Smart Traveling: Essential Tips to Stay Safe in Cartagena

Smart Traveling: Essential Tips to Stay Safe in Cartagena

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Welcome to Cartagena, Colombia. While it’s a paradise for tourists, it’s essential to travel smart to make the most of your trip. This blog post is your guide to navigating Cartagena like a pro, ensuring you enjoy all its wonders without falling prey to common tourist pitfalls to to avoid being taken advantage of.

Understanding Local Practices

Cartagena’s charm lies in its rich history and traditions. To truly connect with the city, try learning a few basic phrases in Spanish; even a simple ‘Hola’ or ‘Gracias’ can go a long way. Engage with locals – they’re usually friendly and can offer valuable insights into the best spots that are off the tourist radar.

Money Matters

Be savvy with your money. When using cash, Colombian Pesos are strongly recommended for services and street vendors, mostly everyone will accept USD or EUR, however they may offer unfavorable rates. Familiarize yourself with the local currency, Colombian Pesos (COP), to avoid overpaying. Remember, it’s recommended to bargain in markets, actually it’s part of the Cartagenian culture.

Transportation Know-How

Navigating Cartagena’s colorful streets and historic neighborhoods can be a delightful experience with the right mode of transportation. When it comes to safe travel, tourists have several options:

  1. Ride-Sharing Apps: Services like Uber and In drive are available in Cartagena, offering another layer of safety with features like driver identification and trip tracking.
  2. Taxis: They are plentiful and relatively affordable. For safety, always use official taxis, identifiable by their distinctive yellow color and registration number. Avoid hailing taxis on the street; instead, use a reputable taxi app or ask your hotel to call one for you. If you do hail them on the street, make sure to negotiate prices beforehand.
  3. Chiva Buses: These are colorful, traditional buses, more for a fun experience than practical transportation. They’re safe but are usually used for city tours rather than regular commuting.
  4. Walking: For those staying in the historic center, walking is often the best way to explore. Ensure you have a map or GPS-enabled device, especially if wandering off the beaten path.

Average Costs for Taxis, Buses, and Other Local Transport

Understanding the average costs of transportation can help tourists budget effectively:

  1. Ride-Sharing Apps: Fares are comparable to taxis, sometimes slightly cheaper. The price is predetermined in the app, except with In Drive which works as a bidding system where you can set the price, which can be convenient for budgeting.
  1. Taxis: The starting fare is usually around 7,000 – 9,0000 COP (about 2 USD), with additional charges based on distance. A typical ride within the city center might cost between 10,000 to 20,000 COP (3 to 6 USD).

  2. Public Buses: They are the most economical option, with fares around 2,300 COP (less than 1 USD). However, they can be crowded and less comfortable. They go to non tourist areas.

  3. Chiva Buses: Tour-oriented Chiva buses vary in price, depending on the tour length and inclusions, generally ranging from 50,000 to 100,000 COP (12 to 25 USD).

Dining and Eating Out

For the best culinary experiences, venture beyond the tourist areas. Cartagena is known for its exquisite seafood and local delicacies like arepas, empanadas, coctel de camarones or ceviches. If you’re buying street food, an important tip is to do it where you see plenty of locals eating, you’ll make sure is fresh and tasty.

Accommodation Safety

When it comes to picking a place to stay in Cartagena, we’ve got your back. It’s super important to choose accommodations in areas that are not just popular but also have a good safety record. Do a bit of homework by reading reviews from previous guests.

Now, let’s talk about where to plant your roots during your stay. Neighborhoods like Bocagrande, El Laguito, and the Old City are where it’s at. They’re like the cool kids of Cartagena – popular, charming, and, most importantly, safe. Plus, these areas are stacked with amenities, and you’ll be right in the heart of all the action.

If you’re a Cartagena newbie, here’s a friendly heads-up: sticking to these recommended areas is a smart move. It’s not that venturing out is a no-go, but as a first-timer, you might feel a bit out of your element in less familiar parts of the city. Plus, getting around can be a hassle from the outskirts. Think of it like this: stay where you can soak up the vibe safely and move around easily. Trust us, it’ll make your adventure in Cartagena way smoother and way more fun!

A Heads-Up on Nightlife Safety:

While Cartagena’s nightlife can be an exhilarating experience, it’s crucial to stay sharp, especially about certain things. Let’s have a real talk about escorts and illegal drugs – two things you’re likely to come across once the sun goes down.

  1. Escorts: Cartagena, like many tourist destinations, has its share of them. If you’re out and about at night, particularly in certain nightlife areas, you might encounter them. Our best advice? Stay cautious and make sure that person is a responsible adult, otherwise it might lead to complicated situations, legal issues, and safety concerns. Remember, it’s all about enjoying your time here responsibly.

  2. Illegal Drugs: You might find that drugs are offered quite openly in some nightlife spots. Here’s the deal – drug possession and use are illegal in Colombia, and getting caught can land you in serious trouble. We’re talking legal issues that can ruin your trip and have long-lasting repercussions.Keep your holiday trouble-free and enjoyable.

In a nutshell, when you’re out exploring Cartagena’s vibrant night scene, keep your wits about you. Stick with your friends, be aware of your surroundings, and make smart choices. Cartagena has a ton of fun and safe experiences to offer – focus on those and you’re sure to have an incredible time.

Safety and Security

While Cartagena is relatively safe, it’s crucial to stay aware of your surroundings. Avoid isolated areas at night and keep your belongings secure. In case of emergency, have the contact details of your country’s consulate and local emergency services handy.

By following these tips, you’ll navigate the city like a seasoned traveler. Remember, the key to a great trip is a blend of adventure and caution.

smart travelling Cartagena
smart travelling Cartagena, Courtesy by Daniel Sessler

Have you visited Cartagena? Share your experiences and tips in the comments below. For more travel insights and updates, explore our other articles at and subscribe to our newsletter. Happy travels!

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