Things to do in
Cartagena, Colombia

Explore labyrinthine cobbled alleys and walk past historic city walls while visiting this Caribbean gem.

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Our most recommended things to do in Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena: Rosario Islands Catamaran with Lunch and Snorkel

1. Cartagena: Rosario Islands Catamaran with Lunch and Snorkel

Set sail for the Rosario and San Bernardo Corals National Natural Park on a full-day tour from Cartagena. The catamaran departs from the Muelle de la Bodeguita pier in front of the walled city. After your welcome drink, enjoy the journey to the Rosario Islands, sailing and motor sailing on the catamaran. The vessel is equipped with comfortable seats, where you can sit both in the shade and in the sun. There is a bar service on board, so you can enjoy a variety of soft drinks throughout the excursion.  Experience paradise with a stop in front of an idyllic beach of turquoise waters and white sands, where you can swim and play with fun inflatables. Practice snorkeling, if you wish, and admire the fascinating underwater life with colorful tropical fish and various types of coral. The crew will prepare a delicious lunch for you to enjoy on board while you sail back to Cartagena at the end of a relaxing day.

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Cartagena: 4 Rosario Islands Day Tour with Snorkel & Lunch

2. Cartagena: 4 Rosario Islands Day Tour with Snorkel & Lunch

Experience clear blue waters, white sand, and awesome corals on the perfect sunny day trip! Corales del Rosario National Park is the name of a group of islands on the coast of Colombia, located just an hour away by speed boat from Cartagena or 20 mins from Barú. This paradise is the favorite destination in Cartagena and it offers a natural environment to have fun and relax. Start the day with a morning pickup from your hotel. Continue to a relaxing private island where beach chairs and umbrellas await you. Spend time in the sun and have a seafood cocktail or lemonade in one of the most beautiful places you will visit. Afterward, continue to Cholon to enjoy a mini party in the water with music, drinks, and people from other boats. Finally, stop at Playa Blanca in Barú Island, where there will be a more private space waiting for you away from the main concentration of boats and vendors. Here, eat a typical island lunch and spend the rest of the day on the beach, relaxing and swimming.

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Cartagena: Sunset Cruise with Open Bar

3. Cartagena: Sunset Cruise with Open Bar

Discover Cartagena in a unique way. Sail around the bay while you enjoy the bar and restaurant on board of the Sibarita Express Yacht. On your 1.5–hour trip, benefit from an open bar with a nice musical background and the services of the lovely crew. This activity runs from Wednesdays to Sundays. You will be welcomed by the lovely crew and set sail a short while later. Take in a panoramic view of the modern area of Bocagrande and arrive at the lighthouse. From there, head to Castillogrande, the most prestigious area of the city, to see the sunset on the ocean. Once the sun has set, head back to the inner bay where you can enjoy the night views of the modern area of Bocagrande and the residential neighborhoods of Manga and Getsemani. Finally, prepare to be welcomed back to the pier with a breathtaking view of the old city at night.

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From Cartagena: Day Trip to Playa Blanca with Lunch

4. From Cartagena: Day Trip to Playa Blanca with Lunch

Enjoy a paradisiacal day relaxing on the white sand beach of Baru Island's aptly-named Playa Blanca. After getting picked up from your hotel in Cartagena, take a 1-hour journey in a comfortable air-conditioned minivan to Baru. Learn more about local life in both the city and the island towns from your local driver. Once in Baru, take a quick, idyllic stroll along the beach to reach where you will spend the day. Make the most of all the facilities the place has to offer, including sundecks to relax on the beach or snorkel equipment if you wish to take a dip in the beach's crystal-clear waters. In the afternoon, savor a delicious lunch with several options including vegetarian and meat dishes washed down with local juices. Head back to the beach after lunch to relax for another few hours before beginning the journey back to Cartagena in the evening.

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Cartagena de Indias: 2-Hour Sunset Cruise

5. Cartagena de Indias: 2-Hour Sunset Cruise

For the most romantic evening, this sunset cruise excursion is ideal. Leave at 5:00 PM from the Muelle de la Bodeguita pier in front of the walled city. Enjoy the relaxing but at the same time exciting sailing through the Bay of Cartagena de Indias. Accompanied by good music, enjoy a non-alcoholic cocktail or a soft drink and a delicious appetizer in a magical atmosphere. Watch the sunset and the lighting of the spectacular skyline of the city of Cartagena while you sail into the night.  The itinerary of the tour includes departure from the Bodeguita Dock/Pegasos Dock, located in front of the walled city of Cartagena. First sail between Manga and Bocagrande neighborhood. Then continue sailing between Castillo Grande and Manzanillo Island. Enjoy the sunset while sailing between El Laguito neighborhood and Tierrabomba Island. Then sail back to the departure point.

