Complete Cartagena Packing List – What to pack, and what to wear in Cartagena, Colombia

Wondering what should you I pack for Cartagena, Colombia?  Here I’m going to give you a comprehensive run down of everything you should pack on a trip to Cartagena.  I’ll also give you some possible recommendations for all the essentials, clothes for him and her, and other suggested things to pack for Cartagena.  So read on for a complete packing list for Cartagena, Colombia.

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Photo of some suitcases with travel docs next to them to emulate what should I pack for Cartagena.
Read on for a complete packing list – including items to bring and what to wear in Cartagena.  Image Source:  Pixabay.

What Should I Pack for Cartagena – Contents

Part 1:  Get Your Papers in Order –
Documents You Need to Travel in Colombia

Passport

Foreign nationals (unless you’re from a handful of other South American countries) should make sure they have their passport with at least one blank page.  For a convenient travel accessory, check out these passport protective wallets have places for bank cards and even your boarding pass.  I love the old school map one.

Do I Need a Visa to Travel to Cartagena?

Visitors from most countries do not need a visa to enter Colombia as a tourist.  That includes most of the Americas and Europe.  If you’re unsure if you need a visa, check hereThe standard tourist visa is for 90 days.

If you plan to stay in Colombia longer, you may renew it for an additional 90 days.  You will save yourself time if you fill out the form online (check the box titled Permiso Temporal de Permanencia para Prorrogar Permanencia).  Then you will have to visit an office of Migración Colombia (in Cartagena in Pie de la Popa behind the church named La Hermita) to pay the 90,000 peso fee and get the stamp for the extended permission.  Just be sure you do so before the 90 days is up and keep in mind you cannot be in Colombia for more than 180 days total in a calendar year.

Proof of Exit out of Colombia and Address in Colombia

They won’t always, but immigration authorities could ask to see a flight or bus ticket out of Colombia when you enter as well as the address of where you will plan to stay.  Some airlines may also prevent you from boarding flights to Colombia without proof of onward travel.  If you are unsure of how long and/or where you will stay you, buy a refundable ticket and book ahead at least your first night just in case.  See the suggested areas to stay in Cartagena for hotel and hostel recommendations.

Do I Need the Yellow Fever Vaccine to Travel to Cartagena?

Only visitors entering Colombia from Brazil, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, or Uganda must show the WHO yellow fever vaccine booklet.  However, the vaccine is recommended, and it’s not a bad idea to get it, especially if you will be traveling to elsewhere from Colombia as some countries may require it upon entering after traveling through Colombia.

If you want to get it while here, you can get it for free at the DADIS Health Office in Cartagena on Calle Larga in Getsemaní.

Travel Insurance

I learned this lesson the hard way when I suffered an accident while traveling to the US after I was living here in Cartagena and no longer had health insurance at home.  If I didn’t have a loving mother who was able to help me with the bills, I would have been screwed.

The fact is, unexpected things happen, and it’s best to have insurance and never have to use it than need it and wish you had it.  World Nomads is a popular, well known, and well respected option.  Get a quote here.

Part 2:  Get Your Bags in Order –
Luggage to Pack for Cartagena

There are a couple things you should consider when deciding what luggage to pack for a trip to Cartagena.  I’d recommend bringing one larger bag plus a carry on bag that can double as a day pack.  For shorter stays and on some budget airlines, you can probably make due with just a carry on.

Recommended Luggage to Pack for Cartagena:

Right to left:  Samsonite Omni Hardcase Spinner | Samsonite Aspire xLite Softcase Spinner |
Plambag Canvas DuffelOsprey Transporter Expedition Duffel 

I’m a big fan of Samsonite’s luggage.  It’s well made and reliable.  If you’d like a rolling suitcase, I’d recommend getting one of theirs.  Whether you prefer hardcase or softcase is up to you.  If you plan to travel elsewhere in Colombia, especially on buses, you may want to consider something you can carry around easily.  This cool canvas duffel would be a good option and is a good value.  For something a bit more heavy duty, this Osprey duffel is high quality and can be carried like a backpack as well.

