Where to Stay in Cartagena, Colombia ūüá®ūüáī: Top-6 Best Area & Hotels¬†

Updated on June 6, 2024
by Alex Miller

Cartagena, a city with a rich history dating back over 2000 years, was founded by the Carthaginian Hasdrubal and has been influenced by various cultures like the Romans, Visigoths, Vandals, Byzantines, and Arabs. This Spanish city boasts impressive landmarks such as the Roman amphitheatre, San Felipe De Barajas castle, the castle of La Concepcion, and the 18th-century rampart of King Charles III, making it a captivating destination for history enthusiasts.

Whether you’re seeking luxury beachfront resorts, charming boutique hotels, or budget-friendly hostels, Cartagena has accommodation options to suit every traveler’s needs and preferences. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the city’s top neighborhoods and uncover the best places to stay in Cartagena, along with must-see attractions, dining recommendations, and practical tips to help you plan your perfect getaway.

Our Pick of the Best Hotels in Cartagena

Explore a city on foot, starting at Plaza Bastarreche to discover ancient ruins, art deco buildings, and the spectacular Roman theatre. Don’t miss the opportunity to cruise around Cartagena’s port, offering a picturesque. Don’t forget to explore a historic city center of Cartagena, known as Walled City.

Take advantage of our full guide to the best places, best restaurants and hotels in each district, because this way you can find some of the best places for your vacation, whether with your family or alone.

The Best Places to Stay in Cartagena: Quick Guide

  • 🏰 For first-time visitors: The Walled City
  • 🌺 For families: San Diego
  • ✨ For authentic lovers: Getsemaní
  • 🌃 For nightlife: Bocagrande
  • 🏖️ For beach lovers: El Laguito
  • 🍀 For nature lovers: The Rosario Islands
  • 💎 For luxury: Castillogrande

1. The Walled City: The Heart of Cartagena’s History 🏰

🏺 Ancient surroundings: The Centro Histórico,area is best known as a historic walled city, is heart of Cartagena and a must-see for first-time visitors. As you wander along its charming streets, you’ll be enchanted by the colonial buildings, colorful squares, and bustling energy.

🚶🏻 Ideal for walking: Its best area for walking along the old town walls which offer panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea and the city’s rooftops. Compact size and pedestrian-friendly streets: The historic center is relatively small and enclosed within the old colonial walls, making it easy to explore on foot.

✨ The charm of architecture: Exploring the Puerta del Reloj (Clock Gate), an iconic landmark with an ornate clock tower. Visiting the Plaza de Bolívar and the Cathedral of Cartagena, a grand Catholic church. Wandering through the charming streets lined with colorful buildings.

🏛️ Top Attractions in the Walled City

  • Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas: An impressive 17th-century fortress with panoramic views of the city and the Caribbean Sea.
  • Plaza de Bolívar: The historic main square, surrounded by colonial-era buildings and the Cartagena Cathedral.
  • Convento de la Popa: A hilltop monastery with stunning views over the city and the bay.

🍽️ Best Dining in the Walled City

  • La Cevichería: A renowned seafood restaurant serving up fresh, innovative ceviche and other coastal Colombian specialties.
  • Carmen Cartagena: A charming courtyard restaurant offering a fine dining experience with a focus on local, seasonal ingredients.
  • Alquimico: Hip bar with a rooftop terrace serving inventive cocktails, sandwiches, seafood & meat plates.

👍 Everything is nearby: The city’s historic downtown is within walking distance to popular sights and conveniently located near taxis and buses for easy access.

Where to Stay in Wall City? 

⭐ Best expensive hotels

  • Casa Pestagua – 18th century building called the “prettiest in Cartagena”, spa with city views.
  • Bastion Luxury Hotel – Elegant rooms with stunning views of the walled city.
  • Hotel Casa San Agustín – Elegantly appointed suites around a patio, pool, and gorgeously restored colonial building.