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Cartagena: Guided City Tour w/ La Popa and San Felipe Castle

6. Cartagena: Guided City Tour w/ La Popa and San Felipe Castle

Discover the magic of Cartagena — declared a World Heritage Site for its architectural distinction and its history — on this 4-hour, small-group tour. Visit the main sites around the city and learn the rich stories behind its culture. Head to the La Popa monastery, located on the tallest hill in the city, to get amazing views and take the best pictures from above. From there, explore the Fort San Felipe de Barajas, a 16th-century hilltop fortress built by the Spanish to protect against pirates and the English navy. Your guide will accompany you to tell the stories within the fort and explain more of its importance to Cartagena. Make a quick stop at an emblematic symbol of Cartagena — the Old Shoes Monument — and continue into the Walled City. Take a guided walk around the historic center and gain a deep understanding of its culture and architecture before returning to your hotel.

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Cartagena: Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour & Optional Attractions

7. Cartagena: Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour & Optional Attractions

Located on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, few places on Earth are as beautiful as Cartagena. Sightseeing in this astounding city is a hugely enjoyable experience, offering both modernity and history. There is something to suit all tastes. From beautiful architecture to striking monuments, there is plenty of inspiring sightseeing opportunities while on your City Sightseeing bus tour. Discover all of beautiful Cartagena in 14 bus stops, as you explore the city's beautiful architecture and striking monuments in the most flexible and enjoyable way. Visit key sites in the city, such as the Clock Tower, the San Felipe Fortress, the walled city, the Rafael Núñez House, Rio Casino, and much more. With the many stops along the way, there are things to suit all tastes, including a complementary walking tour inside the walled city, starting everyday at 4:00 PM in front of the clock tower (stop 4). You may also choose different options when booking including a 1-day pass, a 2-day pass, or a 2-day pass with a San Felipe Fortress entrance ticket. Take advantage of adapting your day along the routes between 9:00 AM and 7:30 PM. If you prefer, remain on the bus tour for the entire loop, listening to the informative audio commentary. You will see palaces, monasteries, plazas, and beautiful overhanging balconies, as well as Colombia's major seaside resorts, where you can enjoy beaches and scuba diving opportunities. Stops 1. Muelle de la Bodeguita 2. Centro de Convenciones 3. San Sebastian del Pastelillo 4. Torre del Reloj (Clock Tower) 5. Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas 6. Rafael Nunez Museum 7. Boquetillo (entrance to the Walled City) 8. San Francisco (entrance to the Walled City) 9. Plaza Bogrande 10. Avenida San Martin 11. Casino Rio 12. Hotel Caribe 13. Hotel Hilton 14. Iglesia de Castillo Grande

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Cartagena: Sunset Cruise with Open Bar on a Pirate Ship

8. Cartagena: Sunset Cruise with Open Bar on a Pirate Ship

Meet your guide at Pegasus Pier at 4:30 PM and board a wonderfully quaint pirate ship, ready to push off from the dock promptly at 5:00 PM. In the late afternoon sun, begin cruising along a picturesque scenic route around Cartagena, admiring the spectacular skylines of Bocagrande, El Laguito, and Playa de Castillo Grande.  Hear interesting stories of how pirates and slaves played a crucial role in the history of the city as you cruise the canal between Tierra Bomba and Bocagrande. Enjoy the perfect opportunity to take amazing pictures as you reach the best place in the ocean to see the sunset. During the whole experience, you’ll be served pirate punch and pirate lemonade, drinks made with fruit punch, coconut lemonade, rum, and aguardiente. Arrive back at Muelle de los Pegasos between 6:30 PM and 7:00 PM.

