Getting a Haircut at the Old School Barbería Ralf in Cartagena, Colombia

Whether you’re traveling through or live in Cartagena, everybody occasionally needs a mop chop.  If you want to have a cool old school experience and support a local, family run business, check out Barbería Ralf, located inside Cartagena’s Walled City.  Read on to learn about Barbería Ralf and getting a haircut there.

*Disclosure:  I really do get my hair cut regularly here and received no benefit or discount for writing this post, just wanted to share and promote a neat local business.  This post may contain affiliate links.  I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program as well as other affiliate programs and may earn a commission on qualifying purchases made after clicking links from this site.  There is never any additional cost to you.  For more information, please consult my Disclosure Policy.

Photo of the exterior of Barberia Ralf with a guy sitting in a chair outfront.
Amongst the boutiques and hotels of Cartagena’s Walled City, you’ll find this old school barber shop.

I have to make a confession.  I’ve never much liked haircuts.

After moving to Cartagena, I dreaded them even more.  I was never quite sure how to explain what I wanted in Spanish.  I also really don’t like putting gel or any other product in my hair.

For a while I went to a couple super cheap places in Centro, but the haircuts could be very hit or miss.  Then I went for a while to places in the malls.  They were ok, but could also be hit or miss if they really gave me a cut I liked.  And they always tried to insist on styling and putting products in my hair.

That’s why I was intrigued after my friend Brian told me about an old school barbershop in downtown Cartagena.  I found Barbería Ralf nestled in among the swanky hotels and boutique shops and cafes on the Calle del Arzobispado behind the Cathedral.  A simple arched entrance with the red, white, and blue barber shop colors painted on it and a little sign are all that marks it.

Oh and there’ll almost always be some guys hanging out chatting on chairs out front, a decent chance they might be drinking a beer, and an even better chance they’ll be salsa music playing.  Look inside, and you’ll see the old barber chairs, a few old chest of drawers with mirrors along the walls, and lots of photos and salsa posters.  It reminds me of a lot of Havana.

I haven’t gotten a haircut anywhere else here in Cartagena since.

I’ve never really been much of a talker during haircuts either, but the last time I went in I decided to strike up a conversation and learn a little more about the place.

I spoke with Jaime Cordero, the main barber and owner.  The business was founded by his grandfather, Ralf, in 1933.  His father continued the business with his uncle.  Jaime’s father actually passed earlier this year, and today Jaime continues to run the shop with his cousin Lisimaco.

Photo of two men standing in a barber shop
Jaime Cordero, the 3rd generation owner of the barbershop, rocking some Puerto Rico maracas with his uncle.

Both are great and friendly guys, and you can tell how beloved the place is by the regulars that come in.  It is also one of the few true local, family owned and operated businesses left in Centro.  In many ways it feels like a relic from a different era.

I did ask Jaime if he had ever considered selling the property.  He told me perhaps one day, but not anytime soon.  Given the business has been in his family for 3 generations, he couldn’t imagine leaving it while he was young enough to still mange it.

Here’s hoping he sticks to that and maintains Barbería Ralf as a slice of Cartagena’s culture for years to come.

If you’d like to get a haircut for yourself at Barbería Ralf, you can find them open 6 am-7 pm Monday-Saturday and 6 am-3 pm on Sundays and Festivos.  As of November 2019, a haircut costs 15,000 pesos.  You can also tack on an old school straight razor shave if you’re up to it.

If you’re in need of a haircut or shave during your travels or you live here in Cartagena, I hope you’ll stop in and support them.  Oh and they’ve never once tried to put gel in my hair!

Cheers and Happy Exploring!

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