How to Spend One Day in Cartagena, Colombia

Wondering how to spend one day in Cartagena? You are in the right place because I have prepared a detailed Cartagena itinerary for 1 day with a lot of useful travel tips.

Cartagena, officially known as Cartagena de Indias, is one of Colombia’s most popular tourist destinations. Located on the northern coast of Colombia along the Caribbean Sea, this vibrant city is a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. 

Its charming colonial architecture, rich cultural heritage, stunning beaches, and lively atmosphere make it a must-visit place. Considering its compact size and convenient central location, you can easily see the best of Cartagena in one day.

That’s where I step in to help you. In this article, you will find a complete Cartagena itinerary for one day with other things that you should know before visiting Cartagena.

*Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you purchase after clicking one of these links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Overview of your one-day Cartagena itinerary 

  • Morning: Getsemani, coffee tasting at the Café del Mural (optional)
  • Lunch: DOÑA LOLA or Rebelión Alma & Sabor
  • Afternoon: Cartagena Old Town, Ábaco Libros y Café, The walls of Cartagena, Sunset at the Hotel Movich
  • Dinner: Restaurante Candé or Quero Arepa

Your itinerary for one day in Cartagena


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Cartagena itinerary
what to do in Cartagena
Cartagena in one day

Start your one day in Cartagena visiting Getsemani. Getsemani is one of the liveliest neighborhoods and one of the best places in Cartagena. 

Here you can find beautiful colorful houses, street art, and boutiques. This is also the best place to find the iconic Palenqueras, the famous Colombian women wearing colorful dresses with Colombian flag colors and fruit baskets.

Keep in mind, that you will need to leave a tip if you decide to take a photo together. I would recommend agreeing on the price before to avoid unpleasant situations.

Exploring Getsemani can easily take you all morning as it is packed with important sights for the city. Start your day by finding the most colorful streets in town, Carrera 10 and Calle de la Magdalena.

Calle de la Magdalena is famous for being the umbrella street and you can’t miss taking an iconic picture during your 24 hours in Cartagena. Carrera 10 is famous for the thousands of flags that compose the Colombian flag.

Head to Plaza de la Trinidad, the main square of Getsemani where the Iglesia de la Trinidad stands proud. A few steps from the cathedral you will find Calle San Juan. 

If you are passionate about paintings and street art, you will love Calle San Juan. This beautiful street is filled with artwork. It also hosts some of the most iconic murals of Cartagena and countless art galleries, for this reason, the street is also known as Calle de los Cuadros.

Coffee tasting at the Café del Mural (optional)

24 hours in Cartagena
free things to do in Cartagena

If you are a coffee lover like me, you can’t leave Cartagena without trying Colombian coffee. There are plenty of local coffee shops in Cartagena, however, Café del Mural offers a unique tasting experience outside of working hours.

It is worth mentioning that Café del Mural is one of the most iconic cafes in Cartagena, so visiting it before opening hour without many other tourists is already quite an experience.

Your host, who is also the owner of the cafe, is an absolute coffee nerd and will share a lot of interesting curiosities and the history of coffee as you sample 5 types of coffee. On top of that, you get 200 grams of coffee beans to bring back as a souvenir.

I have to say that this was one of the highlights of our time in Cartagena and I can’t recommend it enough. If you have only one day in Cartagena, I recommend you book your experience here. We visited the coffee shop the day before and booked it directly at the cafe.

Even if you don’t want to do the whole experience, I still recommend trying coffee at the Café del Mural. But keep in mind that it opens at 3 pm, so you must come back later in the afternoon.

Lunch at DOÑA LOLA or Rebelión Alma & Sabor

what to do in Cartagena in 24 hours
Ceviche at the DOÑA LOLA
where to stay in Cartagena
Cazuela at the Rebelión Alma & Sabor

I wasn’t familiar with Colombian food before visiting Cartagena, but I ended up loving every meal. Getsemani has plenty of restaurants and I will recommend two of my favorite places in Cartagena so you can pick a more suitable option.

DOÑA LOLA is a beautiful and fancy restaurant a few steps away from Plaza De La Trinidad. Beyond its beauty, I can safely say that I had my best ceviche at the DOÑA LOLA (sorry Peru!). The cocoa pasta with seafood and the local Cazuela were also remarkable.

Rebelión Alma & Sabor has a special place in my heart because I tried my first Cazuela and I loved every spoon of it. Cazuela is a fish soup prepared with a coconut milk base and you must try it if you have 24 hours in Cartagena. 

