We've decided to revive our blog with the release of our Colombia Capsule Collection! Traveling and beautiful jewelry are two of our biggest passions so it only made sense to combine them. While exploring Cartagena to curate our favorite pieces from local artisans for our collection, we also found the best places to eat, drink, and shop! Here are our absolute favorites...
The Best Ceviché - La Cevichéria
We tried all of the top rated ceviché spots in Cartagena and La Cevichería is by far the best and completely worth the hype. There will be a wait, so get there early (we suggest about 15 minutes before they open at 1:00) to put your name in and nab a table. Nearly everything on the menu is spectacular, and everything is fresh and full of flavor. Our favorite dish was the ceviche mexicano!
The Best Fine Dining - Restaurante 1621
This beautiful restaurant is located inside the Hotel Santa Clara, a converted convent and the most famous hotel in Cartagena. Make sure to make reservations and dress the part - there's a dress code for men. We sat in the dining room and the decor, delicious seafood, and service add to the luxurious experience. The menu is French-Caribbean cuisine and we especially loved the crab salad and Provençal seabass.
The Best Cocktail Bar - Alquímilco
Not only is this the best bar to go to for specialty cocktails - they make their own infused rums in tons of different flavors and have a great rooftop bar! The inside of the bar has a great vibe with rows of rum jars on display, but we preferred the open-air rooftop for the lively atmosphere. The drinks were very unique - our favorites was the Inquisición, followed by the Passion Tea, and the Oaxaca Sour!
The Best Dessert - La Palettería
We became obsessed with these popsicles! They were so refreshing and delicious that we went there multiples times a day. The cream based popsicles were the best in our opinion, but all the flavors are popular.
The Best Live Music - Cafe Havana
Cafe Havana is located in the Jetsemani neighborhood of Cartagena and is famous for having legends in music history perform there. There is a cover (about $10 USD per person), so bring cash with you. It also can get very crowded as it is a very popular spot, so arrive early so you can get a table with seats. If you can't, most of the people are dancing to the live music that plays every night so join them!
The Best Salsa Show - El Coro Lounge
El Coro Lounge is the lounge attached to the Hotel Santa Clara and has live music bands and salsa dancers perform at nights starting at 10 PM. The salsa dancers were amazing to watch, and the live band played some of the best music we heard during the entire trip. The cocktails are good and the environment was very fun - once everyone gets loosened up the crowd starts dancing along side the salsa dancers!
The Best Coffee - Ábaco Libros y Café
This was one of the few coffee shops in Cartagena that offered cold brew, and a bonus is that the other half of the shop is a book store! Very cute and the perfect place to stop in the morning or for an afternoon pick-me-up.
The Best Street Food - Arepas
You must try the street food! The street food of Cartagena is on the heavier side - the best are the arepas and these big balls of potatoes, cheese, and hardboiled eggs that are deep fried. Our favorite street food vendors were all pink polos are are usually found close to the main square. It's cash only and very cheap!
The Best Drink - Limonada de Coco
We couldn't stop drinking limonadas de coco. They are frozen lemonades made with coconut milk and can be served with or without alcohol - they're delicious either way and are especially good at La Cevichería!
The Best Shopping - On the Streets
One of the things that surprised me the most about Cartagena was the shopping! There was such good shopping here, from independent boutiques to Colombian designer stores, but our favorite activity was walking up and down all the streets and alleyways to peruse what the local street vendors had to offer. The streets are lined with vendors that sell woven bags, pom-pom hats, leather sandals, and more. Everything is bright and colorful and it's hard to leave without finding something you love so leave room in your luggage!
The Best Getaway - Isla Cholon
The beaches of Colombia are not readily accessible from within the walled city, so if you're wanting to do a day trip we suggest renting a boat and going out to Isla Cholon. The water is a beautiful Caribbean blue and warm, and the boats take you right up to the island. Everyone's boats park by the shore and you can just hop out, swim to the beach, and enjoy lobster and piña coladas on the sand from the food shacks. There's plenty of water activities to do there in addition to relaxing, sunbathing, and swimming. There are banana boats and jet skis vendors that stay right next to the island in case you want a little more adventure.