Seven Cheap Activities in Cartagena, Colombia
When you visit Colombia, you’ll definitely be spending at least a little time in Cartagena, on the stunning Caribbean coast. With its amazingly blue clear waters, the charm of the walled city and the glitzy old city, there is something for everyone to do. However, as with any beautiful port-city, Cartagena can get quite expensive. To help you plan your visit, we’ve put together a list of seven of our favourite cheap (or free) activities in and around the city.
#1 Take a Free Walking Tour
It is the easiest way to get your bearings around the main part of the city for free and learn a little about the history. Tours often take place in both the morning and afternoon. There are several companies offering tours in Cartagena, check online for the one that suits you best and try to book ahead online.
Although these are technically “free” tours, the guides earn their living by tips. As a result, they work extra hard to be well informed and educational. Passing them a few dollars helps them out and keeps the tours going.
Beaches in Colombia are great!
#2 Head to the Local Beach
Playa Castillo Grande is a quiet beach south of the high rises of downtown, far from the tourist masses of the old city. It’s often nearly deserted, aside from a few locals enjoying the quiet beach. If you want, you can spend a few dollars to rent a sun tent - which we recommend - where you can enjoy some shade and some proper chairs to relax in.
The water is warm, shallow and clear, and there are hawkers around selling tasty snacks and cold beer for fantastic prices. However, as it isn’t a main tourist spot, the hawkers are relatively tame and will leave you alone if you politely decline. There are several supermarkets nearby to stock up on snacks and beer prior to arrival so you can save a little more. It’s a perfect way to spend a day on the Caribbean without the crowds!
Food Markets are always a treat for Foodies!
#3 Explore out the Markets
La Bovedas on calle Zerrezuela, is one of the most popular markets in Cartagena. Found in the old town right by the waterfront, it sells locally-made handicrafts and antiques.
Mercado de Bazurto is much more of a true local market. You will feel the <em>real</em> Colombia here. It’s certainly not a tourist market, which makes a great experience for the more adventurous travellers.
Plaza San Diego is a popular night market featuring artisans, street performers, food stalls and an electric vibe. It’s a fantastic way to spend an evening out.
Sunset over the city
#4 Watch the Sunset
Check out the sunset at Plaza Fuerte el Pastelillo. On the waterfront just across the bridge from Getsemani is an old waterfront fort with mind-blowing sunset views, far from the crowds in more popular spots. It also boasts one of the top restaurants in Cartagena if you feel like splurging a little.
#5 Gold Museum
Visitng the Zenu Gold Museum (Museo del Oro) is free and pretty cool to check out. It houses mainly coins and golden artefacts dating back centuries. It’s a very informative spot with a lot of unique items. If you’ve ever wanted to see a golden penis cover, this is the place! Perfect for a rainy day.
Wild Monkeys in the City Centre!
#6 See Wildlife in the City Centre
Head to the Centenario park and spot the local residents. Sloths, wild monkeys, large iguanas call this park home. Grab a coffee and look closely into the trees. You are bound to find some interesting wildlife right in the heart of the city.
Colombia have a vibrant Street Art Scene to Explore
#7 Check out the Incredible Street Art
An amazing way to spend your afternoons is finding all the amazing street art around the city. There are plenty of art pieces in the walled city. Artists from all across the country and Latin America come here to paint intricate murals on the crumbling stone walls. Grab an ice cream and check them out, there are so many photo opportunities in this amazing city!