Headed to Colombia and looking for all the best photo spots in Cartagena? I’ve rounded up my favorite Cartagena instagram spots, so you can ensure you get all the iconic photos you want and more!
Ever since I saw a photo of Cartagena I instantly knew I wanted to go. There’s cobblestone streets, colorful colonial buildings dripping with bougainvillea, historic stone archways, and impressively detailed doors. And plus, there’s cheesy, melt-in-your-mouth arepas and allll the freshest fruit you could want.
If you have a thing for colorful cities and destinations (like say, Austin, Guatape, Sayulita, Nashville, Salvation Mountain, etc), you’re gonna love Cartagena. I just know it!
While I love that you’re looking for specific Cartagena photo spots, trust me when I say the ENTIRE city is one big instagram feed waiting to happen. It’s impossible to take note of every single colorful door or fruit stand. That’s the beauty of Cartagena – you really never know what you’re gonna find!
Read Next: My Full Guide to Cartagena (including things to do, where to stay, where to eat, and SO much more…literally everything you need to know to plan your trip!)
So of course, keep on reading my list of instagrammable spots in Cartagena, but just realize you’ll easily find plenty of your own while you’re there! The Walled City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for a reason, so bring along your camera and girlfriends and plan on a few too many photo shoots.
Love photographing the spots you visit? Same here! I’ve got quite a few photo guides to other destinations I’ve been to, including San Francisco, Austin, San Diego, Oahu, Mexico City, and London! Check those out if you’ve got travel plans – how fun!
So…. With that being said, here’s a whole bunch of photo spots in Cartagena – from the city’s most gorgeous rooftop pools, colorful streets and homes, restaurants/bars/coffee shops, and of course those famous Cartagena icons! My favorite instagram spots in Cartagena, coming right up!
Cartagena Photo Spots Tips
But first, a few things to keep in mind when photographing Cartagena:
1. Be aware of harsh lighting: Shoot early in the day, on a cloudy day, or an hour before sunset for your best chance of photos without those nasty shadows. Sometimes it’ll be inevitable (we randomly found the most charming doors/buildings at all times of day), but I made sure to get out early for particular spots I really wanted to see/photograph!
Plus, if you get out early, you’ll get to see the city waking up and coming to life, as well as beat the disgusting heat and humidity. I complained about it way too much in my full guide to Cartagena.
2. Bring a wide-angle lens: A lot of the streets in Cartagena are pretty narrow, so if you’re trying to photograph a particular door/building from head-on, it’ll be tough to capture most of its beauty without a wide-angle lens. My phone worked perfectly fine, just something to keep in mind if you’re using a DSLR and don’t have something as wide.
3. Be extra careful: Of yourself and your belongings. A lot of these photo spots in Cartagena are right on the street — With cars and people and horses and street carts and everything in between. Watch out and never turn your back to the street! Another benefit of getting out early – there’ll be less cars (and less people) blocking your shot!
4. Be mindful of your stuff: Using a tripod will be pretty tricky, so just something to keep in mind (thankfully my husband tolerated my aggressive photo taking – thanks babe!). With that being said, if you have additional bags (and/or don’t want your tote bags in your photos), I’d give them to a friend to hold instead of leaving them on the ground.
We felt safe in Cartagena, but petty crimes still do happen – don’t make yourself an easy target.
5. Never photograph children: You’ll undoubtedly see lots of kids out and about, playing in the streets and in the plazas. While these make for awesome street photography opportunities,they’re not worth the risk.
Unless you specifically ask their parents, I would steer clear of photographing kids (unless they’re super far away and you can’t see their face). This is just safe practice anyways, for everywhere you go. Keep the kids safe!
6. Wander! While I’m doing my absolute best to include all my favorite places in Cartagena to take photos, half the fun of it is just wandering around and coming across colorful buildings and houses. You never know what you’ll find – spend a morning just wandering and I bet you’ll find oh so much unexpected beauty!
And now finally, my favorite instagram spots in Cartagena!
Icons of Cartagena
Every city’s got its icons, and Cartagena is no exception! From the castles and walls where pirates were fought off to the famous Santa Catalina Cathedral and clock tower, there’s no shortage of epic photo spots in Cartagena!
1. Iconic Cathedral Santa Catalina on Calle de Don Sancho
You can’t visit Cartagena and not visit Santa Catalina Cathedral – it’s one of the most recognizable buildings in the entire city! And magnificent it is, with a black and white marble floor, limestone exterior, and the original baroque 18th-century gilded altar. And it’s by far one of the best photo spots in Cartagena!
