Cartagena Itinerary: Top Things To Do In 3 Days
(This article has affiliate links to products which we may make commission from at no extra cost to you.)
Looking for an ultimate Cartagena itinerary for 3 days? Discover the best things to do and explore with the below 3 days in Cartagena itinerary.
The South American continent is full of wonders and one of them is the city of Cartagena. The history of colonialism, slavery and now a modern world has made it a place of a complicated mixture of everything. 3 days in Cartagena is the ideal amount of time to explore this intriguing Colombian city. It was once a port for slave traders but now it is all beauty, fun and culture-filled in one old city. There are numerous places that you can explore here and multiple things that this place offers you to do.
Here is a day by day itinerary that answers what to do in Cartagena in 3 days. It includes information on all the best places in Cartagena that you must visit during your stay.
Cartagena Itinerary : 3 Days In Cartagena
For a three-day stay in this mystical place, here are the best things that you can do.
Day 1 : Begin Your Cartagena Itinerary With A Visit To Puerta del Reloj, Then Take A Walking Tour Of The Walled City
Puerta del Reloj (Clock Gate)
It is the grand entrance that will welcome you into the historic Cartagena old city. Its grandeur is unmissable from the eyes of beholders. As the old parts of the city are mostly wall enclosed, this huge gate along with the clock tower served some significant functions during the ancient times. It protected the people from the enemy attack. You will be fascinated by this creation when you visit it. The architecture of this old monumental landmark will fill your eyes with wonder.
After you have seen this beautiful landmark, head to Portal de Los Duces for sampling of some Colombian sweets. It is walkable and located opposite to Puerta del Reloj. Next head to Plaza Bolivar to begin your walking tour through the walled city. Before starting the tour you can visit one of the restaurants or cafes for a quick snack and drink before you begin your tour.
Afternoon – Evening
A Walking Tour Of The Walled City
Cartagena has a rich and intriguing history. Wandering through the streets of the places you visit is the best way to learn more about them. One of the best things to do in Cartagena is going on a walking tour of the walled city. Visiting the buildings filled with colonial history like the Palace of Inquisition and San Pedro Claver church , seeing through the charming doors and walking across the vibrant plazas like Plaza de Santo Domingo would keep you captivated throughout this tour.
By the end of this tour you will reach Cafe del Mar known for one of the most scenic sunsets in the city. The cost of these tours are generally minimal. Getting familiar with the historic center would be a kick-start for your exploration in Cartagena. Below are the must visit attractions you must see on the walled city walking tour.
San Pedro Claver
One of the first sights to see in Cartagena is the historic and incredible San Pedro Claver church. It will certainly catch your attention with its interesting architecture.
The Palace Of Inquisition
To understand the city in an empathetic manner, you might want to go back in time. For that, The Palace of Inquisition is the best place to be. It is also called the Inquisition Palace and is considered as the seat of the holy office of the Inquisition in the city. The building was made in the eighteenth century and is one of a kind on the whole continent.
It has all the equipment from that time. The tools used by slaves for farming and mining; the devices used by rulers to torture the slave; the history of the freedom fight and the revolt. You will find the urns and the utensils used in those times as well as some documented proof of the Inquisition.
- Opening Hours : Monday To Friday – 9 AM to 6 PM; Sunday – 10 AM to 4 PM
Plaza de Santo Domingo
A lively and pleasant place to visit in Cartagena is Plaza de Santo Domingo. Here you will find the sculpture of a reclining woman created by a famous Colombian artist, Fernando Botero. There are many cafes and restaurants too where you can have some delicious snacks.
Admire Artworks At Museum of Modern Art
Cartagena has a centuries-old history of slavery. But the moment the people freed themselves from colonialism. The real birth of the nation started from there. People have still not forgotten where they came from. Evidence of this spirit is The Museum of Modern Art. An old building, built in the old architecture and then there are the numerous artists and their arts on the walls of this building. This can prove to be a kick start for your morning on the second day here. The paintings have a touch of humour and a vast variety of colours and art.
- Opening Hours : 11 AM to 6 PM daily, except on Mondays. The museum remains closed on Mondays.
