Where to Stay in Cartagena – Neighborhoods & Area Guide

Situated on the Caribbean coast of Colombia is the port town city of Cartagena. With a rich and varied history, Cartagena is a fascinating place to visit. Away from the historical gems though, Cartagena is much like any other modern city. There are strips of nightclubs, giant shopping malls, and cafes aplenty.

One of the most attractive features of Cartagena is that it is on the coast. It is rare to find such a built-up city with such pristine coastline, but Cartagena delivers. There are a number of islands off the shores of Cartagena that are popular destinations for day trips. Many travelers, however, choose to spend a day or two on the islands to rest and relax away from the business of the big city. Isla de Tierra Bomba is not to be missed.

Although Cartagena is an expansive, sprawling city, it is the historical areas that draw the largest numbers of tourists. The historical quarters are those that sit along the coastal edge of Cartagena. It is a rather convenient place to visit.

Let’s explore where to stay in Cartagena so that you can book the perfect room for you before you arrive in Colombia.

Bocagrande

Bocagrande, Cartagena

Source: Fernando Pavan / shutterstock

Bocagrande

The neighborhood of Bocagrande is the most popular place to stay in Cartagena. Boasting coastal views to the west and east, it is not hard to see why Bocagrande is the first port of call for first-time visitors to Cartagena.

Bocagrande is popular largely due to its expansive stretches of beach. Long, clean, and with the softest of sand, even the locals head down to the beaches of Bocagrande, which is testament indeed. All too often, locals stay away from their local beaches out of annoyance at overcrowding. This is not the case in Bocagrande.

There are some swanky, upmarket bars and bistros to explore in Bocagrande. There are international influences around every corner and travelers could travel the world in the dishes served in the Bocagrande area. Naturally, there are plenty of traditional Colombian diners to be explored. Interestingly, there are a number of Japanese restaurants too.

Shopping in Bocagrande is a popular pastime too; Bocagrande Square Mall is the mall of choice.

Good For: Active Travelers, Art Lovers, Budding Historians, Beach Bums, City Slickers, Couples, Culture Vultures, First Time Visitors, Families, Foodies, Sightseers, Shopaholics, Whistle-Stop Travelers

Neighborhood Highlights: Bocagrande Square Mall, Masters Royal Casino, Beaches Cartagena Plaza, Playa Ocean Tower, Capilla del Mar Beach, Parque Flanagan, Parque Flanagan Amusement Park, El Laguito Playground, Kiosco El Bony Caribbean Restaurant, Centro Comercial Nao Shopping Centre, Sushi Express, Parque Naval, Monumento “Full Avante, Monumento Santander

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Hotel InterContinental Cartagena – Hotel InterContinental Cartagena is a top pick in Bocagrande. The rooms are generous and have an ocean theme. Many rooms, in fact, offer views of the ocean. There is a welcoming feel to the hotel and the staff are lovely. All rooms have a flat-screen TV and access to free WiFi.
  • Hotel Capilla del Mar – Hotel Capilla del Mar is a top choice in Bocagrande. Guests can access the beach within a short, two-minute walk and there is an outdoor swimming pool. Guests can enjoy time in the outdoor swimming pool, workout in the gym or relax in the spa complex.
  • Hotel Dann Cartagena – Hotel Dann Cartagena is a fabulous hotel that caters for every need. Set a one-minute walk from the beach, many of the rooms offer ocean views. The staff are wonderfully attentive and will assist guests in any way that they can. There is a swimming pool and direct beach access.

San Diego

San Diego, Cartagena

Source: Ksenia Ragozina / shutterstock

San Diego, Cartagena

San Diego is one of three neighborhoods that makes up the historical quarter of Cartagena. Sitting right on the coast, San Diego is the perfect place to stay in Cartagena for travelers who want to learn more about the city and have plenty of beach time too.

San Diego is one of the more authentic places to stay in Cartagena. Much of the inner city is commercialized and lacking in character. San Diego oozes charm and is the ideal place to learn about Colombia’s interesting past.

A must-visit spot in San Diego is Casa Museo Rafael Núñez. The former house of once Colombian president Rafaela Núnez provides a great introduction to both the history and politics of Colombia.

The Walls of Cartagena are one of the most popularly visited landmarks in the San Diego neighborhood, along with Fort of Las Tenazas and Cordon Amurallado. All are set within a three-minute walk of one another and can be visited within the space of half a day.

