Between the beautiful, colonial streets, historic fortifications, lovely beaches, and fabulous sunsets, Cartagena has no shortage of great photo ops. Whether you’re looking for the best Cartagena photos to adorn your wall or the most Instagrammable places in Cartagena, you will certainly be the envy of your friends and family with all the great pictures you take in Cartagena. Read on to see the top 20 must take photos in Cartagena.
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The Best Photo Opportunities in Cartagena
Cartagena has tons of colonial charm, historic sites, and sits on the beautiful Caribbean ocean. Therefore, it should be no surprise there are some wonderful photo ops.
Your photos, Facebook wall, and/or Instagram feed will be the envy of your friends and full of postcard worthy shots after a visit to Cartagena.
Here I will be showing you, in no particular order, 20 pictures you have to get while in Cartagena. Not only beautiful, they are the most memorable photos of Cartagena. If you’re a social media warrior these are some of the most Instagrammable places in Cartagena.
No matter whether you prefer portraits, casual shots, selfies, or just landscapes, you won’t be disappointed with these great photos to take in Cartagena. So be sure to pack (and charge!) your camera and/or phone and buckle up for this list of the 12 must take photos in Cartagena!
In the market for a new camera to document your best photos in Cartagena? Check out the top rated options on Amazon.com. I use my Canon Powershot SX620, which takes great photos, can fit in my pocket, and is a good value. Most of the photos here were taken with it.
1. On One of the Beautiful Colonial Streets
Cartagena was one of Spain’s most important colonies in the Americas and a center of its wealth and power. That makes it one of the best examples of colonial Spanish architecture. With colorful hues and big, flower filled balconies, some of the streets are as picturesque as it gets.
Snapping a photo on or of the street is therefore absolutely one of the best photos to take in Cartagena! The streets around the Cathedral where you can get it in the background make for especially good spots. Some of the streets in Getsemaní are also gorgeous and provide neat architecture.
Here are a few more photos taken around the old town and showing off the colonial charm of Cartagena:
See also: A Primer on the History of Cartagena to learn more about the city’s history.
2. In a Colonial Doorway
Those streets are so pretty because of all the old colonial mansions. With Cartagena’s epic heat, they were built with high ceilings to help keep them cool.
That means they have some big wooden doors. In fact, the one above isn’t even that big of one! In addition to serving a practical purpose, they make for another one of the most memorable photos in Cartagena.
A photo in the doorway might be one of the best Instagram photos in Cartagena around. You can check out this photo journal of Cartagena’s most charming doors from Sapphire & Elm if you want to scout out the doors. Look for the doors that contrast with the building’s color to get an especially pretty shot. It makes for a great solo, couple, or group photo.
Bonus points if you snap your photo with one of the famous iguana door knockers! They marked the homes of the colonial high society. You can learn more about them and the other different knockers in this post from Atlas Obscura.
Here are a few more great Cartagena photos of doorways:
3. With the Pretty Colonial Architecture
All around colonial Cartagena, you’ll find beautiful old colonial buildings with their balconies, and neat, wooden framed windows, many overgrown with vines. Some are painted bright colors, some have that charming, in need of a paint job look, and some are of stone.
They all make for a charming photo, and definitely belong on this list of the best photos to take in Cartagena.
Here are a few more pretty colonial sides of buildings:
4. On the Callejón Angosto
You will want to make sure you venture outside the Walled City to the adjacent neighborhood of Getsemaní. Besides more charming, colonial architecture, it is possibly Colombia’s coolest neighborhood with lots of neat little bars and cafés. In fact, Forbes named it one of the 12 coolest neighborhoods in the world.
While there are several great photo spots in Getsemaní (more on those coming up), the original is the Callejón Angosto. A narrow alleyway, it was the first place that I know of in all of Colombia to put the now common colorful umbrellas over the street.
Those colorful, overhanging umbrellas along with the colorful houses, street art, and the local feel it still boasts, land it on this list as a must have photo in Cartagena and definitely one of the best Instagram photos in Cartagena.
Do consider leaving a small tip in the box at the end of the street as this is one of the few streets left in Getsemaní that still is mostly residential.
