Cartagena is one of the coolest towns in Colombia. And if Cartagena is not on your Colombian itinerary, then you are missing out. Big time!
If you ever decide to visit Colombia, you need to visit Cartagena. Colombia has many beautiful towns but Cartagena belongs to one of the most beautiful ones.
And exactly in Cartagena, you find many beautiful photo spots. So if you are looking at brightening your Instagram feed, then Cartagena should be on your travel itinerary. That’s why we put together this Cartagena guide to show you the absolute best photos spots. We are warning you! You might feel slightly overwhelmed at the end of the article (in a good way, of course)
Keep reading as we will mention the best things to do in Cartagena as well.
Ready to explore the most colorful town in Colombia?
Also known as Cartagena de Indias is located on the Caribbean coast on the northern coast of Colombia. That already sounds exciting right? Cartagena is not just any random town.
Cartagena is famous for its historical center full of historical buildings, colorful houses, and many churches, large and small plazas. We spent 7 days in Cartagena and honestly, we never wanted to leave. The historical part of Cartagena was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Cartagena is full of music, happy vibes, and the Caribbean spirit making it a perfect town in Colombia to visit. Similar to colorful Guatape, Cartagena is the perfect place for taking gorgeous photos.
Cartagena is one of the famous towns in Colombia in regards to nightlife. The city of rumba and flamenco, Cartagena has many cool bars and discos.
HOW MANY DAYS DO YOU NEED IN CARTAGENA?
We spent one full week in Cartagena and we weren’t bored even for a bit. There so many exciting things to do in Cartagena. So if you are bored in Cartagena, you bored with life, my friend.
However, if you have only a couple of days to spare, make sure to come at least for 3 days. This gives you at least 2 days exploring the city and one day a day trip to the Caribbean islands. Also, if you are visiting Cartegna make sure to visit Tayrona National Park, which is one of the most beautiful parks in Colombia and located 4 hours from Cartagena.
Before we dig into the best photos spots in Cartagena, make sure to read our guide with 22 tips to know before you travel to Colombia.
THE BEST PHOTO SPOTS IN CARTAGENA
I was planning to write a photo guide for Cartagena for so long and I am very happy I finally pushed myself to do it.
So let me show you absolutely the best photo spots in Cartagena. With this photo guide, you will be able to find the most beautiful spots in Cartagena.
Cartagena has many gorgeous streets with colonial buildings. During colonial times, Spaniards built quite a large amount of buildings all around South America. But especially in Cartagena, they took it to the next level.
So the best thing is to do in Cartagena is to take endless pictures with colorful walls and impressive buildings. Most of the buildings are painted in happy pastel colors and there are flowers popping out everywhere. Not to mention colorful murals which you can find all around the city.
If it’s your first day in Cartagena, this is where you want to start. Centro Amurallado is located in the heart of Cartagena. And you guessed it right it is a perfect spot for photos.
CATEDRAL DE SANTA CATALINA DE ALEJANDRIA
St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral is a very photo genetic church and you can take many cool photos. Not only from this spot but from other streets nearby in the area. Right next to the church is Plaza de Simon Bolivar with a statue of this national hero. Simon Bolivar is a very famous figure around South America.
WALK AROUND THE ST. CATHERINE CHURCH
One of the best things to do in Cartagena is to walk around the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral. If you would like to take a nice picture with the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral in the background, go to Calle de la Iglesia. If you are walking on Calle de Dos Sanchos or Carrera 4, you can also get a gorgeous shot.
PLAZA SANTO DOMINGO
If you get to the end of Carera 35 you will be at the Plaza de Santo Domingo. There is where a small statue of Gertrudis made by one of the most famous Colombian artists: Fernando Botero.
There is also a beautiful church where we went for a Sunday Easter Mass. Around the plaza, you can find many nice bars and restaurants to enjoy Cartagena vibes.
At the Plaza de Santo Domingo, many Cartagena ladies standing around, selling fruits or just hunting tourists to take photos with them. One of the best things to do in Cartagena is to take iconic photos with them.
Definitely make sure to tip them generously otherwise they will whoop your ass. We are just kidding, but seriously, don’t mess with Colombian mamas.
LUNCH AT CENTRO HOTEL RESTAURANT
Walking around Centro Amurallado is true bliss and one of the best things to do in Cartagena. There are many cute cafes and restaurants. I love in particular the restaurant at Centro Hotel which is also a hotel and it has lovely tropical vibes. We had delicious smoothies and a very nice lunch. Make sure to go up the staircase to this beautiful and instagramable spot.
SUNSET AT THE WALLED CITY
Cartagena used to be a fortress city and these walls were build to protect the city from pirate attacks.