In order to get the coveted shot with the cathedral in the background, you’ll wanna stand a few blocks away from the cathedral itself on Calle de Don Sancho. Stand in the street and be patient!
Tip: Plan to head here early if you don’t want bypassers in your photos – this is a busy, popular street! While the road is typically open to cars (and trucks!), it’s sometimes closed off so you may just get lucky!
2. Fruit carts
You’ll find fruit carts all around the city, literally overflowing with all the fruits you can imagine. Think yummy mangos, bright red watermelon slices, ripe granadillas (a sweeter version of a passionfruit – our new obsession), uchuvas (a south american cherry we couldn’t get enough of), papaya, and so much more.
You can also buy fresh coconuts and watch the vendors slice them open to drink. What’s more Caribbean than wandering around town with a coco in hand?!
Do note that while most street vendors don’t mind you taking photos of their fruit carts, do NOT even attempt to photograph the Palenqueras or their fruit (Afro-Colombian ladies in bright colorful dresses balancing bowls of fruit on their heads) – I basically got shooed away trying to take a photo of a perfect looking mangosteen.
3. San Felipe Castle
Feel like wandering around a real life castle?! You need to head over to Castillo San Felipe de Barajas! It’s by far the greatest fortress ever built by the Spaniards, completed way back in 1536.
Why?! To protect the city from attacks for over 400 years (remember – pirates tried to invade Cartagena plenty of times). And the castle makes for one of the best Cartagena instagram spots! Don’t miss a shot in one of the tunnels, with the huge Colombian flag at the top, and of the view from the fortress!
A word of advice – bring water! It’s only a short hike to the top, but in that intense heat and humidity, you don’t wanna get dehydrated.
4. El Portal De Los Dulces
Translating to The Portal of Sweets, you know this place is gonna be muy delicioso! No, it’s not your typical candy shop like you’re probably used to, but here you’ll find traditional Colombian sweets. It’s basically one big candy market just bursting with color and vendors.
Take some different types of shots – up close to the sweets, the yellow arches from afar, with the vendors selling them (ask to photograph them first), etc. I couldn’t get over just how colorful the candies are – so fun to photograph!
We bought a small box for 5 COP (~1.50USD) to try some of them. Spoiler alert, they weren’t our absolute favorite, but still fun to try nonetheless!
5. Walls at Sunset
Sunsets in Cartagena are legendary. If you’re lucky to catch a few good ones (it was unfortunately a bit hazy during our visit), you’ll be blown away by the colors. And the city walls are one of the best places in Cartagena to watch (and photograph!) the sunset!
If you wanna join in on the party, head to Cafe del Mar for an overpriced drink (yes, it’s pretty touristy and crowded), or buy a few beers from the street vendors right on the walls. We had fun taking photos of not only the sunset, but the stone fortifications also!
6. Clock Tower
Also known as the Monumento Torre del Reloj in Spanish, the yellow clock tower is one of the best photo spots in Cartagena. It’s actually the main city gate of Cartagena, and the original entrance to the fortified city!
Being quite tall, you’ll see it from around town depending where you are. It might even be one of the most famous landmarks in all of Colombia! We got great views of the clock tower at sunset one night from the rooftop of the Mirador Gastro Bar.
Pretty, Colorful Streets in Centro/San Diego
If you’re looking for some of the ABSOLUTE best photo spots in Cartagena, the colorful streets in the Centro and San Diego neighborhoods will be your favorite – promise you that! I could have wandered around for hours just shooting… but alas, I don’t think the husband would have appreciated that.
You’ll see charming, old wooden doors, crazy tall doors, and doors in every color imaginable – light teal doors, hot pink doors, bright yellow doors, etc, etc, etc. My favorites were those with contrasting colors between the doors and buildings – how fun!
And if you’ve got a contrasting colored outfit on, you’ll really pop! Although leave your dark clothing (especially black) at home! You’re in the Caribbean damnit – have some fun with your clothing! Just make sure they’re light and breathable! That sun is like no other.
While you’re looking for these photo spots in Cartagena, be sure to look out for the famous iguana door knockers! They were indicative of wealth and social status back in the day. How creative! We also saw owls, lions, sea snakes, and all kinds of mythical animals/creatures. I’d love a sea turtle door knocker on my front door.
Psst – as I noted above, I’m attempting to include all my favorite streets in the Walled City, but honestly, it’s really hard to keep track of exactly where each house/door is! Kinda like when I went crazy photographing the colorful doors in Palm Springs, haha. They all kinda blend together in my mind after a while!
