Last month, I went on a trip to Cartagena for my birthday with my boyfriend, Jacopo. I wanted to go somewhere I’ve never traveled to before, and I could not have picked a better place. Since I had such an amazing adventure there, I wanted to be sure to give you guys a detailed travel guide to Cartagena to hopefully inspire you to take a trip there yourself one day! Here you have it: the official Song of Style guide to Cartagena:
Where do I even begin? You guys know how much of a foodie I am, so I was practically in heaven the whole time I was in Colombia. On this trip, I had some of the freshest, most delicious cuisine I’ve ever experienced.
Vera – In particular, I loved Vera, which is located in the Tcherassi Hotel and Spa, built out of a restored colonial mansion. Here, you can enjoy delicious Italian coast-inspired food surrounded by gorgeous gardens, a relaxing waterfall, and a turquoise pool. They had a delicious salad made from peaches, arugula, and macadamia nuts. The produce was incredible, and I loved the atmosphere: it was like sitting in an old, incredible house and enjoying homemade Italian food by the pool.
Carmen – Carmen was an amazing mix of contemporary Colombian food. The restaurant was one of my favorites, because it specializes in seafood. As a pescatarian, I was really happy to be eating here because there were so many things I had the option to choose from. I got the fish of the day with blackened bananas and squid ink. Jacopo ordered the playa blanca ceviche dish, but it was a little too heavy with fusion flavors and he didn’t like it. I’m not as picky, as he is, and I ordered an extra plate of fried bananas because they were amazing.
Maria – On my trip, I also explored Maria, which had a gorgeous interior and delicious dishes. The ceilings were very high, the bar was mirrored, and the walls were a vibrant mix of striped blue and turquoise. Plus, the lamps are all made out of white pineapple decorations! What I really loved about Maria was that this restaurant felt as bright and vibrant as the city of Cartagena itself. Maria is known for its local dishes that highlight simple yet incredible flavors and ingredients. They are particularly known for their grilled sea bass over beet and feta risotto and their incredible ceviche.
Moshi – I had some of the best sushi ever at Moshi! This restaurant had some of the most delicious takes on sushi that I’ve ever had. I loved the Salmon Taki – it’s a dish made from lightly seared Chilean salmon, and seasoned with chimayo chili, orange peel, and roe cured in plantain vinegar, apply, and kabazuyuki sauce. It was so flavorful and practically melts in your mouth!
Harry’s Bar – Harry’s was also an amazing find in Cartagena. This was another amazing place for local Colombian food. I love sitting at the bar, people watching, and enjoying the incredible dishes. When I was here, I ordered the ceviche (I seriously could not get enough Ceviche in Colombia!), the calamari, and the eggs and potatoes. Sitting at the bar was a fun way to socialize, meet people, and take in the local scene.
Lobo de Mar – Lobo de Mar was a great place for bao buns, tostadas, and tacos. I really enjoyed this place because it was a really fun place to try a lot of different dishes, sit for a long time, and just really enjoy the moment. The fish and vegetables were all incredibly fresh, and the flavors were so unique. I highly recommend this place if you ever go to Cartegena!
Alma – The atmosphere at Alma was incredible. The walls are made of a rustic stone, and sitting inside surrounded by candlelight made me feel as if I were transported to another time in history. I loved the salads because they all had such unique elements: the ceasar salad was made with salmon and anchovies, and the other salads had an amazing tomato chutney as a flavorful dressing. Plus, the soups were so amazing and full of all of my favorite veggies!
Cevicheria – This is a great place to eat dinner or lunch, and they have both indoor and outdoor seating. I really wanted to come here, because it’s one of the places that Anthony Bourdain came to. He was such an inspiration to so many people, and it felt really special to remember him at this incredible restaurant. This restaurant is definitely the authentic Colombia experience: they have daily specials and some of the most insane paella I’ve ever experienced.
El Boliche Cevicheria – Here, Jacopo got red snapper fish cooked in banana leaves with potatoes, and I got red snapper cooked with coconut rice. This was a really fun, casual spot where Jacopo and I hung out, talked, and sampled a lot of different dishes.
La Vitrola –La Vitrola was amazing because they had this garlic shrimp appetizer with fried plantains that was soooo good! I also got an octopus ceviche with lime, salt, pepper and onions. The flavors were so simple but so incredible. They also had a dish with white fish and coconut risotto which was a totally unexpected combination. The coconut added a level of sweetness to the dish. It was a one-of-a-kind experience.
Gelateria Tramonti – I was super excited to try this place because they had an assortment of vegan flavors! Since I don’t eat dairy, it’s rare that I get to enjoy ice cream. I loved going here in the afternoons after a morning of walking around the city. The mango and coconut flavors were absolutely amazing!
