Cartagena has long been a favorite for budget travelers through Colombia and Latin America looking for a slice of its Caribbean and historic charm at reasonable prices.
In fact, I remember my first year in Cartagena, well actually volunteering in a small town not far away, back in 2011, backpackers made up a large portion of the foreign visitors to the city.
I remember spending lots of weekends in the city with the other volunteers at hostels in Cartagena too. We were all on volunteer stipends after all! In fact, we even became regulars at a couple of the best hostels in Cartagena at the time.
Things have certainly changed in the decade plus that I spent living in Cartagena though. There are many more nicer hotels, and I’d say a lot more average travelers coming from the states and elsewhere than before.
Some of the former best Cartagena hostels, like our favorites the Chill House and Makako have closed down. Some others that were around back in the day are still going strong though!
There are still a handful of cheaper, true backpacker hostels in Cartagena as well as some that I guess I would describe as sort of “boutique” style hostels. There are also plenty of fine Cartagena hostels in between.
Here, I’ll be sharing my picks for the best Cartagena hostels, so read on learn about the best hostels in Cartagena, Colombia!
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Top 11 Best Hostels in Cartagena, Colombia – Introduction
One of the great things about Cartagena is even as it has grown into a better known destination, including sporting some world class luxury hotels, gorgeous boutique hotels, and terrific beachfront resorts, it has remained friendly to those traveling on a budget as well (check out those links if you want to book something a bit nicer for part of your stay, by the way!).
While Cartagena tends to be a bit more expensive than other places in Colombia, all the wonderful things to do, the beautiful beaches and nearby must see Rosario Islands, the vibrant culture, and the fun nightlife, make it more than worth including as a stop for at least a few nights on a trip through Colombia and Latin America.
If you are planning a trip to Cartagena and on a tighter budget, staying at one of the best hostels in Cartagena is a good option to lower your costs a bit, and there are still some really good choices.
While often thought of as just options for backpackers, many of the top hostels in Cartagena offer nice clean accommodations and comfortable atmospheres.
In fact, there are several newer Cartagena hostels that have really nice accommodations, even in their dorms.
The best Cartagena hostels also have cool common spaces, pools, and even often host events, meaning it’s easy to meet fellow travelers.
There are also some that have reputations for being party hostels in Cartagena where you can expect there to always be something going on.
The fact that most of the best Cartagena hostels also have private room options means they can even be a good option for couples or just those that want the privacy of a hotel room for sleeping but also want to meet fellow travelers.
Some Cartagena hostels can even be good options for families if you follow some practical advice for staying in hostels with kids.
And yes, there are still some good, cheap hostels in Cartagena that are perfect for backpackers trying to stretch their budgets to see as much as possible!
So whether for backpackers trekking through Colombia or backpacking South America, solo travelers looking to make friends, or families and groups looking for budget friendly accommodations, there should definitely be a best hostel in Cartagena for you on the list below!
A Few Quick Tips for Finding the Best Cartagena Hostels
Before I get into the list of my picks for the best hostels in Cartagena, a few very quick tips that should help you plan your stay.
First, let’s talk location.
Where are Cartagena’s best hostels?
Nearly all of the hostels in Cartagena are located in prime locations in the neighborhoods of the historic Centro, aka Walled City and Getsemaní.
These are the best two areas to stay anyways in my opinion as they offer easy walking access to lots of attractions as well as many of Cartagena’s best restaurants and nightlife.
There are a few options for Cartagena hostels in other areas that are decent choices. For example, number 9 below is located in a more residential neighborhood, number 10 is located by the beach just north of the city, and number 11 is the best hostel in Cartagena’s Rosario Islands (which as mentioned above are a must see, but you won’t want to spend your whole time there).
I would definitely advise against staying at any hostels, or hotels for that matter, outside the sort of tourist zone along the waterfront or the area known as Manga where number 9 is located due to safety concerns.
Plus, you’re going to be spending your time around the Walled City, so for most travelers, you’re better off just staying there or in adjacent Getsemaní.
Plus, it’s gorgeous!
Do I need a reservation to stay at a Cartagena hostel?
Yes and no.
It’s best to make a reservation, at least for your first few nights. Immigration will ask you where you’ll be staying when you arrive in country. So, if you’re flying into Cartagena, you’ll definitely want to have a reservation for the start of your stay.
Even for those already in country and traveling through, I’d recommend booking in advance.
Who wants to get somewhere and walk around trying to find a place to stay?
Many of the Cartagena hostels will have vacancies, so it is doable, and you may even get a better price that way. But, the best hostels in Cartagena might be booked up. Particularly during busy travel seasons, they are often full.
Ughhh, that reminds me a time I didn’t follow my own advice here and slept on the floor of a hostel when I couldn’t find anywhere else to stay during Christmas time once as lots of the cheaper hotels had jacked their prices way up. This was back in my almost broke days between my volunteer year and finding a real job.
So, I say get a reservation at least for a few nights.
It might not be necessary to do it far in advance if it’s not a busy season, and if you don’t like where you’re staying or just want to compare prices, you can always do that after staying a couple nights.