Here are a few more shots of the Callejón Angosto:
There are also some neat, colorful umbrellas overhanging the Calle de la Magdalena, which is right off of the next place on this list of best photo spots in Cartagena. It’s a wider street and the umbrellas are a bit newer, but it only gets an honorable mention as the Callejón Angosto had it first.
For good measure here is a photo on Calle de la Magdalena. This photo, by the way, is from our professional session with photographer Mariana Maldonado. If you want to get some truly memorable photos in Cartagena, I can’t recommend doing a session with her enough. You can read about our experience here or check out her website to learn more and plan your own session.
5. On the Calle San Andres and Calle de la Tripita y Media
You’ll find the Calle San Andres and Calle Tripita y Media just off of the Calle Media Luna in Getsemaní.
My understanding is one block is named San Andres and the other technically is named Calle Canabal. However, it is commonly referred to as Tripita y Media after a local legend of a woman who lived on the street who fried and ate fish intestines (the tripita) and one day wore a pair of elaborate socks (medias). From then on people referred to the street as la Calle Tripita y Media.
Names aside, the colorful pennant flags that run over this street make it another one of the most Instagram worthy places in Cartagena. The flags hung up alternate between the colors of the Colombian flag (like above) and flags of all colors.
Besides the colorful flags, there are a number of nice restaurants and cafes along this street and it is very close to the avid nightlife on Calle Media Luna and near the Plaza de la Trinidad. Photos here look great during the day or at night.
Here a few more shots on this pretty street that is unquestionably one of the best places to take photos in Cartagena:
6. On the Calle de la Sierpe
Ok, this is the last of the things over hanging streets, and it is also the newest, but it still belongs on this list of best places for photo opportunities in Cartagena.
The Calle de la Sierpe, which loops around from the Calle Media Luna to the Plaza de la Trinidad, has some neat flags from around the world overhanging it.
It’s a neat addition that speaks to how much of an international city Cartagena is becoming with the continued growth of tourism, and it makes for another great Cartagena Instagram shot.
Here’s one more on this street:
7. With the Street Art in Getsemaní
The street art all around Getsemaní also makes for some of the best places to take photos in Cartagena.
You’ll find lots of examples, but some of the best are on Calle del Espíritu Santo off of the Calle Media Luna and nearby the Callejón Angosto. You’ll find some more great examples closer to the Plaza de la Trinidad after the curve of Calle de la Sierpe as well.
They are well worth checking out and make for another great place to take Instragram photos in Cartagena. Here are a few more:
8. In Front of Las Palenqueras in Getsemaní
This is probably now the most photogenic corner in all of Cartagena. Located just across from the Plaza de la Trinidad, the Palenqueras restaurant gave their historic building a colorful makeover when they opened up.
Specializing in local, traditional fare, the food isn’t bad either. By the way, check out some of the best local dishes to try in Cartagena here. But snapping a photo outside is a must when exploring Getsemaní. Below is the mural around the corner:
9. With the Actual Palenqueras
These women with their colorful dresses get their name from the town of San Basilo de Palenque, commonly just referred to as Palenque. This town was founded by runaway slaves before eventually being granted legal status by the Spanish.
The town today still maintains many traditional African customs and is a cultural center. The origin of Cartagena’s Palenqueras is women who came from Palenque to sell fruit in the city.
They became known for their colorful dresses and have become a symbol of all of Cartagena. I think many of them do as good a business posing for photos as selling fruits. Do know that they will expect a tip if you take of a photo of or with them.
It is a great and symbolic photo of Cartagena, and it is definitely one of the best Cartagena Instagram photos!
10. With the Giant Colombian Flag at Castillo San Felipe
A visit to the Castillo San Felipe, the largest Spanish colonial era fortification in South America, is undoubtedly one of the must take photos in Cartagena. The fort has an interesting history and massive walls. Along with a nice view of the city, it makes for one of the best places to take photos in Cartagena.
With the view at the top of the fort, pretending you are firing a cannon, or in the tunnels all make for great photos. However, the one photo you have to take in Cartagena at the Castillo is with the giant Colombian flag that flies over the fort.
