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Where to stay in Cartagena

Where to stay in Cartagena from someone who has lived all over

Cartagena is a port city that lies on the Caribbean coast. With its tropical climate, stunning beaches, and marvelous architecture, this port city has been attracting more and more tourists every year. This city can also boast with its impressive and several centuries long history. Named after the Spanish city Cartagena, this charming city was founded in 1533. The city’s wall and fortress were selected as a World Heritage Site during the 80s.

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Five best neighborhoods to stay in Cartagena

Cartagena is divided into five distinct neighborhoods—Northern area, Downtown, San Diego, Getsemaní, and Bocagrande. Each of them has its own charm and appeal. 

Bocagrande Bocagrande literally means Big Mouth. It is best known for a large number of skyscrapers, in addition to it being the hot spot for tourists from all over the world.
Getsemaní This area was once unfortunately known for crime, however, it has completely changed in the past few years. Today this neighborhood is filled with street art, charming cafes, and beautifully colored buildings.
San Diego Not to be confused with the city of San Diego in California, this neighborhood was named after a local convent. Here you can pay a visit to the Santo Toribio Church, shops and restaurants.
Downtown The entrance to this area of Cartagena is through the marvelous and grand Puerta del Reloj, meaning Clock Gate. Here you can also see various styles of architecture and construction. 
Northern area The best thing about this neighborhood is that it is really close to the old part of town as well as the newer, modern part of town.

Where to stay in Cartagena for the first time — Bocagrande

Go and have a nice stroll through this area or head out to the beach for a fun and relaxing day. In this neighborhood, you have access to various beaches, malls, and restaurants which have helped this area earn a reputation among first-time visitors.

Things to see and do in Bocagrande

Swim in the beautiful and crystal-clear blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. Bask in the warm light of the Colombian sun and enjoy the gorgeous weather while relaxing on one of these beaches:

  • Playa De Bocagrande
  • Bocagrande Beaches
  • Costa del Sol
  • Capilla del Mar
  • Playa Ocean Tower

On the other hand, if you are not up for a day at the beach, you can go shopping in the Bocagrande Square Mall, as well as Centro Comercial Nao Shopping Center or head to the Parque Flanagan Amusement Park.

Bocagrande Square Mall

Shop until you drop in the numerous stores, grab something to eat at the food court, watch a film in the cinema or simply enjoy the view of the coastline.

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Centro Comercial Nao Shopping Center

A modern shopping center on multiple levels with an abundance of shops and restaurants, enough to satisfy the needs of every shopper.

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Parque Flanagan Amusement Park

Keeping small children entertained is always a challenge, especially when traveling, fortunately, Bocagrande can help you with this. There are various rides, attractions, and activities for kids in this vibrant and fun park. The kids are guaranteed to make some of the best memories and remember them for a very long time. From Monday to Thursday the park is open from 3 to 9:30 pm, and from Friday to Saturday and Sunday, it is open until 10 pm.

Image source: parqueflanagan

Where to stay in Bocagrande

The criteria used for selecting these particular accommodations were:

  1. Price
  2. Proximity
  3. Comfort

Affordable: a small, practical and modern apartment with a terrace.

Mid-range: a cozy apartment with an excellent view of the city.

Luxury: a condominium with a jacuzzi and a view of the beach.

For other options in this neighborhood check out Airbnb.

Where to stay in Cartagena — bohemian edition

This neighborhood dealt with a lot of crime in the past, thus resulting in a very bad reputation. Throughout the years though, Getsemaní rose from the ashes like a phoenix. Nowadays, you’ll only see locals and tourists alike strolling through the narrow streets, the walls filled with an abundance of street art and graffiti. 

Things to see and do in Getsemaní

Experience and soak in the art and bohemian vibe of this area by walking through it, sitting in coffee shops and local restaurants that sell delicious food.

Getsemaní Free Walking Tour

One of the best ways to get to know an area is with a guided tour. The English speaking guide can show you all the interesting sights and spots in Getsemaní, and in the process of doing so, you can learn about the story behind this incredible neighborhood in greater detail.

Image source: asiescartagena

Calle De La Sierpe

If you are an art enthusiast then you must visit Calle De La Sierpe. This is an iconic landmark filled with murals, street art, and graffiti. You are bound to have a brilliant experience viewing this breathtaking and awe-inspiring art.

Image source: nestorav97

La Cocina de Pepina

Indulge yourself with some local food served at La Cocina de Pepina. This cozy and comfortable restaurant offers some really amazing and delicious food.

Image source: cesbustamante

Where to stay in Getsemaní

When searching for a place to stay you won’t face many difficulties. There are apartments, rooms or studios available for a low price but still provide all the comfort you need.

Affordable: the perk of this 1-bedroom, 1-bath private room is that you are really close to everything – restaurants, shops, and sightseeing spots.

Mid-range: a lively and brightly colored apartment in the heart of the area.

Luxury: a beautiful and spacious loft with a lot of natural light.

For additional options for places to stay in this area check out Airbnb.

Where to stay in Cartagena long term

For those looking to stay in Cartagena for an extended period of time, San Diego is the best place to do so. San Diego is a much more low-key neighborhood with an authentic Cartagena feel to it. Here you will be able to get a better understanding of Cartagenian and Colombian history. It will be your home away from home.

Things to see and do in San Diego

San Diego is far richer in terms of historical landmarks and sightseeing attractions. Like any other neighborhood, there are a lot of street vendors, restaurants, and shops.

The Walls of Cartagena

Probably the most iconic and well-known historical landmark in all of Cartagena. Obviously, it is a must-see.

Image source: kirk.wordie

Plaza de San Diego

This landmark comes to life during the night when street performers come out and raise the energy level. There are also a lot of small shops and restaurants. Plaza de San Diego is also a fantastic place for meeting and interacting with the local population, as well as potentially meeting other foreigners or people from your country.

Image source: felixverbel

Las Bovedas

Built in the 18th century, this incredible structure was initially intended to be used as a place to store ammunition and doubled as a prison, however, over time it turned into a large space for selling souvenir trinkets. Besides souvenirs, you can find a lot of other things — handcrafted items, jewelry, clothing, and so on.

Image source: thekendralarkin

Where to stay in San Diego

When deciding where to stay for a longer period of time it is important to look at the location of the place, how much it costs, as well as how noisy or quiet it is. Here is a selection of apartments based on the aforementioned criteria.

Affordable: studio in the Walled City:

Mid-range: an apartment in the center of the historic old town.

Luxury: a gorgeous condominium with a stunning courtyard.

For other options in this neighborhood check out Airbnb.