🏨 Best mid-range hotels

  • Casa BuGo – The hotel will provide guests with air-conditioned rooms with a wardrobe, a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with a shower.
  • Hotel Boutique Casona del Colegio – It’s one of the best of 4 stars hotels, which combines beautiful colonial architecture and luxurious Colombian design in the style of the “XXI century”.
  • Ganem Suites Cartagena – Set less than 1 km from Marbella Beach in Cartagena de Indias, Ganem Suites Cartagena offers accommodation with air conditioning and free WiFi.

🛏️ Best budget hotels

2. San Diego: The Quiet Neighbor 🕊️

👀 Beautiful views: San Diego is a quieter neighborhood compared to El Centro, offering a more relaxed atmosphere. It’s a good option for those looking for a more peaceful stay in Cartagena.This charming enclave is known for its colorful colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, and vibrant atmosphere.

✍️ Rich in culture: Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or simply soaking up the vibrant atmosphere, the San Diego neighborhood of Cartagena is a must-visit destination. If you want to decide where to stay in the city with your family, then San Diego will be the perfect place to stay.

🏛️ Top Attractions in the San Diego:

  • Plaza de San Diego: A lively square surrounded by restaurants and bars, often featuring street performers
  • Las Bóvedas: A series of 23 vaults built into the city walls, now housing shops and galleries
  • Iglesia de Santo Toribio: A beautiful 16th-century church with a Baroque facade.

🍽️ Best Dining in the San Diego:

San Diego boasts an array of excellent dining options, from casual eateries to upscale restaurants. Some top spots for lunch include:

  • Restaurante Candé: A popular seafood restaurant known for its fresh ceviches and laid-back vibe
  • La Mulata: A cozy spot serving traditional Colombian dishes like ajiaco and bandeja paisa
  • Andrés Carne de Res Cartagena: An elegant fine dining restaurant offering innovative Colombian-Caribbean cuisine

🚕 Getting Around: San Diego is a highly walkable area, with most attractions, restaurants, and hotels located within easy walking distance of each other. The neighborhood is also well-connected to other parts of Cartagena, with taxis readily available and the Transcaribe bus system serving the area.

Where to Stay in San Diego?

⭐ Best hotels in San Diego

🏨 Best cheap/moderate hotels

🛏️ Best budget hotels

3. Getsemaní: Cartagena’s Vibrant Artistic Neighborhood 🎨

🍃 An energetic life: Just outside the Walled City, Getsemaní is a lively, bohemian neighborhood known for its street art, trendy bars, and vibrant nightlife. This area is perfect for travelers seeking a more authentic, local experience.

🏠 Atmospheric streets: Admiring the murals and graffiti that cover the walls throughout the neighborhod. Listening to the rhythms of traditional Colombian music played by street performers. Exploring the lively Plaza de la Trinidad, filled with restaurants, bars, and local vendors.

🎨 Top Attractions in Getsemaní:

  • Street Art Tour: Explore the neighborhood’s vibrant murals and graffiti with a guided walking tour.
  • Plaza de la Trinidad: A lively square surrounded by bars, restaurants, and street performers.
  • Parque del Centenario: A peaceful park with a large mural depicting Cartagena’s history.

🍽️ Best Dining in Getsemaní:

  • Restaurante Celele: A casual, family-run restaurant serving up traditional Colombian home-cooked meals.
  • Restaurante La Casa de Socorro: A high-class restaurant with a beautiful interior and fresh food.
  • Di Silvio Trattoria: Airy, rustic wood-hewn eatery offering Italian plates from pasta to pizza plus wine & cocktails..
Getsemaní, Cartagena
Getsemaní, Cartagena
Getsemaní, Cartagena
Getsemaní, Cartagena
Getsemaní, Cartagena
Getsemaní, Cartagena
Getsemaní, Cartagena
Getsemaní, Cartagena
Getsemaní, Cartagena
Getsemaní, Cartagena
Getsemaní, Cartagena
Getsemaní, Cartagena
Getsemaní, Cartagena
Getsemaní, Cartagena

🚶 Well-connected. Getsemaní is within walking distance of the Walled City, making it easy to explore both areas on foot. Taxis and ride-sharing services are also readily available.