It is absolutely free to walk around and if you would like to learn more, then definitely take a free walking tour. We definitely recommend you to come here for the sunset. There is a large bar, where you can have a drink and admire the pink sky overlooking the ocean.
There are also many ladies dressed up in the traditional costumes if you still haven’t got that iconic shot with Caribbean mamas.
Carrera 8 or also called Calle de la Cochera del Hobo is the spot we took the picture below. Every house is absolutely stunning. Check the spot next to Hotel 3 Banderas.
It is a long street and if you head down south you will get to the sea. There is a small street market at the intersection if you are looking for some nice souvenirs and Wayuu bags.
Calle 36 or Calle de la Estrella, is a very long street stretching from Old Walls to the seaside of Cartagena. On Calle 36, there are many shops, fashion stores, souvenirs stores, bars, and restaurants.
At first, Calle 36 is not so interesting to take photos but wait until you get to the little Plazita and you will pass by the University of Cartagena. And this is where I took this photo which you can see below.
Make sure to stop at the ice cream store called Gelateria Paraiso. They have really tasty ice creams. Also, there is a very cool coffee bar Abacus Books and Coffee, and for many Instagrammer, this is the best photo spot in Cartagena.
CALLE DE SAN PEDRO MARTIR
If you will walk down Calle 11 along the old city walls in the east of the old town you will get to Calle de San Pedro Mártir. At the beginning of the street look for the Hotel Aposentos de San Pedro. Further down the street look for another beautiful photo spot at the Hotel Casa Gloria which has pink and yellow wall paint. But the whole street is photogenic. Calle de San Pedro Mártir is quite a long street, so keep going straight.
Coming down from Calle de San Pedro Mártir, you will pass by Mama Breakfast and there are many houses with pastel colors.
FIND CALLE 37 ON GOOGLE MAPS
I loved the purple houses with flowers at Casa Abril Hotel. Next to it, there is a white wall with a colonial window and flower tree as well. I also loved the pastel orange wall right next to it, especially with the white door.
The whole of Calle 37 is like walking in an art gallery.
Walk further and you will get to the gorgeous pink wall and long brown windows. The imagination here is endless, just be creative and pick the wall you like.
I love this street because at the end of the street there are also cute lampions made from bottles hanging on cords. You definitely cannot miss Bacco Trattoria with pink walls and turquoise windows.
Calle 37 is also a very long street. When you cross the road you will pass by a very tasty vegan place called Girasole. It was one of our favorite places to eat. They have every day a different Menu del dia and the prices are very affordable. So make sure you stop here for lunch. Calle 37 continues further. Have you noticed a cute house with number 7-77? Such a cute house with white and pink walls.
I particularly loved the house with number 7-45 because it had a turquoise door and pink wall. Further down there is a Bantu Hotel with gorgeous red walls and the flower tree.
SEE MORE: HOW TO SPEND AWESOME 2 WEEKS IN COLOMBIA
CALLE DE LA TABLADA
At the end of long Calle 37 you will get to the Calle de la Tablada. Right next to it a very nice square called Plaza Majagua.
We had a nice lunch at Cafe de la Artistas. They have very tasty food with great cocktails. If you turn left and walk straight you will walk by a very interesting coffee called Coffee Bar KGB. If you like, definitely have a look inside and try their coffee.
Continue straight to Carrera 7, you will pass by a very sweet restaurant called Tropical City. There is also a small church with large wooden doors which poses a great opportunity for a photo.
Carrera 7 is such a beautiful street. I loved the long blue wall with flowers at the top of the building. The orange wall with flowers next to it is also a gorgeous photo spot. Keep walking straight until you get to a very peculiar restaurant called Marzola. This place has Argentinian food and very strange and quirky walls. Definitely check it out. Also, if you feel like dancing you can come here to tango. And just to be aware of the sign hanging on the wall: “No Tenemos Wifi, Hablen entre Ustedes”!: No wifi here, talk to each other“!
If you continue all the way to the end of Carera 7 you will end up at the ocean.
You can walk back along Carera 7 pass Plaza Majagua and then turn to Calle 38. Calle 38 is one of my favorite streets in Cartagena and I will be so bold to say, in the whole of Colombia.
And I love this street so much that we did two photo shootings here. I guess I had a little obsession with this street, but don’t judge me. Once you come here, you will know what I mean.
I guess the prettiest house in Cartagena is this one right here. What do you think?
If you continue straight, there are many different and colorful walls.
I really loved a couple of houses here. There is a “damaged” orange wall where you can see many layers of paint which is really gorgeous for an artistic shot. Right next to it, is a purple and pink wall with white windows. Aren’t these colors just gorgeous?
There is another gorgeous wall with yellow flowers in the windows.
