Answers to Your Common Questions
The best time to visit Cartagena is during the dry season, from December to April and June to August, when the weather is sunny and pleasant.
However, since Cartagena is located near the equator this contributes to the consistently warm and summery weather throughout the year.
Cartagena offers various transportation options, including taxis, buses, and rental cars. However, rental cars are not advisable or practical unless you plan to visit far outside the city.
Taxis are everywhere and easy to hail, with a minimum fare of 10,000 COP. For instance, the fare from the airport to El Laguito is approximately 25,000 COP.
It is advisable to always ask for the price before getting into the taxi to ensure a fair rate as they don’t use taximeters. Fares can change depending on the time of day, peak hours and whether you’re a foreigner.
You can negotiate with cab drivers and if they say no, there is always another cab right behind them who will offer a different price. There is no shortage of cabs in Cartagena.
Despite Uber being considered illegal in Colombia, there are still possibilities to find rides through the app. The only drawback is the limited availability of drivers. If you prefer ride-share apps, consider using Beat or inDrive in Cartagena for convenient transportation options.
Walking is also a popular and enjoyable way to explore the city’s historic center. There are also scooters for rent, as well.
While Cartagena is generally safe, it’s essential to stay vigilant and avoid displaying valuables in public. Stick to well-lit areas at night and use reputable transportation services.
When traveling in Cartagena, and especially in the walled city, you’ll often encounter locals who may offer to take photos with you or rappers who want to create a memorable song with you as the subject of their lyrics. While these experiences can be enjoyable, it’s essential to be aware that locals will expect a small payment for taking photos together. Similarly, rappers showcasing their talent will seek compensation for their performance.
A firm but respectful approach and understanding of the local customs can help you navigate these interactions with ease, ensuring a harmonious and memorable time in the city.
El Laguito is a charming neighborhood located in the northern part of Cartagena, Colombia. It is situated between the beautiful beaches of Bocagrande and Castillo Grande. Known for its scenic views of the ocean and tranquil atmosphere, El Laguito is a popular destination for tourists seeking a peaceful and relaxing stay while still being close to the vibrant city center. The neighborhood offers a variety of accommodations, restaurants, Hollywood Beach, and local amenities, including large hotels like the Hilton and Hotel Dann, making it an ideal choice for visitors looking to experience the best of Cartagena.
Restaurants in El Laguito, Bocagrande & Manga
The official currency in Cartagena is the Colombian Peso (COP). You’ll be able to exchange currency at banks and exchange offices. There are exchanges in the airport and in a number of location throughout the city.
It’s recommended to use ATMs for the best exchange rate. Davivienda Bank allows the largest withdrawal of 2,000,000 Pesos.
However, it’s important to note that after entering the withdrawal amount Davivienda will offer the option to accept their exchange rate or use the one provided by your card issuer. It will be presented on an Accept or Decline screen. Davivienda’s exchange rate may be different from you bank and may include additional fees.
Usually, it’s best to decline their exchange rate. But it’s important to check with your card issuer about their exchange rate and potential fees to make an informed decision on the most cost-effective option for your transaction.
In Cartagena, all major credit cards, such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover, are readily accepted in most establishments, including hotels, restaurants, shops, and tourist attractions. Using credit cards for payments is convenient and widely embraced, making it easier for travelers to enjoy their experience without worrying about carrying large amounts of cash. However, it’s still advisable to carry some local currency for small purchases, like taxis, or places that may not accept cards. With the convenience and widespread acceptance of credit cards, visitors can explore the city with ease and peace of mind.
Some merchants, especially in the tourism areas, may ask which currency you prefer to be charged in, while others may automatically charge you in their local currency (Colombian Pesos). It’s essential to pay attention to the payment process and ask the merchant if you have the option to choose the currency before completing the transaction.
By selecting to pay in your home currency, your bank will handle the conversion, likely providing you with a more competitive exchange rate. However, it’s always a good idea to check with your bank regarding any potential fees or charges for foreign transactions to make an informed decision.
Additionally, local merchants will ask if you want to pay in “cuotas.” They will ask “cuantas cuotas” and they are referring to installment payments, commonly offered for larger purchases in Colombia. Cuotas allow you to spread the cost of an item over several months, making it more affordable. However, as a visitor, it’s essential to understand that this option is typically reserved for Colombian residents with local credit cards. If you are a tourist, it is best to decline cuotas and opt for regular, one-time payments to avoid any confusion or potential issues with your purchase.
In Cartagena, it’s generally not recommended for visitors to drink tap water. The tap water may be safe for consumption, but it’s better to stick to bottled water or boiled water for drinking and cooking purposes to avoid any potential health issues.
It’s common, in Cartagena, for the plumbing systems to be sensitive, and as such, it’s advised not to flush toilet paper down the toilet. Instead, used toilet paper should be placed in the provided waste bins next to the toilet. This practice is to prevent clogging and maintain the proper functioning of the sewage systems. While it may be different from what some visitors are used to, it’s an essential aspect of respecting local customs and infrastructure in Cartagena.
Cartagena, like the rest of Colombia, uses a standard electricity supply of 110-120 volts at 60 Hz, which is similar to the electricity used in the United States. If you are visiting from Europe or other regions with different voltage standards, make sure to bring the necessary power adapters and voltage converters to ensure your electronic devices work properly during your stay.