Cartagena Nightlife - Best Bars and Nightclubs (2018)

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars)
Note: This Cartagena nightlife guide was written by my friend Sam who lived several years in Colombia. I invite you to read his other guide Medellin nightlife. Thibaud.

Cartagena is a coastal Carribean city, probably one of the most popular with foreigners in Colombia. You have a lot of backpackers, retirees, American cruise ship passengers, as well as local tourists.

The main attractions are the old town, with its Spanish colonial architecture, the beaches, and what will interest us here: the nightlife.

Nightlife in Cartagena has a fantastic Caribbean vibe, but there are a few things to pay attention to. Ripping off tourists is an art form in this city and all the unsavory characters come out at night here. You’ll need to be on the lookout for scammers, drug dealers, hookers masquerading as normal girls, and more. 

That’s where I come in! After spending 3 months in Cartagena, I know where to go and when. I hope my recommendations will help you enjoy some great parties in the city! Please don't hesitate to ask me questions in the comment section if something is not clear.


What to Expect at Night in Cartagena

Here are a few things to know when partying in Cartagena:

It’s Hot: This is a Caribbean beach city. It’s hot. Don’t bring your suits or even a blazer here. Cartagena is damn hot and you’ll be walking between venues. Dark jeans and a button-down shirt is all you need. 

Working Girls: There are more hookers in Cartagena than anywhere I’ve ever been. Don’t be surprised if the girl you’re chatting to turns out to be working at night. That’s just how it goes in Cartagena. 

Not Cheap: This is a touristic city. Prices are going to be inflated. I didn’t find drinking in Cartagena to be cheap. In fact, the prices were higher than almost anywhere else in Colombia. The average price for drinks in bars is 8$, and there is often a cover charge to pay to get into clubs (between 4$ and 10$).

When to Party: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday are usually dead. Things get better on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday and Saturday are the busiest. Don't visit clubs before 1AM, unless you want to get in for free (usually before midnight). 

Lots of Tourists: You’re guaranteed to see other foreigners out in the bars and clubs in Cartagena, especially in the colonial city and Bocagrande.

No Great Venues: There are a lot of fun places to party in Cartagena, but there’s no perfect place. I didn’t find a single place that was good even on weekend nights. My favorite bars and clubs where always hit and miss.

Is it safe to party in Cartagena? You shouldn’t have many safety issues when going out at night in Cartagena. The Old Town, Getsemani and Bocagrande are generally safe to walk around - even when stumbling drunk late at night. The only problems you’ll have is overpaying for everything and trying to determine if that sexy girl is a hooker or not.

Meeting Normal Girls
As a tourist, your best chance of meeting a Colombian girl in Cartagena is to prepare your trip in advance. It is called "pipelining", meaning you start chatting and video calling with different girls a few weeks before actually coming to the country. This allows you to bond with a few of them, gain their trust, and make things much easier once in Colombia.

The most recommended website for that is ColombianCupid. It has hundreds of girls online, most of which do not mind a long distance relationship with a foreign man. It also has some prostitutes, so make that clear from the beginning.

Tinder is another option, but based on my experience, it only works if you are young, handsome and living in Cartagena.

Best Hotels Near Cartagena Nightlife
If you want to be walking distance from 90% of the best clubs and bars in Cartagena, I recommend you to stay near the Torre Del Reloj (Clock Tower). As it turns out, this is also the best location for exploring the city's colonial district.

These hotels are recommended:
- 80$ per night: Casa Cordoba Roman
- 50$ per night: Hotel San Felipe
- 30$ per night: Hotel Luna Nueva

Best Bars and Clubs in Cartagena

Trendy bar on 3 levels (bar, restaurant, rooftop), it serves some of the best cocktails in town, mostly Rum-based (around 8-10$ each). Fun atmosphere, it is usually crowded from Thursday to Saturday starting 11PM. Tourist and expat crowd. Good for meeting normal girls at the bar on the 1st floor. Music can be Latin or more electronic.

If you like this kind of places, you may also want to check the restaurant-bar El Baron, which is just a few minutes away, walking distance. It is a smaller venue, perfect for cocktails before starting your night out.

