Crazy in the Caribbean: Cartagena’s Nightlife is Second to None

ViaHero · October 18, 2018

It might be a sleepy beach town during the day, but at night, Cartagena pops off. Bars, clubs, and street parties are just some of the reasons you have to check out the nightlife in Colombia’s Caribbean capital. Once you’ve read all about it, get in touch with any questions.

Want to make the most out of your trip? Tap into our network of local travel planners—Heroes—who build unique, locally-curated trip plans, designed just for you. Get started.

The bars are for locals—and anyone who wants to hang with them

What to Know:

Most locals go out late, and they generally go to bars. And while there are awesome bars in neighborhoods all over the city, the most vibrant ones are generally in the El Centro and Getsemani neighborhoods. Most open pretty late—around 6 or 7 PM—but they also stay open until 3 or 4 in the morning. The bar scene is Cartagena is fairly casual, and most places feature live music.

locals dancing to live music at a bar in cartagena nightlife

When to Go:

The best time to go is typically over the weekend, so don’t expect a huge bar crowd every night of the week. Cartagena gets hot during the day, so things don't really take off until late at night. Don’t be nervous about going out after dark though—Cartagena is perfectly safe at night, and you can use Uber to get around.

Where to Go:

La Casa de la Cerveza (the House of Beer) is located atop the city’s walls (one of Cartagena’s most awesome highlights) and has some of the nicest views in the city. You should also check out Donde Fidel, which beloved for its salsa music. After that, bar-hopping through Getsemani is the thing to do if you want to soak up all the vibrancy Cartagena’s bar scene has to offer.

The clubs are upscale, but sweaty and sexy nonetheless

What to Know:

Most of the best clubs are also in El Centro and Getsemani, with a few out in San Diego. Be warned though—the ones in San Diego are quite the destination (both in price and style). And a heads up: depending on when and where you go, certain clubs can get a bit sketchy. A good rule of thumb—the more expensive the club, the safer it’s going to be.

When to Go:

Most clubs are only open Thursday through Saturday, but they get absolutely wild. They also usually have dress codes, so be sure to wear your best. Just remember: the dance floor gets sweaty!

Where to Go:

Two clubs in Cartagena are especially worth checking out. One is Cafe Havana, which is known for its excellent cocktails and retro interior design. Oddly enough, Hillary Clinton visited a number of years ago. Also of note is La Movida, perhaps the best known (and most expensive) club in Cartagena. Be certain to ask your Hero which clubs they recommend—there’s nothing better than a local’s perspective!

colombia cartagena nightlife cityscape

The restaurants are fantastic, and an all-night experience

What to Know:

Cartagena has been called the culinary capital of Colombia for a reason. Eating well is an art form in Cartagena, and given the region’s wealth of fresh seafood and Afro-Caribbean cuisine, it’s easy to see why.

When to Go:

The largest meal of the day is lunch, usually served in mid-afternoon. Dinner is generally eaten late as well, often around 10 PM. Late dinners allow Cartageneros to escape the daytime heat for a long, leisurely meal outside—hence the wealth of outdoor cafes.

Where to Go:

There are so many great restaurants in Cartagena that it’s hard to pick just a few to talk about. Most importantly, though, you just have to try the seafood. It’s caught fresh just offshore every morning and is a serious revelation. Octopus ceviche and pargo frito (fried red snapper) are the local specialties, and usually served with arepas or pandebono (cheese bread). And as always, you have to drink the coffee.

Cartagena’s festival schedule is packed, and street parties are everywhere

There are dozens of awesome festivals year-round, and street parties are ubiquitous even when there’s nothing to celebrate. So regardless of when you visit, you’ll find drinking, dancing, and music throughout the streets—especially in the Getsemani and San Diego neighborhoods. So basically, it’s always a good time to visit Cartagena.

Trying to plan a one-of-a-kind Cartagena night out? One of our Colombian trip planners can help you organize a killer plan to see it all. And don’t be shy—feel free to message us with your questions. And before your trip, make sure to check out: