A visit to Cartagena, a vibrant port on Colombia’s northern coast, is like stepping back in time. Rather than adhering to an itinerary, spend your time wandering around the historic 16th century walled city that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, browse the local markets and shops, admire the colonial architecture and colorful buildings, and enjoy leisurely meals of fresh seafood over live music at one of the many open-air cafes and bars in the city.
Casa Chiqui: Make sure to visit this restored 1930s warehouse, described by Vogue as Cartagena’s “most dazzling store.” Stocked with furniture and accessories from places as far as Thailand, Vietnam and Morocco, you can be sure to walk away with some unique finds.
St Dom: From fashion to jewelry to art to interior design, this concept store carries pieces from a range of celebrated Colombian designers—think dramatic ruffled dresses by Johanna Ortiz and handmade statement earrings by Mercedes Salazar.
Silvia Tcherassi: One of Colombia’s most celebrated names in design, Silvia Tcherassi’s eponymous store carries feminine, sculptural ready-to-wear pieces as well as evening gowns, handbags and jewelry.
Ondade Mar: This luxury swimwear and resort wear brand carries eye-catching styles for men, women and kids.
Artesanias de Colombia: Locally made baskets, furniture, ceramics and more fill this government-owned store, which has several locations around the city.
Museo del Chocolate: Sample some of the finest, most high-quality chocolate in the country, and even get a taste of the action, via a chocolate-making workshop or a visit to the museum's on-site factory. The museum has two locations in Cartagena: one in Parque Fernandez de Madrid and the other in Parque Bolivar.
Las Bovedas: Used in the 19th century as dungeons, this sprawling network of shops connected to the walls of the Old Town is known for antiques, souvenirs and handicrafts.
Calle Zerrezuela, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
NH Galeria: Stop by this gallery for a crash course in contemporary Colombian art—everything from paintings to sculpture to installations to video.
Palace of the Inquisition: This 18th century palace has an ominous backstory—it was the seat of the Holy Office of the Inquisition—but is now a museum of historical artifacts.
La Paletteria: Pay a visit to this local ice cream shop for handcrafted popsicles that combine Colombian ingredients with Italian recipes. Choose from flavours like strawberry peppermint, tamarind and mango biche.
La Vitrola: Enjoy live Cuban music at this beloved eatery in the heart of Cartagena’s Old Town.
Calle Baloco 02-01, Cartagena; +57 56600711
Club de Pesca: This famed seafood restaurant on the pier dates back to 1956, and offers beautiful views of the marina.
Vera: This restaurant at the Tcherassi Mansion Hotel is frequented as much for its Italian food as for its beautiful indoor/outdoor setting.
Maria: Expect to find items like grilled salmon risotto, lobster sandwiches and vermicelli ramen on the menu at this farm-to-table restaurant.
La Cevicheria: This no-frills spot is known for its ceviche; variants include lobster, octopus, shrimp and prawn.
Casa Don Sancho by Mustique: This six-room boutique hotel is located in the historical center of Cartagena, steps away from local museums, restaurants and bars. Each of its tranquil guestrooms offers a spectacular view of the sea, and the property also has two swimming pools, a garden area and a rooftop terrace.
Centro Historico, Calle Don Sancho N° 36-126, Cartagena
Mansion Tcherassi: Owned by designer Silvia Tcherassi, this hotel housed in a 250-year-old colonial mansion is a favorite with well-heeled locals and visitors alike.
Casa San Agustin: This colonial-style boutique hotel comprises 20 rooms and 10 suites, a pool and an open-air restaurant.
Case de Indias: Once a private home built in the late 16th century, this beautiful 10-room property was renovated and restored in 2013.
Casa Pombo: This striking boutique hotel is housed in one of the oldest buildings in the city, a colonial mansion with stone archways, indoor ponds and lush greenery.