Last Updated on

← Back to ‘Best Vacation Spots for History Buffs’

Cartagena is one of the most romantic cities in the Caribbean, with crumbling, colorful houses, a tropical climate and history of Spanish conquest and pirate attacks. When you travel to Cartagena, you really feel like you are taking a step back in time. We’ve rounded up the top 5 hotels, that you simply have to stay at, to get a real feel for the historic city.

Where to Stay

Casablanca Belle & Boutique

Casablanca Belle & Boutique is located in Cartagena’s old town. It’s a stunning hotel with two outdoor pools and a delicious free breakfast of tropical fruits, breads, and jams. It’s set in an elegant, restored colonial building, so you can really imagine you are taking a step into the past. There’s a rooftop lounge where you can unwind and gaze in awe at the city. All rooms in the hotel have air conditioning — which is essential when traveling to Cartagena as the city is so humid.

The best vacation rentals for the lowest price

Photo by Casablanca Belle & Boutique

Hotel Casa San Agustin

Hotel Casa San Agustin is set in a beautiful, historic building, with charming balconies that are covered in bougainvillea plants. It’s right by some of the most popular landmarks including the Palace of the Inquisition, which gives you an insight into the grizzly Spanish Inquisition, and Bolivar Park, where you can sit back and watch the sleepy, Caribbean pace of life. The hotel features an outdoor swimming pool and a terrace with a lounge. Guest love the hotel’s colonial decor and delicious breakfast.

The best vacation rentals for the lowest price

Photo by Hotel Casa San Agustin

New inspirations, destinations, adventures.

Discover more with our weekly newsletter.

San Pedro Hotel and Spa

San Pedro Hotel and Spa is an elegant Colonial style mansion, that has ornate decoration, Colonial-themed-artwork and a pool in its internal courtyard. The hotel is just a six-minute walk to the beach and less than 300 meters from the main San Diego Square, where you can orientate yourself before you explore the city. As it’s a spa hotel, you can relax in the jacuzzi or spa area after a busy day exploring. Be sure to book a room with a private spa and tub.

The best vacation rentals for the lowest price

Historic Hotels In Cartagena
Photo by San Pedro Hotel and Spa

Casa Claver Loft Boutique Hotel

Casa Claver Loft Boutique Hotel is located in the center of the historic old town. It’s set in a historic, 17th-century building, with many of the original features renovated. The hotel features modern lofts, complete with kitchenette, so you can really make yourself at home. There’s a shared rooftop pool and a sun terrace, with beautiful views of the city.

The best vacation rentals for the lowest price

Historic Hotels In Cartagena
Photo by Casa Claver Loft Boutique Hotel

El Candil de Los Santos

El Candil de Los Santos is a beautiful hotel that is located just a four-minute walk to the beach. It features colonial décor and an interior garden with tropical plants and a plunge pool. All the rooms have stunning, French balconies with beautiful city views.

The best vacation rentals for the lowest price

Photo by El Candil de Los Santos

Cartagena was founded as a Spanish colony in 1533 and quickly became Spain’s main port on the Caribbean coast. The town was sieged by pirates on several occasions, and also withstood attacks from the English and French, who wanted the port for themselves. Today, Cartagena is a UNESCO world heritage site and a stunning vacation destination, with cobbled streets, colorful colonial houses and music echoing through the streets. We’ve put together a 24-hour historic guide to Cartagena, so you can really take a step into the past:

Things to Do

Castillo San Felipe

Start the morning at Castillo San Felipe, a fortress with panoramic views of the city. It was built by the Spanish colonizers in the 1600s to protect the city from pirates and intruders. It was known as the most impressive fortress in the Spanish ‘New World’ as it was almost impenetrable thanks to its unique, triangular design and strategic location on a hill. You can walk around the castle and explore its secret tunnels. It has an incredible panoramic view of the city, so spend some time soaking in the views.

By Diego Grandi

Era Lunch

Take a walk back to the Old Town and eat lunch at La Vitrola. The restaurant has an atmosphere reminiscent of 1950s Havana — it’s set in a restored colonial building with Cuban music, impromptu salsa dancing and a hearty menu. Be sure to make a reservation before you arrive.


Palacio de la Inquisición

Now it’s time to take a look at one of the darker sides of Cartagena’s past: The Spanish Inquisition. Head to the Palacio de la Inquisicion, which is located in the Old Town, just a few minutes walk from La Vitrola restaurant. It was built in the 17th century and it served as a prison and torture chamber for heretics — that being anyone that tried to stand against the Spanish regime and its imposition of Catholicism. Heretics were denounced and sentenced to death for supposed ‘crimes’ that included magic and blasphemy. The Palacio de la Inquisicion was used in this way until the 19th century when the Spanish were overthrown, and Cartagena gained independence. The site today features eerie rooms, heavy with dark pasts. There’s a great exhibition that details the history of the Inquisition and showcases some of the grizzly torture instruments that were used by the Spanish during the period.

24-hour historic guide to Cartagena
Photo by jipe7

Convento de Santa Cruz de la Popa

It’s time to head to a more peaceful location. Convento de Santa Cruz de la Popa sits on a tall hill in the center of the city. It’s a beautiful convent, made up of several different colonial buildings. It was founded in 1607 as a small chapel and has since grown into a large convent. Today it’s home to many interesting artifacts, including different currencies from the past, historical books, and clothes used in the convent over time.

Watch the Sunset from the Old Town Walls

Cafe del Mar sits on top of the wall that enclosed the Old Town. It’s on a beautiful lookout point that gazes far out into the Carribean Sea. You can grab a few drinks and watch as the sky turns from blue to orange to black. Once the sun has set, take a walk on the walls of the old town and observe the city below as it comes alive at night. It’s the perfect time to walk the wall, as the temperatures are much cooler in the evening.

24-hours in Cartagena
Photo by Pixabay
Share this post now:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.