Therefore, the fort is not only a great chance to learn about the history of the city but also get one of the most memorable photos of your visit to Colombia. You can take your photo from below to show off the massive walls or from the top to include the view.
Here are a few more great photos from the Castillo San Felipe:
11. With the City’s Clocktower
Built into the wall in the center of Cartagena is a tall clocktower. Originally, the structure was just a tower. After the completion of the city’s wall in 1631, it served as the main gateway into the colonial walled city and was linked to Getsemaní with a drawbridge.
A clock was added to the tower in 1874, and the tower was renovated in 1888. The current Swiss clock was added in 1937, giving this icon its present day look. It has become a major symbol of Cartagena and is called the Torre del Reloj or Reloj Publico.
Today, the Clocktower is a major landmark (and well, it still is the gateway to and from the Centro and Getsemaní). The area is also a hustling and bustling gathering area with vendors, people meeting up, or people simply heading to and from work downtown. All the people posing to take this must have picture from Cartagena only add to the bustle!
12. Atop the City’s Iconic Wall
Cartagena is one of the few colonial cities that can boast that much of their wall still remains intact today. In fact, with the exception of the section along the Avenida Venezuela, you can walk almost the entire circle of the walls!
A stroll along the wall is not only a must do but also one of the best cheap activities in Cartagena (it’s free!). There are numerous spots along the wall that make for a great spot for a photo. You can get the Caribbean Sea in the background from nearly all of it, and there are numerous spots where you can go for a photo with a cannon and/or one of the lookout towers.
So be sure you grab a cool shot or two of exploring the Cartagena walls! Here’s another photo I love from atop the wall:
13. At the Famous Café del Mar
The photo above is from Café del Mar. Besides offering up the chance to get a nice, cold drink after your walk along the wall, it offers some neat photos, especially with the Colombian and Cartagena flags they always have flying.
See also: This post about the meaning of Cartagena’s flag.
While that photo was taken during the day, the most popular time to visit Café del Mar is undoubtedly at sunset. The sun goes down just over the water in front of the wall.
Here are a few more photos from Café del Mar:
14. With the Sunset
I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that the sunset lands on a list of best snapshots in Cartagena, being that it is a Caribbean destination. And well, Cartagena’s sunsets don’t disappoint!
There are a number of good places to see the sunset and get your photo. Just about anywhere from along the waterfront will offer a good view, particularly from the wall and in Laguito. There are also several rooftop bars and spots along the bay that will allow you to take great shots with the sunset.
If you’re looking to not only get a memorable photo but enjoy the sunset with a nice drink, check out our recommendations for the best places for sunset drinks in Cartagena (spoiler: Café del Mar, where this photo was taken, makes the list, as does the next place on this list).
In the meantime, here are a few more great Cartagena sunset photos:
15. From Hotel Movich’s Rooftop Bar
Also on the aforementioned list of best places for sunset drinks, Hotel Movich offers what I think might be the very best view in the entire city!
I mean, honestly look at that photo above, it’s probably one of my favorite photos of my wife and I and the city.
The view from Hotel Movich really is spectacular. It’s absolutely one of the photos you have to get while in Cartagena!
16. With the Mujer Reclinada
Fernando Botero is perhaps Colombia’s most famous artist. He’s most well known for his distinctive style. Often times thought of as “fat,” that style is an exaggeration of figure (everything he painted and sculpted is “fat”). It is a truly unique and immediately recognizable, and well a bit weird, in a funny interesting kind of way, style.
In Cartagena, his sculpture of a posing, reclining, voluptuous woman stands out as a landmark and one of the best photos to get in Cartagena. Botero donated the statue to the city in 2000 and it sits in front of the church at Plaza Santo Domingo. Be sure to strike your best pose like my mom and aunt Pam above to fit in with this famous and glamorous lady!
17. With the Cartagena Sign
Located along the waterfront, the Cartagena sign is a relatively recent addition to the best places to take pictures in Cartagena. New or not, it still makes for one of the best photos and most Instagrammable places in Cartagena.
The sign is in the neighborhood of Marbella on the Avenida Santander, approximately halfway between the airport and the walled city. Located right on the beach, it’s positioned so the sun sets almost directly behind it. That makes it an especially good combo with number 6 above!