Good For: Active Travelers, Art Lovers, Budding Historians, Beach Bums, City Slickers, Couples, Culture Vultures, First Time Visitors, Families, Foodies, Luxury Travelers, Sightseers, Shopaholics, Whistle-Stop Travelers

Neighborhood Highlights: Fort of Las Tenazas, Cordon Amurallado, Casa Museo Rafael Núñez, Walls of Cartagena, Plaza de San Diego, Las Bovedas, Subida a las murallas por el santa clara, Baluarte de Santa Catalina, Carcel Departamental Museum, Museo de Las Fortificaciones, Baluarte de San Lucas, Apolo Park, La India Catalina, Baluarte de San Pedro Martir

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Hotel Casa Quero – Hotel Casa Quero is a superb hotel in San Diego. Set within a heritage building with colonial décor, there is a sense of class to Hotel Casa Quero that makes for a memorable stay. The beach is just a six-minute walk away and there is an outdoor swimming pool.
  • Casa Logos Hotel Boutique – Casa Logos Hotel Boutique is a gorgeous hotel in San Diego. There is an a la carte breakfast included in the room rate and it is generally served on the outdoor terrace. The decor of Casa Logos Hotel Boutique is elegant and stylish with just the right amount of color.
  • Hotel Boutique Bovedas de Santa Clara – Hotel Boutique Bovedas de Santa Clara is a wonderful hotel in San Diego. There is a lot to love about Hotel Boutique Bovedas de Santa Clara and it is the ideal place for luxury travelers or long-term travelers on the hunt for a treat. The rooms are generous, modern and bright.

El Bosque

Hotel L.A. Cartagena

Source: booking.com

Hotel L.A. Cartagena

Heading into the inner city of Cartagena, travelers will find the backpacker and budget-friendly neighborhood of El Bosque. A neighborhood that is perfect for travelers seeking a ‘like a local’ experience, or perhaps travelers who want to embrace the hustle and bustle, El Bosque is ideal.

The nightlife in El Bosque is not to be overlooked. In addition to the local bars, there are a number of nightclubs in the El Bosque area. Pley Club is a popular haunt which serves great cocktails. There is a relaxed and casual feel to the club and they open relatively early – from 5 pm most days. Alternatively, Platanal de Bartolo is loved by locals and visitors alike. It is the best place to learn to salsa for free and make new friends.

El Bosque would be a great place for digital nomads to stay. The accommodation options are cheap and there are all the amenities long-term travelers could need right on the doorstep.

Good For: Active Travelers, Budget Backpackers, City Slickers, Couples, Digital Nomads, Off-The-Beaten Track Travelers, Like a Local Travelers, Long Term Travelers, Night Owls, Party People

Neighborhood Highlights: Platanal de Bartolo Nightclub, Pley Nightclub, Games Room Alimar, Fundación Mario Santo Domingo Community Centre, Restaurante Rancho Grande, Kokoriko Restaurant, Disco Bar Donde Julito, Atrevete Disco Bar, Bruselas Park, Parque Martinez Martelo

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Hotel Arizona – Hotel Arizona is a budget-friendly hotel in El Bosque. New on the scene, Hotel Arizona is squeaky clean with comfortable beds. The whole hotel is modern and bright. There is free WiFi throughout the hotel and an airport shuttle service is offered. There are family rooms available.
  • Hotel Mar del Plata – Hotel Mar del Plata is a good hotel in El Bosque. There is a modern feel to the hotel free parking is available. The rooms themselves are basic, but with such cheap room rates, there are never any complaints. Ideal for travelers seeking a cheap and cheerful place to stay in Cartagena.
  • Hotel L.A. Cartagena – Hotel L.A. Cartagena is a homely hotel in Cartagena. The rooms are cozy and all have access to free WiFi. There are spacious family rooms available which can sleep up to four people. Breakfast is available for an additional cost, but there are a number of cafes within a short walk of Hotel L.A. Cartagena.

La Boquilla

La Boquilla, Cartagena

Source: oscar garces / shutterstock

La Boquilla

Sitting to the north of Cartagena city center – and north too of San Diego – is the town of La Boquilla. With the ocean to the west and east, La Boquilla is very similar to Bocagrande in terms of feel. There are big resort hotels and a great selection of restaurants to explore.

La Boquilla is an ideal place to stay for families. Traveling as a family needs to be as stress-free as can be, and staying in La Boquilla provides travelers with a seamless experience. Fly into Aeropuerto International Rafaela Núñez and travelers can be in their hotel room within 20-minutes if they play their cards right.

Watersports are a popular option for travelers in La Boquilla. Boating, yachting and jet ski experiences are all available on day rates from beachside tour providers. Kitesurfing is another popular option that is always great fun.