Backpacker Packs to for Cartagena:

Right to left:  Osprey Rook 65L | Osprey Farpoint 40L | Topsky Internal Frame 70LRoamm Nomad 65L

Osprey also makes great backpacks, an even better idea for extended travel in Colombia or elsewhere.  The 65L Rook is spacious but not humongous, while the 40L Farpoint is small enough to be used as a carry on (see women’s version).  I also love the cool world map decoration on this Topsky backpack, and this heavy duty Roamm Nomad pack comes with its own convenient detachable daypack.

Daypacks to Bring to Cartagena:

Right to left:  Roam Packable Backpack | Venture Pal Packable Backpack | Osprey Daylite Plus Day Pack | Aidonger Canvas Backpack

I personally prefer to have a backpack on me when I travel.  It comes in handy to carry around water, snacks souvenirs around town or at the beach.  I recently got one of these cool packable Roam backpacks that zips up into a small square pouch.  It’s super convenient as I can stick it into another backpack and have it for a day pack (see my review here).  For more color options, check out these from Venture Pal.  For more traditional backpacks, this Osprey Daylite is a quality and durable pack, and I have one of these Aidonger canvas backpacks for weekend trips and like the cool vintage look.

Part 3:  Travel Essentials –
10 Things You Need to Pack for Cartagena

 1.  Plug and Power Adapter (if you’re coming from outside the Americas)
Colombia uses 120 V currency and the Type A and B outlets used in the USA and much of the Americas.  If you’re coming from Europe or Asia, a socket and currency adapter is therefore one of the essential items to pack for Cartagena.  This universal adapter will work with any plug and currency, includes 2 USB charging ports, and is a great investment for travel to Cartagena and elsewhere.

2.  Sunscreen (lots of sunscreen!)
You are after all in the Caribbean, so sunscreen is undoubtedly among the important things to pack for Cartagena.  Sunscreen also tends to be more expensive here than elsewhere, so I’d encourage you to bring a bottle or three with you.  My personal favorite is Coppertone Sport, as it holds up well to sweat and water.  If you’re like me and often forget to reapply, you may want to bring along some aloe lotion as well to soothe any potential sunburn.

3.  A Good Pair of Shades
Again, you want to be ready for the hot sun, and a good pair of sunglasses is also one of the necessary things to pack for Cartagena.  These snazzy green lensed bamboo frame shades from Rawwood would fit right in in Cartagena and even float!  I recently got a pair and love them (see review here).  If you are like me though and often lose sunglasses, you may want to pick up a pair these cheap retro polarized ones instead.

4.  Bug Spray
While it depends a bit on the time of year and how wet it is or windy it isn’t, mosquitos can be bad in Cartagena, especially in the evening.  The last several years have also seen breakouts of mosquito borne illnesses like Chikungunya and Zika, so including bug spray on your list of things to pack for Cartagena is a good idea.

I recommend OFF! Deep Woods which you can get in spray form or towelettes.  If you want something natural, try their Botanicals line in spray form or towelettes.  You could also opt to combine two necessary things to pack for Cartagena and try this Avon Skin So Soft Sunscreen/Repellent combo.

5.  A Good Lock
Always comes in handy when traveling, especially if you plan to stay in hostels.  This Master Lock allows you to set your own combination so you don’t have to worry about losing a key, and is TSA approved for using on your bag while flying as well.

6.  Camera
Whether it be with the colorful colonial architecture, the sunset over the Caribbean, or a delicious plate of food, you’ll want lots of pictures of your visit, making a camera the next thing on this Cartagena packing list.

See also:  Must Take Photos in Cartagena

I’ve never much liked taking pictures with my phone or graduated past a point and shoot myself.  So I use a Canon Powershot SX620.  It fits in my pocket and takes great pictures (including most of the pictures on this site), and is at a price point that would make me not feel terrible if it got stolen or, more likely in my case, lost or dropped.  My propensity to do the latter has led me to strongly consider getting one of these nearly indestructible, waterproof cameras.

If you are bringing a nicer camera, I’d recommend keeping it away at night, in crowds, and when outside of the central tourist areas.

