Planning a Trip to Cartagena Colombia: A Seamless Travel

November 29, 2023

Nestled on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, Cartagena is a mesmerizing fusion of colonial charm, vibrant colors, and tropical allure. With its cobblestone streets, historical fortifications, and bustling plazas, the city promises a memorable  journey for every traveler.

When’s the Best Time to Visit Cartagena?

Cartagena boasts a tropical climate, ensuring warm temperatures year-round. However, the city experiences two main seasons: the dry and the wet.

Dry Season (December to April): Characterized by sunny days and slightly cooler nights, this is the peak tourist season. It’s an excellent time for hitting the beach and maximizing sightseeing.

Wet Season (May to November): Intermittent rainfall should be expected, but don’t be disheartened by this news. The showers are usually short-lived and offer a respite from the heat, making the city’s verdant beauty shine even brighter.

Cartagena tour pics

My Adventure was Enhanced by Esimple’s Seamless Connectivity. I captured and shared the city’s colonial splendor in real-time, thanks to their reliable eSIM. Why not elevate your travel experience by getting an eSIM on your phone when you travel?”

Festivals and Events

To truly immerse yourself in Cartagena’s vibrant culture, consider timing your visit around one of its many festivals:

Cartagena International Film Festival (March): As the oldest film festival in Latin America, it’s a haven for cinephiles.

Cartagena Independence Festivities (November): Celebrate the city’s independence with parades, music, and dance.

Vallenato Music Festival (April): A celebration of Colombia’s favorite style of music, expect lots of dancing and live bands. 

Barranquilla Carnaval (March): Ok, so this one isn’t technically in Cartagena, but it’s just a short three hour drive to nearby Barranquilla. A star event throughout Central and South America, this one should definitely make it on your bucket list. 

A Short Travel Checklist:

  •  Check Cartagena’s weather forecast for the duration of your stay.
  •  Research any festivals or events taking place while you’re there. 
  •  Pack appropriately, considering both the season and the activities you plan on doing.
  • Activate an eSIM on your phone to ensure a reliable connection to the internet for navigation, translation, social media, and more. 

Exploring the Enchantment of Cartagena: My Captivating Journey

Imagine walking down colorful streets with stunning, old colonial buildings on one side and the vast blue sea on the other. That’s Cartagena. It’s a place that feels like a dream, but for me, it became a reality and a journey I’ll never forget.

When you first hear about Cartagena, images of sandy beaches, tall palm trees, and vibrant festivals might pop into your mind. And while all these are true, Cartagena is so much more than just a vacation spot. It’s a living, breathing testament to Colombia’s rich history and diverse culture.

My trip to Cartagena was all about  immersing myself in a new world, meeting locals, and experiencing life from a different perspective. As I pen down my journey, I hope to take you along with me, through the bustling streets, sunny beaches, and each magical moment that makes traveling so special.

Preparing for my Cartagena Adventure

Every great journey starts with a bit of planning. For Cartagena, this meant choosing a time to visit and finding a way to stay connected throughout my trip.

Choosing the Dry Season

While Cartagena is a year-round destination, I chose the dry season (December to April) for my visit. It’s a time when the city is bathed in sunlight, making every color pop and every experience feel just a bit brighter. The salsa festival in February was the cherry on top, adding extra rhythm and excitement to my trip.

Trivia: Did you know that Cartagena’s full name is Cartagena de Indias? The name harks back to the time of Spanish explorers who, upon arriving in the Americas, thought they had reached India!

colombia military castle san fernando during the dry season

Staying Connected

Throughout my travels, I’ve learned the importance of staying connected. Not just to share moments with loved ones back home, but also to navigate, find local recommendations, and even translate a phrase or two. All of this is made possible by my eSIM, which removes the hassle of fumbling with tiny SIM cards. The eSIM promises a reliable connection from the mountainous terrains of Bogotá to the coastal beauty of Cartagena.

Pro Planning Tip: One thing I’ve learned from my travels is that while planning is essential, being open to spontaneous experiences often leads to the most memorable moments.

From Flights to First Impressions

Hopping off the plane, I knew I was in for a treat. And, what awaited me surpassed even my highest expectations of Cartagena. 

Traveling From Bogota to Cartagena 

The decision to travel from Bogotá to Cartagena by flight was an easy one. Colombia’s efficient domestic flight network ensures that hopping from one city to another is both quick and convenient. As the plane soared above the Andean peaks and started its descent toward the Caribbean coast, the change in landscape was evident. From the chilly heights of Bogotá, I was now approaching the tropical warmth of Cartagena.

Tip: Direct flights between Bogotá and Cartagena are plentiful, with airlines like Avianca, LATAM, and VivaAir offering multiple daily options. Early bookings can often fetch you some impressive deals.

