Where to stay in Cartagena

Where to stay in Cartagena – Cartagena de Indias in full – if you’re looking for the best hotels, coziest hostels and most beautiful boutique hotels? It can take some time to research the overwhelmingly large offer to find the best places to stay in Colombia’s most tropical city. As one of the most popular destinations in Colombia, there are several neighborhoods to stay, ranging from the old center full of sights to the hip upcoming parts full of nightlife. In this blog we help you to make a choice. Where to stay in Cartagena? What are the best neighborhoods to stay in Cartagena? And which hotels are recommended there?

How to get to Cartagena in Colombia

Cartagena is located in the far north of Colombia on the Caribbean north coast.

Good to know: Spain also has a coastal city called Cartagena. When researching hotels, flights or information, make sure you have the right Cartagena in Colombia.

The well-known cities of Medellín and Bogotá aren’t near Cartagena, but they do have direct connections to the Caribbean city with (night) buses and domestic flights. Since Cartagena has an international airport, you can also choose to arrive in Colombia at this destination. Then book a domestic flight to bridge the longer distances to other Colombian destinations.

Near Cartagena are many other Caribbean destinations to visit. The popular Tayrona National Park and the jungle of the famous Lost City Trek are both around the corner. The jungle destination Minca and the hippie beach village Palomino are also in this northern part of Colombia. Cartagena is therefore almost always easy to fit into your Colombia itinerary. If you travel from Cartagena to one of the other northern destinations – or vice versa – you will probably travel via the central city of Santa Marta, where you can change buses.

Cartagena Colombia

Why Cartagena is worth a visit

Cartagena is one of the most popular places to visit in Colombia and in our opinion also the most beautiful city in the country. The city is definitely worth a visit because of its colorful streets, interesting sights, attractive old town, beautiful monuments, great restaurants and beautiful coastal location. We have never heard of travelers exploring Colombia skipping this coastal town. A visit to Cartagena is an absolute must for any Colombia travel itinerary.

Read more: best things to do in Cartagena

The old town of Cartagena is the main attraction. Although Cartagena has many skyscrapers and high-rise buildings, the old city still has the colorful low-rise buildings you might have seen in photos of the charming streets. Don’t make a rigid plan to explore the city, but just wander through the maze of the most colorful streets in the old town. Sit down on a terrace and enjoy the beautiful street scene. Get lost and be guided by the smell of coffee and ice cream.

Typical of Cartagena is its construction as a military fortress with origins dating back to the sixteenth century. The fortresses, gates and structures are now on the UNESCO list. Many of Cartagena’s sights revolve around its origins as an ancient fortified city. The best things to do in Cartagena include the beautiful sunset from the ramparts, the ancient fortress Castillo de San Felipe of Cartagena, a walk on the city walls and the old prison La Bóvedas where you can find souvenir shops. Also make time for the street art of the Getsemani district, the beautiful churches in the historic center and the free museums.

Cartagena Colombia

Where to stay in Cartagena: the 3 best neighborhoods

The best areas to stay in Cartagena are all in the touristic part of the city, where you can choose between three lovely districts: Centro, San Diego and Getsemani. The neighborhoods are right next to each other and almost all within the old walled town. Wherever you choose to stay, you can easily reach the interesting sights and great restaurants in the areas next to it. The Centro Histórico has most of the historic sights and is known for its colonial buildings. You’ll find the same charming cityscape in San Diego right next to it. Our favorite area to stay however is the upcoming working-class neighborhood of Getsmani, where the hotels and hostels are somewhat cheaper and the streetscape is less polished.

Additional tip: do you want to explore the hypermodern part of Cartagena? Then you’ll have to be in the Bocagrande district with high-rise buildings and beaches. We are not big fans of this option, because for us Cartagena is mainly about the authentic streets and historical sights. We find Bocagrande a bit lackluster and its luxury hotels like it Hyatt Regency Cartagena aren’t cheap.

Regarding accommodations in Cartagena, make sure to look for a place to stay where you can cool off. Temperatures in Cartagena can be very hot and an air-conditioned hotel is not an unnecessary luxury. Some Cartagena hotels even offer swimming pools – often beautiful infinity pools or rooftop pools – and that would be the perfect place to relax in the hot afternoons.

