Essential tips for a first timer in Cartagena: Smooth Transportation and Savvy Spending

Essential tips Cartagena

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Visiting Cartagena, with its vibrant culture and stunning colonial architecture, is an unforgettable experience. However, navigating transportation and money matters in this bustling city can be a bit of a challenge for first-time visitors. Fear not! Here’s your guide to traversing the streets of Cartagena and handling your finances with ease.

Transportation: Uber vs. Taxis

Uber: A Modern Convenience

  • Easy and Reliable: Uber is readily available in Cartagena. It’s a user-friendly option for those unfamiliar with the city’s layout.
  • Transparent Pricing: With Uber, you get the fare upfront, which helps avoid any surprise charges.

Taxis: Traditional but Tricky

  • Bargain the Fare: Always negotiate the price before getting into a taxi. This is crucial in tourist areas where prices can vary significantly. Please keep in mind they only accept cash, Colombian pesos.
  • Finding a Taxi: Taxis are abundant. To ensure safety, use official taxi stands or request one through your accommodation.
  • Airport taxi in Cartagena: A taxi from the airport is a viable option, but make sure to take an authorized cab from outside the national arrivals area and ask for the price beforehand.

Overall, we’d recommend Uber as your primary mode of transportation in Cartagena, it offers convenience, safety, and predictability.

Money Matters: ATM Withdrawals and Payment Methods

ATMs: Your Best Bet for Local Currency

  • Ubiquitous and Convenient: You’ll find ATMs throughout Cartagena, including at the airport.
  • Competitive Exchange Rates: These typically offer better rates compared to currency exchange outlets, which can be pricier by about 15%.

Paying in Cartagena: Credit Cards and Cash

  • Formal Establishments: Restaurants, bars, and most shops in Cartagena accept credit cards. It’s a secure and convenient way to pay.
  • Street Vendors: These local gems operate on a cash-only basis. It’s part of the city’s charm!

The Art of Negotiation in Cartagena

  • Haggle with Street Vendors: Don’t shy away from negotiating prices, especially with street vendors and in informal markets.
  • Cultural Insight: Bargaining is part of the shopping culture in Colombia. It’s not just about getting a good deal; it’s an interaction that locals expect and enjoy.
  • Be Respectful and Firm: Offer a counterprice if the initial quote seems high. Remember, a smile and polite conversation can make this a fun experience.

Pro Tips for an Effortless Cartagena Adventure

  1. Carry Small Bills: Useful for small purchases, street food, and tips.
  2. Be Mindful of Pickpockets: Keep your belongings secure, especially in crowded places.
  3. Learn Key Spanish Phrases: Basic Spanish can enhance your experience, especially in local markets.
  4. Embrace Local Apps: Apart from Uber, check for local transportation apps for additional options. In Drive is a very popular riding app available in Colombia.
  5. Tourist Cards Might Be Handy: Some offer discounts or special access to attractions and transport.

Cartagena is a city that’s as rich in history as it is in culture. By mastering these practical tips, you can navigate its colorful streets with confidence and truly immerse yourself in the Cartagenero way of life. Enjoy your stay with us!


Cartagena essential tip
Cartagena essential tips. Photo by Hosfman Rodriguez

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