Escape The Cold This Winter At This Beautiful Coastal Caribbean Destination

Varied and diverse, Colombia welcomes visitors with open arms throughout the year. Whether you're visiting bustling cities like Medellín and Bogotá, soaking up peace in Quindío's coffee region, conquering the Andean mountains, or simply relaxing on the beach, the country offers plenty of opportunities for travelers. Both locals and international tourists can always find something new and interesting to do in Colombia.

And when it comes to escaping the cold and soaking up some well-deserved mid-winter sunshine, there's one destination that has you covered on all fronts: Cartagena. Tucked away on Colombia's Caribbean coast, the city is home to a variety of sights, sounds, and flavors that will captivate your senses. But beyond its fame as a beachside getaway, Cartagena also promises to deliver in terms of history, food, nightlife, and nature — which means you'll be spoiled for choice during your visit.

Love architecture and history? Walking along the city's UNESCO World Heritage fortresses and walls will transport you back in time. Eager to sample some Colombian cuisine? Get your fill at one of the many award-winning restaurants dotted around the city. Looking to add some rhythm to your vacation? The rooftop bars and salsa clubs are a perfect spot for that!

Making your way through Cartagena

While Cartagena's urban beaches might not make it to the top of a beachgoer's list due to their murkier waters, the promise of the Caribbean dream isn't too far away. The peninsula of Barú, accessible via bus or boat, offers sun-soaked beaches and turquoise waters that seem straight out of a postcard. Alternatively, for an even more immersive experience, the Rosario Islands — a 45-minute boat ride from one of the main ports in Cartagena — boast clear waters and white sands that are perfect for lounging. Plus, with plenty of hotels to choose from, you can even make your getaway a little longer with an overnight stay.

When it comes to dining, Cartagena's restaurant scene is booming. Celele, sitting at number 19 on the 2022 list of Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants, accentuates traditional ingredients with a contemporary flair. Carmen, on the other hand, fuses innovation with Caribbean culinary traditions. And when it's time for a nightcap, head over to Alquímico. Ranked number 9 on the World's 50 Best Bars in 2023, the bar stretches across three floors.

Then, there are Cartagena's museums. On one hand, the Naval Museum paints a vivid picture of Cartagena's historical significance as a stronghold against invasions. On the other hand, The Gold Museum offers a shimmering glimpse into the Zenú tribe's intricate and uniquely colorful craftsmanship. Lastly, the Castillo de San Felipe stands as a monumental fortress and a reminder of the city's resilience against numerous sieges and battles throughout history.

Planning your visit

If you're looking to escape the cold in exchange for a warm-weather destination, you'll be happy to know that the best time to visit Cartagena is between December and March. During these months, the weather is pleasant — while still warm — and there's less chance of rain to spoil your adventures. With an average temperature of 83 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, it's safe to say Cartagena is a warm reprise from the winter chill.

In terms of getting to Cartagena, the city's Rafael Núñez International Airport welcomes passengers from all over the world — including direct flights from New York, Miami, Chicago, and Atlanta. In terms of budgeting, a roundtrip ticket will set you back between $350 to $500 depending on your departure dates.

Luckily, though, your dollars will go a long way once you've landed. With the current exchange rate set at around $1 USD to 4,200 COP, you'll be able to find nightly hotel stays — four stars and below — for $90. A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant will cost roughly $23, and you can find bespoke cocktails for about $9 at a bar like Alquímico, and island-hopping tours cost about $85.