Sunset At Cafe del Mar
By the end of the tour, you can enjoy the sunset and the twilight timings at Café del Mar. You would find a crowd here in this restaurant because of its prime location, but the lip-smacking food and the gorgeous surroundings would provide you with a unique experience. The tables are laid down under the Colombian sky near the beach and the beach line is lined up with golden lights. It is a soothing time in the evening, with the sea breeze combing your hairs.
- Opening Hours : 4:30 PM to 2 AM daily
This guided tour inclusive of entrance tickets is an insightful way of visiting the various landmarks in the walled city.
True Taste of Cartagena : Mercado de Bazurto
After spending an entire day busy in the rendezvous with the city. In the evening, you might want to relax a little bit and breathe the Colombian air. If you are just in the spirit to know more, you must visit the local market called Mercado de Bazurto. This is the most visited place for both locals and tourists. It is an old market. The local food, other shops and shopping goods would all be available for you here. Food tour is also a great way to have a fun culinary experience in Mercado de Bazurto.
Day 2 : Soak In Panoramic Views From San Felipe de Barajas Fort, Visit Convento de la Popa, See Amazing Street Art In Getsemani Neighborhood
Morning – Afternoon
San Felipe de Barajas Fort
San Felipe de Barajas is the most popular landmark in Cartagena and a must visit for tourists. The Spanish empire built this structure throughout history to protect themselves from foreign invasions. Dutch, French and English armies always tried to attack the city from the waterfront as well. Hence, the native Spanish army made a huge fort on the tallest of the mountain to make sure that they remain protected. They named the fort San Felipe de Barajas Fort.
The barrier from back in the time turned from a fort to a monument and still stands strong to tell the historical tales. Being located on the hill of San Lazaro, it was the best place to keep an eye on the enemies. In today’s time, San Felipe de Barajas is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a wonderful place to catch panoramic views over the city of Cartagena.
- Opening Hours : 7 AM to 6 PM daily
Convento de la Popa
Perched atop Mount Popa, which is at a 9 minute distance by car from the fort, Convento de la Popa is a convent, cloister and chapel. The construction of this place started from a small wooden shack where priests used to worship Virgin Mary. It took almost 6 to 7 years for this lovely place to be built. It has also changed its name over the course of history. As you reach the mountain top and near the cross, you will find the lovely chapel on one side and an entire city view on the other side. The city and the sea against the blue sky and white spluttered clouds is always a sight to behold from there.
- Opening Hours : 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM daily
Click here for a guided tour of San Felipe de Barajas and Convento de la Popa. This tour is inclusive of hotel transfers and entrance fees to these attractions. Plus with the guide it will be easier to navigate and get to know about the history, culture and architecture of the monuments.
The Getsemani Street Art In The Evening
One of the most unmissable parts of your Cartagena itinerary is admiring the interesting artworks in Getsemani neighborhood. Graffiti, art and painting have always been an important part of the revolt. The proof of this sentence can be found through Getsemani street art. This local neighborhood has walls covered with some of the finest creations by the native people. These picturesque streets of the city make for an Insta-worthy visit. The perfect blend of colours and raw art leads you on a different journey altogether. You won’t find the same art piece again and would love to be left speechless on every corner of the street.
Click here for a fun guided tour through the picturesque streets of Getsemani. This tour is inclusive of a local guide, snacks and visit to local art studios.
The Salsa Bar At Night
Once you have spent your day in the lap of art and nature, one night at the vibrant Salsa Bars is what will bring up an exciting night for you. Some of the honorable mentions among these Salsa Bars are Crazy Salsa where you can learn the Salsa lessons. For a magical view of the clock tower and native crowd enjoying you can head towards Donde Fidel. Café Havana is the salsa bar where Hillary Clinton danced on her visit to the city. It is located just outside Getsemani and is one happy place to be at.
Day 3 : Spend A Relaxing Day At The Beach, Ride The Chiva Party Bus
Morning – Evening
Islas de Rosario or Playa Blanca
Cartagena is a port and hence it has a long-range of beaches as well as Islands surrounding them. Once a spot for the slave trade, these beaches are now a place for tourists who spent hours of luxurious and adventure activities here. Islas de Rosario and Playa Blanca are the two most visited and famous beaches of the city. You can choose either of the two beaches to visit or simply visit both of them one by one.
