Last Updated on June 1, 2022 by Nellie Huang

For those wondering where to stay in Cartagena, here is a complete guide on the best places to stay in Cartagena, Colombia, for different budgets.

Hot, sultry and electrifying, Cartagena is a vibrant city bursting with character, culture, and history. The Caribbean sweetheart is ridiculously charming, with one of the most well-preserved historical quarters in Latin America. Yes, Cartagena is touristy —  but if you know where to look in Cartagena, you’ll find quirky corners, fascinating history and an undeniable charm. 

If you’re wondering where to stay in Cartagena, this article will help you decide which is the best area for you, whether you’re a budget traveler, digital nomad, or family traveling with kids. I’ve done a whole lot of research and stayed at many of these hotels, so you can trust me!

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Where to Stay in Cartagena

Cartagena has grown over the years, with many new areas popping up and offering more well-designed and affordable accommodation than ever before. I have chosen five of the best areas to stay in Cartagena, and shared the best hotels in each of these areas. Each area has its own unique flair, catering to different kinds of travelers. Click on the links to skip to each section.

Current Colombia Travel Restrictions

Colombia no longer requires a negative coronavirus test from travelers entering the country by air. Anyone is welcomed to travel to Colombia. But is Colombia safe to travel now, with the month-long nationwide protests and COVID19 wreaking havoc? Read my article to find out.

I always recommend travelers to buy travel insurance, especially if you’re traveling during COVID-19. Safety Wing is the most popular travel insurance company for COVID19-coverage. I use their Nomad Insurance plan, which covers COVID-19 as any other illness as long as it was not contracted before your coverage start date. Refer to my travel insurance guide for more details.

Cartagena is a whole away from Medellin and Bogota, and is much safer to visit in general. Crime levels here are considerably lower and they rarely turn violent, but petty theft and similar crime remain common. Three U.S. citizens died in homicides in 2019, two of which occurred in Cartagena.

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How to Get Around Cartagena

Cartagena is a big city and it’s spread out into various sections, with each of the districts displaying different flair. If you’re staying in Centro or Getsemani, it’s easy to walk everywhere. You won’t need a car or public transport.

For those who prefer to stay in Bocagrande or Castillogrande, you’ll need to hire a car or take taxi to get around. We usually book our car rental on Discover Car Hire. A one-week rental costs around US$170 at the moment. Taxis are generally very affordable, you won’t need to spend more than $10 on each trip.

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Where to Stay in Cartagena 2021

Best Places to Stay in Cartagena

Centro: Where to Stay in Cartagena to be in the Heart of the Action

Cartagena Centro is the palpitating heart of the city, and it’s where I recommend staying if it’s your first trip to Cartagena. This is tourist central, for a good reason. The UNESCO World Heritage site is brimming with museums, churches, and historical architecture. Most of the best things to do in Cartagena are concentrated in this area.

But be warned: it can be crowded, especially on weekends and when cruises dock at the port. And it can be noisy at night, with the pumping nightlife. If you want to be in the center but in a quieter area, then continue reading the next point.

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Things to Do in Cartagena Centro

This is just a summary. Click here for the full list of things to do in Cartagena.

  • Visit the Cartagena Cathedral, the iconic landmark of the city. The best photo spot with the Cathedral in the background is on Calle Don Sancho. Walk towards the sea and turn around for a gorgeous view!
  • Everywhere you go in Cartagena’s historical old town, you’ll spot the palenqueras: black women in colorful dresses expertly balancing bowls of tropical fruit on their heads. Over the years, they have become the symbol of not just Cartagena, but of Colombia. Today, they make their money posing for photos.

  • Coffee lovers alert! Check out Epoca Espresso Bar for some creative coffee cocktails. Try the Embajador de la Época, which includes kyoto cold brew, agave and hechicera rum.
  • The best spot in Cartagena for sunset views is the rooftop bar at Movich Hotel Cartagena (pictured). Sip on mojitos by the pool and feast on the sunset views, with San Pedro Claver Church in the backdrop and the modern skyscrapers of Bocagrande in the distance.

