It’s hot. It’s humid. But daaaaaang, Cartagena is one of the most beautiful, picture perfect cities I have ever visited.
If you’re visiting Colombia, Cartagena is certainly on your radar, and you’ll love exploring the beautiful streets and pretty little corners all over the city. It’s the kind of place where you turn the corner and just start laughing because there’s yet another pretty, picture perfect scene right in front of you.
In this guide, I want to highlight some of the most Instagrammable places in Cartagena – the spots that you definitely should visit if you want to snap some beautiful photos.
Note: Some of these pictures were taken by Matthew and I, and some were taken during a professional photoshoot. We love doing couple’s photoshoots when we travel together internationally (at the time of writing, we’ve done 5 shoots on 3 different continents). In Cartagena, our pictures where I’m in the pink and white dress were done by July and Gilbert, and I’d recommend them wholeheartedly.
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13 Most Instagrammable Places in Cartagena, Colombia
1. Convent of Santa Cruz de la Popa
The Convent of Santa Cruz de la Popa is the highest point in Cartagena and situated on a hill just outside of the old city.
Inside of the convent is this lovely courtyard, with archways, brick paths, and abounding greenery. Fun fact: The courtyard is actually designed as a water collecting area, as rain will fall in and collect at the well in the center. Framing the courtyard with one of the arches that line the exterior makes for an incredibly Instagrammable photo.
A patio/balcony encircles almost the entire exterior of the convent, where you get unmatched views over the sea, the old town, Bocagrande, and inland, making for more great views and photo spots.
2. Sunset Cruise
This 2 hour catamaran cruise leaves about an hour before sunset from the docks of Cartagena, just steps outside of the city wall.
The boat takes you out of the harbor, past the high rises of Bocagrande and the shipping port, and into open water, where you have a clear view of the western setting sun.
The breeze feels lovely, and even though sunset was somewhat obscured behind clouds for us, we still had a great time and enjoyed watching the sun sink lower and closer to the horizon on the sea.
The catamaran itself is set up great for this type of cruise – there are a lot of benches to sit and spread out, plus nets set up over the water to relax on. Salsa music is playing, you get a free drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) from the bar, and a snack is provided.
3. San Pedro Claver Sanctuary
There are several beautiful churches in Cartagena, but St. Pedro Claver Sanctuary might give you one of the best photo opportunities. This church has a really beautiful, large red door set into a stone building with columns, arches, and ornamentations on top.
Plus, while many other churches are located on a regular street, St. Pedro Claver Sanctuary is on a little square, giving you more room to take photographs and get more of the church in the frame.
As a little bit of background, Pedro Claver was a priest who worked tirelessly to minister to the African people enslaved in Cartagena in the 1600’s. While he did preach and baptize, he also worked hard to ensure they were treated humanely.
Because of this, he was a highly revered man. He was canonized in the 1800’s as the patron saint of slaves. This cathedral is dedicated to his name, and his relics are entombed in the altar.
4. City Walls
Cartagena is a walled city, and those walls are still incredibly intact. One of the best things to do in Cartagena at sunset is walk along the walls on the west section of the city, looking out at the views over the sea. Regularly, you can find cannons, little turrets, and peepholes situated along the wall.
The Café Del Mar is a popular destination for sunset drinks along the wall, but you definitely don’t have to go there for a great sunset. There are many spots along the wall that offer the same view with far fewer people. (And if you’re thirsty, you’ll find men with coolers everywhere selling water, beer, and juice.)
5. Calle de la Iglesia
Calle de la Iglesia, also known as Carrera 4, also known as Calle de Los Santos de Piedra, has one of the most iconic photo spots in all of Cartagena: a view down a pretty street to the even prettier Catedral de Santa Catalina de Alejandria.
In a city full of adorable streets, this street is particularly charming and picture perfect, with numerous plants and brightly colored houses leading up to the church with its distinctive yellow + peach tower rising proudly above the roofs of the city.
Come here earlier in the morning (before 8:30) if you want a picture down this street without tons of people, cars, and trucks in it. The best spot to get a good photo of the street + church is approximately at the intersection of Calle 35 and Calle de los Santos de Piedra.
6. Torre del Reloj – The Clock Tower Gate
The Clock tower (or Torre del Reloj) is a prominent feature of the main city gate leading into the walled city.
There’s a large plaza in front of the gate (Plaza del Reloj) and behind the gate (Plaza de Los Coches). This is a beautiful monument and entrance to the city, and one of the most Instagrammable places in Cartagena.
