To be entirely honest, I wasn’t a big fan of Cartagena when I first entered the city. We had just rolled off a cruise ship and there were people flooding the harbor area which was littered with touristy booths selling trinkets. Nothing seemed unique…yet. As we walked farther into town I began to see the true Cartagena…a city filled with history and spirit. I had judged a book by it’s cover far too quickly.
We had no excursions planned in Cartagena, so we roamed aimlessly. Sometimes these are the days I enjoy most because you feel like Dora the Explorer on a mission to find the next cool thing. A highlight for me was stumbling upon El Parque Torres. This is a park that sits right next to the historical Roman Theatre in the front of town. You can pay for tours of the theater…but the park itself provides a really great view of the ruins itself if you’re looking for a free option. I highly encourage walking all the way to the top of the park. On a hot day it isn’t easy but you will be greeted with a 360-degree view that includes the theater, bay, and Castillo de la Concepción (a castle).
After descending from the park, we continued deeper into the town. The city is chalk full of history so be sure to look for plaques that reveal the significance of so many structures you could easily walk right past. Cerro del Molinete Archaeological Park was another place that seemed largely undiscovered by tourists, but housed historical timelines and treasures of Cartagena. I’m not usually one for history, but the shear volume of preserved Roman artifacts around every corner is fascinating (I still can’t wrap my head around how long ago that was).
Apart from the history, Cartagena housed adorable restaurants, tapa bars, and gelaterias everywhere. Just walk around and pick the one that suites you! My trip to Cartagena was short and sweet, but definitely explore more if you have more time.