7.  A Good Travel Towel
You absolutely have to hit the beach during your time in Cartagena, and many hotels don’t like you using theirs at the beach.  If you’re planning to stay in hostels, then you likely already know how important a good towel is.  There’s nothing that will stink your bag up worse than a damp towel, so a good microfiber travel towel is another one of the essential things on this Cartagena packing list!

The microfiber travel towels from Rainleaf are extremely popular and well reviewed.  If you’re looking for something a bit more stylish, check out these retro striped ones from Dock & Bay or the trendy designs from Elite Trend.

8.  Travel Toilet Tissues
One thing I’ve learned after living here for 8 years, is that whether public restrooms have toilet paper can be hit or miss, even in ladies rooms.  Therefore, it’s not a good idea to have a travel pack of tissue paper with you in case.  If you need it, you’ll be happy you did.

9.  Traveler’s Stomach Remedy
While we’re talking bathrooms, there’s nothing worse than a bout of traveler’s stomach.  Weird visits to the bathroom could put a damper on your visit.  Therefore, I’d strongly recommend coming prepared and including some Pepto Bismol and/or Immodium in the things to pack for Cartagena.

10.  A Good Book
Whether lounging on the beach, bumming around the hotel, or sitting on a plane or bus, a good book is always nice have on vacation.  If you’re looking for good reads related to Cartagena and Colombia, consider Gabrial Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, whose setting is based on Cartagena, or his most famous work One Hundred Years of Solitude

If you’re a history buff like me, No Limits to Their Sway about Cartagena’s use of privateers during the wars for independence is a highly readable and informative look at an under-appreciated aspect of the city’s history (see my review) or you could check out The Fortifcations of Cartagena to learn more about the city’s iconic walls and fort of Castillo San Felipe.

See also:  Visitors Guide to the Castillo San Felipe Fortress

Part 4:  Other Handy Accessories
– 10 More Useful Things to Pack for Cartagena

These may not be essential things to pack for Cartagena, but they can come in very handy and may even help you save a few headaches and/or pesos.

 1.  A Good Water Bottle
Not only is this environmentally friendly, but it will save you some pesos.  While I live here and drink the tap water, I’d recommend visitors stick to bottled water to be on the safe side.  However, you can buy big jugs or bags and refill a smaller bottle as you go.

I love my Takeya bottle and use it everyday at my teaching job, and it does keep things cold all day.  If you want something a bit easier to pack, check out this rollup bottle from Nomader.  You could also opt for a Grayl water-purifying bottle and drink tap water anywhere with no worries and save even more pesos!

2.  Steripen
If you would prefer to drink the tap water, a Steripen is a great travel accessory for Cartagena.  My first year in Colombia (in a rural town), one of my roommates had one of these, and it was super handy when our filtered water ran out.  The UV light kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria and makes a good alternative to a purifying bottle (especially if you’re like me and will probably forget to replace the filter).  Honestly, this seems like the kind of thing that pays for itself several times over if you frequently travel.  There is a battery powered version (it does use special batteries) and a usb chargeable version.

3.  A Travel Safe or Money Belt
Particularly if you plan to carry significant amounts of cash or valuables with you when you travel, a travel safe can give you peace of mind that your possessions will be safe when you’re out. 

The Pacsafe portable safe is very convenient for travel, easy to pack, durable, and attachable to furniture.  If you want to be extra safe in the airports or on buses to elsewhere in Colombia, a money belt is also not a horrible investment.  For the ladies, you can also use a bra poutch to hide your cash, valuables, and documents.

4.  Umbrella or Travel Poncho
Considering the warm temperature, you may opt not to bring a jacket.  However, it still can rain, especially during the rainy season from October to November or from May to July when quick thunderstorms are common.  Therefore, an umbrella or poncho are recommended things to pack for a trip to Cartagena.

A good portable compact umbrella or rain poncho with travel pouch won’t take much space in your bag and will come in very handy if it does rain.  The umbrella can even double as a portable shade (my Cartagena born and bred wife uses an umbrella to shield herself from the sun all the time).

5.  Waterproof Dry Bag
A bag where you can be sure things stay dry would be particularly useful at the beach or if you decide to do a boat trip.  Taking a boat out to the Rosario Islands off the coast of Cartagena is highly recommended by the way!  This 3 bag set from Freegrace would be perfect and includes a smaller bag for your wallet/cash as well as a waterproof phone pouch.

