How Many Days In Cartagena? (Hero)

How Many Days In Cartagena? 3, 5 & 7-Day Itinerary Options

If you’re planning a trip to Colombia, you might be wondering how many days in Cartagena is enough to get the full experience and absorb all it has to offer. These three, five and seven-day itineraries will give you plenty of options for you to choose the perfect amount of time in Cartagena for you and your schedule.


How Many Days Do You Need In Cartagena?

To get a well-rounded experience of the city, without feeling like you’re rushed off your feet, I recommend between three-five days, particularly if you are on a tour of the rest of Colombia.


Here are my suggestions for how any days in Cartagena you might want:



  • 3 days in CartagenaFor a little more of a whistle-stop tour of the city, in three days you can definitely pack-in all the main sights and experiences without feeling like you’ve missed out.


  • 5 days In Cartagena – Five days will give you more time to explore the city and the surrounding areas as the option of taking a couple of day-trips outside of the city opens-up with the extra time.


  • 7 days in Cartagena – Seven days will make you feel like a local in Cartagena. A full week would be good for someone on a longer journey, with a bit more time on their hands, who can use Cartagena as a base for all that the city and surrounding areas has to offer.


Keep reading for more on how tp spend you time in Cartagena and plan your trip with us today.

How Many Days In Cartagena? (Hero)

Cartagena Three Day Itinerary

Three days in Cartagena is good for backpackers or anyone doing a tour of Colombia who wants to enjoy the city without reducing their time on the rest of the trip.

Day 1 – Arrive in Getsemani and acclimatise to the heat

I recommend staying in Getsemani as it’s the Colombia you’re looking for: colourful street art, exciting nightlife and a vibe that gets you excited to walk around every street corner.


You’ll want accommodation with air conditioning as Cartagena will have you saying ‘que calor’ (roughly translated as ‘OMG it’s so hot!’) at every available opportunity!


I recommend Pachamama Hostel. I stayed in a comfortable female-only dorm and felt safe and well looked after there.


Once you’re checked in, grab a menu del día from a local restaurant for lunch then check out the street art in the area.


You can either do this unguided or on a guided walking tour:



Lucy from 'Shall We Go Home Travel' in Cartagena

Day 2 – Get stuck in the mud at Totumo mud volcano

Set off early for a day trip to enjoy a unique mud bath experience at El Totumo mud volcano.


Here you can get inside one of the world’s smallest volcanos and enjoy a relaxing soak in the warm mud.  The mineral-infused mud is supposed to have healing properties!


It’s a fun day out and something a bit different. Being covered head to toe in mud described as how I imagine it feels to be suspended in custard!


After a class lunch of Colombian grilled fish, rice and beans on the beach, you’ll set out on the second part of this tour – a guided canoe tour through the mangroves.


There are lots of tour booking options online but I booked my day trip with a local tour operator based in the city.


If you’d like to book ahead, try this guided tour with Viator:

Day 3 - Learn Of Cartagena's Rich history

Start your day with walking along the fortifications of The Walled City (Ciudad Amurallada) at Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas to enjoy the city from a slightly higher vantage point.


Then escape into the Palacio de la Inquisición during the heat of the day to learn about the world-renowned ‘Spanish Inquisition’.


Later, head to Pata Negra for dinner, where you can sample very high quality, yet affordable tapas.


Close your day with a beer in the clock tower square (Monumento Torre del Reloj) before choosing which bar you’re going to head to for some salsa dancing!

See how you can spend a month travelling through Colombia with this epic one month itinerary:



Cartagena Rooftops (Colombia)
Best Backpack For South America (Osprey Farpoint)
Best Backpack For South America (Osprey Farpoint)

Is This The Best Backpack For South America?

I love the Osprey Farpoint 50-70L.


It’s reasonably priced and perfect for first timers visiting South America.


Read more here about why it’s so great or head to the official site below:

Cartagena 5-Day Itinerary

I spent four days in Cartagena as a backpacker, but would have liked at least one or two more days as I enjoyed it there so much.


So, five days is good for those travellers that like to take their time a little more (and for those that get sucked into the vibe so don’t want to leave just yet!).

Day 4 – Beach day at Playa Blanca

After your day wandering around the historic sites of Cartagena, it’s surely time for another day trip!


Today you’ll spend your day lounging on white sandy beaches, swimming in crystal-clear waters, and maybe even indulge in a beachside massage or seafood lunch at Playa Blanca.


I recommend the bus from Cartagena + motorbike taxi as it’s the most affordable and you’ll be able to coordinate your return trip with the same drivers.

TOP TIP: Avoid visiting on weekends (especially Sundays), or Monday bank holidays (often for saints days), as well as around peak tourist seasons (Christmas / NYE / Easter) as it gets really busy and it takes away from the experience.

Playa Blanca, Cartagena (Colombia)

Day 5 - Gastronomic delights At Bazurto Market

With 5 days in Cartagena, why not explore more it it’s culture with a local food tour.