Where to stay in Getsemaní ? 

⭐ Expensive Hotels in Getsemaní

  • OSH Hotel Getsemani – One of the best boutique hotels with elegant colonial-style decor and exceptional service.
  • Hotel Capellan de Getsemani – Buzzy area with vibrant street art & late-night bars around popular hangout Holy Trinity Square.
  • GHL Arsenal Hotel – Its upscale property offering a full range of amenities and an excellent location in the heart of Cartagena’s tourist district.

🏨 Mid-Range Hotels

🛏️ Budget Hotels

 4. Bocagrande: Cartagena’s Beachfront Oasis 🏖️

💎 Urban difference: Bocagrande is one of the most popular areas in Cartagena, Colombia, known for its stunning beaches, high-rise hotels, and vibrant nightlife scene. This modern neighborhood offers a wide range of bars, clubs, and restaurants that cater to both locals and tourists looking to experience the city’s legendary party atmosphere.

🌃 Nightlife: Bocagrande’s nightlife offers a modern, Miami-like experience that contrasts with the colonial charm of Cartagena’s Old Town. With its diverse range of bars, clubs, and restaurants, this neighborhood is the perfect destination for those seeking a lively and unforgettable night out in one of Colombia’s most captivating cities.

🛒 Suitable for shopping: Plaza Bocagrande is one of Colombia’s most upscale malls, featuring luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Prada. The Nao Mall is another shopping hotspot in the area.

✨ Fantastic beaches: Bocagrande’s beaches are a major draw for visitors, offering a lively atmosphere during the day that seamlessly transitions into the night. While the beaches may not be the most pristine, they provide a convenient spot to relax and soak up the sun before heading out to explore the neighborhood’s vibrant nightlife scene.

🏖️ Top Attractions in Bocagrande:

  • Playa de Bocagrande: The long, sandy beach that stretches along the neighborhood, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.
  • Muelle de los Pegasos: A scenic pier and promenade with restaurants, bars, and stunning views of the bay.
  • Centro Comercial Bocagrande: A large shopping mall with a variety of stores, restaurants, and entertainment options.

🍽️ Best Dining in Bocagrande: There are a wide variety of dining options, from casual beachside eateries to upscale international restaurants.

  • Crepes & Waffles San Martín: A restaurant offers an extensive menu featuring soups, salads, sweet and savory crepes, waffles, ice cream, and shakes.
  • CASA HISTORICA 1927: A fine dining establishment offering innovative Colombian-Mediterranean fusion cuisine.
  • Ely Café Bocagrande: Casual establishment offering a variety of hearty global dishes in a traditional dining area.
  • El Punto Múltiple del Sabor: This highly rated restaurant offers a variety of flavorful dishes at reasonable prices.

🚖 Easy access: Bocagrande is located about 10 minutes by taxi from the Walled City. The neighborhood is walkable, with most hotels, restaurants, and attractions within a short distance of each other.

Recommended hotels:

⭐ Expensive Hotels in Bocagrande

🏨 Mid-Range Hotels

🛏️ Budget Hotels

  • San Martin Cartagena – A grand 3-star hotel located in the heart of Cartagena.
  • Almirante Cartagena Hotel – A well-appointed hotel with a prime location in Bocagrande, offering great value for money.
  • Hotel Bocagrande – A budget-friendly option with basic amenities and a convenient location near the beach.

 5. El Laguito: Cartagena’s Coastal Oasis 🏝️

🍀 An island of tranquility: Located just north of Bocagrande, El Laguito is a quieter, more residential neighborhood that offers a peaceful respite from the bustling city center. It’s an ideal choice for travelers seeking a relaxing beach vacation.

⚜️ Сlose to history: One of the main attractions in El Laguito is its proximity to the Walled City, a 16th-century fortress that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can explore the Inquisition Palace, the Cloisters and Church of San Pedro Claver, and other historic landmarks just a short distance from the neighborhood.

