where to stay in cartagena

Where To Stay in Cartagena (+ Best Cartagena Neighborhoods)

If you’re looking for a Caribbean vacation that combines history, culture, delicious food, and stunning beaches, look no further than Cartagena, Colombia. This unique coastal city is home to an impressive historic center, gleaming modern highrises, and a unique mix of cultural elements that make it attractive to travelers worldwide.

If you’re thinking about visiting Cartagena, make sure to visit soon! Cartagena is growing in popularity every year, with tourism more than tripling since just 2010 and over 90% of cruise ships in Colombia making a stop here.

In this ultimate guide to where to stay in Cartagena, we share everything you’ll need to know about Cartagena neighborhoods and the best hotels in Cartagena as you plan your dream trip. Cartagena has everything from boutique hotels to backpacker hostels; keep reading this guide to where to stay in Cartagena to find the right place for you.

where to stay in cartagena colombia

This post contains affiliate links that will reward me monetarily or otherwise when you use them to make qualifying purchases, at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, please read our disclosure policy.

Cartagena Neighborhoods

Cartagena comprises dozens of unique neighborhoods, and the city is much larger than most visitors ever realize. With its unique and historic walled city, reminiscent of other Spanish colonial cities like Old Havana, Cuba, and Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, alongside more modern neighborhoods with stunning highrise apartment buildings and luxury homes, there is something in Cartagena for every visitor.

Most travelers to Cartagena will likely want to stay in one of the Cartagena neighborhoods within the walled city.

This area of Cartagena is home to the most charming and historic streets, beautiful attractions, and plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars with some of the best food in the city. It’s easy to see why this lovely area attracts so many visitors.

However, if you’re looking for a beach retreat or a bit of modern luxury, you’ll probably want to head outside the walled city to the city’s newer neighborhoods. Most visitors looking for the luxury side of Colombia’s wealthiest (and most expensive) coastal city head to neighborhoods like Castillogrande and Bocagrande, to the west of the walled city but nearby.

Are you concerned about finding a safe place to stay while in Cartagena? While most areas frequented by tourists in Cartagena are quite safe, make sure to take some simple travel safety measures – as you should wherever you travel! – and read our Cartagena safety guide for more details about staying safe wherever you stay in Cartagena.

Where to Stay in Cartagena

There is no shortage of places to stay in Cartagena. From highrise apartment rentals along the beach to charming, historic boutique hotels, you’ll have your pick of choices, no matter your travel budget.

Whatever type of accommodation you’re looking for, you’ll likely want to stay in one of these popular neighborhoods in Cartagena.

El Centro

El Centro is where to stay in Cartagena to be in the middle of all the action. El Centro is within the walled city and is home to most of the top tourist attractions, bustling plazas, and lively streets of the Old City. It is at the heart of everything in Cartagena.

Getsemani

The neighborhood of Getsemani is where to stay in Cartagena for restaurants, bars, and a vibrant evening scene. This formerly up-and-coming neighborhood has officially arrived and is now the place to be.

San Diego

San Diego, located just north of El Centro, is where to stay in Cartagena for charm, history, and a bit of peace and quiet. Located within the old city walls, yet a bit off the beaten path, you’ll enjoy all the benefits and easy accessibility of El Centro without the crowds and noise.

Bocagrande

Bocagrande is a favorite! It’s where to stay in Cartagena for a bit of luxury and modernity. Think high-rise apartment buildings, luxe international hotels, and stunning ocean views.

Manga

Manga is an often overlooked but excellent choice for where to stay in Cartagena for backpackers and budget travelers. Or, if you’re looking to stay in Cartagena as a digital nomad or for any more extended period, the neighborhood of Manga is a perfect and affordable choice.

Do none of these places quite sound like what you’re looking for? Consider the other Cartagena neighborhoods of Castillogrande, Marbella, or El Cabrero. Castillogrande is one of the city’s ultimate luxury destinations, filled with glimmering highrises just like its neighbor, Bocagrande, and the nicest beach in Cartagena proper.

On the other hand, Marbella and El Cabrero are on the other side of the walled city, a more residential and relaxed – great spots for a more local experience and excellent for budget travelers.

best places to stay in cartagena colombia

El Centro

El Centro is where to stay in Cartagena to be in the middle of all the action. El Centro is within the walled city and is home to most of the top tourist attractions, bustling plazas, and lively streets of the Old City.