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Best Hotels in Cartagena Centro 

Budget: República Hostel Cartagena

Offering an outdoor pool and terrace,  this stylish and trendy hostel is an excellent choice for budget travelers. With a funky design and comfortable beds, the hostel has got great vibes and atmosphere! Check rates here.

Mid Range: La Passion by Masaya

A charismatic place decorated with lush plants, marble floors and vintage furniture, this hotel definitely has an old-world flair that evokes a sense of nostalgia. Featuring a swimming pool and a hot tub, the hotel (pictured) definitely offers great value for money with big spacious rooms and a central location. Check rates here. 

Luxury: Movich Hotel Cartagena de Indias

The best hotel in the old town, Movich Cartagena is well known for its rooftop bar. But the hotel itself is 4-star luxury at its best, with a famous restaurant and top class service. It’s also just a block away from the Clock Tower. Check rates here.

Family: Sophia Hotel

Located just a few steps from Palace of the Inquisition, Sophia Hotel is a beautiful high-end hotel with one of the best rooftop pools in Cartagena. It’s perfect for big families as there are big, spacious 2-bedroom suites that sleep up to 6. Check rates here.

Couples: Bastión Luxury Hotel

Housed in a 16th century remodeled building, this luxury hotel exudes an air of romance, with a sensual atmosphere all around. There’s also a rooftop terrace with a swimming pool and shared lounge. The on-site restaurant, El Gobernador, is one of the best gourmet restaurants in town. Check rates here.

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What to Look For When Booking Your Accommodation in Cartagena

  • Swimming pool — It gets extremely hot and humid in Cartagena due to its geographical location. You’ll get drenched in sweat just from walking around town for a few hours and will be thankful to have a pool at your hotel. The best hotels in Cartagena tend to have rooftop pools with swanky bars and restaurants.
  • Air-conditioning — For the same reason, you’ll want to book a room with air-conditioning. I know many Europeans hate sleeping with air-conditioning, but you really do need it in Cartagena unless you like sleeping in a pool of sweat.
  • Breakfast — Colombian breakfasts are the best! Most hotels, including hostels and guesthouses, will serve a full breakfast that includes arepa, scrambled eggs, a big bowl of tropical fruit, fresh fruit juice, and coffee.
  • Bar — If you’re traveling solo and want to meet people, it’s a good idea to book a hotel/hostel with a bar where you can mingle with other travelers.

San Diego: Where to Stay in Cartagena for Couples and Upscale Travelers

San Diego is the best area to stay in Cartagena in my opinion it’s still within the walled city, but just slightly the north of Centro. With just as much history and colonial buildings as Centro, but with fewer tourists and rowdy bars and nightclubs, this area is definitely more pleasant and quiet.

You can easily walk around without being hassled or asked if you want a taxi or horse carriage ride. You’ll also find some of the best food in Cartagena around the lively Plaza de San Diego, complete with live music and street food in the evenings. 

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Things to Do in San Diego

  • One of the most photogenic streets in San Diego is Calle de Cochera del Hobo, where pink bougainvilleas drape over pastel-colored houses. The doors here are particularly ornate and you’ll often find one or two palenqueras sitting by the street corner here.
  • Made famous by Anthony Bourdain, La Cevichería has been one of the most popular restaurants in Cartagena since being featured on Bourdain’s No Reservations. The seafood-centric menu is simple, but the star of the show is the octopus ceviche.

  • At the northern end of San Diego stands Las Bovedas, or the Vaults. The bright yellow complex is actually a series of dungeons built in the 1790s and turned into prison cells during the civil war. Today Las Bóvedas is a bustling marketplace with local artisan shops and souvenir stores.
  • At sunset, head up to the wall for the best views. The most popular section of the wall is at Cafe del Mar (click to see on Google Map). But it’s overpriced and way too crowded (there were long lines when I was there). You can easily get the same view standing next to the cafe on the wall, for free.