But don’t fret – go for a wander and you’re bound to find PLENTY of bright, colorful buildings and doors! They’re all over! And look out for the pink bougainvillea and other greenery cascading down the buildings – it’s all so beautiful! Can you tell I can’t wait to go back?!
7. Calle de la Cochera del Hobo (Carrera 8)
Ohhh I loved this street so much! Tons and tons (and tons) of color, this charming street with pink bougainvilleas was probably one of my favorites.
Walk down a bit and you’ll see a huge Colombian flag, probably some Palenqueras with fruit baskets, balconies with bougainvillea, and some street vendors selling authentic Colombian woven bags. It’s quite long, and if you keep walking, you’ll end up right at the Caribbean Sea.
8. Bright Pink House on Calle 38
Just look at those colors! A punchy watermelon pink building with the prettiest teal door ever. How could you not swoon over it? And with all that greenery cascading down? So gorgeous! It even has a lion door knocker!
I’d seen this photo on IG before, and after a little digging around, I figured out it was right near Carmen. Basically one block down. Put Carmen Cartagena into your GPS and you’ll find it no problem, but if for whatever reason you can’t, here’s the exact address: Cl. 38 #8-78. You’re welcome. 🙂
9. Carrera 9
Another one of the prettiest streets in the city, and by far one of the best areas if you’re looking for Cartagena instagram spots! Talk about an absolute dream – there’s a house of every single color imaginable.
A light blue building with the brightest pink door and window covers, a muted pink building with the most gorgeous greenery cascading down, vines hanging down between a yellow and baby pink building. All so perfect.
Psst – if you put in La Pepita or La Diva you’ll find this street and all its color super easily, wink wink.
10. Calle del Candilejo
Okay, so you won’t find the colorful buildings and metal door knockers here, but I couldn’t leave this street out! It’s right by Pan de pono (which you need to try – both the pandebono and guava pastry), and the curve of the street is so pretty to photograph!
The buildings are more of a muted pastel, and I found the architecture of these historic buildings to be so charming – exactly what Cartagena is like.
Instagrammable Hotels and Pools
Before researching where to stay in Cartagena, I didn’t have a clue as to how many charming pools are in this little city. I guess that makes sense – that midday sun will get you, and cooling off in the pool is one way to beat the heat. Many hotels are restored historic mansions, and this just keeps with the authentic theme of the city.
11. Ananda Boutique Hotel
This is where we stayed the majority of the time, and we absolutely LOVED our stay here. And no, I didn’t choose this spot because I knew it’d be one of the best Cartagena instagram spots, haha.
While you won’t be able to explore every nook and cranny if you aren’t a guest, you can stop by for lunch (and sneak a quick glimpse of the courtyard pool).
I couldn’t believe all the details of the space – the colorful colonial breakfast area, water spouting from the rustic fountain at the pool, beautiful wooden beams and architectural features, balconies with overflowing flowers cascading down, and a colorful, rooftop pool area (yes, there’s two pools here!). So Cartagena!
12. Casa San Agustin
Ohhhh, Casa San Agustin. If you’re gonna splurge on one hotel during your time in Colombia, this is THE place to do it. This gorgeous hotel is considered the best 5 star hotel in all of Cartagena, easily.
We came here for lunch one day, and although we could only see small glimpses of the hotel, it’s the real deal, folks. There’s so much greenery it low-key feels like you’re loungin’ in a super posh jungle-scape. It’s exquisite and contemporary and historic all at once.
Definitely on my hotel bucket list, and I’ll be making sure to spend at least a night here if my budget allows in the future (it’s typically $500/night or so).
13. Nacar Cartagena
One of the more modern hotels and pools we saw in the area, and I couldn’t get enough of that swoon-worthy rooftop pool! The fact that it was super quiet sure helped a lot.
A few of my favorite photo spots: of course underneath the sunbeds at the stunning rooftop pool, at Freso, the in-house breakfast restaurant with its banana leaf wallpaper and punchy striped seats, the brick and stone archways, views from the top floor, the perfectly arranged mirrors in the entrance, and the cute little tuk tuk with strings of flower pots hanging down.
14. Hotel Casa La Factoria
We randomly stumbled into Casa La Factoria when something in the attached restaurant caught my eye. And in I went! With its black and white checkered floor, rattan chairs, and spectacular chandeliers, this is easily one of the best photo spots in Cartagena.
But that double-stoned archway near the pool is really something! If you choose to stay at La Factoria, promise me you’ll take an epic photo in the pool. Dare I say it — but this photo may be just as grand as a photo in the pool at Casa San Agustin?!