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Cartagena: Totumo Mud Volcano Experience

9. Cartagena: Totumo Mud Volcano Experience

As the minivan leaves town, hear some curious facts about Cartagena history and some tips to ensure a better experience at the mud volcano. The trip to Santa Catalina, another beautiful Colombian city and the location of the volcano, lasts around 45 minutes. Upon arrival at the volcanic zone, be greeted by the owner of a small nearby restaurant. Then, prepare for a unique experience as you climb the 50 steps that surround the volcano; remember to wear old clothing as the mud can be rough on delicate materials. Immerse yourself in the volcanic mud, reaping the health benefits for your skin from the millions of minerals. Some people say afterward, you'll appear 10 years younger. Inside the volcano, you can float thanks to the high number of minerals present. There will be some locals around offering massages for an extra price of 2 USD. Outside of the volcano, pay to get your photo taken for another 2 USD. When the soaking is over, head to the lake for a shower. Before continuing back to the city, enjoy a typical snack in a rustic restaurant. Get dropped off at your hotel.

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Cartagena: Snorkel, Mangroves and Playa Blanca Tour

10. Cartagena: Snorkel, Mangroves and Playa Blanca Tour

Get picked up from your accommodation at 7:30 AM in an air-conditioned bus. Meet your guide who will provide all the details about your upcoming adventure and the route. At 9 AM, arrive at the island of Baru and board a boat. Cruise for 15 minutes through the crystal clear waters until you arrive at the snorkeling site. After 1 hour of enjoyable snorkeling, continue the tour into the mangroves to see birds, iguanas, and other species. Discover the fascinating landscapes of the island and the life of the native species who inhabit this magical ecosystem. At 1 PM, head back to Playa Blanca to enjoy a delicious lunch with options of fish, chicken, or vegetarian. Once you've eaten, spend some time swimming in the clear waters or relaxing on the beautiful white sand beach. At 3:30 PM, board the return bus which will drop you off back at your hotel.

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Frequently asked questions about Cartagena, Colombia

What top attractions are a must-see in Cartagena, Colombia?

Planning Your Visit

  • How many days to spend in Cartagena?

    A full four or even five days will allow you to take in the sites and enjoy the city. Add on another day if you plan to do a day-trip to the Rosario Islands.

  • Getting around

    The easiest way to see the attractions in the old town is with your own two feet. There are buses, but it's best to ask the locals standing at the stop or the bus driver for directions to your destination, as there aren't any printed schedules. Of course, there are taxis, but always ask about the price first before hopping in.

  • Where to stay in Cartagena

    The districts of Getsamaní, San Diego and El Centro in the old town of Cartagena are your best bet, with all the sightseeing options at your fingertips.

  • Where to stay in Rosario Islands

    Visitors opt for staying on Isla Grande, Isla Barú and Isla Rosario, and the hotels generally include the boat transfer from Cartagena in their prices. Some travelers go to the Rosario Islands for a day-trip, which usually includes lunch, a stop at the small aquarium and a beach. There are different tour operators which offer such packages, but, as is always the case, do your research beforehand if you're considering this option.

Good to know

  • Language
    Spanish
  • Currency
    COP ($)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (-05:00)
  • Country Code
    +57
  • Best time to visit
    The best time typically is the dry season (Mid-January to April), but crowds tend peak during Holy Week (March or April). If you don't mind the humidity of summertime, August - September offers a reprieve from the tourists and still long warm days before the wet season starts in October.

Other Sightseeing Options in Cartagena, Colombia

Want to discover all there is to do in Cartagena, Colombia? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Cartagena, Colombia

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 1,322 reviews

Short Version Honestly was the best excursion my wife and I booked while in Cartagena. It's not just about the horse riding portion (which was great!) but the whole experience that Luis and his daughter Maria created from the moment we were picked up from our hotel until we were dropped off again. Luis and Maria's passion and attention to detail is what made the experience so enjoyable. The fact that they even provided stunning pictures and videos from the whole day is even more remarkable! So this 5 star review isn't just about them meeting expectations but really more about how much they exceeded them. So Luis and Maria thank you again for a truly unforgettable experience!

Nice experience!! The sunset is amazing and the staff cares about your experience. The open bar is only cocktails with run so if you don’t like run, you won’t enjoy the open bar. The music during the trip is funny and you can have a nice moment with your friends or couple.

Very worthwhile and relaxation ocean cruise. Very scenic and the two stops to snorkel and swim where in crystal clear waters. The lunch was excellent and the ships staff very accommodating. A definite must do while vacationing in Cartegna

very good, very personalized attention. good guide and very friendly. the very beautiful route and the very thematic boat and different from others. nice experience out of the ordinary and unique.

The island trip was amazing. Guide was available for questions and knew the entire area. Well done!