7.  Backup Battery Charger
Power outages do happen.  So, if you rely on any electronic devices while you travel this should be considered one of the things you should pack for Cartagena. The Anker Powercore 10000 is compact and perfect for travel, while digital nomads should check out the Powercore 26800, which will charge laptops in a pínch.  For the more environmentally conscious, check out this portable solar charger.

8.  Packing Cubes
Whenever I travel, especially for more than a couple days, my bag usually becomes a mixed up mess quickly.  This set of packing cubes will help you keep your things organized, and they even include a nifty laundry bag.  A set of travel shoe bags would also not only keep your bag more organized but help keep everything clean.

9.  Travel Toiletry Bag
A good bag to hold your toiletries is another one fo the nice items to pack for Cartagena.  This foldup, hangable one is spacious but compact folded up and will keep all your toiletries organized.  The ladies might also want to consider bringing along a cute, small makeup bag.

10.  Emergency First Aid Kit
Whether a trip, cut, scrape, or bite, a basic first aid kit can be handy for any minor injuries you suffer while traveling.  This palm sized first aid kit would be just what the doctor ordered to treat them.  Throwing in a small stock of pain relievers and allergy medicine isn’t a bad idea either.

Part 5:  What Clothes Should I Pack?
Recommendations for What to Wear in Cartagena

General Packing Tips for Cartagena

Weather

Cartagena has a tropical climate with average highs around 90 degrees F (32 C) and lows around 78 F (26 C).  It is often humid.  So you will want to pack warm weather clothes.

The rainy season runs from October to December.  There are also occasional quick, heavy showers in April and May and short thunderstorms are common in June-August.

When it rains it can get cool in the evening if there’s also a strong breeze.  A light jacket or fleece therefore might also be a good thing to pack for Cartagena.  If you plan to travel elsewhere in Colombia, Bogotá is quite chilly and parts of the interior, especially the coffee region can also get chilly in the evening, so you will definitely want a good jacket.

I generally recycle pants and shorts, and sometimes even shirts when traveling.  However, keep in mind the hot weather.  You will sweat!  Two things you will definitely not want to recycle though are underwear and socks.  A few extra pairs of underwear and socks with you to Cartagena are definitely necessary things to pack for Cartagena.

You will sweat during the day and you may want to change before going out in the evening at least some of the time, so a few extra things to wear are also a good idea to pack.  A few sink sized detergent packets might be useful here in case you need to recycle.

What To Wear in Cartagena – Ladies Section

General Tips

If you’re wondering what should girls wear in Cartagena, know that women on Colombia’s coast generally dress quite liberally.  Don’t be one of those tourists that goes around town in your bikini top all day, but don’t be afraid of showing a little bit of skin either.  Whites, bright colors, stripes, and pastels all look great.

Cartagena’s locals do dress to impress when going out dancing, so you will want to have a nicer outfit or two if you plan to spend a night or two out on the town.  Below you can find some recommendations for what to wear in Cartagena for all occasions.

Daily wear

You’ll want to think light and comfortable here.

Tops

Casual Tops to Wear in Cartagena:

Left to right:  Chvity Crochet Pocket Tank Top | Blibea Floral Print Tank Top |
IWOLLENCE Tie Knot Blouse | YunJey Short Sleeve Tee 

Tank tops and tees make for a great option to pack for the ladies to Cartagena.  This one with a crochet pocket is cute and stylish, while this floral print with spaghetti straps screams Caribbean.  So does this classic button up, knotted bottom white blouse.  Finally, for something comfy and simple, but stylish, these casual t-shirts make for great travel wear.

Off Shoulder Tops to Wear in Cartagena:

Left to right:  LOSRLY Floral Sleeveless Top| AYIYO Floral Print Tube Top |
Asvivid Off Shoulder Striped Tie Knot Blouse | PattyBoutik Pleated Tube Top

Don’t be shy about showing off your shoulders in Cartagena!  These tops will keep you looking and feeling fresh.  Just don’t forget the sunscreen on those shoulders.

