Cartagena City Guide
OVERVIEW: A UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia. Cartagena was the first Spanish colony in the Americas, and is the Caribbean city most often associated with pirates. It is the fifth largest city in Colombia, and is the most popular tourist destination in the country. The population is a diverse mix of African, White, and Indigenous peoples.
WEATHER: Tropical wet and dry climate (22-32 °C). Rainy season May-June and October-November.
SAFETY: Pretty safe. Opportunistic thieves will take advantage of clueless tourists, but if you are on the ball you should be fine. The streets are heavily patrolled by police in the tourist areas.
MUST DO: Old town. Get a taste of the good life by dining in one of the horribly expensive restaurants located within the walled city.
RENT AN APARTMENT IN CARTAGENA: I can't see you getting anything you'd touch with a ten-foot pole for under $500.00. I doubt you'd want to spend an entire month here anyway.
HOSTEL DORM BED/NIGHT $12.00
NIGHTLIFE IN CARTAGENA: 7.5/10
There are plenty of clubs, and they have a better vibe than many other resort cities. However, they are expensive, and many of the women you'll meet will be pros. That being said, everything is conveniently located and there's plenty of good music, great dancing and pretty women.
I recommend: Mister Babilla. The link is a pretty accurate description.
BOTTLE OF BEER: $2.50
CHANCE OF HOOKING-UP IN CARTEGENA: 7.25/10
Prostitution is rampant here. It can often be hard to tell who is and who isn't a working girl. One way to help avoid confusion if you aren't into the play-for-pay scene is to go to the bar or club with the fewest gringos. The Bar Mister Babilla is a good choice because, although it does have some gringos, it is mostly hot upper-class girls from other Colombian cities. But be ready to pay a cover charge and meet the dress code. Overall, It's slightly more difficult to hook-up with girls in Cartagena than other Colombian cities for three reasons:
1) Your exotic factor is lower due to the amount of tourists
2) It's harder to efficiently capitalize on IOUs (indicators of interest) with so many prostitutes around.
3) Many girls vacation with their parents (even up to 30 years old!)
***If you want to meet girls in Colombia the easy way and set up dates before you arrive in the country, I highly recommend checking out Colombian Cupid.
ARE GIRLS HOT IN CARTAGENA?: 7.25/10.
Girls here have darker skin than Colombians from inland cities. They are very sexual, have great bodies and are probably the best dancers north of Cali. For the most part they are friendly and responsive to conversation. But if you're going to Colombia just for the women, there are better cities to have as a base. For example, Cali if you prefer darker girls, and Medellin, Bucaramanga or Bogota if you prefer lighter ones.
If you want to make the most of your time in Colombia, you will need to speak some Spanish. Synergy Spanish is the best resource for learning Spanish quickly and easily.
GROCERIES: Milk (1L)= $1.20 Loaf of Bread= $1.50 Eggs= $2.00 Water (1.5L)= $1.20 Cigarettes= $2.00
JOB OPPORTUNITIES: Sorry. You might be able to get work in a hostel or teaching English, but I wouldn't count on it. That basically leaves fruit vendor as your only other option.
NOTES: Serves its purpose as a vacation city. Would I live here? No. Would I visit again? Probably, but I'm in no rush. The nightlife is good, but the city is expensive. The girls are pretty, but not as pretty as many other cities a short flight away. The weather is nice but it can be too humid, and getting hassled by vendors gets tiresome. If you want to get drunk and suntan go to Cartagena. If you want to meet women and be productive, go elsewhere.
OVERALL RATING: 7.25/10
Want More Information About Latin America? Check Out My City Guides
*More city guides from Colombia here!