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    Best things to do in Cartagena at night

    By Lesley Merchant

    April 8, 2021

    Best things to do in Cartagena at night

    Cartagena, the glittering gem of the Caribbean coast, is one of Colombia’s most exciting destinations. Known for its cobbled streets, colonial buildings, incredible museums and the iconic Old Town, Cartagena’s history is one of the major draw cards for tourists. But what about contemporary Cartagena? You might be surprised to know that the nightlife scene is utterly exhilarating. When you’ve had your fill of uncovering relics from the days of pirates and conquistadors, get ready for an evening you’ll never forget. 

    COVID-19 has caused nightlife to take a dip around the world, and Cartagena is no different. Many of the places mentioned below are temporarily closed, but, as we all know for sure, the world will go back to normal – it’s only a matter of time! Be sure to do some research into these places or activities before planning your trip, and check out Colombia’s COVID-19 guide for updated travel information. 

    The nightlife scene will be ready to welcome you soon, from crowded salsa clubs to laid-back bars, so here are the best things to do in Cartagena at night.

    Party like a local at Café Havana

    Party like a local at Café Havana

    Getsemani is the undisputed late-night hub of Cartagena, with some of the best nightclubs in the city lining its streets. But of all the drinking holes, dinner spots and vibrant local haunts drawing locals in droves, one of the must-see places is the famed Café Havana. Despite the name, this is not like any café you’re used to – it’s a swinging salsa club that stays open until 4 am. Excellent live music, an elegant bar, and quality cocktails make for fun that doesn’t seem to slow down, so spend a few hours dancing then head outside to one of the street food stalls for a late-night snack of grilled arepas.

    Dance the night away at a nightclub

    Dance the night away at a nightclub

    Just because you’re in Colombia doesn’t mean you have to stick to Latin American rhythms. If you want to get your groove on but the salsa hipwork is a bit too much, there are several places to go for more European-style genres and a different crowd. Located in the walled Old City (so you can squeeze in plenty of sightseeing on your way), Fragma is the city’s most popular electronic music venue, where house and techno music aficionados gather to dance until the early hours of the morning. Mister Babilla is another option for more modern music, so be sure to check either of these out if salsa clubs aren’t your scene.

    Explore historic neighborhoods

    Explore historic neighborhoods

    Things can get a little hot and stuffy if you’re spending your entire night indoors, so why not do some exploring of the city? It becomes even more charming at night, when soft lighting bathes the cobbled streets and street performers put on shows. Let the fresh air cool you down as you stroll under bougainvillea-laced balconies and admire the Spanish colonial homes, whose aura changes after dark. Your magical stroll will likely lead you to palm-fringed plazas with tables spilling out onto the street, so why not grab a drink or a bite to eat before taking a slow stroll back home?

    Take a boat trip by night

    Take a boat trip by night

    What sounds better than an evening cruise on the Caribbean? Sunset is the perfect excuse to see the city from a different perspective, so head to the harbor and hop on a boat for a two-hour cruise off the coast of Cartagena. Take in the skyline and the fresh sea breeze as you sail around the Bay of Cartagena de Indias, and enjoy a local snack or a drink. When you disembark, you’ll feel relaxed and ready to go – after all, the night is just beginning!

    Have a late-night dinner

    Have a late-night dinner

    Colombian cuisine is best enjoyed by after dark, and having a sit-down meal at one of the popular restaurants is one of the best things to do in Cartagena at night. Outdoor cafes and restaurants are ubiquitous – an excuse for locals to gather for some respite from the beating sun. Stroll along the streets, checking out the menus and choosing a dinner spot that appeals to you or, if you aren’t in the mood to hunt one down, head straight to El Arsenal: The Rum Box, a much-loved local haunt that doubles as a rum bar! Grab a seat outdoors, order one of the elevated Colombian classics on the menu (yuca fritters with chorizo, perhaps?), and end your meal with a chocolate and rum pairing.

    Fill up on street food

    Fill up on street food

    Not keen on a lengthy dinner? Opt for a street food feast instead. Buzzing with locals at any time of the day or night, the area becomes a stage for street food stalls as the sun sets, and some of your most memorable meals in Cartagena might just be eaten here! From green plantain patties (patacón con Todo) to butifarra sausages. You could easily spend several hours in this vibrant plaza, admiring street art, having a drink at a nearby bar, and sampling fantastic food.

    Head to a local bar

    Head to a local bar

    Housed in a centuries-old colonial building in the walled city is one of the most iconic bars in Cartagena: Alquímico. This isn’t your average drinking hole. Experimental liquor is the name of the game, and you’ll like taste creations you never have and never will again. The bar comprises three levels, ranging from a laid-back lounge, perfect for an aperitif, to a loud and crowded rooftop terrace for quirky cocktails. Join the city’s hip and trendy for drinks (and maybe a couple of tapas) at this local institution.

    Take a night trolley tour

    Take a night trolley tour

    Not in the mood to spend your night walking when you’ve already had a full day of exploring on foot? Understandable! And in that case, a trolley tour could be exactly what you’re looking for. See the city lit up from the deck of a quaint trolley trundling through the cobbled lanes of the city center. The tour takes you to some of the city’s famous attractions, lit up at night, for a sightseeing tour with a twist. A bit kitsch and gimmicky? Yes? But pure fun? Absolutely.

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