Our offers for shore excursions in Cartagena de Indias
Book your shore excursion in Cartagena de Indias with us. You can select the right excursion for your cruise stay here:
Small groupsExcursions in a family atmosphere
Great servicePick up directly at the harbor
High reliabilityOn-time-back-to-ship warranty
Effective time managementBook your activities in advance
Cheap shore excursionSave money by self organising
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Useful information for excursions in Cartagena de Indias
We have compiled the following information about the cruise port, the most beautiful sights and many useful tips for shore excursions in and around Cartagena de Indias for you.
The most beautiful sights in Cartagena de Indias
Cartagena de Indias, also known as Cartagena, is by far one of the most beautiful cities in South America. It owes its nickname “Queen of the Caribbean” to its elegant colonial old town and magnificent location on the Caribbean coast in northern Colombia.
In 1533 Spanish conquerors founded the port city and named it after their homeland of the same name in Spain. Since then, Cartagena has developed into an important trading centre for gold, silver, precious stones and slaves, making it one of the richest cities in the Caribbean. Today it is the fifth largest city in Colombia with about 1,000,000 inhabitants.
Cartagena is ideal for learning more about the history of colonial times and experiencing the South American joie de vivre of its warm inhabitants first hand. As the most visited city in Colombia, it has a very well developed tourist infrastructure. Besides the classic destinations, there are several first-class hotels, shopping and entertainment centers.
Colonial Old Town
The colonial old town, which is still partly surrounded by city walls, is one highlight with its colourful, lively alleys and should not be missing during a stay in Cartagena. The well-maintained center and the colourful colonial style buildings are admirable. Besides picturesque squares, many impressive and admirable buildings such as churches, monasteries, cathedrals and palaces can be worth looking. Villas in which once were rich merchants and noble families lived and preserved. Small shops are ideal for browsing for beautiful souvenirs, and many bars and restaurants offer refreshments. In 1984, it even declared the district a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
With its striking yellow bell tower, the Torre del Reloj is the main gateway to the old town. The Plaza de Bolivar is the central square and named Simon Bolivar, a freedom fighter in South America. Trees give its visitors some cooling shade in the usually hot Cartagena. Around the square are the gold museum Museo del Oro, the Inquisition Palace, and the Cathedral of St. Mary. The cathedral is well recognizable by its highly distinctive yellow tower and seat of the archbishop. Another popular destination is the Cathedral of San Pedro Claver, built in the 17th century and dedicated to a priest and physician who was an early advocate of the rights of slaves. Besides a monastery, it also has a museum.
The beautiful old town centre encircled by an approximately 11-kilometre-long city wall with several fortifications. Since the city got attacked again and again because of its wealth, the people constructed the wall as protection in the 16th century. Today, it invites a wonderful walk and is accessible to a large extent. From here, one has a great view of the city and one can observe the impressive contrast between the old city centre and the modern skyscrapers in the Bocagrande quarter.
The Getsemaní district is directly south of the old town centre and is a trendy district of Cartagena. Here you will find many bars, restaurants, smaller accommodations and admirable street art in a great contrast to the colorful houses. While the old town is very touristic, more locals meet here, as they regard it as a quarter of the simpler people and craftsmen. The omnipresent live music, the well-attended salsa bars and the many small shops and sales stalls make sure that one feels the Caribbean feeling of life particularly well while strolling through the many small alleyways.
Castle of San Felipe de Barajas
To protect against pirates and other attackers, construction of the imposing Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas began in 1657 during the Spanish colonial period. The fortress is located at the gates of the old town on the hill San Lorenzo and is regarded as the largest and most important military building outside Spain. The fortress protected the city for centuries from attackers who came over land and water and is well preserved until now. The fortress was built almost 200 years in several phases and can be visited today from the inside and from the outside.
The interior of the fortress comprises an incredible network of tunnels. These formed an underground labyrinth in which intruders were to get lost. It made possible that soldiers could get everywhere fast. From the outside, the complex impresses with its unique military architecture. Also from here, one has an outstanding panorama view over the city.
Convent of La Popa
Another breathtaking view of large parts of the city is offered by the grounds of the monastery La Popa, which is located on a house hill about 150 meters high. It was once built as a monastery in the 17th century to protect the city from the plague and pirates. From afar the property resembles a castle which is why it was the victim of several attacks and destruction. Today it also houses a museum and is definitely worth a visit because of its magnificent courtyard and architecture.
