CARTAGENA 101: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
YOUR GUIDE TO THE
BEST HOTELS IN CARTAGENA
From the most delicious restaurants to the hottest clubs, to the best hotels in Cartagena, let the locals who know the city best be your guide. Whether you’re just visiting for the day, or are spending the whole week in the city, you can get the authentic experience by immersing yourself in Cartagena culture.
Cartagena is a port city on the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Coast Region. The city, founded in 1533, is an eclectic mix of Spanish colonial architecture, vibrant Colombian culture, stunning beaches, music, art, dance, and more. Nearly one million people call Cartagena home, but it’s also the country’s tourist hub, which means that you’ll find something for everyone in this lively town. While Spanish is typically spoken throughout the city, you’ll find plenty of places that cater to English-speaking tourists, or you can hire guides to help you get around.
Whether you’re a foodie, a nature lover, a history buff, or a beach bum, there are lots to see and do in this city and the surrounding area. If you’re planning a trip to Cartagena, read on for some great tips on where to go, what to do, and things you can’t miss in the city.
EXPERIENCE CARTAGENA LIKE A LOCAL
When you arrive in Cartagena, you can choose to hop right into the action or kick back and relax. But, no matter what you choose, if you want to get the best of the best, make the most of local favorites. The city is full of friendly people who are glad to help you get the most out of your Cartagena experience.
Each of Cartagena’s dozens of neighborhoods offers a unique experience and flair, from the bistros cafes, and the hip, laid-back vibe of Getsemani to the casinos, hotels on the beach, and tourist-centered cityscape of Bocagrande. Explore the city, follow your heart, and try not to attempt to cram too much into a single day!
WHAT TO DO
If you’re wondering how to make the most of your time in Cartagena, think about your favorite activities and experiences. Culture can be found in spades throughout the city, but here are a few things to do in Cartagena Colombia, you can’t miss:
Sightseeing – Architecture lovers, rejoice! Cartagena’s Old Town is loaded with historic churches, cathedrals, covenants, and other buildings that beautifully depict its 500-year history. In its early days, Cartagena was a target of pirate attacks, which is why the downtown area is protected by centuries-old stone walls. If you want to see all the best spots, sign up for a guided walking tour or bike tour.
Shopping – Whether you’re looking to pick up a few souvenirs or spend your entire day shopping, Cartagena is a shopper’s delight! Locals (and adventurous visitors) love Mercado Bazurto, a sprawling street market packed full of fresh produce and fish. If you’re looking for locally-made goods, Las Bóvedas, formerly a dungeon, is a popular place to pick up Colombian merchandise. There are modern shopping malls nearby, and luxury shops where you can buy yourself the latest fashions.
Exploring – With just a short trip outside the city by boat, you can reach the stunning Rosario Islands. This archipelago is a protected national park, which means it’s a great spot for those who want to get out of the city and explore the natural beauty of Colombia. Kayak through mangrove tunnels, dive into the pristine coral reef, walk along the miles of stunning beaches, or take a dip in the Caribbean Sea.
Learning – If spending a quiet day at the museum is your kind of thing, you’re in luck. The Naval Museum of The Caribbean will teach you all about the naval history of the Caribbean while the Museo de Arte Moderno de Cartagena highlights Colombia’s most famous artists of the 20th century. History and art museums dot the city, and you can spend days exploring all they have to offer.
Dancing – What better way to end an exciting day than with a visit to one of Cartagena’s hottest nightspots. Dance the night away at Bazurto Social Club, or try out some salsa or champeta lessons to spice things up.
Relaxing – Want to just kick back and relax? You are on vacation, after all! Luckily, in addition to endless beaches, Cartagena Colombia offers some of the best when it comes to massages, day spas, and wellness centers.
Of course, this is just the beginning of all that Cartagena has to show you. No matter which activities you choose, though, you’re bound to have fun and create lasting memories.
WHERE TO EAT
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite walking, sightseeing, and exploring, it’s time to sample some of the best local fares. With the Caribbean Sea right outside your door, you’ll find many restaurants that offer freshly-caught seafood. Here are a few of the greatest spots to grab a bite:
Breakfast – Columbia is known for its coffee, so why not stop by the Epoca Espresso Bar to start your day on the right foot? With the freshest coffee and plenty of breakfast options, you’ll be able to fuel up for your day’s adventures!