Honestly, during high seasons, you’re better off just booking the whole stay ahead of time though. Especially, since, again, some places, including hostels, will want to charge more on the spot during these peak seasons.
Any good beach hostels in Cartagena?
I did include one Cartagena beach hostel on the outskirts of the city, for those that want to stay in a beach hostel in Cartagena.
Finally, I did include a hostel in the Rosario Islands at the end of this list for those looking to stay in the islands on a budget, although personally, I think it’s worth splurging on one of the nicer hotels in the Rosario Islands if you can manage it.
A decade or so ago, I would have said, you should consider doing an overnight stay at Playa Blanca. While it used to be so pretty and the perfect backpacker escape from Cartagena, it’s just become overrun and I don’t recommend it anymore. I’d recommend doing a Rosario Islands day trip over it for sure. If you do decide to do Playa Blanca, do yourself the favor and don’t go during high season or on a weekend if you can avoid it.
11 Best Hostels in Cartagena
Ok, with those tips out of the way, let’s get to picks for the best Cartagena hostels.
This is a top 11 because, well, everyone does top 10s, 11 has a special significance for Cartagena since it declared its independence on November 11, 1811 (11/11/11), and I think you deserve just a bit more value.
1. Casa Movida – Best Boutique Style Hostel in Cartagena
Located in a more ore less perfect location a block from Cartagena’s iconic clocktower, Casa Movida was renovated just a few years ago and is an easy pick for the best Cartagena hostel in my eyes.
It has a lovely pool, a co-working room, a kitchen, a bar, and a pool table. It’s really a lovely property and has a neat and fun vibe and decor going on with those pink walls.
There are dorms as well as privates available here, and they both look very nice, like hotel quality comfort. I especially appreciate the little curtains on the bunks in the dorms.
For those looking for the community experience of a Cartagena hostel without sacrificing comfort, it makes for a great option, and earns my pick for the overall best hostel in Cartagena.
2. The Clock Hostel and Suites – Great Cartagena Party Hostel
The Clock Pub is one of Cartagena’s better known expat and traveler bars. The Clock Hostel and Suites, under the same management is located a block away, just a stone’s throw from the Clocktower and in the heart of the Walled City.
There is one private room here as well as larger dorms with the beds in sort of cubicles, giving some privacy. I like that they offer double beds in the dorms, which probably makes this the best hostel in Cartagena for couples.
Overall, it’s a good spot and easily lands second on this list of best Cartagena, Colombia hostels.
3. Santuario Hostel – Good Blend of Size and Privacy
Santuario Hostel is one of the newest Cartagena hostels. Located near the entrance to the Walled City by the India Catalina Statue, it offers easy access to the historic center as well as Getsemaní.
The beds here are in their own little square cubicles, complete with 3 walls, night tables, and blackout curtains. It looks like you could get a good night of sleep here.
The nice common areas and great view of the Castillo San Felipe allow for another nice blend between community and privacy and it makes another fine choice for a Cartagena hostel.
4. Casa del Pozo – Relaxed Boutique Cartagena Hostel
Located in Getsemaní, very close to the popular hangout spot of Plaza de la Trinidad, Casa del Pozo, has a pretty property that makes a great choice for anyone looking to enjoy the most vibrant area of Cartagena as well as a place where they can get relax some those looking for peace and quiet.
It would be my top choice for couples or even families on a budget as there are private rooms, and this Cartagena hostel has more the look of a boutique hotel than hostel.
There’s even small pool on site too!
While I’d suggest the the two top options or the next option for those looking to party a bit more, for those who want a nice place to stay in Cartagena at hostel prices, this is a really good choice.
5. Media Luna – An OG Backpacker and Party Hostel in Cartagena
Hostel Media Luna was one of the first backpacker and Cartagena party hostels. I remember it being well known even back in 2011. In fact, I think the reason we didn’t stay there much when we were volunteers is it was a tad bit pricier because it was so famous. If you picked up a Lonely Planet around that time, I’m sure it was one of the top suggestions.
Located in Getsemaní on the Calle Media Luna, it is close to some of the best nightlife in the city and only a short walk to the Walled City.
There’s a nice little pool, recently renovated dorms, an included breakfast, and a rooftop bar here. They often have events and parties at the rooftop bar, which is open to the public, so you can meet both locals and other travelers staying elsewhere.
That all makes it another great Cartagena, Colombia hostel choice, especially for younger travelers and those looking to meet other travelers.
6. Selina – Best Digital Nomad Cartagena Hostel
Selina has a chain of properties around Colombia and elsewhere in Latin America.
They are a slightly more high end style hostel, and their Cartagena property has a great rooftop bar and pool overlooking the bay. In fact, it’s not a bad spot to come for drinks even if you don’t stay here.
There are dorms and privates, and it expanded a few years back to include a sort of annex property across the street too.
There is also a co-working space at this Cartagena hostel, one of very few in Cartagena. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Selina advertise they offer special monthly rates where you can stay at different properties or something like that. So, if you are traveling extensively through Colombia or Latin America and think you would want to stay at multiple Selina properties, that may be worth looking into.
