12 Best Non-Touristy Things To Do In Cartagena, Colombia - Updated 2024

non touristy things to do in cartagena
Contributing Writer
| 5 min read

Nestled on the northern coast of scenic Colombia, Cartagena is a prominent port city on the Caribbean coast of the country. This spectacular walled city was founded in 1533 with cobblestone streets, squares, and colorful colonial structures. Besides this, Cartagena is a fabulous beach destination that is adorned with white sandy shores, palm trees, and coral reefs offering great views from the best hotels in Cartagena. Walking the amazing city walls, exploring the marvelous fortress which safeguarded the city for centuries, and trying scrumptious Caribbean cuisines are some of the things which you are bound to enjoy. Besides these, Cartagena has plenty of exciting things unveiling itself in a completely new way. Enjoy a stay at one of the luxury villas and explore the city in an entirely unique way. Read on to learn about the best non-touristy things to do in Cartagena, Colombia.

1. Experience a mud spa (from USD 100.0)

Experience the fun of mud spa by visiting Totumo Volcano when vacationing in Cartagena. Totumo is a small volcano which comprises thick bubbling mud that offers you the chance to swim in the sea of mud, one of the unique things you can do in Cartagena, Colombia. Experience the unique therapeutic qualities of a soothing mineral mud bath by getting in the crater after climbing a flight of wooden stairs. Rejuvenate yourself by swimming in the mud spa.

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Private Tour Mud Volcano

Duration: 3 to 4 hours

5 reviews

2. Buy local fruits from Palenqueras

While touring Cartagena in Colombia, you will easily come across Colombian ladies in bright colored costumes who are balancing bowls containing fruits atop their heads. These are Palenqueras, who you can find clustered in shady areas in the parks and squares where they chat up with the tourists and offer them some exotic and the sweetest fresh fruits. Palenqueras sell fruits in bowls, and not in baskets, at quite affordable rates. So, don’t miss buying fresh juicy fruits, such as guavas, tree tomato, zapote, passion fruit, and many other fruits from Palenqueras, and eat them as you explore this fantastic Colombian city.


Address: Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia

Website: Palenqueras

Opening hours: Daytime

Price: 2 USD onwards

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3. Stay in a floating hostel

Do not miss the thrilling experience of staying in a floating hostel in the azure waters of Colombian Caribbean, when holidaying in Cartagena. Casa en el Agua is the fancy, floating hostel on San Bernardo Islands near Cartagena, and it is ideal for any tourist who loves sea and beach vacations. The boat for this floating hostel leaves from Cartagena and takes you to this hostel in two hours. Eat in leisure, lounge around in the pleasant waters, and unwind in a hammock at this incredible hostel. Experience amazing Caribbean castaway experience at a reasonable rate.

Casa en el Agua

Address: Casa en el Agua, San Bernando Islas, Costa Caribe, Colombia

Website: Casa en el Agua

Opening hours: Check-In: 11am, Check-out: 9.30am

Price: 0.3 - 0.12 USD

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4. Party at Cholon (from USD 233.0)

Cholan Island near Cartagena is popular as Party Island of Columbia. A 45-minutes pleasant boat ride from Cartagena takes you to this fascinating island. Head out to party on this mesmerizing island on a weekend. Enjoy Reggaeton and vibrant electronic music and dancing in waist-deep amazing clear Caribbean waters as you party here.

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Cholon Party Shared Tour

Duration: 8 hours

5. Take a salsa class (from USD 32.0)

Are you fond of dancing or salsa? Then don’t miss taking a salsa class when holidaying in Cartagena. Experience the fabulous salsa culture in the Caribbean. Even if you are a novice dancer, you can learn the basic steps of salsa and hit the dance floor confidently and gladly. Have fun dancing to the tunes of the music.

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Intro Salsa Classes

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

6. Enjoy horse-riding (from USD 133.0)

Do you long to ride a horse? If yes, then don’t miss the opportunity to explore scenic landscapes in and near Cartagena on horseback. Ride an elegant Colombian horse. You will receive instructions on how to handle a horse and how to ride it. Get picked up at your vacation rental and, during your journey, learn about the Colombian Creole horse, its unique history, and various modalities. You can visit a traditional ranch where you can learn about the Colombian Paso horse, which is known to have been declared as a national, cultural and genetic patrimony. You will also be glad to meet amazing Colombian Paso Horses.

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Horse Riding

Duration: 6 hours

7. Enjoy a dip on the beaches of Rosario Islands (from USD 95.0)

enjoy a dip on the beaches of rosario islands
Source: www.viator.com

Go on an enchanting beach excursion exploring Rosario Islands when holidaying in Cartagena. Rosario Islands comprises 27 fascinating islands in pristine blue Caribbean waters. While you would enjoy a plethora of beach activities such as swimming, snorkeling, boating, and watching underwater life, do not miss the pleasure of sunbathing on the white sandy beaches of the islands. Soak in the sun as you unwind on the marvelous stretches of the shoreline of Rosario Islands. Experience the tranquility of the surroundings as you sunbathe here.