Adventures like snorkelling, swimming, exploring aqua life, deep-sea diving and others are all part of your visit here apart from relaxing on the beach. You can have a day or an overnight stay at these places. The days are mostly crowded and full of activities but the nights are quiet and starry.
These beaches are located at a further distance from Cartagena. It would be very convenient for you to book a day trip excursion to any of these beaches. Below are a few day tours to consider;
- 7 Hour Day Trip To Playa Blanca With Lunch
- Full Day Tour To The Rosario Islands On A Cruise With Lunch And Snorkeling Activity
- Full Day Island Hopping Tour Of Rosario Islands Inclusive Of Transport, Snorkeling Activity, Lunch And Snacks
Take A Ride Of Chiva Party Bus
A tourist favorite activity in the city is the Chiva Party Bus. It is organized at night. A lot of people sit aboard in a colorful bus where they sing and dance in a musical environment while touring the city. After an entire day relaxing at the beach, this night-time activity will fill you with zeal and excitement. There could be a local band performing or simply any event. Irrespective of the fact, from where you have arrived, for a night everyone becomes a part of the family and enjoys this one big party on a bus ride.
General Information On Cartagena
Where To Stay For 3 Days In Cartagena
For a 3 day trip to Cartagena, we would recommend you to stay in Bocagrande. It is very near to Centro (Cartagena’s historic center) and the city’s main attractions. Due to its close proximity to the beaches, this area is also very popular amongst vacationers looking for a relaxing stay. To help you plan better, below are our highly recommended accommodations you should choose from, to stay in Cartagena.
Budget (Upto $60) : Oz Hotel is a vibrant hotel with beautiful rooms located in the heart of Bocagrande. The hotel offers facilities like airport shuttle, an on site restaurant, free WiFi access, sundeck, rooftop and cozy rooms. The hotel staff is very attentive and friendly. If you are looking for a budget friendly hotel with great location and facilities, Oz hotel will certainly meet your expectations. Click here to book this hotel or to check its availability.
Mid Range ($60-$100) : San Martin Hotel is another hotel in Bocagrande that provides excellent accommodation to its guests. Rooms are spacious, comfortable and well equipped with all the modern amenities. Family rooms are available too. The hotel is also located very close to the beach, restaurant and convenience stores. Click here to book this hotel or to check its availability.
Luxury ($100+) : Hyatt Regency is undoubtedly the best luxury hotel located in Bocagrande, Cartagena. Swimming pool with views, fitness center, spa services, modern soundproofed rooms and fantastic breakfast are some of the highlights of the hotel. Wake up to the sight of mesmerizing beach views from your hotel room. Other facilities include kids club, free private parking space, kids pool and free WiFi. Click here to book this hotel or to check its availability.
There are many fantastic hostel accommodations too in Cartagena. The Viajero Hostel is located in the heart of the walled city and is known for providing an enjoyable stay to its guests. You can book your stay at the Viajero Hostel on HostelWorld at lowest prices.
How To Get Around In Cartagena?
The most convenient and easiest way of transportation in Cartagena is by taxis. Make sure that you negotiate with the taxi’s fare before you get into them so that you do not feel that you have overpaid for the route. You can also ask for assistance with fare prices from the hotel’s desk where you are staying. Most hotels will also help you with booking taxis for short or long trips.
Is 3 Days In Cartagena Enough?
Absolutely, 3 days in Cartagena is enough to explore the best of the walled city.
Best Time To Visit Cartagena
Cartagena has pleasant weather with less rain showers from the months December till May. This time period is also a peak season in the city. We recommend you to visit Cartagena anytime during these months.
We hope you enjoy your 3 days in Cartagena itinerary as much as we did. Let us know if you have any questions or share with us about your favorite place in Cartagena in the comments section below.
You May Also Like Reading
- 10 Best Day Trips From Medellin For Culture, Outdoors & Adventure
- 11 Best Things To Do In Salento, Colombia
- 3 Days Itinerary For Medellin – Top Things To Do
- 3 Days Itinerary For Bogota – Top Things To Do
- 10 Amazing Day Trips From Bogota For Culture & Outdoors
- 11 Unmissable Things To Do In Guatape, Colombia
- 10 Top Things To Do In Jardin, Colombia
- 11 Top Things To Do In San Andres, Colombia