Traveling with your children is a great way to expose them to other cultures and ideas. However, it can be hard sometimes to find activities they will also enjoy. Luckily, there are some fun activities for children in Cartagena. Read on for a list of kid friendly activities in Cartagena, Colombia (including some the adults may enjoy too!).
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Activities for Children in Cartagena
With no big theme parks, Cartagena doesn’t immediately stand out as a place children will love. However, there are still a number of activities that children will enjoy in the city. For both adults and children in Cartagena, it’s important to make sure you’re sunscreened up and drink lots of water. Besides that basic advice, here are 10 things (in no particular order) that are child friendly activities in Cartagena, Colombia.
1. Visit the Castillo San Felipe Fortress
The largest Spanish colonial era fortification on the South American continent, the Castillo San Felipe Fortress is a must visit for all ages in Cartagena. With lots of space to run and explore, it also makes for one of the top activities for children in Cartagena.
At the massive fortress, the kiddos can imagine they were the defenders of Cartagena, playing on the cannons and standing lookout for approaching enemies. They will also love exploring in the tunnels that run through the fort. Meanwhile, parents will learn a bit more about the history of Cartagena and enjoy the 360 degree views of the city and bay.
Do make sure you get the little ones sun-screened up and go early to beat the heat and the crowds. For more information on visiting, check out our visitor’s guide to the Castillo San Felipe Fortress.
2. Visit the Naval Museum
Keeping with the historical theme, the Museo Naval del Caribe is next on our list of kid friendly activities in Cartagena. In my opinion, it’s the best done historical museum in the city and has exhibits on the colonial history of the city as well as the modern history of the Colombian Navy.
Downstairs, there are some really cool models of the colonial fortifications and dioramas of the pirate attacks on Cartagena that both the kids and Dad (or Mom for that matter) if they’re a military history buff will love. There’s also a cool interactive sail where you can imagine you are heading to some of the other colonial cities of the Caribbean.
However, upstairs, the museum has some really great interactive exhibits. There is a model submarine and naval ship bridge that you can enter and interact with. The kids can imagine they are looking up the periscope or monitoring the sonar on the submarine and even sound the alarm for incoming torpedoes. On the mock destroyer, they can sit in the captain’s chair or make plans in the war room.
These exhibits are really cool, and one of a kind in Cartagena. They reminded me a lot of visiting the USS Yorktown in Charleston when I was a kid. In all, the Naval Museum is an excellent way to spend a couple hours out of the heat and a fun way for both kids and parents to learn a little more about the history of the city. That makes it one or our top recommended activities for kids in Cartagena.
You can plan your visit and learn more with our visitor’s guide to the Cartagena Naval Museum.
3. Ride Bikes Around Old Town
Renting bikes is a great way to get some exercise while you enjoy the charming sights in Cartagena’s walled city. It’s also undoubtedly one of the activities children will enjoy in Cartagena.
There are a number of different places renting bicycles inside the walled city all for similar prices. There are even a few places that have electric scooter bikes. Usually, they are rented per hour.
Make sure you ride your bikes up to the top of the wall and enjoy the great view of the ocean. I would suggest sticking to the Walled City as traffic on the main roads outside can get heavy. A fun way to spend the afternoon and something that might wear the kids out, biking easily makes our list of fun activities to do with children in Cartagena.
4. Make Your Own Chocolate at the ChocoMuseo
If your kids aren’t that into the traditional museums listed above, I’ll bet they will be interested in a Chocolate Museum! The ChocoMuseo is next on our list of kid friendly activities in Cartagena.
The museum has free admission and lots of free samples as well as some unique chocolate products for sale. Everything from chocolate bars, to chocolate spread, to chocolate tea, and even chocolate pasta is available. And for the adults, even chocolate cigars.
However, what the kids will really enjoy are their workshops that include making your own chocolate. There is a 45 minute mini-workshop and a complete 2 hour bean to bar workshop available. Both include crafting your own hand-made chocolate pieces. If you can stop them from eating them themselves, they make for great gifts for grandma and grandad!
After the workshop, you’ll get a tour of the museum, and a chance to buy from the store at a 10% discount. A unique experience that kids that will surely enjoy, the ChocoMuseo is another great example of activities children will enjoy in Cartagena!
The ChocoMuseo is open daily from 10am to 10pm and offers several of each workshop throughout the day. Check the times and prices and even make a reservation for the mini-workshop here and the complete bean to bar workshop here.
*Check out our full post about the ChocoMuseo in Cartagena here.