This part of the city is lively at all times of the day. You’ll enjoy feeling immersed in this neighborhood’s history and liveliness.

Generally, you’ll find that hotel and apartment rental prices are high in this neighborhood, a feature of being steps away from all the attractions. However, bargains do exist, even in El Centro. Be aware that rooms in the historic hotels here are generally small, though we’ll outline some good ones in the Cartagena hotels recommended below.

Clock Hostel & Suites ($)

The Clock Hostel is our choice for the best hostel in Cartagena. Located in the heart of the historic center of Cartagena, dorm rooms offer a lot of privacy with bed “pods” and roomy lockers; plus, there are several great and affordable private rooms available.

The patio offers a small pool, bar, game room, and plenty of space to kick back and relax, or meet other travelers.

Alfiz Hotel ($$)

Alfiz Hotel is for those looking to soak in all of Cartagena’s history in the heart of the city’s historic center. You’ll be surprised that rooms are so affordable for such a lovely boutique hotel in a lovingly-restored historic building.

This hotel is a gem in the most walkable part of the city, perfectly located to take advantage of everything Cartagena has to offer. Highly recommended!

Casa Claver Boutique Hotel ($$$)

With its stunning view of the bell towers of the neighboring Santuario de San Pedro Claver Church as your backdrop for a swim on the rooftop pool, you’ll never want to leave Casa Claver Boutique Hotel.

The free breakfast is delicious, staff attentive, and the location is ideal for exploring. This is a favorite in the city, so book well ahead if you can!

getsemani cartagena

Getsemaní

The neighborhood of Getsemani is where to stay in Cartagena for restaurants, bars, and a vibrant evening scene. This formerly up-and-coming neighborhood has officially arrived and is now the place to be, and its a more youthful, vibrant neighborhood than El Centro.

Think more restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops than El Centro, and less tourist traps. Getsemani shares a lot of the history of El Centro, and you’ll feel it and see it as you explore the neighborhood.

However, filled with backpackers hostels and luxe, historic boutique hotels, it offers something unique as well. These are some of our favorites.

Selina Cartagena ($ – $$)

You’ve probably heard of Selina if you’ve traveled through Latin America, especially as a digital nomad. This popular hostel group also offers coworking and coliving spaces for long-term travelers, making them great places to meet other travelers. Selina Cartagena is no different.

Here you’ll find attractive and comfortable rooms, tons of activities to help you get to know Cartagena and other travelers, and an incredible rooftop terrace with a pool.

Hotel Casa Lola ($$)

Hotel Casa Lola is a lovely boutique hotel, and with just a few rooms available for guests, and the hotel offers incredible attention to guests. You’ll love the rooftop terrace, pool, and bar, and be shocked that this lovely, modern hotel is so affordable compared to similar spots in Cartagena.

Hotel Capellán de Getsemani ($$ – $$$)

For a luxury stay in Getsemani, Hotel Capellán de Getsemani is by far the best choice. Rooms are large and comfortable, which is challenging to find in historic buildings in this charming neighborhood.

You’ll love the rooftop pool, spa services, and the perfect location for exploring El Centro and Getsemani neighborhoods.

Travel Essential

Don’t think about traveling without a good VPN (Virtual Private Network). Using a VPN while connecting to the internet is an easy way to keep your personal information safe from hackers and trackers. We’ve used NordVPN for years and couldn’t recommend it more – it’s a must for safety online, at home or abroad. 

san diego cartagena

San Diego

San Diego, located just north of El Centro, is where to stay in Cartagena for charm, history, and a bit of peace and quiet. Located within the old city walls, yet a bit off the beaten path, you’ll enjoy all the benefits and easy accessibility of El Centro without the crowds and noise.

Most places in San Diego share elevated prices, being so close to El Centro, but if you’re concerned about the hustle, bustle, and street noise of El Centro, this is an excellent compromise. You’ll find a range of excellent places to stay in Cartagena in this neighborhood. 

Viajero Hostel ($)

One of the most popular hostels in Cartagena, Viajero Hostel is the clear choice if you’re looking for a great time meeting other travelers.

