48 Hours in Cartagena: Best Things to Do in Colombia

Original source: “Colombia’s First Impression” by Her Yellow Backpack

We boarded our flight to Cartagena. We had a 4h stop in Panama which was like a never-ending story. The airport is really huge but nothing really to do there. What’s more, since  I had a really bad sore throat, so I was like a ghost with a headache, sleepy and not able to eat anything.

Best Things to Do in Colombia

Late in the evening we finally arrived at Cartagena. Just when we got off the plane we could feel this incredible heat and humid. First impression: Hmm, people are not really fast at anything. Starting from passport control till baggage claim. I also thought my backpack got lost cause it was the last on the belt. Wouldn’t be funny though.

We booked our hotel next to Plaza de la Trinidad. I’ve already read before that it’s a part of the city where all people gather to spend time together and dance. But I think I overrated my expectations a bit. A lots of people on the street, loud music, liters of alcohol, police everywhere and then we see our hotel where the reception was behind the bars and with a sticker on the front window saying “no guns”. Well… I won’t lie that my heart almost stopped and I felt unsafe in one second. Madre Mia…

1. Coffee and Fruit

Cheap and Delicious Fruits: Best Things to Do in Colombia
Street of Cartagena: Best Things to Do in Colombia

But next day everything cleared up. People in a hotel were super nice, breakfast as well. Outside temperature was like a fire but we decided to explore the city anyway, cause that’s why we’re here. The first thing we saw: everything is really cheap. And the thing I was waiting for the most for: Colombian COFFEE! I cannot describe the taste but it’s incredible and totally different than in Europe. I would buy tones of coffee beans if possible.

Now time for the cons: yes, people are friendly and nice but the effort they put to sell some stuff on the street is just annoying. The other things are dogs and cats on the street. Thousand of them! I thought in Poland we’re having a problem with homeless animals, but in Colombia, it’s again 1000 more. Those kinds of situations make me always really sad.

2. Visit Cartagena Walls

Cartagena Walls- Best Things to Do in Colombia
Cartagena Walls- Best Things to Do in Colombia

Next stop – Cartagena walls. Old city of Cartagena is surrounded by 4km walls that were supposed to defend the city from possible pirate attacks. They were also separating rich people from poor people that could only come in to go work in the city. It’s a really good place to watch a sunset or just have a wide look over the city. And it’s huuuge!

3. Plaza de Bolivar

Grafitti in Plaza de Bolivar- Best Things to Do in Colombia
Grafitti in Plaza de Bolivar- Best Things to Do in Colombia
Grafitti in Plaza de Bolivar- Best Things to Do in Colombia

We also went through a nice park Plaza de Bolivar and a lot of colorful buildings with amazing graffiti. You can see that this place is living. They even have a statue of a Pope John Paul II.

Statue of Pope John Paul II – Best Things to Do in Colombia
Best Things to Do in Colombia

In general, we spent all evenings in Plaza de la Trinidad drinking some beer and watching local artists. Starting from singing and dancing and finishing on outdoor fitness classes which were my favorite as all people were engaged in the whole thing. You can feel real Colombia there and it’s not as unsafe as I thought the first day but you should be always careful.

4. Playa Blanca Beach

Playa Blanca beach – Best Things to Do in Colombia

Last day we took a ride to Playa Blanca located in the south from Cartagena in Islá Baru. Years ago people weren’t able to reach this place by car, only by boat till they built up a bridge connecting Islá Baru to the rest of province. That time the tourism in this area rose up to 300%! The beach is really crowded even in the early morning but within a short walk to the north, you can reach a piece of a beach without a bunch of people.There are many hostels as well so feel free to stay there even for one night.

In whole Colombia (especially the coast) people are trying to make sustainability more popular. So don’t be surprised if one time you won’t have electricity or water. And sea water in Playa Blanca is just emerald blue! So warm and clear you see everything. But not without a reason – it’s still the Caribbean Sea. So a bit of paradise outside of Cartagena.

Relaxing swing by the beach – Best Things to Do in Colombia

What to Eat in Colombia:

The last part I always save for places with really good food! Here it is:

  • Demente – we met an owner of this small tapas restaurant in our hotel. He offered us his homemade potato chips that were made in this restaurant. The restaurant is located in Plaza de la Trinidad between all street food stalls. They have amazing seafood and pizza! I also loved the interior and plates they offering food on. Budget: not too expensive but not cheap as well.
  • El GRAMO Cevicheria – great, great ceviche! Very small place but cozy. You can choose ceviche from a menu or make your own from all kinds of ingredients. Everything is stored in the refrigerator behind the glass so you see all is fresh and made by hand by the chef. It takes time but it’s totally worth it! Prices are just as it should be for a perfect ceviche.
  • Gokela – On the way to Cartagena walls, we just wanted to have some fresh and cold smoothie but we ended up eating great wraps. And again like in Cevicheria all ingredients are fresh and stored in a refrigerator with a glass. You can choose basically 4 types of tortilla bread (original, spinach, pepper and spicy), then you add your proteins, vegetables, nuts or seeds, sauce and voila! Great small food for a good price.

Greta is Polish born, and based in Austria traveler. Working in F1. Inspired to travel by her boyfriend. Constantly looking for new adventures. Vegetarian life.


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