🏖️ Top Attractions in El Laguito:

  • Playa de El Laguito: A beautiful, crescent-shaped beach with calm, turquoise waters, perfect for swimming and water sports.
  • Parque Natural Corales del Rosario y de San Bernardo: A protected marine park with stunning coral reefs and diverse marine life, accessible by boat.
  • Isla Barú: A picturesque island just off the coast, known for its pristine beaches and laid-back island vibe.

🍽️ Best Dining in El Laguito:

  • El Muelle: A beachfront restaurant serving up fresh seafood and Caribbean-inspired cuisine.
  • Restaurante Punta las velas Club de playa:  An upscale dining experience with panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea.
  • Restaurante-Bar Intriga Tropical: A chic, waterfront restaurant with a focus on sustainable, locally sourced ingredients.

✔️ Convenient location: El Laguito is located just 5 miles southwest of Rafael Nunez International Airport, making it easily accessible for travelers. The neighborhood is also well-connected to other parts of Cartagena, with plenty of taxis and public transportation options available.

Recommended hotels:

⭐ Expensive Hotels in El Laguito

  • Hilton Cartagena Hotel – A luxurious beachfront resort with modern amenities, multiple dining options, and breathtaking ocean views.
  • Hermoso Alojamiento – This is an apartment in the El Laguito area of Cartagena. It offers an outdoor pool, a fitness center, a garden and a terrace.
  • FRAGATA STYLE 2 – This charming apartment offers stunning sea views and an exceptional location in the El Laguito area.

🏨 Mid-Range Hotels

  • Wala beach club – Its hotel located in Cartagena. It offers an outdoor pool, a garden, a shared lounge and a terrace.
  • Hotel Caribbean Cartagena – A comfortable and stylish hotel located in the heart of El Laguito, offering easy access to the beach and city attractions.
  • Hotel Dann Cartagena – It is generally less expensive than the average 4-star hotel in Cartagena.

🛏️ Budget Hotels

6. The Rosario Islands: a Piece of Paradise 🌅

🔆 An incredible experience: The Rosario Islands, a stunning archipelago located just off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia, offer a tropical paradise for travelers seeking pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and unforgettable adventures. This breathtaking destination is a must-visit for anyone exploring the Caribbean coast of Colombia.

⛱️ Dreams come true: The Rosario Islands of Cartagena offer a mesmerizing escape for travelers seeking a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure. With its stunning beaches, vibrant marine life, delectable cuisine, and luxurious accommodations, this Caribbean paradise is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories.

🏖️ Top Attractions in Rosario Islands:

  • Isla Grande: The largest island in the archipelago, Isla Grande boasts powdery white sand beaches and lush vegetation, making it a perfect spot for relaxation and exploration.
  • Isla Barú: Known for its vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life, Isla Barú is a snorkeler’s and diver’s dream come true.

🍽️ Best Dining in Rosario Islands:

  • Isla Majagua: Indulge in fresh seafood and traditional Colombian cuisine at the charming beachside restaurants on Isla Majagua.
  • Isla Coralina: Savor delicious local dishes while enjoying the stunning views of the Caribbean Sea at the laid-back eateries on Isla Coralina.
The Rosario Islands
The Rosario Islands
The Rosario Islands

🚤 Difficult access:

  • Getting There: To reach the Rosario Islands, take a boat tour or hire a private boat from the bustling port city of Cartagena, located just a short distance away.
  • Getting Around: Once on the islands, explore the sandy paths on foot or rent a golf cart to discover the hidden gems scattered throughout the archipelago.

Recommended hotels:

⭐ Expensive Hotels in Rosario Islands

  • Hotel Coralina Island – One of the best luxury hotels in Cartagena offering overwater bungalows, a private beach, and exceptional service.
  • Hotel Cocoliso Island Resort – This upscale resort boasts elegant accommodations, a spa, and various water sports facilities, near Cartagena.
  • Hotel San Pedro de Majagua – Experience ultimate luxury and relaxation at this eco-friendly resort, which offers private beaches, spa services, and exquisite accommodations.

