Many travelers have only two or three days to travel outside of holiday season vacation time. Therefore, it is essential to have a guide to plan the visit well and make the most of your time, so as not to miss anything at the destination. In large, culturally rich destinations that offer diverse activities, such as Cartagena, planning can be a bit more complicated due to the numerous options available. The flight and hotel search engine Viajala prepared an itinerary with the best things to do in Cartagena during a 48 hours stay. If you are planning a getaway to Bolívar’s capital, be sure to consider this itinerary.
Day 1: The Best of Cartagena
Because of its climate and proximity to the sea, surely Cartagena’s beaches are among the reasons to travel to the coastal city. But, since you have so little time, we suggest that you maximize your vacation excitement and hit the ground running to first enjoy one of Cartagena’s most beautiful attractions: the Historic Center.
After breakfast, start your day by touring the streets of one of Colombia’s most beautiful historic districts. There is a plethora of options, but the following are Viajala’s not-to-miss recommendations:
- The Clock Tower, is considered to be one of the 5 most beautiful clock towers in the world by BBC Travel.
- The Portal de Dulces, located in Plaza de los Coches, is the place to taste the best typical sweets in Cartagena.
- Plaza Santo Domingo, the liveliest place in the Historic Center, is worth visiting both day and night. There you will find performers, musicians, dancers, and other artists who perform their street shows next to the Santo Domingo church and the Gertrudis sculpture by the master Fernando Botero.
- San Pedro Claver Church is recognized for being the home of the Jesuit priest who, since 1615, dedicated his life in the city to protecting slaves as well as human rights and the struggle for freedom.
This first tour will certainly work up an appetite for lunch. Nearby you will find many places offering exquisite food. If you do not know which restaurant to choose, we suggest Celele, Mila, Carmen, la Cocina de Socorro, Interno, El Gobernador, María, Alma, and Mar—a few highlights among endless options.
After lunch, continue sightseeing at the famous Castillo de San Felipe, whose military structure is considered one of the 7 wonders of Colombia. Inside you will find tunnels, galleries, a main square, ramps, traps, and escape routes that will undoubtedly transport you back in time. The tour takes between 2 and 3 hours.
Before finishing your walk through the Historic Center, don’t forget to visit the Zenú Gold Museum. Of all the museums in Cartagena, this is one of the best, as it houses wonderful collection of ceramics and gold pieces from the main pre-Columbian cultures. During your visit, you can learn more about this ancestral culture through over 500 pieces made of gold, ceramic, stone, shells, and even bone.
Finally, every visitor in Cartagena must end their first night with a good dose of music and dancing. There is no better place for this than the famous Getsemaní neighborhood. Enjoy the best of the coastal party scene at Bazurto Social Club, and dance to the catchy beats of champeta, cumbia, and porro.
Day 2: Enjoy the Best Beaches on the Coast
Now is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Since you visited the best of Cartagena on day 1, now let yourself relax on its beautiful surrounding beaches.
The beaches on Isla Barú and the rest of the Rosario Islands are the best options to spend an unforgettable sunny day by the sea. The fastest way to get there is to take a boat from the tourist dock.
If you don’t want to think about logistics on your second day, another option is to join a tour that takes care of everything for you. Tours include travel to the islands, water activities, lunch options, and return trip to Cartagena. There are many agencies that offer these services. It all depends on your budget.
Once you have decided if you will go on your own or join a tour, you must decide if you want to spend the whole day or just a few hours visiting the beaches.
If you decide to stay for only a few hours before returning to the city, you can continue enjoying Cartagena by visiting Las Bóvedas. This is an old compound of dungeons that currently house a variety of handicrafts and antique stores. It’s the ideal place to buy a souvenir of your trip to Cartagena.
These are just some of the activities that La Heroica has to offer. If possible, we recommend you stay a few more days, or return at another time.
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