The beaches in Colombia were nothing short of incredible. It was so fun planning a day to get out of the city, hit the beach, swim in the waves, and relax in the sun.
Fenix Beach – Fenix Beach was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip! Here, you can eat amazing Caribbean and Colombian food on the sand and lay out all day on the beach beds. The paella was particularly amazing, and such a unique thing to enjoy on the beach. I loved laying out all day on this beach. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I could totally unwind.
Blue Apple Beach House – This was such an amazing place to hang out for the day! There were so many gorgeous plants around the resort – it felt like Jacopo and I were in the middle of a tropical oasis. I highly recommend this place for a day trip or if you want to spend a few nights on the beach.
Places to Stay
There are so many gorgeous places to stay in Colombia. From Airbnb, to boutique hotels, to resorts, there is no shortage of amazing places to stay and experiences to have in Colombia.
Casa Pambo – I stayed at Casa Pambo with Jacopo. Casa Pambo was absolutely gorgeous. It felt like we were staying at a villa in the mediterranean. The walls were made of rustic stone and the lighting was so beautiful – it was a perfect place to take photos. Plus, the beds were made of intricate carved wood, and every room has so much light in it. I felt like a princess. It was the most amazing place to stay for my birthday!
Casa Pestagua – This was the sister hotel to where I stayed with Jacopo, and we decided to try it out for dinner. He got the shredded beef with rice which he said was super amazing. I got fish with veggies and avocado that was so delicious, we went back the next night! This hotel was smaller and more intimate than Casa Pambo, but it was so vibrant and had an amazing garden. I highly recommend this hotel, too!
Townhouse Rooftop – Townhouse is another amazing place to stay in Cartegena. I really liked coming here, because it’s a boutique hotel with an amazing story. The owners met in Cartegena, and came back to create this hotel so other people could meet and have a fun, relaxed traveling experience. Plus their rooftop bar is a great place to have fun and hang out.
I don’t drink, but I love going to bars when I’m traveling because it’s one of the most authentic ways to engage with locals, people watch, and really take in the scene around you. Here are my favorite bars in Cartegena:
Alquimico – This is a chic little bar that focuses on creating drinks out of the most balanced, harmonious ingredients. It’s almost like they are creating herbal tonics out of the most exotic ingredients. I’ve never seen a bar quite like this place; it’s definitely an incredible place to come visit.
La Jugada – This is a lovely little place where dancing, laughing, and having the time of your life is encouraged. I had so much fun here with Jacopo! There is great music and so many fun people.
Demente – Demente is a cute little bar and restaurant with great food and a very cool atmosphere. I loved the stone walls and the candlelight. It was a great place to catch up with Jacopo and unwind after a long day of walking around the city.
Shopping while traveling is one of my favorite things, because I’m able to buy one-of-a-kind statement pieces that I can’t get anywhere else. I really enjoyed shopping in Colombia because the style of clothing is so feminine, bright, and unique. Plus, everyone at all of the shops and boutiques were so nice; it made the shopping experience really fun!
St. Dom – It’s no secret that I love to shop, and St. Dom was an amazing shopping experience. Everything here was so colorful, and the patterns were amazing. After buying a few flowy midi dresses and a tiered skirt, I totally felt like a local! Plus, the white and turquoise walls were so beautiful and bright. The decor was amazing, and the whole experience was so chic.
Azulu – I was so excited to shop at Azulu in person because I’ve bought their stuff before on Revolve! Experiencing the store in person was so much fun. I love their sexy silhouettes and warm weather looks. I stocked up on a lot of the items and can’t wait to break them out this summer. A lot of their stuff is on sale right now on Revolve!
Agua Bendita – Nothing makes me feel more vacation-ready than wearing an Agua Bendita swimsuit. Like other Colombia designs, this swimwear is bright, colorful, and sexy. Think lace-up pieces, lace, florals, and feminine silhouettes.
Silvia Tcherassi – I love Silvia Tcherassi’s looks because she is a master of mixing pattern, cut, and silhouette. Personally, I love wearing her high-waisted skirts and midi dresses. They always make me feel beautiful and carefree. I especially love this floral velvet midi dress (it’s 40% off right now on Farfetch!).
Casa Chiqui – Casa Chiqui makes great statement earrings and unique necklaces. Statement earrings are going to be big this spring, and this is one of the best places to shop for them. I really like their pieces, because they combine bold shapes with neutral tones. They’re perfect for standing out this summer or adding a unique element to your Coachella look.
Galeria Cano – This is another amazing Colombian jewelry designer. Cano jewelry is inspired by pre-Colombian artifacts and are made from beautiful, organic shapes. I personally love artful earrings, shell jewelry, and asymmetrical designs, so I am all for Cano jewelry.