Rafael Núñez International Airport to Cartagena City Center

plane going to international airport - gen pics

Rafael Núñez International Airport, though not massive, is bustling with energy. As I stepped out, the salty sea breeze was a pleasant reminder that I was now in a Spanish-speaking travel destination and a coastal paradise. Taxis lined up outside offered a swift ride to the city center. Remember, always agree on the fare before starting your journey. My ride cost around 20,000 Colombian Pesos, a reasonable amount for the short distance.

Cartagena’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is just a stone’s throw away from the airport. This proximity makes the transition from flight to exploration super easy.

With my feet firmly on Cartagena’s ground, the city’s allure began to unfold. From its colonial architecture to the distant sound of waves crashing, I couldn’t wait to wander. Join me in the next segment as we delve deeper into Cartagena’s heart, exploring its neighborhoods and soaking in its rich history.

Navigating Cartagena’s Neighborhoods 

I’m one of those people who loves to aimlessly wander while visiting a new city. And through those wanders in Cartagena, I made my way through a few notable neighborhoods and came across some great spots. Below are some of my favorite finds. 

Getsemani Vibes: A Bohemian Rhapsody

I’ve always believed that to truly understand a city, you need to immerse yourself in its neighborhoods, and Cartagena was no exception. My first stop was Getsemani, a neighborhood that’s been transformed from a working-class district to a bohemian haven.

Walking through its streets is like flipping through a vibrant storybook. Every wall is adorned with street art, with each piece narrating a tale of Cartagena’s past, present, and future. The Plaza de la Trinidad, the neighborhood’s main square, becomes a lively gathering spot in the evenings. Locals and tourists converge, children play soccer, street performers showcase their talents, and the aromas of street food fill the air.

The Old Town Charm: Walking Through History

Adjacent to Getsemani lies Cartagena’s Old Town, an area that feels like a time capsule. Enclosed within fortifications built to defend against pirates, the Old Town is a maze of cobblestone streets, colonial mansions, and historic churches.

The Clock Tower Gate, the main entrance to the Old Town, is a symbol of Cartagena’s resilience. As I wandered through, the Cathedral of Cartagena, with its imposing façade and storied past, and the vibrant Plaza Santo Domingo became instant favorites.

Trivia: Did you know that the Old Town of Cartagena is often referred to as “The Walled City”? The walls, built during the colonial era, stretch for about 11 kilometers!

Bocagrande: Cartagena’s Modern Beat

Moving away from the historic core, Bocagrande offers a stark contrast. Skyscrapers kiss the sky, upscale restaurants line the streets, and modern beaches beckon tourists. Often compared to Miami, Bocagrande is where Cartagena showcases its contemporary side.

While I cherished the historic charm of Getsemani and the Old Town, Bocagrande was a pleasant reminder that Cartagena isn’t just about the past. It’s a city that beautifully marries its history with modernity.

Old Town, Bocagrande colombia

Modern Travel and Cartagena’s Closing Chapters

Staying Connected in Cartagena

Travel has evolved over the years, and as noted, one of the game-changers in recent times has been the advent of the eSIM. Gone are the days when I’d land in a new country and scramble to find a local SIM card, often struggling with language barriers or incompatible devices.

In Cartagena, the eSIM was my silent companion, ensuring I remained connected, be it to navigate the maze-like streets of the Old Town or to quickly translate a local phrase. The ease of switching between plans without the need to physically change a SIM card meant I could focus more on soaking in the experiences and less on mundane tasks.

Personal Insight: One evening, while enjoying the sunset at Café del Mar, a beachfront café located on the city walls, I instantly video-called my family to share the breathtaking view. It felt like they were right there with me, all thanks to the seamless connectivity my eSIM provided.

Beyond Connectivity: Digital Advancements in Cartagena

But it wasn’t just the eSIM that showcased the blend of tradition and modernity in Cartagena. The city, steeped in history, wasn’t shy about embracing the future. QR codes outside historic sites provided instant access to information, virtual tours brought history to life, and digital payments were widely accepted, even by some street vendors.

Trivia: Cartagena is actively promoting smart tourism, leveraging technology to enhance the visitor experience while ensuring sustainable practices to protect its rich heritage.

Final Thoughts on a Journey of Discovery

As my time in Cartagena drew to a close, I found myself reflecting on the myriad of experiences. From the rhythmic beats of the salsa festival to the quiet contemplation in Getsemani’s alleys; from the historic tales of the Old Town to the modern pulse of Bocagrande – Cartagena was a city of stunning contrasts, and I was lucky to have experienced it.

But more than the places, it was the people and the modern tools of travel, like the eSIM, that truly enriched my journey. They reminded me that while destinations offer stories, it’s the connections we make, both human and digital, that transform these stories into unforgettable memories.

Thank you for joining me on this personal journey through Cartagena. As the sun sets on this tale, I hope you’re inspired to embark on your own adventures, equipped with the best of both the old and the new.

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