As you can tell from the picture, we took photos here actually just across the street in front of the clock tower. This gave us a good angle to fit the entire clock tower and some of the city walls in the frame.
7. Abaco Libros Y Cafe
Book lovers, this one’s for you! The Abacos Libros Y Cafe aka the Abacos Bookstore and Café is incredibly aesthetically pleasing bookstore slash coffee shop. Take a break with a drink and a slice of cake before browsing the Spanish-language books.
The collection includes books by Colombian and South American authors, as well as popular American books translated into Spanish. Super cute, super charming, and super Instagrammable.
8. Umbrella Street in Getsmani
Getsmani is a charming neighborhood just outside the walled city. It’s filled with hip cafes, backpacker hostels, street art and murals, so many colorful buildings, flowers, and bougainvillea.
It’s just a slightly more gritty neighborhood than the Walled City, but there is also a lot of lovely aspects to it, and you’ll find several streets like this one, with flags, banners, or umbrellas hanging across the street.
This particular street is on Calle 31 in Getsmani (aka Calle de la Magdalena) between Carrera 9 and 10.
9. Calle 29 in Getsmani
The other street I want to highlight in Getsmani is Calle 29. It’s located right by the Plaza de la Trinidad, and the exact address of this spot is 10b2 Calle 29. It’s particularly gorgeous because there are colorful, intricate murals, flowering trees, and colorful porches and doors, right all together, which makes for a jaw-dropping background.
Getsmani is definitely worth wandering around for a couple hours, finding and delighting in all the cute corners. A few other streets we particularly liked in Getsmani were Carrera 9 and Carrera 10c.
10. Rooftop Terrace of Crepes and Waffles
Crepes and Waffles is a Colombian restaurant chain, that serves savory and sweet options that were all excessively delicious. The restaurant has an indoor dining room, but also this very picturesque rooftop, with views over the domes and spires of Cartagena (specifically, the San Pedro Sactuary)
While the rooftop opens normally only during the dinner hour, if you come for lunch you can sneak up for quick pic.
11. Movich Hotel Rooftop Bar
The Movich Hotel has the most popular rooftop bar in all of Cartagena, with beautiful views over the old town and looking out to Bocagrande.
In the past, you could buy a day pass to spend swimming on the roof, but they no longer offer that option. If you want use of the pool and views during the day, you’ll need to actually stay at the hotel – you can check out hotel details here!
Dinner and drinks on the rooftop are still open to the public, though, beginning at 4pm. Drinks were delicious, and the Caribbean beef with risotto we had for dinner was so tender and flavorful. And the views, even after sundown, were stunning.
12. Practially Every Street of the Walled City
While finding all the specific photo spots on this list will definitely give you some beautiful photo opportunities, the streets of Cartagena themselves are incredibly picturesque.
The buildings are painted in bright colorful hues, there are plants and greenery everywhere, incredible stonework, delightful doors, and the little wooden decks hanging off the second floor.
Basically, have your camera ready to take pictures constantly 😉
13. The Palenqueras Fruit Ladies
Old Town is filled with women wearing brightly colored dresses, balancing fruit bowls on their heads and smiling for photos. These are the palenqueras ladies!
Palenquere is a nearby city established by freed slaves. Though free, they were in poverty, so the women would walk into Cartagena to sell fruit, balancing their baskets on their heads as they walked. Today, they do more posing for photos than selling of fruit, but they are an iconic part of the city and taking a picture with these brightly dressed ladies makes for a very Instagrammable photo from Cartagena.
If you want a picture, you will either need to buy some fruit or tip the ladies for the photos. We found that (like many places in Colombia) many times people will try to change the price on you. Very clearly establish on an acceptable price and clarify if it is “per person” or the total price.
Also expect them to offer to bring someone else in or to take the picture for you, in which case they will want to increase the price. They never are offering something just to be nice; this is their business, so either settle everything up front or turn down any “extras”.
If they say they just take tips (not wanting to set a price ahead of time), 20,000 pesos per lady is a reasonable tip.
Map of the Most Instagrammable Places in Cartagena
Best Photo Spots in Cartagena – The Wrap Up
Cartagena is an absolutely charming city with vibrant colors, lush greenery, historic architecture, and new discoveries around every corner – you will definitely want to have your camera out and ready as you explore this Colombian coastal city.