Dorm rooms are comfortable and clean – and inexpensive for Cartagena! – and the large patio and bar make socializing easy. It can get a bit noisy at times, but not overwhelmingly so.

Hotel Casa Gloria ($ – $$)

Hotel Casa Gloria is the perfect spot to stay in Cartagena if you’re looking for an apartment-style stay and a bit of privacy: you’ll find standard hotel rooms alongside family rooms, suites, and apartments.

You’ll also get a lot more value here than you would in a stand-alone apartment rental, with two pools, a rooftop terrace, and housekeeping and staff.

Hotel Quadrifolio ($$$)

For a luxury stay in a lovingly restored historic building, look no further than Hotel Quadrifolio. Rooms are stunning and spacious, and you’ll have two pools, a rooftop terrace, and beautiful common spaces to make use of throughout your stay.

On-site dining is delicious, but just steps away from the best of the Historic Center and San Diego neighborhoods, you’ll have your pick of excellent restaurants, cafes, and bars nearby.

Travel Essential

Don’t head out on your adventure without comprehensive travel insurance! Good travel insurance may cover lost or stolen gear, medical emergencies, delayed or canceled flights, and more. Check out the policies available from World Nomads or compare plans using Visitors Coverage.

best place to stay in cartagena colombia

Bocagrande

Bocagrande is a favorite! It’s where to stay in Cartagena for a bit of luxury and modernity. Think high-rise apartment buildings, luxe international hotels, and stunning ocean views. Most hotels here are along the beachfront, or just a few blocks from it, so if you’re planning to hit the sand while in town, this is the place for you.

Granted, the beaches in Cartagena proper aren’t as stunning as the other beautiful beaches in Colombia just a few miles away, but they’re still perfect for a relaxed beach day. 

While you’ll find luxury resort-like hotels and modern apartment rentals throughout the neighborhood, there are a few bargains to be had if you’re traveling on a budget. These hotels in Bocagrande are some of the best.

Hotel Pueblito Playa ($)

The small Hotel Pueblito Playa is easily the best option if you’re looking for where to stay in Cartagena on a budget and prefer to stay by the beach!

While the decor is a little outdated, the rooms are super clean and cozy, the staff friendly (delicious cooks!), and you just can’t beat being less than a block from the beach. This is the definition of a budget Caribbean vacation spot.

Estelar Cartagena de Indias Hotel ($$)

Estelar Cartagena de Indias Hotel is the definition of modern and luxury along the beach in Bocagrande. This soaring, modern hotel tower offers guests all the amenities, including a massive pool deck, delicious buffets, and everything else you can imagine.

Plus, beautiful views if you request a room on an upper floor.

Hyatt Regency Cartagena ($$$)

The Hyatt Regency Cartagena is one of the nicest hotels in the city, and when you stay here, you can expect a perfect visit. Stunning views over the ocean and beach, excellent attention, delicious food, and a lovely pool and bar. This is a spot you won’t soon forget.

places to stay in cartagena

Manga

Manga is an often overlooked but excellent choice for where to stay in Cartagena for backpackers and budget travelers. Or, if you’re looking to stay in Cartagena as a digital nomad or for any more extended period, the neighborhood of Manga is a perfect and affordable choice.

One of the many upsides of staying here is that you’ll get more of a true neighborhood feel than you would elsewhere in the city. Grocery stores, markets, local food options, and great spots for people-watching abound.

Prices of Cartagena hotels in the Manga neighborhood reflect that they’re a bit further from the action, so most places here are for budget travelers. 

San Jacinto Hostel ($)

San Jacinto Hostel is a perfect choice if you’re looking for a budget stay in Cartagena. Slightly out of the way in the Manga neighborhood, you’re still not far from the city’s major attractions but much closer to local spots to eat, grocery stores, and more, which will help you enjoy Cartagena on a budget. This place is homey, friendly, and comfortable, and you’ll enjoy staying here.

Casa Hotel Manga Mar ($ – $$)

This small guesthouse in Manga is a great place to stay on a budget with a bit more privacy than a hostel or typical hotel. At Casa Hotel Manga Mar you’ll find a variety of room configurations for families and groups of friends traveling together.

The price is great, the neighborhood is excellent, and the rooms are comfortable and clean.