I had a great time in Colombia! My friends and I recently visited the city of Cartagena, which is located on the shores of the Caribbean Sea in the northwestern part of the South American continent.
Cartagena is the capital of the Bolívar region that’s known for its charm of colonial architecture, vivid nightlife, fascinating cultural festivals, and lush landscapes. And in my opinion, offers the perfect vacation experience!
If you’re planning a trip to Colombia, I am here to help you prepare. I’ve even made a few TikTok videos!
How To Prepare
Before your trip to Cartagena, it’s important to fill out the immigration registration form 72 hours before your trip. Although you can do it up to one hour before, it’s best to fill out the “Check Mig” ahead of your vacation to prevent unnecessary stress.
Before going to customs, be sure to have easy access to your “Check Mig” form. I highly suggest taking a screenshot of the completed form in case you don’t have Wi-Fi in the airport. I also recommend bringing your vaccination card, just in case COVID cases begin to rise again.
Be sure to practice your Spanish before your trip. You may find some people who are bilingual, but don’t count on it. Google will definitely be your best friend to help you avoid language barriers.
Can You Use U.S. Dollars In Cartagena, Colombia?
The local currency is the Colombian Peso (COP), although U.S. dollars and Euros are widely exchangeable. Credit and debit cards are also widely accepted in Colombia, but use them with care. Be sure to keep all receipts to keep a solid record of all charges.
For those who prefer to use credit cards, I suggest using one that doesn’t have an international fee. I am a points kind of girl— as mentioned in my other posts— so I’m a strong believer that it’s the best way to go.
A number of businesses accept payment by card, however, be sure to have Pesos while traveling in Cartagena to make tipping a lot easier.
In small restaurants, some people tip 1000 pesos or less (about $.50). Others tip 2000 pesos (about $1 US), just to give you an idea. We tipped for the most part.
FYI: There are actually a few apps that can help you properly calculate the conversion of your currency and help you leave a proper tip.
I exchanged my money at the CTG airport when I arrived. There are also several ATMs in the old town where you can safely withdraw cash. BCP is the best bank to withdraw from as it generally doesn’t charge fees. Servibanco is the next best option as you can take out up to 780,000 COP ($188.74) per withdrawal for a fee of 15,000 COP ($3.63).
What Kind Of Charger Can You Use?
The two-prong power sockets in Cartagena and throughout Colombia are the same as those found in the U.S. If you’re coming from the UK or Europe, you’ll need an adapter.
Are Ubers Safe in Cartagena?
Although my experience with Uber in Cartagena was fine, one of our friends had an issue. The ridesharing app is allegedly illegal and super cheap. Some drivers may want you to meet them in a different location so that they don’t get a transportation fine. Use caution and pay attention.
Where To Stay: I Enjoyed The Hotel Caribe By Faranda Grand
Since it was our first time traveling there, we stayed at the Hotel Caribe By Faranda Grand and we truly enjoyed it! The hotel features 3 pools, and it’s not too far from a popular tourist location, the Walled City.
A big bonus is that they offer you free breakfast every morning until 11am. (Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m sold on anything that includes a free meal with my stay!)
They also have an airport transfer included with the stay, which is amazing because it’s located directly across the street from the beach. The hotel also allows you to convert your money at the front desk, however, it opens at 9am.
Things To Do: How I Had Fun During My Trip
There’s so much to do in Cartagena, it just depends on what you’re in the mood for! For all my night people who love the clubs, check out Delirium or VSOP. They both have hookah and play hip-hop music.
Personally, I love a good tour. It can be a walking tour or an island tour.
I recommend taking the Five Island Tour. This tour provides lunch and snorkeling. You can actually visit Pablo Escobar’s plane if you go snorkeling. I had a great time bouncing from one island to another via boat. I think my favorite island was Cholon. That’s considered the ‘party island.’
During our trip, we visited two popular neighborhoods on our own—Getsemaní and The Walled City.
Getsemaní is famous for its street art and slightly alternative vibe. Lots of tourists pass through to take pictures in these places. You may bump into a few kites and umbrellas on your walk through town.
The Walled City is a beautiful historic center of Cartagena, with colorful walls. The Gate and Clock Tower (“la Puerta y la Torre del Reloj”) can be seen at the main entrance of the Walled City. Of the three open doors there, only the central one existed originally. The other two were occupied by a gunroom and a chapel.
The Walled City is the is the center for most tourism in the city. It’s home to most of the nicer hotels, restaurants, and bars. As you walk around, you will find places to shop, but most importantly keep a look out for people trying to sell you things as you walk the streets. Don’t walk at night alone in these neighborhoods. Be careful.
Next week, find out the best places to eat while visiting Cartagena, Colombia!