So, this place is definitely an especially good choice for digital nomads, but even for everyone else, including those looking for a party hostel in Cartagena or private hostel style rooms in a hostel atmosphere, it definitely deserves to be in consideration for your best Cartagena, Colombia hostels options.
7. El Viajero – Great Backpacker Cartagena Hostel in Centro
Out of the places on this list of the best hostels in Cartagena, Media Luna, and El Viajero are the only ones that were around way back in 2011.
In fact, we stayed at Viajero a number of times. While there are newer, nicer more high end style hostels now, it was actually probably one of the nicest, cleanest, and best organized ones at the time.
The rooms are nice and there’s a neat little courtyard area where there is often DJs or live music, which means this makes for another good Cartagena party hostel option. It also has pretty decent prices, making it a good backpacker hostel in Cartagena.
With it in operation for so long, there’s little doubt it makes for a top choice for a hostel in Cartagena.
8. República – Another Good Option in the Walled City
Next up on this best hostels in Cartagena countdown is the República Hostel Cartagena.
República has a chain of hostels around Colombia. We once stayed at one of their properties for a couple nights on gorgeous San Andrés Island actually. We thought the property was nice, but it was a bit far from the downtown area where we wanted to be. The bed in the private room was also kind of hard and the price for the private was basically the same as a hotel, so we ended moving. The dorms looked great though, the food was great, and the staff was nice and the place seemed well run.
So, I’ve got no qualms whatsoever recommending their Cartagena hostel.
There’s also a nice little pool and both dorms and private rooms are available here. Dorm beds also include a locker.
In a 3 story colonial era building, it also has a neat atmosphere that really captures Cartagena’s historic vibe.
Plus, location is not a problem at their Cartagena property, because it’s right in the heart of the Walled City. That makes it a great option for those looking for a good party hostel in Cartagena as you can walk to lots of the best nightlife.
9. Casa del Puerto – Best Hostel Outside the Historic Districts
If you’re looking to stay at a hostel outside the Walled City and Getsemaní while keeping fairly easy access to Cartagena’s main attractions, the Casa del Puerto Hostel & Suites might be the best Cartagena hostel for you!
Located in mostly residential neighborhood Manga, this Cartagena hostel is a former large home turned hostel and hotel. There is a lovely little pool with neat decorations and vibes here. It’s also got a nice, intimate feel.
The location is an easy taxi ride away from the Walled City and it and Getsemaní can also be reached on foot in less than half an hour.
There are a few private rooms here, a triple room, and a 4 bed dorm. Finally, there is also an apartment style accommodation for up to 5 people. That means it’s a good fit for families or perhaps those who want a bit of a social atmosphere without tons of other guests.
There’s a nice included breakfast, and I think this looks like a great hostel for those that want a bit of downtime to relax during their visit while still having a nice pool and bar to hang out.
10. Posada Kalea – Budget Beach Hostel in Cartagena
Located on the beach in the area known as La Boquilla, just north of the airport and about a 10-15 minute taxi ride from the Walled City, Posada Kalea makes a great choice for a Cartagena hostel on the beach for those looking to be on the beach while not breaking the budget.
They also have kitesurfing, windsurfing, kayaking, and wakeboarding.
I would not recommend staying at this hostel in Cartagena your whole time as it is outside the action downtown. I also would say, if you’re only going to do one night at the beach, spend a little more and stay out in the islands at the next places on this list.
However, if you’re looking to stay several nights at the beach, this is a more budget friendly options. Combining a few relaxed nights here along with a few at one of the other places higher up on this list of best Cartagena hostels makes a good choice for those with the time and desire to spend several nights at the beach without breaking the budget for staying in the islands.
11. Secreto Hostel – Best Cartagena Hostel in the Islands
No trip to Cartagena is complete without visiting the Rosario Islands.
If you’d like to stay out in the islands without paying up for the resorts and ecolodges, Secreto Hostel makes for a great choice.
It’s one of the only places in the islands that offers dorm accommodations, and their prices are really not all that much more than what you’ll pay in town.
There’s a nice pool on site and it’s just a short walk to the beach. Do keep in mind you will have to pay for boat transportation, but this is by far the best budget option for staying in the islands, landing it a deserved place rounding out this list of the best hostels in Cartagena.
Best Cartagena Hostels Conclusion
There you have it, my picks for the top 11 hostels in Cartagena, Colombia.
If you’re looking for a Cartagena hostel, I hope it helped you, and most importantly, you have a great time. Be sure to check out all the other content on the site to make sure you visit to Cartagena is awesome!
Cheers and Happy Exploring!
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Some other popular and great places to visit along the Colombian Caribbean coast that have great hostel and budget travel options for where to stay include Tayrona Park, the pretty mountain town of Minca, the idyllic and hidden gem beaches of the San Bernardo Islands, and the fun vibes of the hip beach town of Palomino.
Planning a trip to Cartagena?
Be sure to check out the rest of the site to help you plan!
In particular, you might want to check out my guide to the best areas to stay, my list of over 75 things to do, my picks for the best Cartagena tours, the best day trips from Cartagena, my suggested packing list, my guide to the Rosario Islands, and my guide to all the beaches of Cartagena.