These floral print halter top and tube top are both stylish and fun.  Meanwhile, this off shoulder tie knot blouse and pleated tube top could both work for the day or the evening.

Bottoms

Again, go for comfort here.  Light and comfortable are the order of the day.

Shorts to Pack for Cartagena:

Left to right:  Roxy Oceanside Shorts | Luvamia Frayed Jean Shorts |
Rekucci Comfort Fit Modern City Shorts | Lee Relaxed Fit Denim Bermuda Short

For shorts you can wear around town or to the beach, check out these comfy Roxy Oceansides or these cut-off jean shorts.  For other comfortable and stylish options, check out these longer shorts from Rekucci that come in a variety of colors or these relaxed fit shorts from Lee that come in khaki or jean versions.

Capris to Pack for Cartagena:

Left to right:  Columbia Anytime Capri | Lee Cargo Capri |
Rekucci Comfort Fit CapriRiders by Lee Ultrasoft Denim Capri

Capris are also a great option for daytime exploring in Cartagena.  These water resistant ones from Columbia are great for traveling.  Also check out these cargo capris from Lee, these comfort fit capris from Rekucci, and these denim capris from Riders by Lee.

Women’s Pants to Wear in Cartagena:

Left to right:  Roxy Oceanside Pants | Arolina Stretchy Palazzo Pants |
MBJ Culottes Pants | Bangkokpants Harem Pants

For comfortable long pants to pack for Cartagena, check out the Roxy Oceanside long pants, whose linen will be more than comfortable in the heat.  These wavy longer legged Palazzo pants are stylish, as are these wide legged culottes, both of which would combine with many of tops above for some great outfits.  Finally, these harem pants are also very comfortable as long as you don’t mind looking a bit like a hippy.

A good pair of jeans will also come in handy in the event it gets chilly in the evening or for casual dining out.

Skirts Great to Wear in Cartagena:

Left to right:  DJT Flowy Handkerchief Midi Skirt | Yonala Floral Tie Up Waist Maxi Skirt |
Asher Cotton Linen Blend Maxi Skirt | Meyeeka Button Up Midi Skirt with Pockets

Casual skirts would make for great daily wear and combined with the right top can also be worn out.  This flowy handkerchief skirt is stylish, made from comfortable fabric and would go with just about any outfit.  This floral print maxi skirt is also a lovely, casual, Caribbean inspired look.  Finally, this cotton linen blend maxi skirt and this midi skirt with buttons and pockets would make for great casual but cute wear around town.

Sundresses to Pack for Cartagena:

Left to right:  Asvivid Halter Mini Dress | ZESICA Bohemian Beach Mini Dress | Lilbetter Backless Crochet Dress | Prettygarden Striped V Neck Button Up Dress | Angashion Striped Spaghetti Strapped Button Up Dress

Sundresses are perfect for the daytime and look (and feel) great in Cartagena’s colorful colonial streets.  This halter top mini dress comes in a variety of colors and prints, and this v neck bohemian dress is cute and brightly colored.  This long, flowing white crochet dress could be used sight seeing, at the beach, or even out to a romantic dinner.  Finally, this striped button up dress is classy and elegant, as is this similar one with spaghetti straps.

Great Outfits to Wear In Cartagena

Left to right:  Reoria Spaghetti Strap Short Jumpsuit | Angashion Sunflower Crop Top 2 Piece Maxi Dress | NRTSS Crop Top and Skirt Set | Floerns Off Shoulder Drawstring Crop Top and Skirt Set

If you’re looking to make your decision on what to wear easier, why not get some 2 piece outfits?  This tank top and shorts jumpsuit would be great for comfortable for wearing around town or to the beach.  This sunflower two piece maxi dress is elegant and classy.  This 2 piece crop top and skirt set is also stylish, and finally this drawstring shoulder-less crop top and skirt set has a cute and relaxed luck.

What Should I Wear to Go Out in Cartagena?

Nice casual and semi formal wear is fine for most restaurants and night clubs in Cartagena.  It is a tourist town after all.  However, for nicer restaurants and the nicer clubs, something a bit more elegant is in order.

