A Cartagena honeymoon is pure magic. This coastal gem seduces with its colonial splendor, romantic ambiance, and Spanish-meets-Caribbean flavor. It’s also one of the safest and most picturesque places in all of Colombia. Adding to its list of accolades is accessibility (direct flights), upscale accommodations, and pristine beaches. Simply put: This dreamy destination deserves a top spot on your mini-moon bucket list.
As demand has increased, so have the number of flights. It’s a five-hour direct shot from New York. (Yup, that’s quicker than traveling to Los Angeles.) There’s no time difference and you won’t have deal with jet lag!
Colorful and relentlessly charming, Cartagena is a photographer’s dream. The soul of this picture-perfect port is its UNESCO-listed Old Town. Within its 16th-century stone walls is a warren of cobbled corridors, preserved Spanish colonial buildings—splashed in shades of purple, yellow, red, and blue—embellished doors, bougainvillea-clad balconies, striking churches like Catedral de San Pedro Claver, and bustling plazas.
From refined restaurants helmed by acclaimed chefs to low-key cevicherias (don’t miss El Boliche Cebicheria and La Cevichería), Cartagena has something to satisfy every taste bud. Head over to Agua de Mar for Spanish tapas (perfect for sharing with your hubby) and out-of-this-world gin drinks. Carmen specializes in innovative twists on local, seafood-driven fare. El Barón serves creative cocktails and pressed sandwiches in an intimate setting. Craving more delicacies? Coordinate a street food tour to sample everything from arepas to chicharrones.
Looking to catch some rays? Cartagena’s tropical climate and seaside setting make it a popular playa escape. Hop on a boat to Islas del Rosario for an afternoon of snorkeling and swimming with the dolphins or set off to the white-sand shores and turquoise waters of Isla Barú, where you can kick back with a rum-based beverage and enjoy the ocean breeze.
Cartagena’s cobbled lanes are lined with shops filled everything from plant-based beauty products at Loto del Sur to Colombian designer duds. The Palenqueras—women wearing bright traditional dresses and balancing bowls of tropical fruit atop their heads—are a florid fixture of Old Town. And on almost every corner, you’ll find artisans selling traditional woven bags, beaded jewelry, sandals, and souvenirs. Somewhere between shopping and dining is La Paletteria. The display of popsicles in a rainbow of hues are almost too pretty to eat, but with the brutal heat you’d be silly not to cool down with a creamy coconut or tangy mango treat.
Cartagena is fascinating, exuberant, and sensual. Skip the itinerary and soak up the lively atmosphere as you stroll through Old Town. Take a break from exploring at the many outdoor cafes. Watch the performers in Plaza de Bolívar. Immerse yourself in the vivacious Colombian culture with a salsa class. Visit Museo Naval Del Caribe and Arte Moderno. Grab a cocktail at the myriad bars. (Cafe del Mar is great for sunset drinks.) After dinner, show off your new moves with a night of dancing at Cafe Havana, an iconic spot famed for its live music, cigars, and mojitos.
Hidden behind an imposing wooden door in Old Town is Casa San Agustin. What was once a trio of colonial-era residences is now a serene oasis distinguished by its indoor-outdoor living spaces, sky-high ceilings adorned with original beams, soothing neutral tones, and hand-wrought iron details. Two miles outside the historic center, in the exclusive Bocagrande district, is the new InterContinental Cartagena de Indias, a hip and modern hotel with a stunning pool. Prefer to have an entire place to yourself? Oasis has a roster of 67 stylish and private properties available for rent throughout the city.