I tried several Cazuelas during my Colombian trip, but Rebelión Alma & Sabor has the best one. Rich in fish, great texture, fantastic taste. I also tried the Posta Cartagenera, a roasted meat with a wine gravy and it was delicious.

This is a slightly more affordable option compared to DOÑA LOLA, but I have to say that DOÑA LOLA offers a beautiful setting and 5-star service.

The Old Town of Cartagena  

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Cartagena one day trip
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visiting Cartagena, Colombia

When you visit Cartagena in one day, you want to make sure you visit its beautiful and colorful old town. Step into the Puerta del Reloj, one of the best places in Cartagena to find yourself in a beautiful and colorful world that is part of the UNESCO Heritage.

The Clock Tower Square is one of the liveliest areas in all of the Old Town and the best place to start your exploration. Head to the Santuario de San Pedro Claver which is one of Cartagena’s top attractions. Just a gasp away, find the Plaza de Bolivar. 

Here you will find some of the most beautiful colonial buildings including the Gold Museum, the Palace of the Inquisition, and a small urban park. Also, it’s common to find street artists performing here.

Attached to the Bolivar Square, find the Catedral of Cartagena with its iconic bell tower that can be spotted from the Calle de Don Sancho.

Ábaco Libros y Café

what to do in Cartagena for a day

When you are visiting the old town of Cartagena you simply have to try one of the beautiful cafes inside the fortified walls. While there are a lot of options, I have to recommend Ábaco Libros y Café.

It is not only one of the cutest cafes in Cartagena but also a beautiful bookshop where you can find books in English and Spanish. You can either get a book as a souvenir or carefully check it as you enjoy your drink.

The coffee menu offers all the essentials and has something for everyone. I can recommend their iced Americano. 

If you love photography, you will want to put your camera in use, because this is one of the best photo spots in Cartagena. And I am sure you will want to add it to your Cartagena itinerary.

The walls of Cartagena

Cartagena one day trip
one day in Cartagena

One of the best ways to visit Cartagena in one day is through its walls. The massive fortification system was important to defend the city during the centuries and it surrounds the old town. From the walls, you can admire panoramic sea and city views over Bocagrande.

On the walls, you find also Café del Mar, which is one of the best cafes in Cartagena. This open-air bar is one of the most popular in the city and it stays open until late.

The walls are open to the public and there is no entrance fee. But I have to say that it gets extremely hot and there is no shadow for escape.

Sunset at the Hotel Movich

where to stay in Cartagena
where to stay in Cartagena
24 hours in Cartagena

Hotel Movich is one of the top places in Cartagena to admire the sunset. Even if you are not a guest at the Movich Hotel, you can still access their rooftop terrace on the last floor.

This fantastic rooftop bar offers a privileged view of Cartagena’s old town and Santuario de San Pedro Claver. You can spot the panorama of Bocagrande in the background, which creates a perfect postcard view.

When it comes to the menu, this bar offers an extensive selection of cocktails. I personally didn’t try their food, but they had some interesting dishes available. 

Restaurante Candé or Quero Arepa

Cartagena in one day

Finish your Cartagena one-day trip in style in one of the most popular restaurants in the city. As always, giving you 2 fantastic options depending on your budget.

Restaurante Candé is a fancy and stylish restaurant in the old town that specializes in Caribbean dishes and offers live shows and performances.

My recommendation is to try their Pescado or the Marisco Baru, which is a mix of the freshest seafood you can find. The restaurant also offers a selection of signature cocktails.

This is not a cheap dinner option, but this is one of the top-rated restaurants in Cartagena and for all the right reasons. Please keep in mind that there is a dress code, it’s nothing too strict but so no flip-flops are allowed or sandals. 

If you are looking for an affordable meal in Cartagena, head to Quero Arepa. Arepa is a kind of flatbread made of ground maize dough stuffed with a filling and is a real must-try when you visit Colombia.

My favorite was in Quero Arepa where we tried the version with chicken and the one with the shrimp. Both were absolutely delicious and we loved every bite of it. The service is very friendly and it’s open 24 hours! 

In conclusion…

How to Spend One Day in Cartagena, Colombia

This is the end of your one-day itinerary for Cartagena and I am sure you are ready to hit the road and enjoy your time in Cartagena.

I would love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any feedback or additional tips, leave a comment below. Also, check out my Instagram for regular travel videos and travel inspiration. Or explore other destinations on this travel blog.

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How to Spend One Day in Cartagena, Colombia
How to Spend One Day in Cartagena, Colombia

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