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Best Hotels in San Diego, Cartagena

Budget: Hostal Casa Escallon

With a central location in the walled city, this beautiful hostel is incredibly affordable. My friend, who traveled Colombia for three months, highly recommends this hostel. All rooms have air-conditioning (you’ll need it in hot and sticky Cartagena!). There’s even an outdoor pool and furnished rooftop terrace. Check rates here.

Mid Range: Hotel Casa del Curato

I stayed at this simple hotel (pictured) in the heart of the walled city. Rooms are comfortable and air-conditioned — I opted for the biggest room to have my own balcony and cathedral ceilings. Breakfast is impressive, and the small pool is perfect for refreshing dips. Check rates here.

Luxury: Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena

This is easily the best hotel in Cartagena. Located next to Plaza San Diego, this ultra-luxurious hotel (pictured) has a gorgeous rooftop pool overlooking the sea and a large, glorious patio with lush foliage. This former monastery dating from the 17th Century has been transformed into a top hotel with gourmet restaurants and upscale rooms. Check rates here.

Family: Soy Local Centro Histórico

This apartment building is the best place to stay in Cartagena for families. It has a series of maisonettes and studio apartments, but they all have two double beds and a sofa bed, accommodating up to 6 people. A friend stayed here with her family and they really enjoyed it. Check rates here.

Couples: NACAR Hotel Cartagena

Set in refurbished colonial mansion near Plaza San Diego, Nacar Hotel Cartagena is an exclusive property, part of the Curio Collection by Hilton. It’s terrace pool is exquisite and the all-white interior of its minimalistic rooms definitely make it a special place to stay in. Excellent spot for honeymooners! Check rates here.

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Getsemaní: Where to Stay in Cartagena for Flashpackers and Digital Nomads

Just a 10-minute walk from the old town is Getsemaní, one of the coolest areas to explore in Cartagena. It’s hip, artsy, laidback and rough around the edges. What used to be a gritty neighborhood drowning in crime and violence, has been transformed into a vibrant outdoor art museum, with its street art everywhere and squares flanked by trendy bars.

Cartagena’s hippest neighborhood is now a modern enclave brimming with art gallery, funky cafes and boutique hotels. It’s similar to many revived neighborhoods in Medellin. You”ll find more affordable and equally attractive boutique hotels and hostels here, as well as coworking spaces and cute cafes. 

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Things to Do in Getsemaní

  • To get to Getsemaní from the Old Town, you’ll definitely pass through Parque del Centenario. But this isn’t any park — it’s home to several green iguanas and a resident sloth that roam freely in the park. 
  • Wandering through the pastel maze of houses in Getsemaní , you’ll find plenty of eye-popping, vibrant street art.  The first murals appeared on Calle 29, also known as Calle de la Sierpe. Now, a good portion of the street is covered in striking street art.

  • Callejón Angosto is a photogenic street, worth visiting just for photos. And an even narrower alley that runs parallel to it, Callejón Ancho, is just as photogenic, with floral decorations and a tiny mojito bar right on the street. 
  • One of the best places to try local food in Cartagena is along Calle Tripita y Media, a pedestrianized street lined with colorful flags and flanked with food stalls. This is the cheapest place in the city to try local food — almost all of the diners serve menu del dia.  

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Best Hotels in Getsemani

Budget: Casa Zahri Boutique Hostel 

Featuring a striking pink exterior, this boutique hostel is incredibly playful and stylish. It has an outdoor swimming pool, bar, a shared lounge and beautiful rooms. A backpacker friend of mine raved about this place! Check rates here.

Mid Range: Casa Pizarro Hotel Boutique

I also stayed at this boutique hotel and absolutely loved my time there! An excellent mid range option, this boutique hotel in central Getsemani has spacious rooms, a nice pool, and jacuzzis in some rooms. It’s got the whole colonial flair and tastefully designed rooms. Check rates here.

