It’s no secret that Cartagena is one of the most fascinating cities in all of Colombia. From its picturesque colonial architecture to its pristine beaches and vibrant culture, it’s a must-visit destination on every Colombia itinerary.
However, with so many wonderful neighborhoods to choose from, deciding where to stay in Cartagena can seem overwhelming. In this guide, I’ll break down Cartagena’s top 6 areas and recommend some of my favorite hotels in each.
Whether you want to be in the historic center surrounded by history, prefer easy access to beaches and nightlife, or desire a more laidback vibe, I’m sure you’ll find the perfect spot to call home during your stay in Cartagena.
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Table of Contents
Overview of Where to Stay in Cartagena
Located on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, Cartagena is actually a very big city with a population of over 1 million people.
However, most tourists spend their time in the historic center or one of its neighboring areas, and this is where I recommend focusing your search for accommodation.
The Walled City (consisting of Centro and San Diego) is Cartagena’s main tourist hub and where you’ll find most of the city’s top attractions, restaurants, and nightlife. It’s a maze of colorful narrow streets lined with colonial buildings, making it perfect for exploring on foot.
If you want to be close to the beach while enjoying modern amenities, Bocagrande is your best bet. North of the Old Town is Marbella, which is another good option for beach lovers.
For a more local experience, head to the neighborhood of Getsemani. Located just outside the Walled City, Getsemani is a vibrant and colorful neighborhood known for its street art and lively atmosphere.
|Centro (sightseeing, first-timers, history lovers)
|Movich Hotel Cartagena
|San Diego (art and culture, foodies)
|Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena
|Getsemani (street art, nightlife, budget-friendly)
|GHL Hotel Armería Real
|Bocagrande (beach vacation, luxury stay, modern amenities)
|Hyatt Regency Cartagena
|Marbella (quiet beach, authentic experience, airport access)
|Hotel Cabreromar By GEH Suites
Map of the Best Places to Stay in Cartagena
Below you can find a customized map that includes the best areas to stay in Cartagena, including our recommended hotels for each area for every budget.
How to use this map: This map is fully interactive, so you can move around, zoom in/zoom out, and click on the icons. If you want to see a larger map, click on the bracket in the upper right corner. To see more details and the different layers, click on the tab in the upper left corner. If you want to save it for later, click on the star icon next to the name of the map. Then simply open Google Maps either on your desktop or phone, go to ‘Saved’/’Maps’, and open the map whenever you need it.
Best Areas to Stay in Cartagena
Centro is the heart of Cartagena’s historic center. This is where you’ll find top landmarks such as Plaza Bolívar, the Palacio de la Inquisición, and the Clock Tower. If you want to be close to all the action and don’t mind a bit of noise, Centro is the perfect place to stay.
This vibrant district is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, known for its well-preserved colonial architecture, narrow cobblestone streets, and colorful houses adorned with bougainvillea. It’s truly a photographer’s dream and I couldn’t put my camera down!
Staying in Centro puts you within walking distance of all of Cartagena’s main attractions. It also has a good mix of budget and luxury hotels, making it a great option for all types of travelers.
If you’re a foodie, you’ll love Centro’s diverse culinary scene. From street food vendors to upscale restaurants, there’s something for everyone here.
The nightlife scene is also lively, with plenty of bars and clubs to choose from. Watching the sunset from Cafe del Mar is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Cartagena!
For history buffs, a visit to the Museum of Cartagena de Indias and Museo Naval del Caribe is a must. Both offer fascinating insights into the city’s history and culture.
Pros and cons of staying in Centro
- Central location within a short walk of top attractions
- Beautiful colonial architecture and vibrant atmosphere
- Wide range of accommodation options for all budgets
- Amazing restaurants and nightlife
- Can be noisy, especially on weekends
- Higher prices compared to other neighborhoods in Cartagena
Best places to stay in Centro
- Luxury | Movich Hotel Cartagena de Indias – Located in the heart of Centro, this luxurious hotel has an epic rooftop pool with panoramic views of the city.
