We love exploring Colombia and have gathered our favorite places to stay, eat, drink and explore. We will be continually adding to this list - let us know if you have any favorites!
Where to stay
Casa San Augustin - Calle de la Universidad de Cartagena #36-44, CentroHotel Casa San Augustin is a boutique hotel in the class Colonial style. The hotel belongs to the Leading Hotels of the World consortium, so you know it meets a high standard. It has 20 guest rooms and 11 suites in the beautiful historic space. The hotel also has a lovely restaurant, Alma, where you can look over the pool
Casa Pombo - Calle del Arzobispado, Cra. 5 #34-14
Casa Pombo is a beautiful example of a classic, historical Cartagena house in the walled city. The hotel is made of 5 'apartments' which can be rented out separately or together, each with bedrooms, bathrooms and a kitchen. We absolutely love the common courtyard area with trees and a pool. This is a great option for a family getaway looking for a quieter space.
Hotel Las Islas (about an hour and a half from Cartagena)
Las Islas is located in just that - las islas. About an hour away from Cartagena by boat (also accessible by taxi), you are leaving the hustle and bustle for a true retreat. The hotel features individual huts, either treehouse or waterside, with treehouse huts perched far up in the trees. Las Islas is a member of the Fine Hotels of the World consortium, and for good reason. The service is top notch with attentive staff that is happy to bring you around the beautiful property on golfcarts, help you plan your adventures or make your next round of drinks. This is definitely a pricer option but great for a special occasion. The hotel has great amenities like a lounge area near the beach, spa, and even a private island where you can take a complimentary boat and lounge for the day. Things to know: The property is big, and there is walking involved - but you can also opt for a golf cart. The food and drink is significantly more expensive then you'll find in other spots and your options are limited while there - but the scenery is worth it. You will have to arrange transport to and from the hotel, but the hotel also offers shuttle boats from the city (for a cost). Inquire when booking.
Ecoxata (about an hour from Cartagena) - Cra 8 #29 A 26 Lote 7 Manzana 26
If you're willing to make the trip, Ecoxata offers a beautiful oasis with private huts and an impeccable tropical vibe. The trip there will make you feel far from downtown Cartagena, but even if you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere, you are probably in the right place. To enter, you will ring a bell at a nondescript gate, but it opens into a beautiful pool area. The private huts are scattered throughout the property which features a pool, two story open air restaurant and lounge area, and a beachside lounge area. There a few types of "rooms" - each a private space with outdoor bathroom. Opt for the 'Agua' huts for a private pool in the back. The food is good and the drinks are plentiful. Things to know: This hotel is adults only. The rooms don't have air conditioning, but do have ceiling fans. Be careful about leaving your door open after dusk when the lights are on to avoid mosquitos flying in. While there is a lovely beach area for tanning and relaxing, the water is rough, and definitely less welcoming for swimming than other Cartagena beaches. The area tends to be very windy (and there's a popular kitsurfing school next door!).
Where to eat and drink
Celele - Cl. del Espíritu Santo, Cra. 10c #29-200, Getsemani
This restaurant was voted one of the world's 50 best in 2021 and we see why. Celele delivers truly unique Carribean food with the right balance between innovation and tradition. Ask your server what to get while you sip on a delicious fruity cocktail and soak in the tropical interior.
Alquimico Bar - Cl. del Colegio #34-24, Centro
This bar is in an amazing space with three floors, each with a different concept and menu ranging from a classic DJ bar vibe on the ground floor to a tropical rooftop. We love this spot before or after dinner, but be aware that it does get busy so you may have to wait for a table.
Andres Cartagena - Cra. 11 #39-21, San Diego
We would be remiss not to mention the absolute classic, Andres. While this location is new and doesn't hold a candle to the original outside Bogota, it's a right of passage for visitors and delivers on the energy and Colombian essence. You'll catch performers bringing all different types of entertainment (it's really hard to explain... you'll see why) while eating all of the Colombian classics. If you're looking for a cocktail, try the Mandarino.
Where to explore
Plaza La Serrezuela - Cra. 11 #39-21, San Diego
La Serrezuela is a fantastic bull fighting ring turned shopping center. It features an array of higher end shops and restaurants. Our favorite is Malva on the lower level, which features fashionable Colombian designers (the main location is only women, but you can find the men's store across the hall). You will find other favorite here like Azulu and Eugenia Fernandez. We can't forget to mention the mega popular Crepes & Waffles which has a location with great terrace with a view. This is a great place to explore for the shops and the architecture if you need retail therapy or just some AC.