Shorter Dresses You Can Wear Out in Cartagena:

Left to right:  Sarin Mathews Off Shoulder Coctail Dress | Sidefeel Ruffled Top Mini Dress |
Zalalus Spaghetti Strap Party Dress | BTFBM T-shirt Mini Dress

For shorter dresses you can wear out in Cartagena, this elegant off shoulder cocktail dress would look great as would this ruffled, wavy top mini dress.  For something a bit more revealing, try this cute spaghetti strapped party dress or for something a bit more casual try this simple but pretty t-shirt mini dress.

Longer Dresses to Wear Out in Cartagena:

Left to right:  Dearlove Spaghetti Strap Beach Dress | BerryGo Deep V Neck Backless Maxi Dress |
Blooming Jelly Asymmetrical Maxi Dress | SVALIY Off Shoulder Floral Maxi Dress

For longer dresses, check out this this floral print v neck, or this cute backless, floral maxi dress.  For a more casual look you could also wear around town, check out this contrasting top maxi.  Finally, for a Caribbean inspired look that would look great walking around town, in the finest restaurants, or even at a wedding, check out this elegant floral maxi dress.

Women’s Bathing Suits for Cartagena

Going to the beach has to be in your plans during your time in Cartagena.  Therefore, one of things you have to pack for Cartagena is your bathing suit.  Below see some suggestions for swimsuits to take to Cartagena.

Two-Piece Swimsuits to Wear in Cartagena:

Left to right:  Ekouaer Leaf Print Halter Top Bikini | Tempt Me Ruffled Crop Top Off Shoulder Bikini |
Tempt Me High Waisted, Ruffle Top Bikini | Shekini Ruffles Bikini

This leaf print halter top bikini is a great and sporty option for beaching it in Cartagena.  This floral print off shoulder ruffled top and high waisted bottom and this ruffled tie knot top, both from Tempt Me are also elegant and stylish options.  For a cute, sexy option, check out this stylish ruffled bikini, available in a variety of colors.

One Piece Bathing Suits to Pack for Cartagena:

Left to right:  Tempt Me Vintage Ruffled Top One Piece | Lookbookstore Crochet Lace One Piece |
Roxy Dreaming Day One Piece | AdoreShe Ruffled Low Back Monokini

For a stylish, throwback one piece bathing suit for Cartagena, check out this retro styled floral print TemptMe with a ruffled top.  For a relaxed, hip style, opt for this lace one piece with floral crochet designs.  For a classic look, check out this tropical print from Roxy or snazz it up with ruffled shoulders and a low back with this cute monokini from AdoreShe.

Beach Coverups to Pack for Cartagena:

Left to right:  1 World Hibiscus Sarong | Eicolorte Linen Cotton Sarong with Tassels |
Jeasona Lace Crochet Cover Up | Costyleen Long Lace Cover Up Dress | Ekouaer Shirt Dress Cover Up

Sarongs not only fit right into the Caribbean, but are versatile and can be worn as a skirt, wrap around, or even tied up and worn as a dress, and double as a beach towel.  From a guy’s perspective, I also think they are cute as heck.  This hibiscus print sarong that comes in a variety of colors would be a great item to pack for Cartagena, as would this cotton linen blend one with tassels that comes in a shorter and longer version.

For other beach coverup options to pack for Cartagena, my wife has this pull over minidress coverup, and she loves it.  This lace tie up front cover up dress is also gorgeous.  For a classic, simple look, this pull over cover up that looks like a big shirt would also work great.

Shoes to Wear in Cartagena

You will definitely want something you are comfortable walking in, something you can wear to the beach, and something that you can go out dancing in.  I’d recommend bringing a good pair of sandals/flip flips, a pair of sneakers or comfortable flats for walking, and a nicer pair of something you can wear out.  It’s your call if you want to pack heels or not.

Recommendations:

Left to right:  Chaco Zx2 | Birkenstock Gizeh | Toms Classic Slip Ons |
Adidas Cloudfoam Advantage Sneakers | Calvin Klein Dress Gella Pumps

Sandals like the Chaco Zx2s are great for walking around and can be used for the beach.  So could Birkenstock GizehsBirkenstock originals would also be good options.  My wife has a pair of Toms and she loves to wear them when we travel.  They are cute and comfortable.  She also has a pair of Adidas Cloudfoam sneakers she loves.  If you do want to bring heels, something like these Calvin Klein Gellas look nice with just about anything.