5. Visit the Beach
Ok, this one is a bit obvious. This probably is a reason you came here in the first place, so it has to make our list of kid-friendly activities in Cartagena. I know growing up as a kid, yearly trips to the beach were always the highlight of our summer vacations. While those were in Myrtle Beach, I imagine doing it in the Caribbean is even better!
A few words of warning though, the most popular beaches around Laguito and Bocagrande do get crowded. Those crowds do bring lots of vendors and there are also a small handful of unsavory characters, including prostitutes that work the beaches. While it’s questionable if children will even pick up on that, it’s worth being aware of before hand.
I’d actually recommend heading to the beach near Hotel Las Americas just past the airport to avoid the crowds. You can also try Playa Arena just across the bay. You can get boats to and from Playa Arena behind the hospital in Bocagrande.
Also, you could just opt for hanging out around the hotel pool and getting your sun and fun fix that way.
6. Feed and Chase the Pigeons at San Pedro Claver Church
The plaza in front of the San Pedro Claver Church is THE hangout place for Cartagena’s pigeons. That makes it one of fun places to visit with children in Cartagena.
There is always a guy or two selling bread to feed the pigeons, and the fact that there is no automobile traffic allowed in the plaza makes an even better as a kid friendly activity in Cartagena.
There are also some neat statues around, and the San Pedro Cafe with tables in the plaza is also a great place to take a break and have a snack or drink (including an adult beverage for parents). Your kids are likely to give you some bonus points for getting them one of the snow cones made from the old school ice shaving machines that are about.
Take the little ones here for a cheap and fun way to spend some time in the afternoon. With enough pigeon chasing, the kids may even wear themselves out and let mom and dad have a quiet night around the hotel!
There are also lots of pigeons around Bolívar Plaza right by the Inquisition and Gold Museum.
7. Visit the Inquisition Museum
Another fun museum to visit, the Historical and Inquisition Museum at the Palacio de la Inquisici´ón, also makes our list of fun activities for children in Cartagena. The upstairs of the museum has exhibits on the history of Cartagena.
However, downstairs, there are exhibits on the Spanish Inquisition that was housed in the site for much of Cartagena’s colonial history. There are several examples on torture devices on display. The museum also explains how the Inquisition functioned in Cartagena and South America.
Even better is the outside. Out in the courtyard, there are a model guillotine and gallows on display. Don’t worry, neither are operable, so arguing siblings can’t actually execute each other! But you can take some cool pictures strapped into the guillotine or with the noose around the kiddos’ necks.
You can plan your visit and learn more with our visitor’s guide to the Palacio de la Inquisición.
8. Visit the Mud Volcano
Located about an hour outside of Cartagena, the Volcan del Totumo is an interesting, and frankly kind of weird attraction. A 15m high mound with a mud bath crater at the top, it’s a pretty unique experience.
Once there, you climb up and float in the mud bath. There are guys that will take your picture. The mud is nice and think so you float right at about shoulder height. Supposedly good for the skin, the mud is smooth and certainly gives you a weird sensation. After you’ve had your fill, you can wash off at the nearby lagoon.
This one is going to depend on your kids and their personalities. They are likely to either love it or hate it with little middle ground. If they like getting dirty, then the Volcan del Totumo has to be near the top of the list of fun activities for kids in Cartagena.
Most hotels and travel agencies likely have contacts for tours to the Volcan de Totumo, so check with where you are staying. Usually the tour includes transportation to and from the volcano and lunch at a nearby beach. You can also check out tour companies here and here.
9. Go Bowling at Baila Bolera
While perhaps not the traditional idea of something to do on vacation, Baila Bolera puts a unique twist on bowling in Cartagena. With flashy lights and music, and nicer than your standard smoke filled bowling alley in the states, Baila Bolera is another good option for activities to do with children in Cartagena.
With a family atmosphere and unique twist, bowling might be a good way to get out of the hotel for the evening. And with reasonably priced drinks, parents will be able to enjoy themselves as well.
Baila Bolera is located in the Portal de San Felipe shopping mall across from the Castillo San Felipe Fortress. It rents out lanes per hour and has shoes and a variety of different weight balls available. Learn more at their website.
10. Visit the Gold Museum
Another museum makes our list for fun activities for kids in Cartagena. The best part about the Gold Museum is that it is always free!
While not nearly as extensive as the larger one in Bogotá, the Gold Museum in Cartagena still has some neat examples of the elaborate gold work of the Zenu indigenous peoples. The kids are especially likely to love the little gold animal figurines.
You can plan your trip and learn more with our visitor’s guide to the Gold Museum in Cartagena.
Ready to plan your family vacation to Cartagena?
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