Another famous club in Getsamani,  Mister Babilla is housed in an old colonial building. Similar to Andres Carne de Rey in Bogota: It's a restaurant with various bars and dance floor areas, and a mix of Latin hits (Merengue, Reggaeton, Salsa). Reasonable prices, cover charge of less than 4$. The atmosphere gets very festive, kind of carnivalesque, with a mix of tourists and locals. Some prostitutes work there.

Along the beachfront street Calle 24 in Getsemani, next to Mr. Babilla, there are many other nightclubs lined up one after the other. They are usually less touristy and cheaper than elsewhere. Some of them are Mojitos Cocktail BarD8 Club (LGBT, Gay-Friendly), Borracha VIPTaboo Disco ClubLa Santa (Techno), and La Farra Club.

Located in the Getsemani neighborhood, it is a famous and touristy salsa club with a typically Latin atmosphere. Bill and Hillary Clinton went there a few years ago on a trip to Cartagena. 10$ cover charge to get in. Crowded inside so book a table ahead if possible. Cuban music (mostly covers) from a live band starts after 11PM. Rather upmarket, so try to dress up a bit. Small dancefloor, usually packed.

On the same street as Havana, there are two more authentic salsa bars that you can try: Vueltabajero and Casa Quiebra Canto. A bit further away, Salsa Donde Fidel, next to the Hard Rock Café, and Crazy Salsa are also recommended.

One of the trendiest bars/clubs/restaurants in Cartagena, it is normally packed on weekends with a beautiful crowd. Dress up if you want to visit as it is not rare to be refused entry (unfortunately, blacks seems to have a harder time getting inside). Good for meeting girls. No prostitutes. Open from Wednesday to Saturday from 9PM. Latin house music. Serves Tapas.

Nearby, you can also visit Babar, which is similarly high end for Cartagena standards.

A high-end club owned by the same guy behind La Movida. The concept is similar: It is a multi-storied club with a rooftop and a central bar on the first floor. Different music on every level, from reggaeton to EDM. Chic crowd, mostly Colombian. Do not come wearing sandals or shorts. Prices are expensive (10-12$ for cocktails) and you may have to book a table to get in as a group.

This multi-storied rooftop bar is a large venue, filled with mostly tourists, both locals and foreigners. Nice views on the Torre del Reloj from there. You have to pay an entrance fee of 7$ to get in, and then the drinks are pretty expensive inside. On weekend nights, it can get annoyingly packed. Service was unfriendly. The music is different on both floors (Reggaeton in one, EDM in the other).

If you like Eivissa, you can also two more clubs nearby that are just 100 meters away: Tu Candela, a fun and colorful bar/restaurant, and VIP Club, a club with mostly Colombians.
Tucandela Bar
Also nearby, with the same view as Eivissa, you can find the Gastro Pub Mirador. It is more upmarket, perfect for having a few drinks before partying:
El Mirador Rooftop
This is the best club to hear Champeta music, a style specific to the area around Cartagena. They also play reggae and afro-beat music. Come after 11PM and you'll see a sweaty dancefloor with a mixed crowd of Colombians and tourists. The setting is not too sophisticated, but it looks authentic and colorful.

Misti-K Club
This is a relatively new nightclub, high-end, with a clean crowd of locals, expats and tourists. The music is a crossover of Latin, EDM, House and Reggaeton. Definitely, a place to watch!

Paraiso del Marino and Pley Club
Inside Pley Club
These two clubs are considered the most high-end bordellos in the city. They are located outside the tourist area (10 minutes away for Pley Club, 15 minutes away for Paraiso). I personally haven't been there, but if you are looking for striptease, erotic shows, private lapdances, or spending the night with a prostitute, they are the places.

Amazing views and Caribbean views in the Old Town. This is a great spot to have a few drinks to start the night off right. The food is decent, too. Not for partying, but more of a pregame place.

Partying Outside the Tourist Area
To experience authentic Cartagena nightlife, where zero tourists go, you should get out of Getsemani and try different neighborhoods. I recommend going within the vicinity of the Paseo de la Castellana. There, you will find several fun clubs such as Green Moon VIP Club, Tu Yeré, Las Palmas, Jamaica, or Di Caché. The music in those places is almost always "crossover", meaning a selection of popular Latino, Carribean, and House hits.

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