With a Caribbean climate and beautiful colonial architecture, Cartagena attracts travelers seeking sun, sand, and history. With 72 hours, you can explore Unesco World Heritage sites, visit vibrant markets, and venture to nearby islands for some stellar snorkeling. Here are a few ways to spend 3 days in Cartagena.
Day 1: Walled City Walks and Nightlife
Explore the centuries of Cartagena’s history with an introductory city tour. Take a ride on the hop-on, hop-off bus, and stop at attractions like San Felipe de Barajas Castle. Opt for a guided walking tour of the old walled city, and learn about the city architecture and culture while visiting top landmarks, including San Pedro Claver Church, Plaza de Bolivar, and Torre del Reloj. Then head to the mountaintop La Popa Monastery and enjoy a new perspective of the city.
Complete the day with an introduction to local nightlife: Climb aboard a chiva —a colorful bus typical of rural Colombia—for a cruise through the city with live music. Nightlife tours often include admission to a local nightclub.
Day 2: Cook, Bike, or Skydive
Get to know Cartagena’s local culture with a cooking class that includes a market tour. You’ll join a local guide for a wander through the bustling Bazurto Market and pick up local ingredients for a cooking workshop before heading into the kitchen to learn the secrets behind traditional Colombian dishes. After the lesson, enjoy a feast of dishes you’ve prepared yourself. Alternatively if you’re looking for thrills, book a tandem skydive to see the coastline from above.
In the afternoon, sign up for an art-focused tour. A guided stroll through the Getsemani neighborhood includes visits to galleries showcasing local work and contemporary artists’ studios. Or, for a little exercise, follow a guide on a bike tour of the city.
Day 3: Escape to the Islands
On your third day, head out on a day trip and explore the pristine islands off of Cartagena’s coast: Travel by speedboat to the Rosario Islands, and spend a day sunbathing and swimming. Visit Playa Blanca, relax and enjoy a hearty lunch, and then kick back in hammocks for a peaceful afternoon. If you’re looking for a more active trip, opt for a trip that also includes snorkeling and scuba diving among coral reefs. For a more private adventure, you can even book a full-day boat rental (boat captain included) and set your own itinerary for the day.
For an on-shore option, book an excursion to the Totumo mud volcano and enjoy a restorative soak in the mud baths known for their healing properties. Then in the evening, head back to the city, and dance the night away with a tour of the city’s salsa clubs.