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One of Colombia’s most alluring cities, Cartagena is drenched in culture, art, and atmosphere. And you can’t help but whip out your camera in Cartagena, because thanks to the beautiful architecture and original artwork, it’s a city that begs to be preserved, in both the photographic sense, and as a storied UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Whether it’s your first time visiting Colombia—in which case Cartagena makes for a terrific introduction to the country—or you’re practically a local, these are the spots to visit on your photo tour of Cartagena.
If you’re hoping to snap a few pictures in the it-neighborhood of Cartagena, head to Getsemani. Getsemani is known for its eye-catching murals and graffiti and beautifully decorated streets, like The Umbrella Street, which (as the name suggests) is shaded by a canopy of brightly colored umbrellas. You’ll also want to dine at La Cocina de Pepina and photograph Plaza de Trinidad while exploring the Getsemani neighborhood. Aside from the street art and creative installations, Getsemani has many more charming cafes and great bars to return to in the evening.
La Popa Monastery
One of the best places to capture the city from on high is La Popa Monastery. If you’re the Instagrammer who loves to photograph from a bird’s eye view or pose looking down over the cityscape, you can’t miss La Popa Monastery. Don’t head out after taking photos outside the monastery, though, because the real hidden Instagram gem of La Popa is the lush secret garden inside the monastery.
In the vein of Portobello Road in London or Bo’Kaap in Cape Town, Calle 9 is the classic pastel-colored houses destination in Cartagena. The rows of one-story houses painted in various shades of blue, yellow, pink, orange, and purple make for a beautiful portrait of Cartagena. Much like Calle de Don Sancho and the Umbrella Street, this street can get fairly crowded, so you’ll want to head there early.
Calle de Don Sancho
The streets of Cartagena, as you may have surmised from the mention of Umbrella Street and Calle 9, are some of the best places to capture the essence of this city. Calle de Don Sancho is one of the magic Instagram spots because its vantage point lets you perfectly capture Cartagena’s iconic yellow church. By late morning, this spot tends to get pretty crowded, so wake up early and head right to Calle de Don Sancho to have this scenic street all to yourself.
Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena
The Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena is a gorgeous, colonial-style property, very reminiscent of the brand’s iconic properties like the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan. Before heading to photograph their pool, spend time on their Instagram-worthy light pink patio—the hanging chandeliers and successive pink arches give off serious Moroccan design energy. For the pièce de résistance, you’ll of course head to their palm-tree lined pool, which has a distinctive shape and sits directly in front of the hotel’s colonial main building.
Old Town Cartagena
Many of the quintessential photos of pastel facades and colonial architecture are taken in Old Town Cartagena. While in Old Town, you’ll want to photograph Calle 37, Carrera 9, and Calle 38—Old Town’s iconic streets—and ‘gram the sun setting over the Caribbean Sea from Café del Mar. This may seem contradictory, but the walled city of Old Town Cartagena also draws tourists looking to capture bold modern art; mod-enthusiasts should head to Museo del Arte Moderno.
Ábaco Libros y Café
This coffee shop and bookstore is an Instagram destination much in the same way The Strand in New York City or The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles have become must-snap pictures. Beyond the Instagram cache, Ábaco Libros y Café is a great place to browse for books or work in the afternoon. And though tourists have certainly discovered this cafe, it’s still very much a local hang-out.
Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa
The rooftop view from Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa has florals and Old Town in the foreground and modern Cartagena and the sea in the background. In a way, it’s the perfect juxtaposition in one photo, marrying the old and new Cartagena, while revealing all the gorgeous color this city has to offer. The hotel’s courtyard dining scene is surrounded by light yellow arches, which make for the perfect complement to your picture of the light pink arches at the Sofitel. And for a chic, solo shot, grab a picture of yourself in front of the hotel’s stunning rooftop pool.
This is a bonus pic(k), because technically Rosario Islands are an hour ferry ride off Cartagena. However, the islands are widely known by the locals to have the best (and most pristine) beaches in the area. While there are beaches lining Cartagena, they simply don’t compare to the photogenic clout of the beaches on Rosario Islands. The Rosario Islands are an archipelago of small islands with clear waters and sugar-sand beaches. While spots like Playa Blanca and Isla del Sol are popular, we recommend the more intimate Bendita Beach.