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  • Writer's pictureMatt B

10 Incredible Things To Do in Cartagena

Cartagena, Colombia – it’s easily one of the most popular destinations in all of South America, and even world travelers can’t seem to get enough of this beautiful city. Although it’s common knowledge that Cartagena is an incredibly popular tourist destination, there are plenty of top things to do in Cartagena that you might not be aware of, whether you’re just visiting or living here! Here are some of the best things to do in Cartagena, Colombia.

1) See the city at night

There’s a saying that Cartagena is an entirely different city at night. That’s because it is! A trip to La Ciudad Blanca (The White City) isn’t complete without a walk around Old Town at night. Make sure you know where you’re going and don't forget to marvel at all of Cartagena's street performers, who will mesmerize you with their acrobatic feats on Calle Santo Domingo.

2) Go to La Candelaria, Cartagena’s Colonial Center

Located about a 20-minute cab ride from Bocagrande, La Candelaria is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Colombia’s most popular tourist destinations. The two square blocks are full of beautiful colonial architecture and sightseeing options. Plan to spend at least an afternoon exploring.

3) Walk Through Plaza Bolivar

One of Colombia’s most iconic landmarks, Plaza Bolivar is a must-see for visitors to Cartagena. The impressive obelisk, which stands 45 meters tall and was built in 1853, stands proudly at its center. A granite-lined staircase leads to an observation deck that offers views over all four corners of Cartagena and out across beautiful Bocagrande Beach.

4) See El Totumo de la Popa

This bizarre natural phenomenon attracts locals and tourists alike. It has been speculated that it may be a result of volcanic activity or even a spaceship, but no one is really sure what causes El Totumo’s enormous tree trunk to grow out of its crater. For an adventure you’ll never forget, spend a day at El Totumo.

5) Be mesmerized by Colombina Beach

This hidden Caribbean paradise is a 10-minute drive from Casco Viejo. Colombina’s white sands and crystal clear waters are best enjoyed from one of two swimming pools that sit atop pristine cliffs, or by lazing on a sun lounger at one of two beach clubs on site. After your tan has set, return to life in Cartagena as if nothing ever happened—but don’t forget to take home some samples of delicious coconuts from Castaways Beach Bar.

6) Go on a boat tour of the Islands

One of the most popular things to do in Cartagena is to book a day trip to see Islas del Rosario, which means Islands of Splendor. These islands are home to more than 40 species of birds, many rare, and are surrounded by crystal-clear waters with white sandy beaches on every side. Tours depart from Bocagrande and last around five hours, including transportation and lunch at a restaurant on one of the islands.

7) Visit Islas del Rosario National Park

Comprised of over 200 islands, Islas del Rosario National Park boasts incredible vistas and a bustling ecosystem of flora and fauna. Spend a day exploring one of these tiny islands by foot or kayak—it’s an incredibly rewarding experience for travelers both young and old.

8) Relax at Salento Beach, Colombia

No need to bring beach essentials—there’s a resort that caters to all your needs. Salento Beach Club offers hammocks, towels, and umbrellas for a low price at its beautiful beachfront location. Choose between one of its two pools or just lay out on a comfortable beach chair and take in some sun rays.

9) Experience La Boca Neighborhood

La Boca is located in Cartagena, Colombia and is a great place to start your exploration of Colombia’s main port city. La Boca is an old, colorful neighborhood with narrow cobblestone streets and an extremely friendly environment. I would recommend staying here if you have time because it gives you a chance to interact with locals and immerse yourself in everyday life in Colombia.

10) Go Up Corralito Hill

It’s one of Cartagena’s best-kept secrets, but it shouldn’t be. Corralito Hill is only a 10-minute walk from Bocagrande, and it offers one of most amazing views over downtown and out to sea. . Come at sunset or sunrise for some beautiful photos that you can show off to your friends and family!

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