Cartagena de Indias is a city in Colombia founded in 1533 on the Caribbean coast of South America. The old, walled city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, reminiscent of an upkept Havana or a quieter New Orleans. The little city is full of romantic Spanish-Colonial architecture with bright colors and flowers, flowers everywhere!
If you “have a thing for doors” this is a haven for you.
If you “have a thing for door-knockers” well, welcome to heaven!
The door-knockers (aldabas) were originally used to display social status- royalty would adorn doors with lizards, fish would signify a merchant, a lion is a teacher. The larger the aldaba, the wealthier the tenant.
Nowadays, it’s mostly for decorative purposes and sold at many little shoppes on the street! Next time, I will make sure I have enough room in my luggage to bring one home.
Our Airbnb was right in the heart of the walled city, bold and beautiful in yellow. Like most of the other homes we saw in Cartagena, it was complete with a courtyard in the middle of the ground floor, swimming pool and a gorgeous rooftop.
Hotel 3 Banderas (3 Flags) was one block away from the airbnb and where I spent a night of solo travel. Sweet courtyard and nice rooftop, it was a great, safe spot with high security and convenient location.
THINGS TO DO
The only thing you need to do in advance is make a reservation at La Vitrola, one of Cartagena’s best restaurants and it’s extremely difficult to get a table. The rest of your trip can be deliciously found by aimlessly strolling the small streets of Ciudad Amurallada.
Cafe Del Mar: The ultimate sunset spot on the Wall. Come a little early if you want a table, or just snap some pics and move somewhere else for a drink! Gets very crowded, but has excellent views of the water and the Miami-esque Boca Grande skyline.
My preferred sunset spot for a drink is on the rooftop of Hotel Movich, just a few blocks away from Cafe Del Mar. Quieter, a bit of a better crowd and a fantastic view of the Old and the New Cartagena.
If you’re ready to dance the night away, line up at La Movida and pay the $50,000 pesos entrance fee. One of our most fun nights, although beware as the place gets PACKED but I’m sure you can find some ledge to dance on! Don’t forget to have at least one shot of Aguardiente, an anise flavored liquor that tastes like it’s nickname “fire-water”.
Donde Fidel– cheap drinks next to the wall on the sidewalk, great people watching
El Baron– speakeasy in Plaza San Pedro
WHERE TO EAT
La Cevicheria: the Anthony Bourdain restaurant with hour-long waits and some of the best ceviche outside of Peru. We loved this place so much, we ate there twice!
Just outside of the wall, lies the Williamsburg of Cartagena. It’s the hipster side of town, gentrifying and cooler than the other side of the pillow. Start your walk down Calle de la Sierpe for the free, outdoor art exhibit aka street graffiti art.
Adios y gracias for the bright and fun times, Cartagena!
Happy Birthday, Trang!
All photos taken by Melllypoo via Canon 6D & iPhone 7.