Lunch – La Gloria Restaurant is located in the heart of the Old City. This offering a new concept of Mediterranean cuisine using the finest ingredients.
Snacks – When you’re exploring Cartagena, you’ll likely come across dozens of tempting street food vendors. Some of the most beloved snacks in Colombia include arepas, which are flour or maize flatbreads, sometimes stuffed with cheese. Fried pockets of dough called empanadas, stuffed with meat, cheese, or vegetables are also a favorite. And don’t skip the fresh juice you’ll find at many vendors. Passionfruit, mango, guava, and papaya are just a few of many exotic fruits that are grown in Colombia. These fruits and their juices are plentiful and affordable and make a great healthy alternative to fried street food.
Dinner – Cafe del Mar is one of Cartagena’s most popular dining spots. Grab a spot outside overlooking the water, and order some drinks and seafood to enjoy. It’s known as a perfect place to dine on local cuisine while watching a stunning sunset.
Dessert – If you’re not too stuffed, top things off with traditional Italian gelato from Gelateria Tramonti. Gelato is a much-loved treat in Cartagena, and this might be the best place for gelato in the whole city.
Drinks – For a nightcap, head to Alquimico Bar. Their stunning rooftop terrace is the perfect spot to unwind and end your day.
Because Cartagena caters to such an international audience, you’ll be able to find just about any type of cuisine you love with a fresh and local twist.
EVENTS YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS
Cartagena is a host to many annual events that you may want to catch when you’re in town. For example, the Cartagena Film Festival has been held every March since 1959. It focuses mostly on showing off Latin American short- and feature-length films and is a destination for international film buffs worldwide. The Cartagena International Music Festival is a week-long music festival that showcases classical music that revolves around an annual theme. Dozens of concerts are hosted at various venues throughout the city during this week.
Two important events are celebrated in Cartagena in November. The first day celebrates the independence of Cartagena on November 11. This is an important historical event that is usually marked with parades, carnivals, street musicians, and more. Also in November is the Miss Colombia pageant, which started in 1934. This pageant brings together Colombia’s most beautiful and talented women to compete for the crown. And because Colombia is sunny and warm year-round, November is a great time to visit.
WHAT MAKES AMARLA ONE OF THE BEST HOTELS IN CARTAGENA?
If you’re excited to visit Cartagena, you aren’t alone. Tourism in Colombia has been on the rise, and Cartagena remains one of the most popular destinations in the country. But with all there is to see and do in the city, you want to make sure you find a comfortable, luxurious, and relaxing place to stay during your visit. Luckily, one of the best hotels in Cartagena walled city, the Amarla, is close to the action and nearby many of the most popular sights. At Amarla, we focus on making you feel right at home from the moment you step into our luxury boutique hotel.
Once a historic colonial hotel in the heart of the walled city, Amarla has been restored as a chic and romantic boutique hotel. Our friendly staff is happy to answer any questions you have about Cartagena and can make recommendations based on their local expertise. With Amarla as your launchpad for your Colombian adventure, you can walk to many prime destinations, enjoy the vibrant city life and come back to an inviting place that feels like home at the end of the day.
We are happy to help you host your event, whether it’s a wedding, a spiritual retreat, or a corporate event. During events, you can book the entire hotel to create a unique experience for your guests. Our in-house event coordinator is glad to cater to your individual needs to make sure your event is a memorable experience
THE AMARLA EXPERIENCE
What sets Amarla apart as one of the best hotels in Cartagena? Amarla isn’t just a place to stay, it’s an experience that will elevate the time you spend in Cartagena. Take a morning swim in our rooftop pool or watch the sunset over the sea from atop the hotel. Amarla is a relaxing, calm oasis that gives you a taste of Colombian lifestyles. Also, we offer a variety of unique experiences to make your visit one you’ll never forget.