Where to stay in Centro

The old city center – the Centro Histórico district – is the ancient walled part of the town. Centro is the most charming part of Cartagena, offering most of the sights and museums. Because the historic center is the most popular and busy part of the city, the places to stay in Centro are a bit more expensive than in other parts of Cartagena.

The best hostels and hotels in Centro:

#1 Hotel Boutique Casona del Colegio for those who want to treat themselves to one of the most beautiful luxury hotels in Cartagena. The hotel has a central location, an infinity pool, a garden with terrace and its own restaurant.

#2 Amarla Boutique Hotel Cartagena for an adults-only boutique hotel with a rooftop outdoor pool, bar, garden and beautifully decorated rooms. The hotel is very centrally located within walking distance of all the sights in Centro.

#3 El Barrio Hostal for a budget-friendly place to stay in Centro. The hostel is cosy, but very simple. It is mainly the central location at a relatively low price that makes this a good option in Centro.

#4 Hotel Boutique Casona del Colegio for a wonderful hotel with very high review ratings. The hotel is housed in a beautiful colonial building and combines authentic architecture with modern luxury. There is a garden, terrace, rooftop infinity pool and bar.

#5 Casa Claver Loft Boutique for a small-scale luxury hotel in an authentic building from the seventeenth century. The central location, the beautiful outdoor swimming pool on the roof, the extensive breakfast and spacious rooms have earned this boutique hotel very high review ratings.

Where to stay in San Diego

San Diego is the northwestern part of the old walled town. The district has the same charming streets with pastel-colored buildings as Centro. But it is a lot less busy than in the heart of the Centro Histórico, making this a pleasant place to stay.

The best hostels and hotels in San Diego:

#6 Republica Hostel for a budget-friendly, yet stylish place to stay on the border between Centro and San Diego. The hostel has an outdoor swimming pool and a terrace.

#7 Bastion Luxury Hotel for a sleek and modern luxury hotel in San Diego, but very close to Centro. The hotel is housed in an authentic sixteenth-century building. The literal highlight is the roof terrace with a swimming pool.

#8 Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena for a hotel in a former convent from the seventeenth century. The hotel offers rooms with balconies that overlook the exotic hotel garden or the Caribbean Sea. There is an outdoor pool, spa, bar and two restaurants.

#9 Casa Movida Hostel for a beautiful and colorfully decorated hostel in San Diego. The hostel has a garden with a swimming pool, a shared lounge, a terrace and a restaurant. There are both dormitories and private rooms.

#10 Viajero Hostel Cartagena for a popular hostel with rave reviews and a central location in San Diego. There are both private and dormitory rooms. The hotel offers a sun terrace, an extensive breakfast buffet and a small swimming pool.

Where to stay in Getsemani

Getsemani has become one of the most popular areas to stay in Cartagena. Many travelers prefer it for its more authentic atmosphere. The old working-class district is less polished, but is also one of the more upcoming areas of Cartagena. Getsemani offers modern street art, trendy restaurants, great hostels and lovely small-scale hotels. The most colorful street is Calle de Las Sombrillas with instagrammable umbrellas hanging above the street.

The best hostels and hotels in Getsemani:

#11 Hotel Boutique Casa Isabel for a cozy hotel on the outskirts of Getsemani. The hotel has lovely rooms with colorful accents and a beautiful roof terrace. Guests give Casa Isabel only rave reviews and high review ratings.

#12 Casa Zahri Boutique Hostel for one of the best hostels in Cartagena. There is an outdoor swimming pool, a garden, a shared lounge, a terrace and a bar. The stylish decor and details make this hotel a beautiful place to stay.

#13 Selina Cartagena for a stylish hostel from the well-known Selina chain in trendy Getsemani. The location is very central and the hostel offers a beautiful view of the bay. Lounge beds, a sun terrace and a swimming pool can be found on the roof terrace. There are stylish private rooms as well as nicely furnished dormitories.

#14 Lunala Hotel Boutique for a lovely boutique hotel with rave reviews in the southern tip of Getsemani. The hotel has a small outdoor swimming pool, a garden, a shared lounge and a terrace.

#15 Casa Jaguar Hotel Boutique for a particularly beautiful and stylish hotel not far from the colorful Calle de Las Sombrillas. It has an outdoor swimming pool, a garden, a restaurant and a bar. The enthusiastic reviews praise the beautiful interior, the staff and the extensive breakfast.

Save this pin for later: