Cartagena, while it’s a must-visit destination for many travelers, there are certain activities and attractions that have become perhaps a bit overrated. In this blog, we’ll explore some of these overhyped aspects of Cartagena and offer alternative suggestions to help you make the most of your visit.
This vibrant city is a treasure of cultural and scenic wonders. However, amidst its attractions, certain experiences have become overly popularized, often losing their authentic charm to commercialization and crowds. In this blog, we dive into these overrated tourist activities of Cartagena, offering alternatives that promise a more genuine and memorable encounter with this enchanting city:
1. Visiting Playa Blanca: Beyond the Crowds
Playa Blanca often tops the list for many tourists visiting Cartagena. Its white sands and clear waters are undeniably beautiful. However, the beach can become overwhelmingly crowded, particularly during peak seasons. Additionally, the commercialization of Playa Blanca has somewhat diminished its charm. Tourists should be cautious as vendors here are known to sometimes take advantage of visitors, often overcharging for goods and services.
Alternative: A more serene alternative is visiting any of the beach clubs located in Rosario Islands. These islands offer quieter beaches, excellent snorkeling opportunities, and a chance to escape the bustling crowds and over-commercialized tourist spots.
2. The Carriage Rides in the Old City: A Tourist Trap?
The horse-drawn carriage rides through Cartagena’s historic center are a well-known tourist activity but are increasingly viewed as overrated. Not only can these rides be expensive, but they also offer little in terms of an authentic cultural experience. More importantly, there are growing concerns about the welfare of the horses used for these rides, as they are often not well-cared for. This raises ethical considerations for visitors who are mindful of animal welfare.
Alternative: A more ethical and enriching alternative is to opt for a guided bici (bicycle) tour. These tours are not only eco-friendly but also offer a deeper connection with the city’s culture and history. Pedaling through the charming streets allows for a more personal and authentic experience, all while ensuring a responsible choice that respects animal welfare.
3. La Popa Monastery: Questioning the Hype
4. The Rosario Islands Day Trips: A Commercialized Experience
Although the Rosario Islands are beautiful, the standard day trips offered by street vendors often involve crowded boats and touristy spots.
Alternative: Opt for a private boat charter or stay overnight on one of the islands. This allows for a more relaxed and personalized experience.
5. Eating at Overrated Tourist Restaurants
Cartagena’s historic center is filled with trendy restaurants that cater to tourists. While the food is good, these places often lack authenticity and are overpriced.
Alternative: Seek out local eateries in Getsemani or other less touristy neighborhoods. You’ll find delicious, authentic Colombian cuisine at much more reasonable prices.
6. Shopping at Bazurto Market
While seeking authentic local experiences in Cartagena, tourists are often advised to visit bustling local markets. However, it’s important to exercise caution when considering Bazurto Market. Known for its lively atmosphere and an array of goods, Bazurto is not typically recommended for tourists due to significant concerns about cleanliness and safety. The market’s chaotic environment can be overwhelming, and there are reports of tourists facing challenges related to navigation and interactions with vendors.
Alternative: Visit Las Bovedas market, although it’s specialized in handcrafts, it’s much safer and recommended for souvenirs.
While Cartagena is a beautiful city with much to offer, being aware of the more overrated tourist activities can enhance your experience. By seeking out less commercialized and more authentic alternatives, you’ll be able to discover the true charm of this Caribbean gem. Remember, sometimes the best experiences come from straying off the beaten path and exploring the city like a local.