Cartagena is a perfect location for a solo traveller. After my trip to Peru, I wanted to expand my travels around South America, so I took a solo trip to Cartagena for a few days. Like Peru, Colombia was another perfect destination for the travel foodie who loves adventure and lives for colourful streets.
Cartagena is a vibrant city in Colombia on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. With its rich culture, historic architecture, and stunning beaches, Cartagena gave me everything I needed and more. In this 5-day itinerary, I will guide you through the must-visit spots, hidden gems, and culinary delights that make Cartagena a true gem for you to visit.
Colombia Entry requierment
Entry requirements for travellers to Colombia can vary based on nationality. British, Canadian and U.S. citizens do not require a visa for visiting and travelling to Colombia. However, you may need to complete a health declaration form called “CHECK MIG”. There is a small charge to complete the form- click here for the link.
If you travel to Colombia as a British Citizen, check the ‘Entry Requirements’ section for Colombia’s current entry restrictions and requirements.
Note: Regardless of your passport, you should always look at the requirements for entering a country, even if you have travelled before because things change.
I stayed in two different hotels and enjoyed both stays. Here are the hotels I stayed in:
What to eat in Colombia
In Cartagena, every dish tells a story, and every bite celebrates this enchanting coastal city’s tradition, culture, and vibrant spirit. In Colombia, you should eat the Arepa de Huevo in Cartagena for breakfast, a maize dough dish with meat. (The hotels I stayed in had local food, which was great!)
I also enjoyed the Coroso juice. I had the best one at Canderestaurante. I also tried the South American meat pie called Carimaola, a yuca fritter stuffed with cheese and meat – these are relatively small and can be pretty morish if they are your thing.
I also enjoyed the Coctel, a seafood cocktail dish with a sweet, tangy flavour. I am not the biggest fan of coffee, but I have heard many good things about it in Colombia, so if you are a coffee fan, I suggest trying it.
Finally, there is Arroz con Coco (coconut rice), which is absolutely divine. I couldn’t recommend it enough! In the itinerary, there will be more dishes with restaurants that I recommend trying in Cartagena, Colombia.
Day 1: Arrival and Historic Wonders
- Morning: Arrive in Cartagena and settle into your accommodation. I stayed at the Maddison Boutique Hotel and loved it.
- Afternoon: I booked a tour guide with Get Your Guide and strolled through the old streets of the Walled City and Getsemani. I tasted traditional Colombian sweets and a refreshing Colombian juice called Corozo. You can book the same tour here.
- Evening: In the evening, I had dinner at elcabildogastromar, where I tried the Mojarra Frita, a fried fish with famous coconut rice. I then caught an Uber and returned to my hotel as I knew I had an early start the next day.
Day 2: Spa Day at Volcano (Volcan de lodo el totumo)
- Morning: I started the day early and was picked up from my hotel at around 7:30 a.m. I enjoyed the massage and clay volcanic mud rubbed into my skin. You can book the exact tour here.
- Afternoon: Before the tour finished, we were washed off and given a light snack and drink. I had the Carimaola, a Colombian cuisine meat pie filled with cheese and seasoned ground meat. I was dropped back to my hotel to freshen up for the evening.
- Evening: I had dinner at Hotel Casa Lola and ordered a pasta dish.
Day 3: Island Escape to Rosario Islands
- Morning: I started early and embarked on a day trip to the Rosario Islands, a crystal-clear waters and white-sand beaches paradise. I had already moved to my second hotel so was staying at the GHL Arsenal Hotel. This was great as I was able to walk nearby and catch my boat.
- Afternoon: Snorkel, swim, or relax on the beach. I enjoyed a beachfront lunch featuring regional seafood specialities. You can book the full tour here.
- Evening: Enjoy a sunset walk along the historic walls and dine at a local traditional Colombian restaurant, Cande Restaurant @canderestaurante
Day 4: Food Tour in Cartagena
- Morning: I met with my tour guide for a food tour at around 8 a.m. We sat out around the city of Cartagena and tried a few fantastic dishes, including:
- Chicha de arroz (rice juice)
- 🫓 Arepas (maize dough)
- 🧃 Coroso juice (plum juice – my favourite 🤩)
- 🍤 Coctel (seafood cocktail)
- Afternoon: Enjoy some lunch at Agua De Leon. Get the empanadas and seafood curried rice, and you will be delighted.
- Evening: I headed out to do some shopping for souvenirs. Colombia has varied options for hats, bags, etc. Oh, and try the ice cream at totoom.cartagena.
Day 5: Last Day and Farewell
- Morning/Afternoon: I spent the morning walking through the city again and capturing the beautiful, colourful streets. You could finish some time packing or even buy some souvenirs to take home.
- Evening: It was time to head to the airport for my flight.
Other resources for Colombia
- My Instagram page has detailed reels and specifics on visiting Colombia.
- The restaurants that I enjoyed and ate at are here.
- I went on a solo trip, so check out my post on travelling solo confidently – here.
- Before going to any of these countries, I recommend visiting the Foreign Advice Page for U.K. travellers. Check if you need visas here.
- Book with Viator or Get Your Guide if you want specific tours for Colombia.
- I used Airlo, an e-sim card, for data. You can purchase it here and use the code ADEBOL5279.
See you soon, Colombia.
I can’t say goodbye because I will undoubtedly return for more. The enchanting streets, historic sites, and beautiful beaches of Cartagena left me with blissful memories of the city. Cartagena is more than a destination; it’s a journey of discovery, beauty, and joy.
Is Cartagena, Colombia, somewhere you would go?