5 Ways to Experience the Best of Cartagena’s Nightlife

While beautiful by day, Cartagena truly comes alive at night – especially in Old Town – with laughter and music radiating throughout the streets. Local insider Jacqui shares her picks of Cartagena’s best spots after dark.


Nightlife in Plaza Santo Domingo, Cartagena, Colombia. Photo © iStock/holgs

1. Check out the local restaurants

Cartagena has some of the best restaurants in Colombia, especially for seafood fans. Stroll down the quaint, cobbled streets of Old City and you'll have ample options to choose from. Each neighborhood offers a different vibe too, so be sure to explore all the options.

The most romantic and bohemian restaurants can be found in San Diego, while Getsemani is a young neighborhood with restaurants for all budgets whether you're dining solo or with a groups of friends.

For a more lively night, there are lots of cool dining spots with live music around Plaza de Madrid and Plaza Santo Domingo.

2. Experience the Latino clubs

Champeta>, a genre of folk music and dance with deep African roots, is a must-do for Cartagena nightlife.

The Getsemani neighborhood boasts plenty of clubs with live Latin music bands, the most famous of them all being the Café Havana.

Nearby, visitors can also find the historic club Mister Babilla on Calle del Arsenal, known for its tropical environment and wild nights.

Alquimico bar, a former two-story mansion dating back to 1910, features customized cocktails and a swanky vibe reminiscent of a New York City bar.

Last but not least, those looking to enjoy Cartagena’s Caribbean night air can visit Plaza de los Coches, which is full of nightclubs with terraces overlooking the bay of Cartagena.

3. Get lost in the cobbled alleyways

While Old City’s flower-swathed balconies and pastel Spanish Colonial homes are a delight to see by day, the area has its own charm by night.

The small alleyways are softly lit in the evening, giving them a completely different look and feel, the air is saturated with Latin music, and the cooler sea breeze offers respite from the hot Caribbean sun.

The colonial walled city can also be explored by horse carriage for those looking to cover more ground.

A walk through Old City will surely land you in one of the lively plazas. Plaza La Trinidad in the Getsemani neighborhood, Fernandez de Madrid, and Plaza de Bolivar are the most popular spots where locals and visitors alike hang out after the sun goes down.

4. See the bay by night

Cartagena’s bay can also be enjoyed after hours with a party boat trip. Visitors have the option of renting out a seat or an entire boat.

The average price per person (beverage and food not included) is US $25 and can be directly arranged with the boats by the port.

Larger groups of 10-15 people can directly negotiate with owners to rent the whole boat, as well as arrange catering on board.

5. Attend a festival

Cartagena hosts festivals all year long, both during the day as well as the evenings.

For example, the Cartagena Music Festival and “Hay Festival” (a book festival) are in January, the Cartagena International Film Festival is in April, and the Miss Colombia contest is in November.

There are also festivals nearby, such as the Carnavales de Barranquilla, which takes place end of February and is just an hour drive north-bound.

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  • Chris said

    Whats the dress like? I've heard people dress to impress....while i dont dress like a slob, i also dont want to wear long pants/shirts to place thats very hot.
    Also, is it Salsa dancing at most bars/clubs?


  • Amelia@WorldNomads said

    Hey Chris,
    Wearing nice shorts and a nice tshirt will do the trick! When we were there earlier this year, we didn't feel too dressed up or dressed down in casual clothing.
    The best place to see salsa dancing in the streets is in Getsemani neighbourhood, at Plaza de la Trinidad.
    Enjoy Colombia!

  • Dr Marc Friduss said

    when is the best time to visit and how is is it socially for a single

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