Things to do in Cartagena

Itineraries for Your Trip to Cartagena

Cartagena locals share their perfect days.
Find your Cartagena

1 Day in Cartagena for First Timers

Curated by Jessica Colley ClarkeJessica Colley Clarke is a freelance writer and curious traveler based in New York City. Her stories have appeared in AFAR magazine, BBC Travel, The Daily Beast, and the New York Times, among other publications.

The coastal city of Cartagena charms with its walled city, colonial buildings, and vibrant markets. Spend one day in the city and you can visit historic monasteries, learn to cook Colombian food, and go for a sunset cruise on the bay. Here are our top picks for 24 hours in Cartagena. 


Start your day with an introduction to Cartagena by touring the walled city on foot or via hop-on hop-off bus. See several landmarks including the Rafael Núñez house and Castillo San Felipe during the journey. Tours by minivan and private air-conditioned vehicles cover ground quickly and include stops at attractions such as the Cartagena Naval Museum, a historic monastery, and the Cathedral of Saint Peter Claver (Catedral de San Pedro Claver). 


Get a taste for local flavors with a market tour and cooking class. Begin the experience with a stop at the Bazurto Market to pick up fresh ingredients, then travel to a family home to learn how to make traditional Colombian dishes. Alternatively, take a guided cycling or Segway tour. Maximize time in Cartagena with these quick forms of transportation and follow your local guide to see churches, monuments, and parks, learning about the city’s heritage and culture along the way. 


See Cartagena from a new perspective on a sunset boat tour. Raise a glass during your coastal cruise through Cartagena Bay, and watch the colors of the sunset over the city. Several boat-tour options are available, including cruises with open bars and harbor cruises with a multicourse dinner and wine. Back on dry land, explore the city streets after dark with a horse-and-carriage ride. Roll through the narrow lanes of the walled city, past Unesco-listed landmarks. Some horse-and-carriage tours also include dinner at a traditional Colombian restaurant. 

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