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Day Trip to Rosario Islands

8. Hop on a Chiva bus (from USD 19.0)

One of the unique, fun-filled activities in Cartagena that you should not miss is going on a Chiva bus tour. Hop on a colorful wooden bus with musicians playing music onboard and cheering people as you enjoy the bus ride through the city. Enjoy listening to vibrant music and dancing to the tunes. Grab your choice of drink from the open bar available on the bus. This fun-filled Chiva bus tour may end at a disco club. You can find two kinds of Chiva bus tours, an afternoon tour which may take you to many outstanding attractions in the city, while the other one is night time Chiva party bus tour.

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Cartagena Nightlife Tour by Chiva Bus with Nightclub Admission

Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes

10 reviews

9. Read a book at Ábaco Libros y Café

Ábaco Libros y Cafe.
Source: Photo by Flickr user young shanahan used under CC BY 2.0

Escape reality and dive into the world of amazing stories, fiction and non-fiction alike, at Ábaco Libros y Café, all while enjoying a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. For tourists looking to seek a quick respite from touring the walled city of Cartagena, this cafe serves as a meeting point.

Here you can look at the vast literary works at the bookstore, get suggestions on some hidden gems of literature, or mingle with other intellectuals to talk about your favourite writers. The delicious menu offered at this cafe makes it a perfect place to rest.

Ábaco Libros y Café

Address: Cl. 36 #3-86, Centro, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia

Website: Ábaco Libros y Café

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 8am - 8pm; Sun: 1pm -7pm

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10. Visit the Palace of the Inquisition

Palace of the Inquisition

With a Baroque-style entrance, wooden balconies donned with growing Bougainvillea, and a cast iron fence, the Palace of Inquisition is a sight to behold. Bright yellow walls and the intricate tile work on the ground by the stone entrance alone are enough to make it a remarkable stop for visitors.

But the main attraction of this historical architecture is its dark history. Home to the Court of Holy Office, the building was used as grounds for Spanish inquisitors to torture heretics in the name of faith.

Palace of the Inquisition

Address: 46, Plaza de Bolivar Carrera 3 33, Bolívar, Colombia

Website: Palace of the Inquisition

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 9am - 6pm; Sun: 10am - 4pm

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11. Explore monasteries in Old Town

San Pedro Claver Monastery Interior Living Area
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bkon17 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Old Town is a prominent tourist attraction in Cartagena, Colombia, and it is blessed with impressive churches, monasteries, palaces, mansions, and plazas. So, make it a point to visit magnificent monasteries in this beautiful Old Town. Pay a visit to the San Pedro Claver Church and Monastery, which is known for the legend of a priest in Cartagena who fought for human rights. It derives its name from the Spanish monk famous as ‘Apostle of the Blacks’, who slept in a small, white-walled room. You can get to visit the room. A glass coffin, which is embedded in the marble altar, holds the remains of the Saint, in the adjacent church. San Augustin monastery is another monastery in the Old Town that dates back to the 16th century.

San Pedro Claver Monastery

Address: Plaza de San Pedro Claver, Cra. 4 #30-01, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia

Website: San Pedro Claver

Opening hours: 8am - 5.30pm (daily)

Price: 2 - 5 USD

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12. Check out Colombian street art

Getsemani Street Art, Cartagena, Colombia (24585240405)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Joe Ross used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Colombian street art is unique and is rapidly becoming world-famous for its quality, diversity, and it is legal in various parts of Colombia. Colombian street art in Cartanega is no exception to this. You can find amazing street art in Getsemani, a colorful neighborhood of Cartagena. Go for a graffiti tour to learn about the significance and meaning of the impressive murals, artists, and social and political movements which they represent. Appreciate the incredibly beautiful artwork of the adept artists here and enjoy this free activity in Cartagena.

Colombian Street Art

Address: Getsemani, Cartagena, Colombia

Website: Colombian Street Art

Opening hours: 10am - 3pm (daily)

Price: 25 USD

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Enjoy exploring Cartagena

Source: Photo by Flickr user Mary78 used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Cartagena is full of amazing activities and experiences to explore and enjoy. So, make the best of your vacations in Cartagena by going for all these fun things to do in Cartagena, Colombia, during your time here. Get wonderful memories to treasure for a lifetime.

Frequently asked questions about the non-touristy things to do in Cartagena

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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Manjiri Kochrekar is a travel blogger from India. She loves exploring and learning various destinations, their history, culture, and peculiarities. Writing is her passion, which means she enjoys...Read more

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