🏨 Mid-Range Hotels

  • Hotel Islabela Islas Del Rosario – A charming eco-hotel with rustic-chic bungalows, a beautiful beach, and a commitment to sustainability.
  • Hotel Isla del Encanto – A cozy island retreat with comfortable rooms, a pool, and easy access to nearby attractions.
  • Rosario EcoHotel – Rosario EcoHotel features a restaurant, bar, a shared lounge and garden in Isla Grande.

🛏️ Budget Hotels

7. Castillogrande: A Luxurious Peninsula🌴

💥 All inclusive: Castillogrande is a posh residential area in Cartagena, known for its modern high-rise buildings with stunning views of the Bay and Tierra Bomba Island. This picturesque peninsula juts into the Bay, featuring a scenic pedestrian boardwalk on the north side and tranquil beaches with calm waters on the south.

🏖️ Perfect location: Castillogrande is situated on a peninsula that juts out into the Bay of Cartagena. The neighborhood boasts a pedestrian boardwalk along its northern side, perfect for leisurely strolls with a view. On the southern side, residents can enjoy calm water beaches.

🏖️ Top Attractions in Castillogrande:

  • Playa Castillo Grande: A beautiful beach with soft, dark sand and cabanas available for rent. Vendors offer food and beverages along the shore.
  • Castillogrande Boardwalk: A lovely boardwalk stretching along the bay side of Bocagrande, perfect for a scenic stroll or jog. The path offers breathtaking views of the city skyline and the Caribbean Sea.

🍽️ Best Dining in Castillogrande:

  • Restaurante Pizzas Picos Castillo: A charming restaurant serving delectable Colombian cuisine with a modern twist. Don’t miss their signature seafood dishes and refreshing cocktails.
  • CasaMía Cocina: Located inside Hotel Barahona, CasaMía Cocina provides an upscale dining experience with excellent food and service.

⚡ Great infrastructure: Castillogrande features wide, well-maintained sidewalks, making it a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood. The streets follow a simple grid pattern, allowing for easy navigation. Taxis and ride-sharing services are readily available for longer distances or trips to other parts of Cartagena.

Where to stay in Castillogrande?

⭐ Expensive Hotels in Castillogrande

🏨 Mid-Range Hotels

🛏️ Budget Hotels in Castillogrande

🤔 Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best areas to stay in Cartagena for families?

There are two areas more suitable for families: San Diego and Bocagrande. The first one is quieter than the main El Centro area, yet still within the historic walled city. Bocagrande has a nice beach and seaside skyscrapers/resorts, providing a more modern vibe.

Is Cartagena safe for tourists?

Cartagena is generally considered a safe destination for tourists, but it’s always important to take basic precautions, such as avoiding walking alone at night in less-populated areas and keeping valuables secure.

Do I need to know Spanish to visit Cartagena?

While knowing some Spanish can be helpful, many locals in the tourist areas of Cartagena speak English, especially in hotels, restaurants, and shops catering to international visitors.

What are the best day trips from Cartagena?

Some of the most popular day trips from Cartagena include visiting the Rosario Islands, exploring the Volcán de Lodo El Totumo (a mud volcano), and taking a boat tour to the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas.

What are the best neighborhoods to stay in Cartagena, Colombia?

Cartagena is a mesmerizing destination that combines rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural beauty.From the enchanting streets of the Walled City to the pristine beaches of the Rosario Islands, Cartagena offers an unforgettable experience for every type of traveler. Accommodation in Cartagena provides tourists with a huge selection of hotels from luxury to budget options, hotels for families or businessmen.

What are the best beaches in Cartagena?

The best beaches in Cartagena are located in the Bocagrande and El Laguito neighborhoods, offering soft, white sand and clear, turquoise waters. Some of the most popular beaches include Playa de Bocagrande and Playa de El Laguito.