Photo Spots Cartagena
One can safely say Cartagena de Indias is one of the most stunning cities in South America. Besides being located on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast, the city boasts a well-preserved Old Town with an impressive display of Spanish colonial buildings and plazas. Cartagena is instagrammable in every sense: whether you head to the century-old Walled City, to bustling Bocagrande beach, or to the hip Getsemani neighbourhood to admire murals and street art, there’s no shortage of places to take photos in Cartagena. 📸
Here at Flytographer, we easily connect people with trusted photographers for fun photoshoots and have captured over three million memories worldwide. Today, we asked our local photographers in Cartagena to show us the best spots for pictures. Don’t forget to include a sense of adventure in your packing list. In Colombia, there’s always a pleasant surprise! 🇨🇴
(A little sneak peek just for you 😊)
- Ciudad Amurallada: The heart of town boasts colourful colonial buildings with balconies and archways, all surrounded by a century-old defensive wall.
- Getsemaní: Admire socially engaged street art during the day and fine-dine and party during the night — hip Getsemaní has it all.
- Bocagrande Neighbourhood: A different side of town, modern Bocagrande is famous for its lively beach and wonderful entertainment options, from world-class restaurants to casinos.
- Muelle Bahia de Manga: The dock area of Cartagena is excellent for a leisurely walk with great bay views, especially during the golden hour.
- Convento de la Popa: The highest point in town, the convent is one of the best places to take photos of Cartagena and the Caribbean Sea.
- San Pedro Claver: This iconic church in Cartagena’s old city tells the story of the Saint Pedro Claver, known as the “Apostle of the Blacks.”
- Plaza de la Aduana: The oldest and largest square in town accommodates exciting events all year round and is close to several wonderful places.
- Puerta del Reloj: The main gate to the historic town is also considered one of the most beautiful clock towers in the world.
- San Felipe Castle: A 17th-century castle and fortress on top of a hill offering stunning views of Cartagena.
- Rosario Islands: Just a short boat ride from Cartagena, these islands are the authentic Caribbean postcard we all dream of.
1. Ciudad Amurallada
The Ciudad Amurallada, or the Walled City, is the “centro” of Cartagena and the number one must-visit spot in any travel guide. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is still surrounded by the walls built to protect the city from pirates in the 16th century. Today, they guard one-of-a-kind colonial architecture, including some of Cartagena’s best photo spots: colourful buildings with charming balconies and stone archways. Capturing one of their facades dripping with bougainvillea is a classic shot. However, it’s not all about looks. These buildings house lovely coffee shops, boutiques, superb restaurants, luxury hotels, and museums. The stone defensive walls around them also have several lookouts facing the blue Caribbean Sea, which are perfect spots to see the dusked lights wash the town with a golden glow. ✨
In the Walled City, you’ll also find the palenqueras, Afro-Colombian women wearing colourful dresses and balancing bowls of fruits on their heads. They are an icon of the city, and most of these lovely ladies make their living posing with tourists for photos, so remember to give them a tip. 😉
Pro advice: This area is busy, so the best time to take photos is early morning.
The Getsemaní neighbourhood is one of Cartagena’s most Instagrammable and photo-friendly places. The narrow lanes of this artsy area are lined with Spanish colonial homes and exhibit some wonderful street art. Take a stroll and discover the mesmerizing murals, many of which include important messages related to social issues. Calle de la Sierpe (Street of the Snake) is a popular starting point for exploring the neighbourhood’s graffiti scene. Don’t miss Callejón Angosto, also known as Umbrella Street, where countless colourful umbrellas are suspended above the passersby creating a stunning visual feast. ☂️
Getsemaní is a bohemian hotspot. Once the sun sets, the neighbourhood becomes even livelier. Locals gather in the squares to drink, listen to music, and people-watch. Restaurants serving the best Colombian cuisine, stylish bars, and charming cafes also line the streets of Getsemani. Be sure to visit Cafe Havana, which is not only beautiful but also holds an exhilarating salsa dance night. 💃
To discover the modern side of Cartagena, head to Bocagrande, the lively neighbourhood that borders Bocagrande Beach with a palm-tree–lined promenade featuring sleek skyscrapers housing hotels and condos. While this area is popular with locals, it’s also a great spot for visitors to soak up the city’s bustling vibe. Walk along the busy sands and blue waters of Bocagrande Beach to soak in the beach’s atmosphere, which is completed by friendly vendors selling colourful products and surfers catching waves.🏄♀️
Bocagrande isn’t just about the beach, this area has plenty of entertainment options, including casinos, shopping malls, and an eclectic dining scene. It’s a great place to experience a different yet no less exciting side of Cartagena.
4. Muelle Bahia de Manga
The dock area of Cartagena is known as Muelle de Manga. Many people visit this spot to take a leisurely walk along the dock and admire the tropical trees, the city skyline, and the bay views. Locals can often be seen enjoying picnics and waiting for the sunset. Capturing a photo of the floating sailboats in the water during the golden hour is a must. ⛵
Muelle de Manga is also a popular spot for fishing and boat tours, offering an alternative way to explore the bay and see Cartagena from a different perspective. This place is another excellent option to experience a less touristy side of the city while still being close to the main attractions, and not to mention, one of the best places to take photos in Cartagena!
5. Convento de la Popa
Perched atop Mount Popa, La Popa Convent is the highest point in the city. This spot is very Instagrammable and one of the best to take photos of Cartagena and the Caribbean Sea. The building, constructed in the traditional Spanish colonial style, features white-washed walls, arched entryways, balconies, and a gorgeous, red-tiled roof. The inner courtyard is surrounded by a two-story stone arcade beautifully adorned with hanging plants and bougainvillea vines. It evokes a fairy tale setting. Visitors can also explore the stunning chapel with a golden altar, housing the statue of the patron saint of Cartagena, Our Lady of the Candles. 🕯️
The place has served several purposes over the years and now houses a religious museum. The blend of historic architecture and remarkable vistas makes La Popa one of Cartagena’s best places to capture stunning photographs.
