CARTAGENA TRAVEL GUIDE
Wearing Daige in Getsemaní, Cartagena
This post has been way too long in the making! We traveled to Cartagena in January 2019 for my birthday and I could not have wished for a more amazing place to spend it! Cartagena in Colombia is just so picturesque, fun and has so many really cute restaurants with great food that this post will not do it justice. But I will try.
Bomba Beach Club
We chose Cartagena because me and the hubby both thought about it completely independently and found this coincidence to be a sign. He heard about it from a colleague and I saw it on RHONY (I know lol). He mentioned it a bit scared thinking I will say no not knowing that I had already dreamt of visiting this place from seeing it on tv. So we booked the tickets and a hotel and left SF.
Before telling you where to stay I will tell you where not to stay. And that is any resort-like hotel in the Bocagrande part of the city. We booked our first hotel there after reading great reviews and the fact that there was a beach right in front of it but hated it. We luckily managed to get out of that reservation after spending a couple nights there and having already visited the old town part of Cartagena.
Hotel Estelar in Bocagrande
We quickly realised that the walled city is where we wanted to be because Bocagrande is just not as charming and the beach there is super busy and really not worth it (we didn’t even go there). So….
Lobby at Ananda
After realising that we wanted to spend the rest of our vacay in the old town we booked the ANANDA boutique Hotel. And it was the best decision ever. I can highly recommend you stay here because we had a fab time. And I am picky. Like super picky. Everything from the hotel itself to our room, the decor, the food (I had the veggie risotto by the pool like I don’t even know how many times it was so good) was beautiful and delicious. We had breakfast every morning in the hotel restaurant (which had an indoor and patio area too). You could choose from a small but even more delicious menu in the most beautiful setting.
Breakfast at Ananda
The advantage of a boutique hotel in the centre is that they are built inside these original colonial style buildings, most of them with a pool and they are right in the centre! So you can walk around in the city and when it gets too hot you just go back to your hotel and jump in the pool!
Ground floor pool
On our balcony
Ananda Boutique hotel had two pools, one on the rooftop and another one on the ground floor. Most rooms had a window or balcony looking onto this ground floor pool, ours is on the pictures above.
View from the rooftop at Ananda
Eating my delish veggie risotto by the rooftop pool
Alquímico in Cartagena
I prepared list of restaurants I wanted to go to but honestly we almost didn’t even need my list as everywhere we went there was a cool restaurant. Like San Francisco or NYC level cool with food to match.
Pizzeria Fernandez Madrid
The restaurants we visited were: Alma, a hotel Restaurant and bar so good we went back twice, El Kilo, Pizzeria Fernandez Madrid which had tables on the square (Plaza Fernandez) but we spotted a balcony on the cute little Colombian house right next to it with only 3 small tables up there and as it turned out, it was part of that same restaurant. We had both a dinner and a lunch up there and it was such a great experience as you could hear the city and the music from below but also have the privacy, Demente in the Getsemaní neighbourhood which was a pizza place, Zaitun where we went to try something new as they served Colombian-Lebanese fusion food (Soooo GOOOOD), Maria Bonita also in Getsemaní which we spotted while walking around in the neighbourhood because it had the most amazing interior. But there were so many more restaurants we wished we had been to.
Dinner at Maria Bonita wearing Bershka
The bars: Alquimico, this place is my favourite bar that I have ever been to, make sure you also go to Cafe del Mar located on the western wall of the historical city for sunsets (just get there before opening so you get a good seat) and we also went to the KGB bar well because we are from Eastern Europe lol. We also really wanted to go to Cafe Havana but unluckily it was closed the day we tried.
Alma Restaurante: Steak, Porkbelly, atmosphere, Tuna steak,
Also no need to worry if you go without bookings or a list because the place is full of great restaurants and bars.
My husband is wearing a Thomas Breitling linen shirt, Ralph Lauren shorts
Loved these old houses
Wearing a Zara dress, Bershka sandals and bag from a local market
In Cartagena: Definitely worth spending a 2-3 days just exploring this beautiful old town which I would divide into two parts: the walled city old town (2 days for sure) and Getsemani (at least a day) which is more of an up and coming trendy-artsy part of the city. Take a cab to Plaza de la Trinidad and walk from there.
Shopping is also really good in Cartagena! The coolest concept stores will be pricey but you will find more affordable options too. Make sure to also check the street vendors for items you saw in shops as they might have it for less… We found a really good menswear store for the hubby and bought like half the store for him: Portomar!
Outside of Cartagena: For my actual birthday we booked a beach club, Blue Apple beach club on a nearby island (where you could also spend a night as it is a hotel too) and on an other day we went to Bomba beach club on the same island. Certainly preferred the birthday beach club experience as it was less chaotic and had a more luxurious feel to it. But both were good beach clubs although you could probably try the Namaste beach club instead of the Bomba club. We also visited an aviary (Aviario Nacional) (our hotel arranged a taxi for us) and if we had more time we would have also gone to Playa Blanca which was a bit further down from the bird place.
With the pelicans at the Aviario Nacional de Cartagena