This post will be the first post in the series after I turned 31 yesterday. So yeay, happy birthday to me! 😛
So anyway, by the time this post is published, I’ll be on my way to Chiang Rai from Luang Prabang as a part of my Indochina trip this year. But instead of talking about a city in Southeast Asia, we’ll be covering one located in South America instead.
After we covered Cali last year, thanks to Adam from Cartagena Explorer… We’re going to talk about our second city in Colombia covered in the series: Cartagena!
Plenty of Things to Do in Cartagena for $10 and Less!
With the USD to COP exchange rate hitting record highs in late 2019, 2020 is a great time to get a great bang for your buck and visit Cartagena, Colombia’s top destination.
Depending on fluctuations in the exchange rate, $10 USD should get you from 30-35,000 Colombian pesos.
There are tons you can do with that. Here are a handful of the best things you can do for $10 in Cartagena, Colombia!
Visit the Castillo San Felipe
This is the largest colonial-era fortification built by the Spanish on the South American mainland.
The entrance costs 25,000 pesos. In addition to taking in the impressive stonework of the massive fort, you can learn more about the history of the city, and get a great view from atop the ramparts. This is Cartagena’s top historic site and is not to be missed, especially for less than $10.
Learn Even More About the City’s History at the Museo Naval
Cartagena’s Naval Museum is the best historical museum in the city, and is not to be missed by the history buffs.
The city was the site of a vibrant trade with Spain and numerous pirate attacks, including by Francis Drake and Edward Vernon.
The museum has terrific accounts of those attacks as well as exhibits on Cartagena’s leading role in Colombia’s independence and the modern Colombian Navy. Admission is 16,000 pesos, so you could even invite a friend for less than $10 USD.
Enjoy the Sunset with a Cold Drink
Watching the sunset over the Caribbean is also a must, and after a long day in the Caribbean heat, a cold drink is a perfect accompaniment.
Café del Mar, atop Cartagena’s historic city wall and the rooftop bar at Hotel Movich are the best places to catch the sunset. In both, you can get a cocktail for 25-30,000 pesos to go along with the amazing views.
Sample Some Great Seafood
It shouldn’t be a surprise that this city on the coast serves up some terrific seafood.
Dishes to try include the traditional fried fish plate with coconut rice, the Cazuela de Mariscos seafood stew, fresh ceviches, and any seafood rice. La Mulata, El Bistro, and El Espiritu Santo are some of the best restaurants that serve up dishes from between 20-30,000 pesos.
Or Chow Down on Some Great Street Food
For $10 USD, you can absolutely stuff yourself on street food in Cartagena.
One thing you have to try is the city’s famous arepas de huevo. Similar to an oversized corn empanada stuffed with a fried egg and ground beef, they are a local favorite and unique to Colombia’s Caribbean coast.
For arepas de huevo with more fillings, check out Donde Magola near the Exito supermarket. Regular arepas, carimañolas (fried yuca fritters), and papas rellanas (stuffed potatoes) are other great street foods worth trying. All should run you 2,000-4,000 pesos and can be found at street stalls all over the walled city.
And Sample Some Cocadas for Your Sweet Tooth
You also have to stop by the Portal de los Dulces just inside the Walled City across from the city’s iconic Clocktower.
There are a number of traditional sweets and candies sold at stalls here, but the one you absolutely have to try is a cocada.
These patties are made from fresh shredded coconut. My favorite is the traditional with panela, or unrefined brown sugar, but the milk and caramels ones are pretty tasty as well.
A cocada should cost 2,000-3,000 pesos, and you can even pick up nicely presented gift packs to take home to friends and family (or just eat yourself).
Learn How to Dance Champeta at Bazurto Social Club
Champeta is a music that blends Latino culture with African rhythms and was born in Cartagena’s barrios.
If you want to learn how to get down to this local phenomenon, check out Bazurto Social Club. In addition to live music, they have periodic champeta mini-lessons throughout the evening.
While it depends slightly on the night and the band playing, the cover charge is usually 20,000-30,000 pesos and includes a drink. Of course, you could end up spending a little more here if you need some liquid courage to get your dance on.
There you have some of the top things to do in Cartagena, Colombia for $10 Dollars or less. I hope you’ll come and enjoy them yourself!
Contributor: Adam of Cartagena Explorer.
Adam McConnaughhay has lived in Cartagena since 2011 and writes about the city as well as other destinations in Colombia through his blog.
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