Day 1 in Cartagena
Welcome to Cartagena! Upon arrival, you will go through customs and immigration. Should you opt to purchase a transfer to your hotel; a representative will be waiting for you as you exit immigration. Arrive at your hotel, check in and head out to see the city! There are many exciting things to explore in Cartagena.
Start with a Hop-on Hop-off tour of Cartagena. The tour will take you around to 13 locations in Cartagena in a red London style bus. Just hop on at Muelle de la Bodeguita on the marina. Take the time and enjoy the alluring sea view from atop the open-view bus as it takes you directly to the finest sites of Cartagena.
There are many museums and churches in the area to explore (Plaza Santo Domingo, Sanctuary of Saint Peter Claver, Iglesia de la Trinidad, Plaza de San Diego are the best choices), but be sure to schedule the time to simply unwind from the tropical heat, at one of the Cartagena`s delightful little restaurants or sidewalk cafes. Try to spend sunset atop the seawall, or at El Convento de la Popa, with its incredible city views.
Day 2 in Cartagena
Begin your day the old Walled City, an impossibly lovely maze of old-fashioned colonial houses and splendid little plazas that photographers will almost need a fisheye lens to capture properly. You`ll almost certainly get lost, which is part of Cartagen`s charm; maps are available around town, or just anyone for the Torre Reloj, to find your way back to the original city gates.
Cartagena`s prime beaches are along Boca Grande, the skyscraper-studded stretch of sand extending out across from the old city. While the vast and breezy open space of gray beach is pleasant, with covered chairs and cold drinks available everywhere, it’s worth taking a day trip to the offshore islands.
The most popular outings visit the Islas de Rosario, an attractive island atop the third-largest barrier reef in the world. Most day trippers are shuttled to a few different islands, including an open-air aquarium and several attractive beaches. Informed travelers often pay a little extra to stay all day on a private island, or book a hotel for the night.
Day 3 in Cartagena
From the Muelle Turístico in the city, take a boat to the beaches of Islas del Rosario, the area`s finest beaches, and spend a couple of nights at an island hotel. The national park fee for Islas del Rosario is approximately COL$9,400 (about $3.50 USD) and a boat taxi will cost approximately COL$35,000 and COL $60,000 (about $12-21 USD). Check out the Oceanario which features a marine aquarium with dolphin shows, sharks and more. It`s worth splurging for staying the night on the island. Return to Cartagena in the late afternoon and take one last walk on the walls, enjoying a cocktail and the Caribbean breeze at Cafe del Mar.
Additional Days in Cartagena
It`s back to Cartagena proper for your final day, for one last whirl through the old town to take in any museums or other sites you might have missed. But be sure to take a stroll around the rest of this beautiful city. The architecturally interesting old neighborhood of Gesthemani, just beyond the city walls, was once where Cartagena`s poor, including freed slaves, stayed; today it`s home to the vast majority of the city`s hostels and budget hotels, as well as inexpensive restaurants, Internet cafes, and a glut of tour operators. The Isla Manga neighborhood (incidentally, no longer an island) was once a refuge for Arab immigrants, and is home to some spectacular Moorish-style buildings. The ritziest part of town is Boca Grande, where the Colombian upper crust is stacked in glass-walled condos above the city's best beaches.
Another option is to explore San Felipe de Barajas Castle - a fortress located on San Lazaro Hill. The fort was built in the 1600s and is in a strategic location for approaches on the city from land or sea. The site has a complex tunnel system and offers audio tours. At the base is Los Zapatos Viejos (Old Shoes) Monument a tribute to poet Luis Carlos Lopez.
Your Last Day in Cartagena
Depart from your hotel to the airport for your return flight home. We recommend that you purchase a private transfer to the airport, if so the representative will meet you at your hotel with plenty of time to get you to the airport for your flight out.