE.
The People of Cartagena are amazing
Everywhere I go, I always factor in the hospitality or lack of it by the locals as part of my experience. I am happy to report that the people of Cartagena were super friendly! Granted I don’t speak much Spanish but smiles and nods do go a long way lol. We got a lot of good recommendations from locals. We had the best driver who made my stay much more pleasant. I love this photo one of the symbols of Cartagena, Palenqueras. Did you know the Afro-Colombian icons were the first freed slaves in the Americas?
You would love the Food (especially street food)
Like most tropical regions, sea food is big in Cartagena. From Snapper, Tilapia, Lobster, Octopus, you name it. You will indulge to your satisfaction, the great thing is that it’s usually at a great price. We found that eating in New City was cheaper versus Old City. The locals hangout in New City too. You will find fancy restaurants such as Carmen in Old City. I loved the street food in Cartagena, Empanadas, kabobs, roasted corn, smoothies, tropical fruits, etc. I ate to my satisfaction. I didn’t do a lot of drinking cos I don’t usually (I had mocktails instead which I enjoyed) What I enjoyed drinking though was Colombian iced coffee.
It is easy to navigate
Right from the airport we were able to follow along with our driver using google maps. Ubers, taxis are everywhere and at super reasonable prices. I found an amazing cab driver named Adolfo when I hailed a cab and he ended up taking us around all day and took me shopping the next day. He even helped with translation cos your girl’s Spanish is non-existent lol. I won’t forget the best Empanadas I ate was thanks to him.
Loved the beautiful colorful buildings
I ended up in this cute cafe/ book store during my shoot, it’s called Abaco.
Cartagena is safe
We were a group of 8 black girls navigating our way around this city and had zero issues. I even ventured out by myself on our last day to buy souvenirs and I was fine. Keep in mind that Cartagena is a know tourist vacation spot and it is that way cos it is safe. Even at night, there is ample police around so I felt safe walking around Old city. We ended at this amazing spot where we had the best night Salsa dancing, it was called Casa Del Ron & Will Smith visited, so you know it was a no brainer, lol. We also had a great time at the rooftop spot at Townhouse Botique hotel.
Our matching one piece is from boohoo
The best beaches aren’t close by
We stayed in a beach front property but it wasn’t the best beach. I am all about crystal blue waters, lol. We rented a boat to Cholon Island which is perfect if you want to party. You pretty much have to travel a bit via road or boat to see crystal blue waters. I would love to visit Cartagena again and spend more time on the beach. See HERE for a list of amazing beaches.
I shared a lot of videos via Instagram stories and I’ll have them up under my highlights later today. I will work on creating vlogs in the future. Thank you for reading, enjoy the rest of your day!