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6. San Pedro Claver
The Iglesia de San Pedro Claver, also known as the San Pedro Claver Church, is a truly iconic building in Cartagena’s old city. Its stunning Spanish facade was constructed using stones from the nearby Tierra Bomba Island. Inside, you can admire paintings that tell the story of Saint Peter Claver, known as the “Apostle of the Blacks,” who advocated for the rights of enslaved Africans and fought against their mistreatment. You’ll also find stunning stained-glass windows and a magnificent altar made entirely of Italian marble. Guess what? You can also see the saint’s holy remains inside the church. 😮
Adjacent to the church are the convent and cloister, which have been turned into a museum. The lovely three-story building displays religious artifacts, indigenous art from the pre-colonial era, Afro-Caribbean art, and the saint’s living quarters—very spartan, as you would expect from a saint. For more culture and art, the Modern Art Museum of Cartagena is located next to the church and focuses on Latin American painters from the 1950s. 🎨
7. Plaza de la Aduana
Plaza de la Aduana is the oldest and largest square in Cartagena, and this historic spot was where goods arriving through the Magdalena River Valley were inspected. The square is dominated by the City Hall, a former Royal Customs House with charming wooden balconies and a long arcade that makes for an excellent backdrop for your social media photos. The facades of the other colonial buildings surrounding the square are also some of the best places to take photos in Cartagena.
Plaza de la Aduana hosts various events throughout the year, including the Cartagena Film Festival in March—the oldest film festival in Latin America. The square is even more picturesque in December, thanks to the elaborate Christmas decoration. Several notable places are just a few steps away from Plaza de la Aduana. Plaza Santo Domingo is a lovely square with a vibrant nightlife scene and is home to the iconic sculpture “La Gorda Gertrudis” by legendary Colombian artist Fernando Botero—taking a pic with this iconic lady makes for a great Cartagena selfie. 🤳
Nearby, visitors can also find the highly Instagrammable bookshop Ábaco Libros y Café and the stylish Movich Hotel. The hotel, housed in a stunning colonial building, offers a unique opportunity to experience the elegance and grandeur of the old city. Alyzia, the hotel’s restaurant, has a terrace with a pool and a dazzling 360˚ view of the city—perfect for a romantic dinner. 💕
8. Puerta del Reloj
The Puerta del Reloj, also known as Torre del Reloj, is a significant landmark in Cartagena. Located between Plaza de Independencia and Plaza de Los Coches, the structure comprises a four-sided clock tower added in 1888 to two Roman-style archways serving as the gateway to the Walled City. While the arches are impressive, the Republican-style tower steals the show and is considered one of the world’s most beautiful clock towers. 🕒
Once you’ve captured stunning shots of the monument, stroll around Plaza de Independencia, a square lined with palm trees and sculptures. Then, cross the Roman arches to enter the breathtaking old city and soak in all the colonial allure.
9. San Felipe Castle
Sitting high on top of a hill, this 17th-century castle and fortress offers stunning views of Cartagena. It displays walls with more than sixty cannons and a system of tunnels for visitors to explore. Though it was once invaded by pirates, the fortress remains in excellent condition and one of the best places to take photos in Cartagena. You can admire the panoramic views of Cartagena Bay from the castle and snap photos of the landscape and the fortress’s ancient walls. Exploring the building’s network of underground passages is a popular activity, and it’s an eerie experience that will transport you back in time. 🏰
Before climbing the fortress, be sure to snap some photos from the base of Lázaro Hill, an excellent vantage point for capturing the monument’s grandeur.
10. Rosario Islands
The Rosario Islands, just a short boat ride from Cartagena, are the authentic Caribbean postcard we all dream of. This group of 27 rocky islands forms a small archipelago on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast. Expect no less than crystal-clear and turquoise waters sharing space with exuberant coral reefs and picture-perfect beaches. The biggest island, Isla Grande, is home to some of the most pristine beaches in the Caribbean, where you can relax with a tropical drink. Isla Fuerte and Majagua feel like an untouched paradise with spectacular natural beauty. The small and quiet Isla del Pirata is ideal for unwinding on a hammock among majestic palm trees or nailing the perfect beach photo. 🌴
To fully enjoy the islands, it’s best to stay for a couple of days in a boutique hotel or one of the more affordable hostels found throughout the archipelago. Day tours from Cartagena are also highly rated, offering some of the best island activities, such as kayaking, snorkelling, and scuba diving, to explore the vibrant marine life and coral reefs. 🐠
Capturing memories in Cartagena
Cartagena has the most exquisite colonial architecture and vibrant Colombian culture just a few kilometres from some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. What’s not to like? While in town, connect with a local Flytographer and let them capture your best memories in this Colombian gem!
“Wonderful photos and we loved our morning with Juan Felipe! We had a great family photo shoot with ages 4-72. He not only photographed our family but gave us a great tour of the city. He captured emotions authentically and we would absolutely use him again.”
“Juan was amazing! He gave us enough direction so that we all looked great, but not too much so that the photos were more candid and natural. Juan also gave us some history and great recommendations on things to do in the city. Overall it was a great experience and I highly recommend using him if you are in the area.”
“Juan was absolutely incredible to work with! Not only were we blown away by the photographs, but Juan’s personality and kindness added so much to the proposal. He was a joy to work with and we’re so happy he was there to capture our special moment. He has a keen eye for staging couples and made us laugh and feel comfortable throughout the shoot. We would recommend him in a heartbeat!”