Church and Yellow Colonial Building, Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena

Founded in 1533 by the Spanish conquistadores, Cartagena de Indias, the queen of the Caribbean coast, became one of the most important ports in South America, where much of the plundered jewels and gold from the continent was shipped to Spain, the mother country.

The essence of Cartagena’s old city is immortalised behind the robust fortresses and thick walls constructed to defend it from pirates and plunderers alike during the 17th century. It has now become one of Latin America’s great cities, well known for its friendly people and vibrant nightlife. It is a captivating city crammed with enough restaurants, museums, galleries and colonial churches to willingly lose time over.

San Pedro Claver Church, Cartagena, Colombia
Colombia

Highlights of Colombia

Combine a host of Colombia’s cultural highlights, spending time in vibrant cities, peaceful mountain villages and fertile coffee growing valleys, topped off with time on the coast.  

15 days

from $6,057 pp

UN SDG - 14 Life below water logo UN SDG - 17 partnerships for the goals logo

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Salt production, Guajira Peninsula, Colombia
Guajira Peninsula, Colombia

Off-the-Beaten-Track in Colombia

This Colombian adventure unveils some of the nation’s most offbeat locations, while still taking time to privately tour the galleries and architectural highlights of the cosmopolitan capital.
An extraordinary trip for intrepid visitors to “the gateway to South America”, it traverses both the Amazon Rainforest and the Guajira Peninsula.

18 days

from $7,050 pp

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Colonial Buildings, Cartagena, Columbia
Colombia

A little more about Cartagena

Board a horse and carriage or wander aimlessly through the Puerta del Reloj, the old entrance to the city, and along the narrow cobblestone streets flanked by well-preserved colonial mansions and their overhanging flower-filled balconies. Sample delicious sweet delicacies sold along Portal de los Dulces and explore the beautiful yet grisly Palacio de la Inquisicion (Palace of the Inquisition). Taste tropical fruit juices on the Plaza de Santo Domingo and contemplate the twisted bell tower that looms above the city’s oldest church, Santo Domingo, which according to local folklore was sabotaged by the devil.

Experiences

What do you really love doing? We’ll tailor your itinerary to suit you.

Church and Yellow Colonial Building, Cartagena, Colombia

Discover Cartagena

Explore the beautifully preserved old town and UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its vibrant colourful colonial homes, churches and balconies shrouded in bougainvillea.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Rosario Islands, Colombia

Explore the Rosarios Islands

Take a boat trip to the beautiful Rosarios Islands, a national park made up of coral islands, beautiful beaches and mangroves.

Cartagena Bolivar, Colombia

Sunset over Cartagena

Sip cocktails as you watch the stunning sunset from Cafe del Mar, a bar set atop the ancient city walls.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Where to stay

Some of the wonderful places to stay that we frequently recommended.

Alfiz £££££

  • Colombia
  • Boutique

Alfiz Boutique Hotel is located in the heart of Cartagena. A former smuggler’s house, and then the British Consul, each of the eight rooms are dedicated to a specific period in the history of Cartagena. Alfiz offers very personalised service and makes for an excellent base from which to explore this charming city. Only breakfast is served although there is a wide range of bars and restaurants nearby. If Carl (the Swedish owner and historian) is in residence, he will fascinate you with the history and stories relating to this very old building.

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La Passion Hotel £££££

  • Colombia
  • Boutique

La Passion is a charming boutique hotel housed within an 18th-century palace in the historic centre of Cartagena. This cosy and intimate property is an eclectic range of styles and tastes. Rooms are mostly decorated in a contemporary fashion with bold colour schemes and are accessed from a traditional central courtyard. There is a fabulous rooftop swimming pool, a Jacuzzi and solarium. Boat trips can be arranged through reception to Baru and Rosario Islands.

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Sofitel Santa Clara £££££

  • Colombia
  • Boutique

A former convent of Clarissa nuns built-in 1621, whose walls have acted as a defensive shield in the past, the Hotel Sofitel Santa Clara is a luxury hotel in the historical heart of Cartagena. Evoking the splendour of a bygone age, over 122 rooms and suites surround a central patio or swimming pool and offer all modern amenities and a fresh-style with a touch of French sophistication. Facilities include El Coro Bar cheered by Caribbean music, Café del Claustro brasserie, Restaurante 1621 and the large So Spa including hammam and a large outdoor pool.

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Casa San Agustin £££££

  • Colombia
  • Boutique

Casa San Agustin is located in the historic centre of Cartagena and effortlessly combines traditional Spanish colonialism and Cartagena’s Caribbean coast with modern-day living. 32 rooms boast centuries-old wooden beams, yet soft-blue shades and specially made furnishings resound with the nearby Caribbean Sea. Moreover, coral stone walls and some 300-year-old frescos are found in the library. The Caribbean influence is also evident in Alma, the hotel’s alfresco restaurant with delicious dishes such as conch, ceviche, Colombian-style bouillabaisse and marinated roasted sea bass. Additional facilities include a sun terrace and a small pool with a bar.

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Hotel Agua Baru £££££

  • Colombia
  • Beach and Island Escapes

Hotel Agua Baru is situated on a hill on the western side of Isla Baru and is made up of three bungalows. It is only 45 minutes from Cartagena by boat. The bungalows enjoy total seclusion and feature a sea view.

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Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

John Faithfull

Colombia is a firm Latin favourite with John, who’s most memorable moment in the country included an exhausting hike through the wild (and lawless) Darien Gap with The Times journalist Martin Fletcher.

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