The historical quarters of San Diego and Getsemani are within a short drive of La Boquilla and taxis can easily be arranged to and from at short notice.

Good For: Active Travelers, Art Lovers, Budding Historians, Beach Bums, City Slickers, Couples, Culture Vultures, First Time Visitors, Families, Foodies, Sightseers, Shopaholics, Whistle-Stop Travelers

Neighborhood Highlights: Colombia FlyBoard – Boat, Yacht, Jet Ski Rentals and Tours, Nomad Kitesurf Colombia, Nativo Kite School, Convention Center of the Americas, Sagrada Beach Club Cartagena, In Colombia Kitesurf, Restaurante Botswana, Bodegon del Mar, Restaurante Sol Brisa Y Mar

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Hotel Las Americas Casa de Playa – Hotel Las Americas Casa de Playa is a top pick hotel in La Boquilla. Ideal for families and young couples, there is a lot of fun to be had at Hotel Las Americas Casa de Playa. The rooms are great value for money and guests have access to the swimming pool complex and free WiFi.
  • Holiday Inn Cartagena Morros – Holiday Inn Cartagena Morros is just a two-minute walk from the hotel’s private beach. The rooms are modern and feature stylish artworks. The rooms are generous and many offer a balcony. All rooms have a flat-screen TV with cable channels. A superb breakfast is included in most room rates.
  • Posada Kalea – Posada Kalea is a cute boutique hotel in La Boquilla. Just a few minutes walk from the beach, Posada Kalea is an authentic beachside hotel with heaps of character. The staff can help arrange everything; from taxis to kite surfing and more. Perfect for budget travelers on the hunt for an upmarket treat.

Isla Tierra Bomba

Isla Tierra Bomba

Source: Martina Trebino Chavarria / shutterstock

Isla Tierra Bomba

Although away from the city center of Cartagena, Isla Tierra Bomba is not to be overlooked. The island only has a couple of hotels and a few beach-hut bars and cafes. Isla Tierra Bomba is the perfect place for off the beaten track travelers seeking an authentic experience in Colombia.

There are few large-scale hotels in Isla Tierra Bomba, and a couple of beach-hut style hostel-come-hotels too. For travelers wishing to make a quick escape to the countryside after ticking off the historical gems of central Cartagena, Isla Tierra Bomba is the place to head.

Bocachica is one of the biggest settlements on Isla Tierra Bomba and is home to a number of hidden gem hotels. Although booking in advance is advisable, the chances of finding a family-run B&B in Isla Tierra Bomba during a stay are high.

The most famous spot in Bocachia is Batería del Ángel San Rafael. From the hill, travelers can enjoy breathtaking views of the ocean in the distance.

Good For: Active Travelers, Budget Backpackers, City Slickers, Couples, Digital Nomads, Off-The-Beaten Track Travelers, Like a Local Travelers, Long Term Travelers, Island Lovers

Neighborhood Highlights: Batería del Ángel San Rafael, Bocachica, Tierra Bomba, Punta Arenas, Cano de Loro, Blue Apple Beach House, Mariana’s Beach Restaurant & Cocktail Bar, Chiringuito Beach Casa De Playa

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Hotel Isla Real – Hotel Isla Real is a very good hotel in Isla Tierra Bomba. There is an outdoor swimming pool complete with sun terrace and plenty of hammocks to go around. The staff are wonderfully welcoming and will help in any way they can. Hotel Isla Real is one of the most popular hotels on Isla Tierra Bomba.
  • Hotel Fenix Beach Cartagena – Hotel Fenix Beach Cartagena is a fantastic hotel in Isla Tierra Bomba. Offering cute beach huts and a sense of fun and adventure, Hotel Fenix Beach Cartagena is not to be overlooked. The breakfast included in some room rates is a great start to the day. There is a garden and an outdoor swimming pool.
  • Hotel Tropical Inn – Hotel Tropical Inn is just a 10-minute boat ride from Cartagena on Isla Tierra Bomba. There is a bar in-house and guests are welcome to drink or sunbathe by the outdoor swimming pool. There is air conditioning in every room and breakfast is included in some room rates.
Where to stay: Best Hotels in Cartagena, Colombia
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List of Image Sources

Where to Stay in Cartagena – Neighborhoods & Area Guide:

Isla Tierra Bomba

  • Bocagrande: Fernando Pavan / shutterstock
  • San Diego, Cartagena: Ksenia Ragozina / shutterstock
  • Hotel L.A. Cartagena: booking.com
  • La Boquilla: oscar garces / shutterstock
  • Isla Tierra Bomba: Martina Trebino Chavarria / shutterstock