Where to Stay in Cartagena, Colombia
Hopefully, by now, you’re intrigued by Colombia’s Caribbean coastal city of Cartagena (link to Instagram and previous post). As Colombia’s 5th most populous city (some 952,000 people call it home) and with a rich, diverse demographic, it can be difficult to know where to stay. Each region within the more touristy areas of Cartagena offers a slightly different vibe, but a little research will help you get the most out of your trip. Whether you’re searching for cheap and cheerful budget accommodation to explore the UNESCO world heritage site or want a luxury retreat where you can take advantage of Cartagena’s natural beauty, I’ve put together a quick guide to help you find the perfect place to stay.
La Ciudad Amurallada
If you’re looking to be in the heart of the action staying inside the Walled City or La Ciudad Amurallada is definitely for you. You’ll find everything from cosy, cheap and cheerful hostels all the way through to 5 star luxury hotels. My favourite hostel would be the Clock Hotels and Suites, tucked away on one of the narrow streets tapering off Plaza de Los Coches. Its cute little hot tub and margarita bar acts as a peaceful haven right in the heart of the action. However, if you’re after a little luxury Movich Luxury Hotel sits on a quieter corner of the walled city. You can spend lazy mornings amongst its beautiful interiors or relax on the gorgeous rooftop after a long day of sightseeing.
Once branded as the seedy underbelly of Cartagena due to its history as a poor neighbourhood, Getsemani is now a vibrant little community which has managed to shake it’s shady past but retain all of its charm. The neighbourhood is located just outside of the walled city and offers streets lined with charming little cafes, brightly coloured terraced houses and vibrant street art. Its quiet streets provide the perfect escape from the crowds and tourist traps of the walled city. If you’re staying in Getsemani, I’d recommend Life is Good Hostel as the staff are super friendly and it has a gorgeous rooftop as well as relatively good internet connection for all your Instagramming (or work) needs.
The futuristic skyscrapers make it easy to spot the Bocagrande district right from the plane. The area, situated west of the walled city, is known as the Miami of Cartagena and is supposedly, where Colombia’s elite vacation. Unlike the walled city which seems to be overrun with tourists, the streets of Bocagrande definitely reminds you that people actually live and work in Cartagena. However, the swanky international hotels like the Hyatt and the Hilton and beautiful beachfront AirBnB’s make it a good place to stay for tourists.
We actually stayed in La Boquilla which is east of the Walled City. There are a string of hotels and apartment blocks with available AirBnB’s right on a small stretch of white sandy beachfront. We went in low season which meant the beach was relatively quiet, however there are a number of beach clubs and fish fry type restaurants along La Boquilla’s seaside which suggests this neighbourhood could be pretty lively in high season.
Playa Blanca and Rosario Islands
Located 1 hour away from the city, Playa Blanca is the perfect location for serious beachheads. The beaches here are beautiful and the water is a clear crystal blue. Moreover, you have easy access to boats leaving for Rosario Islands National Park where you can go snorkelling or easily explore other more secluded islands. There are a number of beachside hostels on Playa Blanca itself, offering a pretty picturesque view and easy beachside living.
Staying in the Rosario Islands National Park itself provides a range of interesting experiences. You could stay in a quaint seaside hut, complete with thatched roof on Isla de Pirata at the aptly named Hotel Isla de Pirata; lounge in the plush Hotel San Pedro de Majagua on Isla Grande or opt for beach party-ers paradise, Casa en el Agua. However, if you’re looking for true luxury, head to Las Islas Hotel in Barú. This opulent retreat offers 4 star luxury accommodation via plush bungalows in the sea, a private beach and a helipad - at £600 a night it will set you back a pretty penny though.
No matter which style of vacation you’re looking for, Cartagena offers a little something for everyone. Best of all, all of the above locations are less than an hour away from the UNESCO world heritage site, La Ciudad Amurallada (be that by taxi, boat or on foot) which means you won’t miss out on any of the action by staying outside of the walled city!
Where are you staying?
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