Cartagena is probably one of the hottest places to visit as it’s literally all over everyone’s IG.
I was super excited to after finally booking an 8d trip over New Years, which by the way, is to much time to spend just in Cartagena (explain later). Cartagena and it’s skyline is referred to as mini Miami by the locals, we took the skyline in on a horse drawn carriage and it did not disappoint. It’s a decent size city but the touristic area is small and mainly contained in “La Ciudad Amourallada” The Walled City. It’s about 3 miles of super cute bright colorful little houses, restaurants, churches, bars and boutique stores. Now this is cool but honestly you don’t need more than 2 days here. Also if you’ve ever been to Havana, Cuba or Antigua, Guatemala it’s actually quite reminiscent. We went during the highest season Christmas/New Year so every hotel/house was fully booked. Streets were bustling, especially in the evenings, but fun and filled with street vendors all over, the vendors are all over you every step you take especially if you are a tourist, if you are firm with them they get it but if you show any weakness they will stay with you until eventually buy something. Originally, we were going to go with other couples and experience the night life but plans changed and we didn’t get to fully experience that side of Cartagena but did see how it’s definitely a party place as people were still going strong New Year’s day at 7am!
So my recs are stay in Cartagena 2 days and then head out to the islands on a speed boat. The islands are about 30-45 min away and definitely worth going to Baru, Islas de Rosario and Tierra Bomba- I definitely would not recommend the beaches in Cartagena itself...sketch!
After 3 days in Cartagena we took off to Medellin a quick 1 hr flight. Medellin is like any other Latin City with yummy restaurants. We only stayed here a day and ended up drinking, playing UNO and dominoes more than actually exploring but it’s a beautiful very lush and mountainous city. We felt safe for the most part but definitely know where to go and ask the locals, because some touristic areas are known to be dangerous so don’t wear jewelry and carry purses there.
The next few days we took off to explore Old Penol and Guatape. It was an easy scenic 2 hr ride to Old Penol- a cute mini town where they have drinks, food and local artisans. The views from this place are so beautiful we spent a few hours just chillin, shopping and enjoying the vibe.
Finally we reached Guatape which is actually a man made reservoir where many famous Colombians have gorgeous houses along these huge lakes. In the 70’s they purposely flooded the area and created these lakes which inadvertently created a touristic gem. The views are just sooo breathtaking you immediately fall in love.
The local town is called Pueblo de Zocales where all the houses have paintings representing their lives or work in the lower facade. Like literally if you’re a farmer you would have pictures representing you farming or if you have a boat and a horse you would have that molded onto the lower part of your house.
We rented the cutest Chalet ever but let me tell you getting there was a little rough! What an adventure I say it was about 2 miles of dirt roads with big ass holes at one point I didn’t think the car was going to make it. Actually there were no taxis or any restaurants by us so the owner had to get Little tuk tuks to take us around town. Even the tuk tuks couldn’t go as far as the house because the roads were so bad they were scared that their tuk-tuks wouldn’t make and tip over. This place has a little of everything boating, kayaking, eating, drinking, boating, zip lining, helicopter rides etc... It’s considered Medellin’s Hamptons and I see it blowing up soon so don’t wait too long, they’re expanding as you read this and they’re making a modern walkway. It’s truly a little gem and worth a visit!