Cartagena Nightlife: Everything You Need to Know

Updated March 19, 2020

The nightlife in Cartagena is fantastic! Here, locals say you'll find pubs full of personality, clubs that rock until the wee hours of the morning, and spectacular restaurants offering Colombian/Caribbean fare. With some local input, we created this simple guide to a night out in Cartagena. 

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Kate, Recent Traveler
Kate, Recent Traveler

The bar scene in Cartagena

Cocktails | Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis/Unsplash

What to know:

While you're bound to find incredible bars throughout Cartagena's neighborhoods, it's helpful to get some local advice as you decide where to go. Our trip planners tell us that bars in El Centro and Getsemani are a good place to start. You'll find lots of locals here, and often live music!

Bars open late—usually around 6 or 7 PM—and stay open until 3 or 4 in the morning. Locals generally start the night on the later side. 

When to go:

Like most places, Cartagena's bars are their busiest during the weekend. Locals tell us this can ebb and flow with peak travel season. If you're wondering when to go to Cartagena, they note that "peak" season is usually December-January, the time around Easter, and June-July. Expect more crowds during these times. 

Even though the party in Cartagena starts late, locals tell us you shouldn't be nervous about being out after dark. Cartagena is safe at night, and you can use Uber to get home.

Where to go: 

Which bars you should go to depends on your travel style. Our trip planners say that La Casa de la Cerveza (the House of Beer) is located atop the city’s walls—a top Cartagena highlight. If you're looking for some salsa to go with your cocktails, then they suggest  Donde Fidel, which beloved for its salsa music.

Even if you aren't ready to take to the dance floor, locals say watching the pros is definitely a fun thing to do while in Colombia.

Local Tip:

El Arsenal, in Getsemaní, is a rum bar that has the largest collection of rum in Cartagena.

What to know about clubs in Cartagena

Crowd at a club | David Jackson/Unsplash

What to know:

Locals tell us that El Centro and Getsemani have tons of great clubs as well as bars—although you'll also find a few good ones in San Diego. However, our trip planners note that the San Diego clubs can be hit or miss. Some are really expensive, and some are on the sketchy side. Use local insights to keep safe (and under budget). Our trip planners can let you know which ones are good to visit. 

When to go:

Most clubs are only open Thursday through Saturday. Locals note that clubs usually have unofficial dress codes. They say you don't have to go super fancy, but leave the flipflops and shorts in your hotel room. 

Where to go: 

Two of Cartagena's most popular clubs, according to locals, are Cafe Havana and La Movida. Locals love Cafe Havana for its high-quality cocktails and live music. La Movida is perpetually popular, but locals note it's also among the pricier clubs in town. 

Local Tip:

No matter when you visit Cartagena, there's a good chance you'll come across one of Colombia's incredible festivals

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Cartagena restaurants

Dish in Colombia | Izzy Boscawen/Unsplash

What to Know

Considered by some as the culinary capital of Colombia, Cartagena offers a wide variety of excellent restaurant choices. Locals say you'll find a mix of freshly caught seafood and Afro-Caribbean cuisine which reflects Cartagena's history. 

When to Go

As much as possible! Locals note that 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

You'll have a wide variety of restaurants to choose from! Most importantly, locals say to indulge in Cartagena's fresh seafood. Octopus ceviche (one of our trip planners wrote that La Cevicheria has "the best ceviches in Cartagena") and pargo frito (fried red snapper) are the local specialties. These are usually served with arepas or pandebono (cheese bread). 

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