Luxury: Hotel Casa Lola Deluxe Gallery

Casa Lola is housed in a two historical 17th and 19th century colonial buildings, with eclectic decor and plenty of character. One of my friends stayed here and highly recommended it. The hotel is decorated with a mixture of antiques, artisanal and modern elements. They also have a rooftop bar and 3 outdoor pools. Check rates here.

Family: Casa Canabal Hotel Boutique 

Located along the colorful flag street (Calle Tripita y Media), this boutique hotel is such a gorgeous historical treasure trove. Perfect for families, the duplex suite has lots of space, a master bed, 2 single beds, and your own private pool. Check rates here.

Couples: Allure Chocolat by Karisma

This chic modern hotel has slick rooms with a romantic ambiance and nice views. The rooftop pool is perfect for sundowners in the evening. Technically it’s not an adults only hotel but it tends to draw in couples looking to spend quality time. Check rates here.

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Manga: Where to Stay in Cartagena for Budget Travelers

An island located south of Getsemani, Manga is the complete opposite of Centro in terms of tourism. Few tourists make it to this part of Cartagena, but the leafy and calm residential neighborhood is one of the best places to stay in Cartagena for budget travelers.

Manga isn’t packed with sights like the walled city is, but that’s the reason why accommodation here is more affordable. It has a pleasant seafront promenade, which offers striking city skyline views across a yacht-filled bay. And you can still easily walk from Manga to Getsemani and the old town. (You won’t find any luxury options here though.)

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Things to Do in Manga

  • Stroll along the seafront promenade at sunset and admire the harbor skyline.
  • At the north end of the promenade, Pastelillo Park has a centuries-old fort with red cannons. It’s not quite as impressive as the Castillo de San Felipe, but you can get a nice view of Bocagrande from here.
  • Have dinner at the Club de Pesca, a venerable seafood restaurant dating to the 1950s. The waterfront ambiance is fantastic and the seafood is delectable.
  • Nearby, the huge Caribe Plaza mall sells international brands and has a popular food court.

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Best Hotels in Manga

Budget: Casa Roman Hotel Boutique

With a great location in Manga, this hotel is close to the seafront promenade where you can enjoy the skyline of Bocagrande. It’s got a pleasant outdoor lounge area and good local food. Check rates here.

Mid Range: Casa del Puerto Hostel & Suites

With a whole nautical theme, this quirky hostel (pictured) has an inviting pool, with lots of sundecks, lounge chairs and even swings by the pool. Rooms have a blue theme, and are functional and spacious. Check rates here.

Family: Casa Colonial en Manga

Tucked within the residential neighborhood, Casa Colonial en Manga is a 5-bedroom house that’s perfect for large families looking for an extended stay. It has air conditioning, a terrace, and garden views.There’s also a fully equipped kitchen with a microwave, a fridge, a washing machine, an oven and a stovetop. Check rates here.

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Bocagrande: Where to Stay in Cartagena for Beach Lovers

Although Cartagena’s Old Town is right next to the sea, the beaches are rocky and not suitable for swimming. The nearest beaches where you can swim in are at Bocagrande,  just a 10-minute taxi ride away from Centro. Bocagrande beaches are nothing to write home about, but they do provide a respite from Cartagena’s extremely humid weather and they’re great for families.

This is the best area to stay in Cartagena if you like affordable luxury and want to stay at a beachfront hotel. The main strip in Bocagrande is flanked by fancy hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and art galleries. In general, the hotels here are cheaper than in Centro and you can get a really nice beachfront suite for less than $80/night. 

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Things to Do in Bocagrande

  • Have dinner at the the fantastic beachfront shack, Kiosko El Bonny just across the street from the Caribe Hotel. Check out the architecture of the Caribe Hotel while you’re here. It’s housed in vintage Floridian style building.
  • Take a stroll around El Laguito, a little lake in the south of Bocagrande. The inland lake is ringed by a paved path used by joggers, skaters and cyclists. 
  • Hang out at the mall of Plaza Bocagrande, complete with sea views. Great for retail therapy and some much-needed airconditoning!
  • Look up in wonder at the Estelar Cartagena de Indias Hotel, one of Colombia’s tallest buildings. It’s definitely one of the best hotels in Cartagena. But even if you’re not staying here, it’s worth heading up to the 51 Sky Bar, the highest point in the city.

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Best Hotels in Bocagrande

Budget: Hotel Virrey Cartagena

Modern and stylish, this boutique hotel offers excellent value for money with beautiful rooms and affordable prices. It’s got a swimming pool and plush rooms, plus daily full Colombian breakfast included. Check rates here.

Mid Range: Hampton by Hilton Cartagena

Like the other Hilton hotels, this one has comfortable business rooms but at a fraction of the usual price. Great rooftop terrace swimming pool with views of the city! Check rates here.

Luxury: Estelar Cartagena de Indias Hotel

Definitely the most lavish hotel in Bocagrande, Estelar Hotel is definitely the best place to stay if you’re looking for top luxury. Service is excellent, and the restaurants and Sky Bar are well worth splurging on. It’s also located at the northern end of Bocagrande, which means the old town is closer. Check rates here.

Family: Cartagena Hotel Almirante

Located on the beach in Bocagrande, this plush hotel offers family rooms that can accommodate two adults and two kids. Elegantly decorated with tiled floors and wooden fittings, most rooms feature scenic views of the Caribbean Sea. Check rates here.

Couples: Hotel InterContinental Cartagena, an IHG Hotel

Also located right on the beach, the InterContinental Cartagena (pictured) is one of the best hotels in Cartagena. It has a contemporary, elegant décor with lots of lounging space all over the hotel and pool. Some rooms feature stunning views of the Caribbean Sea. My friend stayed here with her mum and they had a great time! Check rates here.

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Castillogrande: Where to Stay in Cartagena for Families and Groups

If you are looking for a nice apartment for a big group or family in Cartagena, Castillogrande is your answer. Located at the tip of the Bocagrande peninsula, it’s got spacious apartments that are suitable for families or couples looking for space. 

It is where wealthy Colombians live, in newly built apartment buildings. It’s very safe and family-friendly, and there is a good selection of bars and restaurants too. The downside is that it is furthest out from the Centro of all the areas I’ve mentioned above. Still, it is just a 10-minute taxi ride to Cartagena Centro.

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Things to Do in Castillogrande

  • Relax on Playa Castillo Grande, a local beach that’s very pleasant and quiet. Don’t expect a Caribbean beach, but it’s still a nice beach to chill out and enjoy amazing views of the Tierra Bomba Island.
  • Club Naval is a great space for families: it’s got restaurants, outdoor activities, play area for kids, tennis courts and more. You can even rent a speedboat and go out to sea for the day!

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Best Hotels in Castillogrande

Mid Range Apartment

Travelers Orange Cartagena is located in a modern, high-rise building overlooking the sea. You can choose from 1 to 3-bedroom apartments, and all of them include a balcony and full-furnished kitchen. Check rates here.

Luxury Apartment

This Airbnb located on the 29th floor of an upscale residential building is tastefully designed and has gorgeous views of the bay. It’s perfect for couples who are looking to stay for an extended period of time. Check rates here.

Penthouse with Ocean Views

For big families or groups, this penthouse with a private rooftop pool, jacuzzi and 3 bedrooms is the best place to stay in Cartagena. The views are fantastic and you’ll have a whole house to yourself. Check rates here.

airbnb in cartagena - castillogrande apartment

Further Reading on Colombia

Have you decided where to stay in Cartagena now? I hope this article has helped you get a clearer area on the best areas to stay in Cartagena. Let me know if you have any questions below!

If you’re planning to travel all over Colombia, check out other articles I’ve written on Colombia and other parts of South America:

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. if you book a stay through one of my links, I get a small commission at NO EXTRA COST to you. Thank you for your support!

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