By Kenya Barrett
Without a doubt, Cartagena is one of the most beautiful cities in Colombia! As such, it is also filled with a bunch of cool activities – but best of all, whether you’d like to view historic sites or spend the day at the beach, there are also tons of free things to do in Cartagena!
Visit the Old City Walls
One of the most important and equally symbolic architectural structures is the walls that surround the city of Cartagena. At more than 400 years old, these well-preserved walls have become a major attraction for tourists and have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Colombia. Its roots date back to the 18th century, when it served as a defense structure after the attack of Sir Francis Drake. The city suffered from frequent pirate invasions, which also prompted the construction of the Castle of San Felipe – another popular historic site in Cartagena.
Visitors can walk along the walls that stretch approximately 6.8 miles around Cartagena and its port. There are various cafes, boutique shops, and other eateries to check out while exploring the area. In the evening, feel free to catch the sunset over the Caribbean Sea!
Explore Museo del Oro Zenu
Situated right in the old city of Cartagena is the iconic Museo del Oro Zenu – a small historic museum that showcases some of Colombia’s finest silver, gold, and ceramic artifacts. The building also displays over 902 ancient relics and archeological objects that provide insight into the country’s culture during the Spanish colonialism era. Unlike other museums in the area, the Museo del Oro Zenu places a specific focus on showcasing the lives and cultures of the indigenous peoples of Cartagena.
Visitors can enjoy reading and movie viewing rooms that provide interactive details on the museum’s historical significance, and kids can also utilize the museum’s free workshop to learn about the city’s history. This is by far one of the best free museums in Cartagena.
Go for a swim at Playa Blanca
There’s nothing better than spending a day at one of the most beautiful free beaches in Colombia, Playa Blanca. Although the beach isn’t located in Cartagena itself, it is the most popular beach amongst locals and visitors in the area. Travelers looking to soak up some sun on this golden sand beach must take a 45-minute shuttle or speedboat from the city to the island of Isla Baru.
Playa Blanca is a relatively busy beach during the day, so if you’re looking for a quiet beach day this may not be the best option. However, there is an abundance of water activities to participate in including snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and even motorsports. Visitors can also enjoy cultural tours of the area as well!
Enjoy street artists performing at the Clock Tower
Known as one of the most famous landmarks in Colombia, the Clock Tower is certainly a must-see destination in Cartagena. Originally named the “La Boca del Puente,” the area initially served as a chapel and weapons room to protect civilians from enemy threats. The Clock Tower was first built in 1601 but underwent major renovations in the late 1800s. During this time, the original pendulum clock was replaced with a Swiss clock that is still seen in the tower today. The structure features gothic architecture, a theme popular during the 19th century.
Visitors can visit the Clock Tower today to enjoy different vendors and street artists performing for the masses. Spend time walking around the area, waiting for the clock to strike the top of the hour, and watching break dancers twirl to the rhythm.
Discover street art in Getsemani
One of Cartagena’s most authentic and equally beautiful neighborhoods is Getsemani. Filled with magnificent art and unique culture, this area displays an interesting spin on Caribbean culture from the coasts of Colombia. Visitors will spot everything from local vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables, to artists painting their latest masterpieces. The neighborhood is comparable to the Wynwood Art District in Miami in that it draws in crowds from everywhere with its authentic cultural influence.
Visitors can expect to enjoy a street performance or two from the neighborhood's finest dancers as well as tons of free art exhibits and eateries!