15. Movich Hotel
Hotel Movich is easily the best spot in town for sunset! Aim to get there around an hour or so before the sun goes down, as this spot gets crowded, and for good reason. The views are absolutely to die for. The terrace overlooks not only the iconic Santa Ana Cathedral, but the church of San Pedro Claver as well.
Plus, there’s the modern skyscrapers of Bocagrande behind it all. Views from every angle – I promise! Take photos of your drinks against the pastel sky, overlooking the Cartagena skyline, and of the pool with a view (next time I wanna get a day pass!). I really wanted a photo of me further away down by the pool bed but it was crowded and I couldn’t get my shot. Just luck of the draw, unfortunately.
Do note Hotel Movich is super popular for private parties (people get married here, the views are that good!), so I suggest heading there on your first night to find out when the rooftop will be open to the public.
Walking around Getsemani, you’ll instantly see why this neighborhood is one of the most instagrammable spots in Cartagena! And Cartagena photo spots there are – all around Getsemani! It’s grittier and grungier than the Walled City, with its own charm and authenticity. You’ll undoubtedly come across plenty of insta-worthy streets and cafes just wandering around, but I’m sharing the most popular!
Psst – a little backstory. Getsemani was considered a highly dangerous area back in the early 2000s, but it’s since been completely transformed. There’s now hip hotels and artsy cafés, and we felt completely safe walking around during the day.
But of course this gentrification is both a blessing and a curse – local eateries are changing into trendy restaurants, and family-run hostels are closing with boutique hotels opening up. Just wanted to give you a little context with hopes that you’ll support the family-run businesses here.
16. Calle Tripita y Media
You’ll definitely come across Calle Tripita y Media on your wander around Getsemani — it’s the neighborhoods’ main street after all. Expect lots of fluttering flags (in both the colors of the Colombian flag as well as others), street vendors, and restaurants lining the side.
Snap a selfie and be sure to try a Kola Roman — a soft drink created right here in Cartagena! It’s crazy sweet so you’ll probably wanna share a bottle (we could only take a few sips each before the sugar rush happened).
17. Murals of Getsemani
There’s no shortage of murals around here — each one more colorful than the last! Take a stroll around the Getsemani neighborhood and you’ll find a whole bunch. The neighborhood is known for its vibrant and striking street art after all. Created by both local and international artists, these murals/graffiti pieces are full of energy and life.
The first murals appeared on Calle Sierpe, but now you can find them all over town! And they’ve got a lot of deep meaning — You can learn about the history of the neighborhood just by looking at its street art!
A few of the most popular pieces of the street art you’ll find around town are:
- María Mulata (the official bird of Cartagena de Indias) in Plaza de la Santísima Trinidad by artist Yurika
- Palenqueras, you’ll find several murals in Getsemani depicting these strong woman selling fruit
- Infectious Smile (a portrait of a grinning Afro-Colombian woman) on Calle de la Sierpe, by artist DEXS
- The Three Warriors (3 portraits of the same woman) by artist Fin DAC
Street art is so huge here there’s even an annual Aerosol Street Art Festival in Getsemani held every February. Too bad we just missed the festival since we were visiting in April. Next time!
18. Callejón Angosto
Umbrella streets have been popping up all over the world, and Callejón Angosto in Getsemani is one of them! Just look at how colorful all the umbrellas are!
For the best shots, I recommend visiting either early morning or later on in the day to eliminate the nasty shadows and harsh lighting. I visited midday so did the best I could!
19. Calle de la Magdalena
Yup, there’s two umbrella streets in Cartagena, and Calle de la Magdalena is the second! These umbrellas are all purples, blues, and pinks – a gorgeous combination of colors.
Let’s just say I got a little snap happy, haha. Again, the lighting will be difficult midday with the umbrellas casting circular shadows on the ground, but it is what it is! Gorgeous nonetheless!
20. Plaza de la Trinidad/Restaurante Palenqueras
While the plaza itself is worthy of a few photos (ohhh the people watching is some of the best over here), I loved the building right across the street — Restaurante Palenqueras. I mean, just look at it!
A rainbow balcony with a gorgeous mural of a colonial lady with her colorful pink lips and leafy pink hair. I heard the inside is just as gorgeous and fun but I unfortunately never made it inside!
21. Calle de la Sierpe (Street of the Serpent)
World travelers – you’ll love this Cartagena photo spot! There’s flags hanging down from tons of countries around the world! Plus, all the street art on either side makes for some fun photos.
22. Calle de San Juan
This is the first street we stumbled upon in Getsemani, and couldn’t believe all the local artists selling colorful paintings along the street. It’s basically like an open air artist gallery, and get this — you can even purchase the art pieces. Hopefully you’ve got room in your suitcase (I unfortunately didn’t).