- Mid-range | La Passion by Masaya – This charming hotel also features a rooftop swimming pool and offers a mix of rooms, suites, and apartments.
- Budget | Casa India Catalina – If you’re traveling on a tight budget, this guesthouse offers simple yet comfortable rooms. It also has a pool in the courtyard!
2. San Diego
San Diego, a picturesque neighborhood just north of Centro, is undoubtedly one of the best areas to stay in Cartagena. Renowned for its charming streets, vibrant culture, and rich history, San Diego is a favorite among tourists and locals alike.
One of the main advantages of staying in San Diego is its prime location. Nestled just north of Centro, this neighborhood offers easy access to top attractions while being a bit quieter and less touristy spot.
You’ll still find plenty of street vendors, cafes, and restaurants in San Diego, but they tend to be more low-key than Centro. This area is also home to one of Cartagena’s most iconic restaurants, La Cevichería, where Anthony Bourdain famously dined during his visit to Cartagena.
When in the area, you have to check out Las Bóvedas, a former military prison turned shopping arcade, and the historic Santo Toribio Church. Both are must-visits for history buffs and offer a glimpse into Cartagena’s past.
Pros and cons of staying in San Diego
- Quaint, picturesque streets perfect for exploring on foot
- Great location with easy access to top attractions
- Less crowded and touristy compared to Centro
- Though it’s quieter than El Centro, it can still be quite noisy and crowded during the high season
- Limited accommodation options compared to other areas in Cartagena
Best hotels to stay in San Diego
- Luxury | Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena – One of the most iconic hotels in Cartagena, the Sofitel features a beautiful pool and spa for ultimate relaxation.
- Mid-range | Hotel Bantu by Faranda Boutique – This boutique hotel offers stylish rooms and an intimate atmosphere with an outdoor swimming pool, hot tub, and sauna.
- Budget | Hotel Don Pedro De Heredia – Great option for budget travelers as this hotel offers simple rooms, an outdoor pool, and a stunning rooftop terrace for a very reasonable price.
Getsemani is one of the best neighborhoods in Cartagena for those looking for an authentic and local experience. This vibrant district, located just outside the historic Walled City, is known for its street art, lively atmosphere, and delicious street food.
Getsemani is also a great area for budget travelers as you’ll find many of the best hostels and budget hotels here, making it popular among backpackers and solo travelers.
One of the highlights of staying in Getsemani is its nightlife scene. This neighborhood comes alive at night, with live music, street vendors, and plenty of bars to choose from. Plaza de la Trinidad is the heart of the neighborhood and a great place to grab a drink and people-watch.
The area also boasts some of the best restaurants in Cartagena, serving up delicious local and international cuisine at affordable prices.
The whole of Getsemani is a paradise for photographers and we came across some of the most fantastic street art and colorful historic buildings during our walks.
It’s also very close to San Felipe de Barajas Castle, one of the top attractions in the city that you absolutely have to include in your Cartagena itinerary.
Pros and cons of staying in Getsemani
- Authentic and local experience
- Colorful street art and lively atmosphere
- Budget-friendly accommodation options
- Vibrant nightlife scene
- Not as close to the beach as other neighborhoods
- Can be noisy at night due to its lively atmosphere
Best places to stay in Getsemani
- Luxury | Hotel Capellán de Getsemaní – Located just a few steps from Plaza de la Trinidad, this 5-star hotel has a stunning outdoor pool and offers elegant rooms with all the modern amenities.
- Mid-range | GHL Hotel Armería Real – This hotel is housed in a 17th-century colonial building and features simple but comfortable rooms with a beautiful courtyard and a rooftop pool.
- Budget | Hotel Casa Mara By Akel Hotels – For budget travelers, this charming colonial-style hotel features an inner courtyard with a pool and rooms with internal garden views.
If you’re looking for a beach vacation and a quieter stay, Bocagrande is the best area to stay in Cartagena. This neighborhood, located on a peninsula just south of the historic Walled City, offers stunning views of the Caribbean Sea and easy access to the beach.
Bocagrande is also known for its high-end hotels, luxury apartment buildings, and upscale restaurants. You’ll find many international chains and boutique hotels in this area, making it perfect for those looking for a more luxurious stay in Cartagena.