Women’s Accessories to Pack for Cartagena

A Good Sun Hat:

Left to right:  SunLily Roll-n-Go Sun Hat | Lanzom Womens Wide Brim Roll Up Panama Hat |
Adidas Superlite Relaxed Performance Cap | Columbia Unisex Bora Bora II Sun Hat

Whether around town or at the beach, you’ll want to keep the sun out of your eyes, making a good sun hat another one of the important items to pack for Cartagena.  This rollup wide brimmed floppy sun hat, would be perfect for travel.  For a Caribbean inspired style, check out this rollup Panama hat that won’t lose its shape in your bag.  For a cap, this Adidas cap comes in a variety of cute colors and has moisture wicking and UV protection, or you could opt for a generic cap in your favorite color.  For extreme sun protection, the Colombia Bora Bora sun hat is a good option for the ladies to pack for Cartagena too.

Women’s Bags to Pack for Cartagena:

Left to right:  Hoxis Straw Zipper Purse | Esvan Drawstring Backpack |
MOSISO Single Strap Sling Bag | Esvan Water Resistant Tote Bag

If you’re wondering what kind of purse to carry in Cartagena, it’s best something that zips up and worn across the body to reduce the risk of pick pocketing.  This small straw purse would be a great Caribbean inspired option.  For more space when walking around town, consider bringing along this cute and colorful drawstring backpack or this tropical styled single strap sling bag.  Finally, this pineapple print tote bag would be great to take to the beach.

What to Wear in Cartagena – Mens Edition

The most important thing to consider when making your packing list for Cartagena as a guy is comfort for the heat.  Think solid, light and pastel colors for the day.  Linen and cotton are especially good options.  You can get away with t-shirts and shorts in most situations as a tourist, but for the nicer restaurants and most night clubs, you will need pants and shoes.  Read on for some recommendations for what men should wear in Cartagena.

Recommended Shirts to Pack for Cartagena for Men

Casual Daily Wear:

Left to right:  Colombia Thistletown Park Polo | Colombia Blood and Guts Short Sleeve Shirt |
modase Men’s V Neck Drawstring Linen Shirt | Cubavera Short Sleeve Linen Shirt with Pocket

Columbia has great tees, polos, and button-ups that are comfortable and designed to help wick sweat away and even provide UV protection.  They would be perfect for daily wear.  Otherwise, I’d recommend normal casual tees, polos, and button-ups.

For something with a local flavor, check out linen or cotton shirts.  They are sure to keep you comfortable in the heat.  For a relaxed, bohemian look, try this v-neck pull over or, for a more traditional look, check out this casual linen button up.

What kind of shirt should I wear out dancing in Cartagena?

Bring a nicer shirt or two to go out in the evening.  Nicer polos and fashionable tees will do for most bars and some of the more casual clubs, while button ups are best for the classier clubs.

Guayabera Shirts:

Left to right (all from Cubavera):  Short Sleeve Linen Blend | Short Sleeve 100% Linen 4 Pocket |
Straight Front Long Sleeve4 Pocket Long Sleeve

If you want to get a shirt that will be comfortable during the day and evening, look good, and blend in with the locals, get yourself a nice Guayabera.  Made out of linen, they are elegant and fresh, even in the hot sun.  While most commonly associated with Cuba (especially the 4 pocket version), Guayaberas are common in Cartagena as well, and can be used for casual, daily wear as well.

You can pick them up locally, but if you want to arrive in style, get one or two before you come.  Short sleeves will be fine for most occasions, while long sleeves are more formal.  For the more common Cartagena style of a no pocket front, check out it out in short sleeves and long sleeves.  I’m a big fan of the Cuban style myself.  Check it out in short sleeves and long sleeves.

Recommended Pants to Pack for Cartagena for Guys

Shorts:

Left to right:  Colombia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts | Docker’s Perfect Short D3 |
Vcansion Lightweight, Quick Dry Hiking Shorts | NITAGUT Linen Blend Casual Shorts

Like their shirts, these Columbia shorts also have moisture wicking and UV protection.  These Dockers shorts are comfortable and look nice.  These quick dry shorts with lots of pockets would also be good for the heat, the beach, or going out on the boat.  Finally, these linen drawstrings would be super casual and comfortable for exploring Cartagena.  I love the fish print variety.