Next to that blue wall with a white window and yellow flowers is a very nice restaurant and you can go up and sit at the balcony. This restaurant is called Vegan restaurant and we also had a tasty Menu del dia (Menu of the day). All meals are vegan, not to mention this gorgeous view you have on Calle 38.
Coming down from Calle 38, turn to the left to Carrera 9, this street will lead you to the heart of Cartagena. Make sure to stop at the turquoise wall with a pink door that is so beautiful.
If you get to Carrera 10 you can see a very popular mural of Cartagena with a colorful splash of color and a bird and other murals.
GETSEMANI STREET ART
Getsemani is another part of Cartagena located just outside of the historical old town. You can walk there, but we suggest you take an Uber. If you would like to find out how to use Uber in Colombia, make sure to read our full guide.
Getsemani is full of beautiful art and gorgeous murals and more like a modern part of Cartagena. Depending on what you like, you can take many beautiful photos there as well.
THE BEST BEACHES OF CARTAGENA
BOCA GRANDE & EL LAGUITO BEACHES
Cartagena is a town located on the coast of Colombia and has access to two city beaches. They are stretching south from the old town and during summer, it can get very busy here.
We have to say that these beaches are not the prettiest in Colombia, but still a great spot to cool down on hot days. Be careful with your belongings here as there are many people around.
Also, many vendors will try to sell you things. Never receive anything which is claimed to be for free, as vendors will ask for money anyways.
SEE MORE: THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BEACHES IN COLOMBIA
Despite that Boca Grande and Laguito are not the best beaches in Cartagena, do not worry. There are plenty of options for you.
If you would like to head to the Caribbean paradise, then make sure to go for a day trip to the Islas del Rosario. Rosario islands are small islands located west of Baru. You can easily reach it by boat and it should take around one hour to get there.
ISLA DE BARU & PLAYA BLANCA
For many Colombians, Baru’s Playa Blanca is one of the most beautiful beaches in Colombia. It is indeed a beautiful beach with white sand and nice water. However, we have seen even more beautiful beaches on San Andres.
SAN ANDRES ISLAND & PROVIDENCIA
San Andres island archipelago can be only reached by plane. We flew from Cartagena and we definitely recommend you to come here at least for 4 days to truly enjoy this Caribbean paradise.
We wrote an entire guide on the best things to do in San Andres, so have a look before you go. San Andres is more expensive than mainland Colombia. This is why we also wrote a comprehensive guide on how to enjoy San Andres on budget and still have fun.
EXTRA TIP: In order to be permitted to hop on the plane to San Andres, you need to purchase a tourist card to San Andres which costs around 110.000 PESOS and can be obtained at the aiport. Make sure to check the correct price beforehand. As we were overcharged by Wingo airlines right at the counter.
EXTRA THINGS TO DO IN CARTAGENA
Congratulations, you just discovered the most beautiful streets and photo spots in Cartagena and probably in all of Colombia as well.
There are, of course, many other cool things to do in Cartagena. Have a look at these extra places which you need to see during your visit to Cartagena.
CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE DE BARAJAS
Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas is a huge fortress built from 1536 to 1657. It was built (you guessed it) by the Spanish in order to protect the city from enemies. There is an entrance fee of 25.000 Colombian pesos per person (US$8) to get inside.
OPENING TIMES: Monday to Sunday from 8 AM – 6 PM
MONUMENTO A LOS ZAPATOS VIEJOS
Near the Castillo de San Felipe, is the Monumento a Los Zapatos Viejos. In Spanish, it literally translates as the Monument to the Old Shoes.
This monument was made by the artist Tito Lombana and if you wonder why old shoes, then there is a nice story to it. The monument is a tribute to the poet Luis Carlos López who was from Cartagena. Luis Carlos Lópe wrote a famous poem dedicated to Cartagena: A Mi Ciudad Nativa (To My Native City). Old shoes represent the love he had for his city, Cartagena.
OLD WALLS DE LA CARTAGENA
As a walled city, there were many walls built by Spanish conquistadors to protect Cartagena. Particularly these old walls were constructed against English and French invasions from 1586 to 1796. There are around 5 km long (3 miles).
From here, you can also see the modern district of Cartagena with the famous skyline.
PALACE OF THE INQUISITION
The Palace of the Inquisition is located close to Plaza de Bolívar. Back in the 1600s, this square used to be a place where people were imprisoned and tortured.
If you would like to learn more about history, make sure to head to Museo Histórico de Cartagena Casa de la Inquisición.
PLAZA DE LAS BOVEDAS
There are many plazas in Cartegena and one of the best things to do is just to walk and admire their beauty. Back in 1600, Cartagena was a military town with a fortress and probably had a different vibe than today.
