Pair Cartagena's colonial walled city on the northern coast with the nearby Caribbean Islands for the ultimate culture and beach adventure. Start with a tour of Cartagena's colorful streets, lined with palaces, churches, and galleries. Then take a day trip to the Rosario Islands to relax on white-sand beaches. Spend your last night in Cartagena's Old Town, soaking in the fairy-tale romance from one of the city's rooftop bars.

Highlights

  • Wander the colonial neighborhoods of San Diego and Santo Domingo
  • Sample local street food in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Getsemani
  • Visit the walled city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Kayak the Caribbean and catch some sun in the Rosario Islands

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cartagena Cartagena
Day 2 Explore Cartagena Cartagena
Day 3 Rosario Islands Day Trip Cartagena
Day 4 Depart Cartagena  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cartagena

Cartagena’s colorful, narrow streets rich with culture

Welcome to Cartagena! This picturesque colonial city on the Caribbean Sea is rich in culture, architecture, romance, and, yes, even pirate history. Upon arrival, you'll be picked up from the airport and transferred to your hotel.

Depending on the time of your arrival, consider a few options. You can relax and enjoy the hotel amenities or jump into action with a neighborhood walk, either by yourself or with an English-speaking guide. No matter which you choose, definitely make time to:

  • Wander the narrow, winding streets of the inner-walled city to photograph colorful houses and lively town squares overflowing with bougainvillea.
  • Check out the colonial neighborhoods of San Diego and Santo Domingo, stopping at key cultural sites like Plaza de los Coches, Plaza de la Aduana, Parque Bolívar, and Plaza de Santa Teresa.  
  • Walk along the Old Town's original fortress walls, built as early as 1586 to protect Cartagena from attacks. You'll get some amazing panoramic views of the city and the sunset from here. 
  • Pay respects at Santo Domingo, reputedly the oldest church in the city. 
  • Peek in La Vitrola, the city's most famous restaurant in a 400-year-old colonial home. 
  • Explore Getsemani, the up-and-coming neighborhood just outside the walls of Cartagena's historic Old City. Once a seedy area, Getsemani is now a haven for hip culture with charming Spanish colonial architecture, graffiti art, boutique hotels, and street food vendors.

Finish the day on your own with mojitos and fresh ceviche in one of the city’s hip restaurants or rooftop bars, or enjoy the local street food of Getsemani.

Day 2: Explore Cartagena

Colorful street corner

After breakfast, take your pick of numerous ways to experience Cartagena, either on your own or with a private tour. Maybe a surfing excursion on the coast, or a day lazing near the Caribbean waters of Playa Blanca, or even a sunset sail with a glass of bubbly.

Other options include a guided walking tour of Cartagena's UNESCO World Heritage walled city. Together with an English-speaking guide, you will delve deep into Cartagena's Spanish-colonial history. You'll visit the city's extensive fortifications and famous fortresses like the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas. Also stroll the city's cobbled plazas, like the Plaza de San Pedro Claver, with its Andalusian-style Cathedral.

If an organized tour isn’t appealing, simply create your own adventure around the city. At dusk, take part in the unforgettable atmosphere as the city comes alive with street performers and musicians.

Day 3: Rosario Islands Day Trip

Pristine azure waters of the Rosario Islands

Rise and shine! After an early breakfast, you will be picked up from your hotel bright and early and transferred to the pier for a speedboat transfer (an hour by boat) towards the Baru Peninsula. Along the way, you will see Tierra Bomba Island and Boca Chica, an ancient fort that once protected Cartagena.

Once you arrive to the Rosario Islands, change into your swimwear before you head to Playa Azul, a stunning white-sand beach on the bright turquoise Caribbean Sea. After a buffet lunch is served, you will have time to relax and sunbathe or to rent a kayak for some paddling before returning to Cartagena in the late afternoon. A car will pick you up at the pier to take you back to your hotel.

Day 4: Depart Cartagena

Street in old town Cartagena

It's time to say farewell to Colombia! After breakfast at your hotel, enjoy your last moments of Cartagena in a patio café. Or, if you didn't do the guided tour the previous day, explore the bulk of the city.

Enjoy Cartagena's cobbled maze of vividly colorful houses and ancient squares dating from the 16th century. Meander through the colonial neighborhoods of San Diego and Santo Domingo while learning about important historical sites like St. Philip's Castle. Perhaps pay a visit to the Palace of the Inquisition in Plaza de Bolívar, which was once the seat of the Holy Office of the Inquisition and is now a macabre museum. 

Map

Map of Cartagena & Island Adventure - 4 Days
Map of Cartagena & Island Adventure - 4 Days