This guided street food tour takes you around the city to taste nine typical Cartagena dishes, understanding the city’s culture through its flavours.


With your tastebuds suitably satisfied, get the bus to the bustling Bazurto Market for a truly authentic experience of Cartagenian culture.


The market is frequented by the majority of Cartagena’s residents, as well as restaurateurs looking for the best produce for their establishments.


Buckle-up for an onslaught of sights, sounds and flavours that will blow your mind!

What is the best way to get to Bazurto Market?

It depends on what kind of traveller you are when it comes to working out the best way of getting to Bazurto Market.


You can either make your own way there via foot, take an Uber or book a guided tour.


  • Via foot from Getsemani – It will take about 45 mins to walk. I recommend getting a local sim card so you can use Google maps or so you can find your way easily without having to worry about downloading maps to use offline (which is what I did and it was a faff!)
  • Via uber from Getsemani: this will take about 11 mins and will cost around $2/ 8,730COP
  • Guided tour: Get your Guide (4.5 stars) – $83 / £65
Cartagena Clock Tower (Colombia)

Cartagena 7-Day Itinerary

Seven days in Cartagena will leave you feeling like you’ve had the full experience. I recommend seven days in Cartagena for someone with a bit more time on their hands such as a digital nomad. 

Day 6 – Go snorkelling or scuba diving on the Rosario Islands (Islas del Rosario)

This beautiful archipelago located about an hour from Cartagena by boat is well-known for its clear waters, coral reefs, and diverse marine life.


It’s a popular spot for snorkelling, scuba diving, or just relaxing on pristine beaches so pack your fins if that’s your thing and make some bubbles under the sea!


This catamaran tour is under $100 and includes snacks, lunch and your entrance to the national park.


If, like me, you’re into scuba diving (or want to give it a go) check out these options for experiencing the Rosario Islands from below the waves:



A two day/five dive package from PADI which includes an overnight stay for $328 / £258).

Rosario Islands, Cartagena

Do You want Cheap Data Anywhere In South America?

Airalo is my favourite eSIM for travelling around South America. Here’s why:


  • Save Money – No more high roaming bills with access to the best eSIMs (digital SIM cards) for every country in South America!
  • Easy – No more stress trying to buy a physical SIM. You can download and install a data pack and get connected as soon as you land. 

Day 7 - Sunset Views At Cafe Del Mar

On your last day, start with an ascent to the Convent of La Popa for panoramic views of Cartagena and the Caribbean Sea.


From up here you can really appreciate everything you’ve indulged in from on high.


Once back in the main city, continue your ‘high’ with lunch and drinks at Mirador Gastro Bar.


Then head to Cafe Del Mar in the evening, sipping cocktails while watching the sunset from the city walls and reflecting on a week well-spent in Cartagena.

Cartagena Sunset From Cafe Del Mar (Colombia)

Is Cartagena Worth Visiting?

Nestled on the Caribbean coast with its brightly coloured colonial buildings, fortified walls and stunning beaches, Cartagena de Indias is absolutely worth visiting.


It consistently ranks as one of the most popular destinations in the country, for both holiday-makers and backpackers alike, as it offers loads to cover all budgets.


Definitely visit if your looking for great weather and a Carribean influence.

Keep reading for my 10 top reasons why you can’t miss Cartagena:



Is Medellin Or Cartagena Better?

If you are short on time in Colombia, then deciding between Cartagena or Medellin is a common dilema.


Here’s what I recommend:


  • Medellin – pick Medellin over Cartagena if you prefer great cafes, high class restaurants, and the best nightlife in the country. The weather is also warm but much cooler compared to Cartagena
  • Cartagena – pick Cartagena if you prefer to be by the sea and want to be able to take day trips to the beach

Is Santa Marta Or Cartagena Better?

What’s the difference between these two coastal cities? 


Here’s what I recommend:


  • Santa Marta – pick Santa Marta if you want a more backpacker centric town and somewhere much less touristy. You’re also much closer to the beach and can visit it easier compared to Cartagena. The number of fun activities on offer is also better such as Tayrona National Park
  • Cartagena – pick Cartagena if you want a nicer looking city and better restaurants and bars 
Cartagena (Colombia)

Where To Stay In Cartagena

Most hostels can be found in the city center and everything is largely walkable. I would highly recommend finding a hostel with 1) aircon and 2) a pool, to help with the heat.


Here are my favourite hostels:


  • Media Luna – this is the best party hostel in town
  • Viajero – a classic chain of hostels in Colombia. They have good sized pool and clean dorms.
  • Los Patios – their sister hostel in Medellin is one of my favourite hostels of all time.

Leave a Comment

Travel South America With Ease

Sign up to my weekly newsletter for the latest itineraries, guides and deals for South America.

Travel South America Like An Expert

Budget South America Itinerary (Free PDF)