The Rosario Islands are among the most popular islands around Cartagena. The archipelago of 28 small coral islands, about 35 kilometers southwest, can be reached in about 1.5 hours by speedboat. Some islands have exclusive hotels, while other islands are so tiny that they only offer space for one house. The surrounding coral reefs and crystal clear water make the area a national park and a great alternative destination for snorkelling or relaxing on one of the beautiful beaches.
Mud volcano Totumo
For those who are looking for a special experience, the trip to the volcano of Totumo is recommended. A ladder takes you to the volcano’s 20-metre-high crater, where a natural pool of mud instead of glowing lava awaits you. In the thick mud, one does not sink despite the depth and from time to time it bubbles out of the earth’s interior. Besides the fun, one does something good for one’s skin, because the warm, grey-blue mud prone to have a healing effect with its ingredients. After a bath, locals will wash you in an adjoining lagoon. They also offer massages for a small fee.
Map of the Cruise Port in Cartagena de Indias
The cruise ships dock in the port of Cartagena at the terminal Maritimo de Cartagena. The port has 6 berths and is considered one of the most modern ports in South America. In addition to the cruise business, it is an important industrial port for Colombia. It is about 400 metres from the berths to the terminal building. You can either walk along a white-marked path or use the shuttle bus, which is provided by the port often. In harbour terminal, you will find a tourist information, a café, a duty-free area and some souvenir shops. The location of the Harbour terminal is a tropical garden is more like a small zoo. There native species will welcome you such as flamingos, peacocks, parrots or climbing howler monkeys that live in a small park around the Cruise Terminal.
The harbour is about 4 km away from the beautiful old town. If you have not booked a shore excursion and would like to explore Cartagena on your own, use one of the numerous taxis outside the terminal because of the heat.
If you feel safer in a group and would like to have a tour guide at your side, we recommend that you go on a guided shore excursion.
If you book a land excursion with us, you will be picked up naturally in direct proximity to the port. In addition, our cruise excursions usually take place in German.
Useful Facts for Land Excursions in Cartagena de Indias
Shipping companies and routes
Both the German shipping companies AIDA Cruises and TUI Cruises and the international shipping companies MSC, Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line call at the port regularly in winter between the end of November and March on a Central America and Caribbean cruise. Other destinations on these routes are often ports such as Samaná, Montego Bay, La Romana or Puerto Limón.
Entry and Visa
If you travel to Colombia on a cruise, you do not need a visa. However, you need a passport is still in good condition and has at least one validity for your stay.
As the regulations in the other ports of your cruise may differ, we recommend it to carry a passport with a validity of at least six months beyond the end of your stay.
If you have ever lost your passport or reported it as stolen, inquire before your trip that these reports have been deleted from Interpol. Otherwise, there could be problems entering the country, warns the Foreign Office.
To be on the safe side, we recommend that you get information about all valid entry regulations directly from your cruise shipping company and from the Federal Foreign Office in good time before your cruise.
In Cartagena the Colombian Peso (COP) is used for payment. The currency is very fluctuating 1 Euro corresponds to approx. 3,800 COP. Traders and locals like to exploit the ignorance of the tourists. Therefore, when making purchases, always ask exactly whether the offered price makes sense and does not exchange currencies on the open street. Please also note that they also use the dollar sign for Colombian pesos. If you have exchanged none or only a few Colombian pesos, you can also pay with US dollars in most places.
Taxi and public transport
If you have not booked a transfer or a guided shore excursion, there is countless taxi available at the port of Cartagena. Experience has shown that you should fix the price in advance with the driver to avoid any nasty surprises. A trip to the popular Old Town takes about 10 minutes and costs about 10-20 US dollars. Once there, you can explore the old town on your own. The journey to the modern quarter Bocagrande takes about 15 minutes.
Outside the harbour area, there is usually other taxis available with somewhat lower prices. Taxi drivers also often offer tours to the old town or to popular places to go, but mostly only in poor English.
Cartagena has a tropical climate with an average of 27.5 °C and mostly oppressive heat with high humidity. Because of its proximity to the equator, temperatures fluctuate only slightly during the year. It divides the climate into a rainy season and a dry season. The most pleasant time to visit Colombia is during the dry season between December and March.
Port operator and tourism organisation website
Video: Impressions of Cartagena de Indias
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