Anderson Cooper, Charlize Theron and Will Smith are just some of the familiar faces who have visited “La Heroica”, a name often given to Cartagena de Indias, and who could help but fall in love with its people, culture, gastronomy and general atmosphere. Cartagena is one of the most popular tourist destinations for both Colombians and foreigners, so make sure you book early at any of our hotels: Hampton by Hilton Cartagena; Hilton Cartagena Hotel; Atoll Hotel Cartagena Tierra Bomba, Curio Collection by Hilton; Conrad Cartagena. We can also help make the most of your stay by recommending the best tourist spots in Cartagena for an unforgettable weekend.
Historic Center of Cartagena
By car or foot, the historic center of Cartagena de Indias will captivate you. One does not simply walk through the Walled City, but rather you explore and discover every corner shop and plaza. It is the meeting point for both young people and adults, especially during the end-of-year celebrations. You will find mystery, intertwined with history, luxury and a lot of love. Somehow Cartagena grabs you, bewitches you and will never let you go. It is undoubtedly one of the best ways to spend a weekend in Cartagena, either during the day or at night. So, whether you’re walking or taking a romantic carriage ride, do not miss out on visiting Cartagena.
Each street and place carry history, but one of the best tourist spots within the historic center to include on your tour is The Naval Museum of the Caribbean in Plaza Santa Teresa. Here, you will learn about the pirate attacks against the city and also about the history of the Colombian army, among others.
The Gold Museum in the Plaza de Bolívar exhibits pieces from the pre-Columbian culture Zenú, and is a mandatory stop. In this same square, you will find the Palace of the Inquisition, which not only houses the Museum and Historical Archive, but it was the scene of the Court of the Holy Office of the Inquisition. Amazing!
Other religious structures within the historic center are the Church of Santo Domingo, Church of San Pedro Claver, The Cathedral of Cartagena, the Convent of San Agustín and the Church of Santo Toribio. These colonial buildings will take your breath away. Its beauty, combined with the magical atmosphere of the Walled City, partly explains why many couples choose to marry here.
It is worth noting that at Plaza de Santo Domingo you can admire work by maestro Botero and in the Plaza de San Pedro Claver, sculptures by maestro Morales. The Vélez House of Villa Susana, Casa Román, the Technological University of Bolívar Campus Casa Lemaitre and the House of Alejandro Obregón are National Patrimonies. There is also the Castle of San Felipe de Barajas, which is considered a World Heritage Site.
Tour of Getsemaní
In this neighborhood, you can appreciate urban art. The colors of murals and graffiti make walking the streets of the Getsemaní neighborhood an unforgettable experience, especially along Calle de las Tortugas and Calle de San Juan.
Arsenal Street is famous for being the place where you can find the best nightclubs. On a single street disco after disco is lined up, so you can hit them all up in one night if you choose, and dance to the sound of a vallenato, salsa or merengue and enjoy a few shots of the local spirit, aguardiente, or “guaritos” as they’re known all over the country.
On Calle de la Sierpe you will find several restaurants, such as the Silvio Trattoria Restaurant, whose facade is quite unique as it almost resembles ruins, giving it a very special touch and creating a unique atmosphere. On this street, you will find several restaurants that will complement your trip as well.
You must also take advantage to visit the heart of the neighborhood: Plaza de la Trinidad and its Church. At the very least, make sure to stop by the Roman Bridge, which unifies Getsemaní with Manga, built in the early twentieth century.
El Totumo Mud Volcano
Less than an hour from Cartagena, you can have a spa-like experience. It is a pleasurable little getaway where you are able to float in a mud bath. Why would someone submerge themselves in mud voluntarily? Well, we are not talking about any type of mud. We are referring to a volcano which mud is composed of water, silica, sodium chloride, aluminum and magnesium, among other elements. The legend says a priest transformed the lava of this active volcano using holy water. Fascinating!
You will carefully climb up a ladder that leads you to the crater, and once you dive in your whole body will be covered with this healing mud. Keep in mind this volcano only has a diameter of 3 meters, so it fills up quickly and requires that those who visit it rotate constantly to let other people experience this other worldly pleasure. Washing your body in mud is an experience in and of itself, so make sure not to miss it.
Clearly, there is a lot to do in this Caribbean city and you will leave wanting more. Be sure to ask about the transportation services your Hilton Hotel can provide. On the weekend, we also recommend visiting Rosario Islands and if you are looking for culinary recommendations, we recommend you try the romantic restaurants within the walled city of Cartagena so you make the most of this unique and magical place.