Cobblestone streets, vibrant houses every corner, street performances, and an impressive nightlife can be discovered in captivating Cartagena.
After plane delays and an exhausting 42 hours of travel, I arrived to Cartagena around 9 PM and took a taxi to my hostel. I booked my hostel using HostelWorld the day I left for South America. I stayed at Pachamama Hostel – the hostel was small and quiet where I received a good nights rest, but also was just a short walk to the city center and dozens of restaurants and bars. Breakfast was included and the staff was very friendly and helpful. If you end up there – tell Dave (volunteer) from Venezuela I said hello!
I also visited a few other hostels and heard great things about ones that I didn’t get to see – a few you could check out are: Mystic House Hostal, Life Is Good Cartagena, Hostel Mamallena, and Volunteer Hostel.
There are quite a lot of hostels in the main streets – but I know that a lot of them have issues with loud music and I needed sleep. If you’re looking for a party hostel I highly recommend Wonderland Hostel or Media Luna – I partied at both of these and they are 100% nightclubs.
Food, food, food:
I’m a budget traveler – so I tend to go for the small, locally owned restaurants. I didn’t catch any particular names of them – but it’s easy to walk around and catch loads of them throughout the winding streets of Cartagena. It’s difficult to speak English with them most of the time, but I think that just makes the experience richer. The food is cheap and homemade – can you ask for much more?
Cartagena is filled with great restaurants of all cuisines – but I can’t lie….the Italian food scene in Cartagena is unreal. Endless pasta dishes and pizzas – and I had some of the best in my life. Basilica Pizzería Café had incredible pizza and you HAVE to try the Coconut Lemonade there. Di Silvio Trattoria was probably my favorite stop in Cartagena – I had a pasta alfredo there and was really impressed. The staff is super kind and the restaurant itself is super cute and cozy.
If you know me at all – you know that I love Peru and Peruvian food. There just happened to be a Peruvian restaurant in Cartagena – Perú Fusión. It can get pretty busy because everyone wants to get in line for the fish, so try and get there for an early dinner perhaps.
And I can’t forget (literally never leaves my mind) the ice cream. I met up with a fellow nomad in Cartagena and he told me about a really amazing ice cream place he visited. He led me there and let me tell you what…..it did NOT disappoint. I try and get ice cream in every city I travel to….and this was a dream come true. La Paletería is the name. And you. have. to. go. there. They have fruity and sweet….highly recommend the Fresa or Arequipe.
I previously stated that there are a few hostels that host preeetttty intense parties…..but there are also a few bars and clubs that are worth mentioning as well. EiVissa is a really awesome club to visit – it’s pretty nice and the party starts and ends late. I received a flier in the street so I got free entrance and a free drink – people are handing these out often so keep an eye out! I really enjoyed The Black Parrot bar, though- it’s located right on the corner just outside of the square. It’s hard to miss! There is live music many of the nights and the atmosphere is great. The bartenders that are working there are super friendly and are always making sure you have a drink in your hand 😉
I also came across a pretty great bar/restaurant/lounge right around the corner from my hostel (Pachamama) that ended up being one of my favorite nights out. It’s very quiet and lowkey – but the owners are wonderful. It’s called BLUENARA and it’s a beautifully lit rooftop lounge with cozy chairs and a great vibe. A group of us from the hostel went there for a guys birthday – there were 13 of us and they handled it very well. The food and drinks were cheap but really awesome. I had the Aloha drink and a quesadilla and it only was a few dollars. They really deserve some recognition and it’s a nice place to chill out with some friends. This is what it looks like:
What I did:
Walking the streets of the Walled City is a must. The houses and buildings are magnificent day and night. Each street is filled with colorful buildings, street vendors, and smiling faces.
Iglesia de la Trinidad is a nice square to spend some time as well – especially in the evening. It’s a nice place to hangout during the day….but at night it becomes full of life. Tons of people in Cartagena come together here when it gets dark, drinking beers, watching street performers, and filling their stomachs with fresh street food.
I also had a little visit to Casa Museo Arte y Cultura la Presentacion – it’s a huge historic building with a little cafe and a bunch of super interesting modern/cultural art. It was nice to walk around the museum and take in some art, however I’m not typically a museum kinda gal.
Another random thing I did is was visit ChocoMuseo, a chocolate museum with the history of chocolate and all of the free samples you can think of. Chocolate bars, coconut with chocolate, chocolate liquor, etc….
BASICALLY – Cartagena was amazing. It is full of life and filled with incredible restaurants, bars, museums, coffee shops, and more. The weather was over 90 degrees Fahrenheit my entire time there, but I still enjoyed walking all over the city and getting a $2 fresh fruit juice to cool off.
I hope you enjoyed my blog on this wonderful city, if you have any questions please feel free to contact me here!
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