Calle de San Juan is quite edgy, with huge murals lining the walls and more paintings than you can imagine. I really couldn’t put my camera down, whoops! Don’t miss Cafe del Mural for some of the best rated coffee in Cartagena once you need a little break from the sun!
I’m a sucker for cute branding, drool-worthy dishes, and leafy-green patios – they’re all so fun to photograph! So when I realized just how many cute cafes and restaurants there were in Cartagena, I made time to check them out! And after visiting, I can say they are easily some of the most instagrammable spots in Cartagena. Plus, there’s food! So you know I’m there, haha.
23. Mirador Gastro Bar
Come here for epic views of the clock tower and plaza below. The vibe was super fun and our drinks were just perfect while waiting for the sun to set. Make sure to head up all the way to the roof, although the street-level bar looks pretty cool too!
Maybe have a cocktail at each?! Absolutely nothing wrong with that!
One of the best cafes in all of Cartagena, and it’s super pretty too! We randomly came to escape the midday heat and it was exceptionally busy! You’ll undoubtedly need to wait in line for a table, but everyone claims it’s worth it.
Ask to sit upstairs – you’ll get great views of the colonial buildings on the street below! And ohhhh the coffee! Yes please!
25. Buena Vida
Come for the food, stay for the atmosphere and pretty drinks. Not only is the food delicious, but the presentation of dishes (and even the plates themselves) are super colorful and fun! 100% one of the most instagrammable spots in Cartagena.
I mean, you can even sip a cocktail in a seashell (yes, a seashell!) on the roof (which typically opens at 3pm; reservation highly recommended)! Talk about instagrammable!
Have a leafy green lunch at Alma, one of our favorite meals we had in the city! Being inside the insta-popular Casa San Agustin Hotel, you know Alma makes it on the list of best photo spots in Cartagena. Obviously — the hotel is legendary and crazy photogenic, including its in-house restaurant!
Everything we ordered was delicious – lobster empanadas, avocado ceviche, grilled octopus, all of it! We were silly and ate outside (it was our first day in Cartagena and didn’t realize just how humid it was), but the courtyard was gorgeous. Sophisticated, posh, and upscale! Come early and grab a table by the pool!
Alma’s also open for dinner, but if it’s dark out you won’t get to appreciate the outdoor area in all its glory. And I always have trouble taking photos in low-lighting, so if you don’t have mad photography skills (or the right equipment) and still wanna photograph this place, come when it’s light out.
27. Restaurante La Mulata
Craving some authentic Caribbean seafood between knocking off all these photo spots in Cartagena?! Head on over to La Mulata — the food is simple with soulful flavors in a fun space!
28. Carmen Cartagena
By far the best meal of our trip – in all of Colombia. I’m not exaggerating. Every damn dish was pure perfection. I’m still talking about it to this day – I swear it rivals the tasting menus we’ve had in Mexico City, and that’s saying something since those are in the Top 50 restaurants!
While the food was seriously to-die-for, the space is super chic and timeless, set in an intimate colonial house. We chose to sit indoors (the AC was calling our name), but if you can tolerate the heat better than we can, the outdoor terrace is absolutely gorgeous. Expect tons of vine-covered palm trees and a fun tiled floor!
29. Abaco Libros y Cafe
If you’ve done any research while planning your trip, I bet you’ve come across Abaco! It’s one of the most instagrammable spots in Cartagena after all, and the coffee is delicious! It’s an old school bookstore, with titles in both Spanish and English, and the most GORGEOUS stone archway.
Plus, the books are literally stacked floor to ceiling – AND there’s a coffee bar inside! This was my husband’s favorite coffee shop in Cartagena (yes, we went to quite a few to escape the heat!). We even bought a bag of beans to bring home! And some for our friends too (yes, it was that good).
This charming little bookstore is located right near the iconic Cartagena cathedral, so make a pit stop here for some latte frios and photos!
30. Pink Dolphin
Such an unexpected find in the middle of the Walled City — Pink Dolphin looks like a posh bar you’d find in the middle of a modern city (like New York or San Francisco).
I loved the plush pink bar seating, dramatic black and white striped floor, leafy-green ceiling, and dreamy mood lighting. And oh yea, the drinks were pretty good too, so put this on your list of best Cartagena photo spots!
So there ya have it fam, my favorite photo spots in Cartagena! Which of these Cartagena instagram spots will you be visiting on your trip?!
I’m Daniele the Manager of Pink Dolphin Gastrobar! Thank You for adding us on Your list of the Best Instagram spots. We hope to have You back and browse our latest decorations!