Pants:

Left to right:  Cubavera Drawstring Casual Linen Pants | Colombia Cascades Explorer Pants |
Carhatt Duck Work Dungaree | Cubavera Linen-Cotten Blend Dress Pants

For sight seeing, be sure you are wearing light, comfortable pants.  These relaxed Cubavera linen ones would be perfect.  These water resistant Columbia cargos or Carhartt dungarees would also be good for casual daily wear and hold up in the heat.

I’d also recommend packing a jeans or two for Cartagena, which you could wear out to most places.  For the nicest restaurants and clubs you will want something a tad nicer, like khakis or chinos.  If you’re trying to go the full linen look, check out these linen dress pants.

Other Clothes to Pack for Cartagena

Bathing Suits to Wear in Cartagena:

Left to right:  Unitop Striped Board Shorts | APTRO Quick Dry Swim Trunks |
Kanu Monaco Swim Trunks Harbor Green | Kanu Monaco Swim Trunks Key West Aqua

You’ll definitely want some trunks to visit the beach, the islands, and the hotel pool.  I always like to have at least one extra pair.  They’re light, don’t take up much space, and you’ll be glad you have another if one doesn’t dry out all the way.  If you need to get a pair before coming, check out these colorful, striped trunks from Unitop, these APTRO palm tree print trunks, or the varied prints from Kanu (the flamingo Key Westprints are especially cool!).

Men’s Hats to Wear in Cartagena:

Left to right:  Ultrafino Packable Panama Fedora | Fancet Packable Straw Trilby |
Columbia Bora Bora II Booney Hat | Vintage Washed Baseball Cap

With the bright, Caribbean sun a good hat is undoubtedly one of the necessary things to pack for Cartagena.  I personally usually stick to whatever my favorite baseball cap is at the time.

However, if you want to fit into the Caribbean vibe, get yourself a good Panama hat.  There are plenty of vendors selling cheap ones on the street, but if you want one that will last and would be great to travel with, check out this foldable Panama hat that won’t get ruined in your bag.  For something more new age, check out this packable straw trilby hat.

For even better sun protection, check out the Columbia UV protected and moisture wicking Bora Bora Sunhat.  Or just stick to a generic ball cap in your favorite color.

Shoes to Pack for Cartagena

Recommended Sandals for Cartagena:

Left to right:  Chaco Men’s EcoTread Flip Flop | Teva Men’s Parajo Flip Flop |
Chaco Men’s Z2 Classic Sport Sandal | Birkenstock Arizona Sandal | Timberland Altamont Fisherman Sandals

If you’re on the lookout for flip flops that will hold up well to lots of walking, check out Chaco’s Ecotreads or Teva’s Pajaros.  Chaco’s Z2 sandals are even better for walking.

A good pair of classic Birkenstocks will also hold up well both at the beach and around town.  With a good linen get up you could probably even swing wearing them out to dinner.  The same with a pair of fisherman’s sandals from Timberland.

Recommended Shoes for Cartagena:

Left to right:  New Balance Casual Comfort Cross Trainer | Keen Newport H2s | Dockers Kenworth Oxford | Rockpock Eureka Walking Shoes | Sperry A/O 2-Eye Boat Shoes

For tennis shoes to wear sight seeing, check out these New Balances or for something cooler, check out these Keen Newport H2s that are like a trainers/sandals cross.

If you’re looking for a pair of shoes that would comfortable for walking but also nice enough to wear going out, I used to have a pair of Dockers like these that lasted me forever and were super comfortable.  These casual Rockports would also be comfortable enough to wear walking around town but work to wear out.  Finally a pair of Sperry boat shoes can also work for casual and going out.

There you have it, a comprehensive Cartagena packing list with absolutely everything you should pack to enjoy your visit to Cartagena!

Cheers and Happy Exploring!

Planning a trip to Cartagena?  Before packing your bag, check out these other posts to help you plan your trip:

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