The main beach of “mainland” Cartagena is Bocagrande. There is a wide sandy coast, a fairly smooth descent into the water and everything you need for a comfortable beach holiday: umbrellas, sun loungers and mattresses (on hotel beaches). During the season, however, the “overcrowding” of the resort makes itself felt, and the sea becomes not very clean.
For pristine nature and solitude, you should go to the Rosario Islands – it is here, on the island of Baru, that the best beach of Cartagena, Playa Blanca, with fine white sand and a lot of secluded corners, is located, where nothing will stop you from enjoying the picturesque nature. You can come here as part of a one-day excursion from Cartagena (about 70 USD) or on your own – by ferry or bus following the bridge.
According to wholevehicles, Punta Arena Beach on the island of Tierrabomba is famous for its excellent sand quality, clear sea and graceful palm trees leaning over the water. There are many fish restaurants and a great view of the harbor of Cartagena.
Bokachika Beach on the same island is interesting not only for the good sea, but also for the restored fort. There are also restaurants and cafes where you can eat during the day.
La Boquilla Beach is known for its secluded mangrove lagoons; there are almost no people here – only fishermen going out to sea for their catch. For the same reason, in La Boquilla you can try dishes from freshly caught fish.
Shopping and shopping in Cartagena
The beauty and pride of Cartagena – jewelry with emeralds can be bought in specialized stores in the Old Town, where each product will be provided with a certificate of authenticity. Sellers of “real emeralds” from the hands, of course, should be strongly avoided.
For authentic souvenirs, you should go to the central square of Santo Domingo, where a colorful market unfolds every day in the afternoon. In the very noisy Basurto market, you can buy fresh fruits and “products of the earth”, as well as try real Cartagena cuisine (you need to carefully monitor your wallet). Exclusive items are sold in the Upalema boutique in the Old Town.
5 things to do in Cartagena
- Settle in a monastery-hotel outside the fortress walls.
- Visit Dante’s hell – a market with the promising name of Basurto.
- Be glad that it’s the 21st century, at the Palace of the Inquisition.
- Relax on the white sandy beach of Playa Blanca.
- See how poor Indian tribes lived in pre-Hispanic Colombia at the Gold Museum.
Cuisine and restaurants
The gastronomic traditions of Cartagena are a colorful mixture of European and Latin American dishes that have experienced African and Arab influences. The best restaurants are located in the Old Town, near Santo Domingo Square, and on the promenade of the Bocagrande resort; eateries are located everywhere, literally at every step. Local food eateries called “coriente” offer a menu of the day for about 3 USD, consisting of a piece of meat, fish or chicken with coconut rice, fried potatoes and salad. For 1 USD you can quench your thirst with a glass of freshly squeezed juice.
Entertainment and attractions of Cartagena
The main attraction of Cartagena is the colorful Old Town outside the walls, which can be accessed through the main entrance located in the Clock Tower. There are a lot of narrow colonial streets with “postcard” mansions, majestic squares and a large number of historical sights. Particular attention should be paid to the 500-year-old forts built of shell rock slabs and sections of massive fortress walls from the time of Spanish rule. Among the most remarkable examples of medieval architecture is the castle of San Felipe (17th century), built to protect against pirates, and the oldest square is the cozy Plaza de la Aduana, where you can see the Town Hall and the monument to Columbus.
Los Coches Square sells the most delicious sweets of Cartagena.
Monuments of religious architecture – the majestic Cathedral, the churches of Santo Domingo and San Pedro, as well as a large number of medieval churches and temples in the heart of the Old City.
Another gem of the Old Town, albeit with a dark history, is the 17th century Inquisition Palace with exceptionally beautiful baroque gates crowned with the Spanish coat of arms and long balconies on the facade.
Enjoy a panoramic view of Cartagena and its harbor from the 150-meter La Popa Hill, which also houses the 17th Monastery in Santa Cruz and a magnificent image of the Holy Virgin of Candelaria.
You should definitely visit the Gold Museum, which displays a rich collection of gold jewelry and household items from pre-Hispanic times belonging to local Indian tribes. At the Maritime Museum, you can learn more about the history of navigation in Colombia and the entire Caribbean, and at the Museum of Modern Art, see the work of the famous Colombian artist Alejandro Obregon.