While it may not have the same vibrant atmosphere as Centro or Getsemani, Bocagrande offers a peaceful and relaxing stay in the city. You can spend your days lounging on the beach, sipping cocktails at one of the many beachfront bars, or taking part in water sports.
The neighborhood is also home to many shopping malls so you can indulge in a bit of retail therapy during your stay. And if you’re feeling adventurous, take a short boat ride to the nearby Rosario Islands for some island hopping and snorkeling.
I’ve heard many people advocating against staying in Bocagrande because it’s a bit farther from the Old City but honestly, it’s only a 10-minute drive away, and taxis or Uber are easily accessible.
I also loved the contrast of exploring the bustling city during the day and coming back to a quieter, more peaceful area at night.
Pros and Cons of Staying in Bocagrande
- Beautiful beachfront location with stunning views
- Upscale hotels and restaurants for a luxurious stay
- Peaceful and relaxing atmosphere
- Farther from the Walled City compared to other neighborhoods
- Can be more expensive compared to other areas in Cartagena
- Not as charming and authentic as the Walled City or Getsemani
Best hotels to stay in Bocagrande
- Luxury | Hyatt Regency Cartagena – This 5-star hotel boasts a spectacular infinity pool and stunning ocean views. It also offers luxurious rooms with all the amenities you could need.
- Mid-range | Hotel Almirante Cartagena – If you’re looking for a mid-range option, this 5-star hotel is located directly on the beach and offers a beautiful pool area and comfortable rooms.
- Budget | Hotel Blue Concept – Located just a few steps from Playa de Bocagrande, this budget hotel features an outdoor pool and simple but comfortable rooms. Plus, you can’t beat the location for the price!
Marbella may not be the first neighborhood that comes to mind when thinking of where to stay in Cartagena, but it’s a hidden gem worth considering. Situated on a quiet stretch of beach just north of the historic Walled City, Marbella is a residential neighborhood that offers a more local and authentic experience.
You won’t find many tourist attractions in this area, but you will a long stretch of beautiful, uncrowded beach perfect for relaxation. It’s also a great spot for surfing and watersports.
While it may not have as many accommodation options as other neighborhoods, Marbella offers some stunning boutique hotels and guesthouses.
The accommodations here tend to be more affordable compared to Bocagrande and the Walled City, making Marbella a good place to stay for travelers with a tight budget.
But perhaps the best part about staying in Marbella is the stunning views of the sunset over the Caribbean Sea. Trust me, it’s worth staying here just for that experience alone.
Marbella is also very close to the airport, making it a convenient option for those with early or late flights.
However, keep in mind that Marbella is a bit farther from the main tourist areas, so you may need to take taxis or Uber to get around.
You also won’t find that many restaurants or bars in Marbella, so it’s best to head into the Walled City for meals and nightlife.
Pros and cons of staying in Marbella
- Quiet and unspoiled beach perfect for relaxation
- Authentic local experience
- Stunning sunset views over the Caribbean Sea
- Close to the airport for convenient travel
- Limited accommodation options compared to other areas in Cartagena
- Not as many tourist attractions or activities in the area
- Limited dining and nightlife options
Best hotels to stay in Marbella
- Luxury | Ermita Cartagena – This 5-star hotel truly is a work of art, with its stunning architecture and interior design. It offers sweeping views of the ocean and a tranquil pool area.
- Mid-range | Hotel Cabreromar By GEH Suites – The modern rooms and direct beach access make this hotel a great mid-range option.
- Budget | Casa Hotel Marbella Beach – Located only steps from the beach, this hotel offers private rooms and spacious family rooms at an affordable price.
Planning a trip to Colombia?
Then you might want to take a look at all our other travel guides about Colombia. I promise, they are just as awesome as this article was!
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- 3 Days in Cartagena: The Perfect Cartagena Itinerary for First-Timers
- 18 Best Things to Do in Cartagena You Can’t Miss
- Where to Stay in Cartagena: 6 Best Areas & Hotels
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