Located on the opposite side of the walled city, there is another historical building, Plaza de Las Bovedas.
Plaza de Las Bovedas was used as storage for ammunition and also as a prison.
However, nowadays, there are many little stores, where you can buy cute Colombian souvenirs and handy crafts. And even though you are not interested in buying anything, it is a nice walk through history.
PLAZA SAN PEDRO CLAVER
This is a very beautiful plaza and with many historical and colonial buildings. In the area around Plaza San Pedro Claver, you can see many statues made out of metal depicting lives from locals of Cartagena.
PLAZA DE LOS COCHES
At first sight, Plaza de Los Coches is just another colorful plaza with historical buildings. However, learning more about history from our guide gave us a lot of chills and goosebumps.
During colonial times this square was infamously famous for the sale of slaves who were brought from Africa. Also here the heads of executed people were shown.
Luckily the dark side of the history vanished, and now it’s a wonderful place to enjoy a drink (or two).
But why Plaza de Los Coches? If you know a bit of Spanish, “coches“ translates in English “cars”. There are many cars parking along the square and that’s why it was practically called the square of cars. Plus, there are many vendors standing and selling their traditional Caribbean sweets.
This is where we started our free walking tour and if you would like to that as well, check here for the times.
PLAZA DE LA ADUANA
Plaza de la Aduana is another plaza with many important buildings that you can see here, such as the City Hall of Cartagena. Here the major of Cartagena has his/her office. You should also have noticed a statue of Christopher Columbus. Plaza de la Aduana is a great area for shopping.
STATUE OF LA INDIA CATALINA
If you read a bit of history on Colombia, you must have come across the name La India Catalina. Right at the intersection of Pedro de Heredia and Venezuela Avenues, there is a statue of legendary India Catalina.
Catalina was an indigenous woman who was kidnapped by Spanish when she was little. She had to learn Spanish and later on, she accompanied Pedro de Heredia and acted as translator and interpreter.
If you ever watch national television awards ceremony in Colombia, the replica of the India Catalina statue is given to the winners.
SEE MORE: HOW TO SPEND ONE DAY IN TAYRONA NATIONAL PARK
MUSEUMS OF CARTAGENA
MUSEO DEL ORO ZENU
Colombia is very famous for its gold museums. The biggest museum of gold you can find in Bogota, but Cartagena has also quite a decent collection of gold as well. You can also see other artifacts like ancient pottery forged by indigenous artists.
MUSEO DEL CACAO
Ever thought about learning how to make chocolate?
Well, you can at the Museum del Choco. Here you can learn about the process of harvesting and processing the cocoa bean, how to make your own chocolate and which of course, you can eat at the end.
MUSEO DE ARTE MODERNO
If you still didn’t have enough of the museums, make sure to check out Museo de Arte Moderno located on Calle 31. This place has a fascinating collection of local paintings and sculptures.
WHERE TO STAY IN CARTAGENA?
If you would like to be close to the best locations then we recommend you to stay in the Centro Amurallado. As we visited during the Easter holidays, the prices for the hotels were super high. Luckily we found a nice Airbnb, however outside of the city center. If you are new to AIRBNB, make sure to claim $37 off on your first stay. You can also look at the hotels in the district of Getsemani.
CHECK ALL THE HOTELS IN CARTAGENA
BEST TIME TO VISIT CARTAGENA
There is no bad time to visit Cartagena, as the whole year is warm and mostly sunny. However, if you are looking for hot temperatures then come from December till May where the temperatures are around 30 degrees. From June till August it gets a bit cooler to 25 degrees. And if you can, avoid holidays as prices are higher and the streets are crowded.
IS CARTAGENA SAFE?
We definitely felt safe in Cartagena and overall in Colombia. Cartagena is a tourist hub so you do not need to worry. However, as everywhere, you need to watch out for your belongings. If you would like to learn more about safety in Colombia, make sure to read our full guide with all our safety tips to know when you travel in South America.
IS CARTAGENA EXPENSIVE?
There are many tourists coming each year to visit Cartagena from all around the world. Comparing to the other cities in Colombia, such as Bogota, Medellin or Cali, Cartagena is considerably more expensive. However, you can still find budget hotels and restaurants with affordable meals. Besides, there are plenty of free things to do in Cartagena.
As you can see, there are so many wonderful things to do in Cartagena. Enjoy your time in Cartagena and in general in Colombia. I am sure you will enjoy this wonderful town of colors as much as we did.
Do you wonder how do we plan our travel itinerary? check our 20 EASY STEPS ON HOW TO PLAN PERFECT ITINERARY.
If you are planning to visit Cartagena, make sure to pin our guide to BEST PHOTO SPOTS IN CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA
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