You can begin your day with a freshly prepared breakfast made from locally-sourced ingredients, and the finest, freshest coffee you’ll ever taste. If you find that you’re interested in Colombia’s coffee culture, we offer an in-depth coffee tasting experience. You’ll become an expert in identifying the flavors and aromas contained in our local coffees.
With our Mysterious Mangroves and Enchanted Lagoon experience, you can grab a guided tour through the mangrove forests on Rosario Island from the comfort of a private speedboat. Take a break with a picnic on the beach, and then snorkel into the depths of the Caribbean Sea. During our Secret Beach Discovery Tour, you’ll head to Tayrona National Park to hike to a pristine beach, learning all about local flora and fauna along the way.
And we offer a variety of in-house experiences, too. Besides our coffee tasting, you can also take salsa or champeta classes to burn off extra energy and learn some new skills. Or you can relax with yoga classes, guided meditation, and a hot stone massage. Sample local flavors and customs with rum tasting, cigar rolling, or a cooking class. No matter what you love, you’ll find something you connect with here at Amarla.
Each of our seven guest suites and rooms offers a stunning view and all the amenities you could ever need during your stay. Our rooms are inspired by the beautiful bird species of Colombia, including the hummingbird, the toucan, the macaw, and the quetzal, with some tasteful decor to match. Your room is your private paradise, and we aim to cater to your every need with no detail forgotten.
Each room comes stocked with a selection of teas, snacks, and treats to enjoy while you relax. Our turn-down service features pillow scents and an entire menu of pillows and feather mattress toppers. We understand if you’re trying to escape from the grind of modern life, but technology is available should you need it with wi-fi and high-end TVs in every room.
Room service and concierge service are on hand for whatever you may need, whenever you need it. No task is too much trouble for our dedicated staff. We make sure that you feel like your entire experience is catered to everything you could ever dream of during your Colombian vacation.
DINING AT AMARLA
While the city of Cartagena offers exceptional dining options to suit all tastes, we understand if you just want to stay in for the night. Our chef Estela Quiroz is originally from Cartagena and understands the unique flavors of the city. She and her staff work to bring them together to create stunning, delicious dishes for all our guests. Everything is crafted with the utmost care, so you know you’re getting authentic Colombian dishes in a modern and elegant setting.
WEDDINGS AT AMARLA
Weddings are a highlight at Amarla, which is another reason we’re one of the best hotels in Cartagena. You can easily book our entire hotel for your guests, and we offer wedding packages that are sure to make your wedding dreams come true. You can have your ceremony and reception right on the premises of the hotel, or we can arrange for a beach wedding or church ceremony. Cartagena’s year-round warm weather makes for a perfect wedding destination.
We know that each ceremony is unique and special, which is why we offer the dedicated services of a personal wedding planner, who can help you plan a three-course meal, appetizers/canapés, drinks, a full bar, a DJ, and more. No detail is too small or large. Just let us know what your dream day looks like, and we can help make it a reality. And the staff at Amarla has connections throughout Cartagena, so if you need a photographer, videographer, hair or makeup team, or other services, we can find who you need.
Best of all, though, is the stunning venue that Amarla offers. Our historic building is beautifully decorated and furnished and will be decked out in blooms and blossoms of your choice to highlight your ceremony colors. With views of the sea and the entire city from our rooftop, you’ll be enveloped in a distinct atmosphere to make your big day exactly how you pictured it.
PLAN YOUR GETAWAY
With so much to do in Cartagena, you can see why people are rushing to book their trips to this beautiful destination. If you’re searching for a vacation to remember, Cartagena is the place to be. Beautiful weather, gorgeous scenery, natural beauty, and vibrant culture are just some of the reasons why tourism in Cartagena is growing at such an astounding pace.
Whether you’re looking to relax and get away from the daily grind or want to go on the adventure of a lifetime, this city offers all the elements of your dream vacation in one place. Let Amarla be your guide as you experience all the pleasures of Cartagena and the surrounding area. Our accommodations are ranked among the best boutique hotels in Cartagena, and we promise to deliver a lodging experience that goes above and beyond your expectations.
To learn more about our amenities, accommodations, and experiences, check out our website or contact us for more information. You can even book your stay online! Amarla is happy to welcome you to your home away from home in Cartagena. Contact us today.