At sunset or not, it absolutely makes for one of the best photos to have from Cartagena.
To get to the sign, you can get a taxi or the Transcaribe bus headed for Crespo. It is about a half hour walk from the walled city along the waterfront to the right facing the sea. A taxi should charge no more than 8,000 pesos from Centro ( approx. 10,000 from Bocagrande). I’d imagine you could negotiate easily for him to take you there and back and even be your personal photographer!
See also: A Complete Guide to Getting Around Cartagena to learn how to take the Transcaribe bus and the correct taxi prices in Cartagena.
18. With One of the Historic Churches
Being a major seat of Spanish colonial power and wealth, there are several gorgeous churches built in Cartagena. All of these historic churches make for a great, classic photos.
My personal favorite is the San Pedro de Claver Church. San Pedro de Claver was an advocate for better treatment for slaves and is often times referred to as the saint of human rights. The church built in his honor (and whose alter also houses his tomb) is a gorgeous piece of architecture and has a pretty plaza in front of it. That makes it an awesome example of the most gorgeous photos in Cartagena.
There are other churches that will give you profile picture worthy photos in Cartagena too. The Cathedral is very pretty. However, it can be hard to get a picture up close that also captures its gorgeous and colorful cupola. As noted in #1 above, capturing it in the background does it great justice.
The Santo Domingo Church is also pretty and right in front of the Mujer Reclinada. There are smaller churches worth taking a picture with in Cartagena as well. These include the church just off the Plaza of San Fernandez de Madrid, the church in the Plaza de la Trinidad in Getsemaní, and the church in Parque Apolo just outside the walled city in El Cabrero.
19. At the Beach
Cartagena is a Caribbean destination after all! While the city has decent beaches, they tend to be crowded and have lots of vendors.
Plus, the beaches outside the city are much prettier! The most famous is Playa Blanca, pictured above. It has crystal clear blue water and white sand. It also has some neat cabins and a neat, relaxed vibe, with lots of great photo ops.
It can also get crowded but is absolutely worth the visit. You can also visit the nearby National Aviary, which has some neat photo opportunities itself.
See also: Practical Guide to Visiting Playa Blanca
If you can’t make it out to Playa Blanca, check out the beaches of Punta Arena and Tierra Bomba, just across the bay from the city.
Here are a few more shots of Playa Blanca:
20. On a Boat
If the beach isn’t cool enough for you, then you’ll want to get a photo on a boat! If you can get a group together, a private boat tour/booze cruise to the Rosario Islands and the party spot Cholón is one of the best ways to spend a day in Cartagena.
In fact, I’d put it pretty high on my list of things to do in Cartagena. And while you’re partying on a boat, you might as well get some good pictures as well.
For those unable to get a large group together, there are some shared boats, and some day tours out to the islands.
Here are a few more photos on a boat just in case you really need to be convinced:
21. With a Drink in a Coconut
Now that you’ve been exploring and snapping lots of impressive photos of Cartagena, it’s time to relax! In my humble opinion, there’s nothing more tasty or good for reminding me how lucky I am to be in the Caribbean than a tasty drink served in a coconut.
Personally, I’m a fan of a good Piña Colada, but I’m even a bigger fan of a good Coco Loco served straight up in the coco. What is a Coco Loco (or Crazy Coconut), you ask? Well it’s basically a Piña Colada minus the pineapple (rum, cream and coconut milk). If you’re looking for a variation, you may also be able to get your Piña Colada served in the pineapple.
Regardless of if you go with a Piña Colada or Coco Loco or even a nonalcoholic coconut with its milk, there’s something really fun and enchanting about having your drink out of the coconut itself. Bonus points if you crack it open and eat the meat too
Oh, and these tasty treats are best enjoyed on the beach! Here are few more to get your mouth watering:
So, Charge that Camera!
There you have it, 20 must take photos in Cartagena. I hope you are able to get a shot of each of them during your visit, all with your eyes open and not red and with big wide smiles with nothing stuck in your teeth.
Cheers! (or should I say cheese!) and Happy Exploring!