Why Cartagena is Great Choice for Incentive Travel
Colombia has become one of the hottest destinations for adventurous travellers as well as corporate groups in recent years, with its rich culture, history, and exotic beauty. At the heart of any Colombian travel itinerary is the picturesque colonial gem of Cartagena, with its fairy-tale like features and perfectly preserved beauty.
With a surplus of activity options, hotel locations and an extremely walk-able city to explore, Cartagena should be at the top of your list when it comes to selecting a destination for your next incentive! We might be a little biased since we recently planned a trip for a group of hard-working top performers. Take a look at the full trip recap below before diving into the rest of the details!
Cartagena At A Glance
Established as a strategic trading post in the early 16th century, an impressive 8 miles of the original stone walls still enclose Cartagena's Old Town. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, “Old Town in Spanish” is a maze of cobbled alleys, ivy-covered balconies, and stunning church domes that cast shadows over lush and lively plazas.
There's no need for a sightseeing plan here, simply step outside your hotel and get lost taking in the sights and sounds of life in this charming city. Narrow streets and bougainvillea draped balconies spill into open plazas, where you will find a harmonious convergence of world class restaurants, bordered by palm trees and dotted with monuments to a bygone time.
--- You'll definitely want to stop regularly to cool off from the heat with a Café Helado (Iced Coffee) and watch people pass by. Holding its own against Brazil's Ouro Preto and Peru's Cuzco for the continent's most enthralling and impressively preserved colonial city, Cartagena is hard to walk away from – but an unforgettable experience to walk in!
When to Visit
As with most Latin American cities, you'll likely want to avoid visiting in the summer months due to the high humidity. Speaking from experience, October is when you will find the most rainfall, making November to May (?) the ideal travel time.
Is Cartagena Safe?
Today's Cartagena (and Colombia in general) is almost unrecognizable to its notably dangerous past, with many locals now affirming Cartagena’s ranking among the safest destinations for both locals and tourists alike in Latin America.
Moniker’s Top Hotel Pick: Hotel Sofitel Santa Clara
One of the most iconic hotels in all of Latin America, the Sofitel Santa Clara is built within a converted 17th-century convent near the Caribbean Sea and within the walls of Cartagena's historic old town, surrounded by cobblestone streets.
This upscale hotel is a just minutes away by foot from all of the best restaurants and shops in town.With 123 elegant rooms blending colonial architecture and modern comforts, the hotel offers personalized service, gourmet cuisine as well as a casual eatery with French-Caribbean fare, a first-class spa, and a beautiful courtyard pool to cool off in after a day exploring the surrounding area.
Other Hotel to Consider: Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa
A perfect blend of historical grace and contemporary cool, striking a balance between vintage beauty to accommodate modernity in unique surroundings - the Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa is a luxury boutique 5 star hotel housed in a former Cloister in Cartagena's Old Town within the original colonial walls of the iconic fortress.
Relax in the sumptuous guest rooms, unwind in Cartagena’s most luxurious hotel spa then experience the magic of a Caribbean sunset over dinner in La Terrazza, one of the best restaurants in Cartagena.
Best Group Excursions in Cartagena
Sailing Trip to Islas Baru & Rosario
Escape Cartagena for the day and take a sightseeing cruise to Rosario Islands, which is a group of private islands off the coast of Cartagena. Enjoy a scenic catamaran sail through the turqoise Caribbean sea to the Islands with a cool tropical breeze.
Spend time relaxing on beaches and enjoy the beautiful array of natural flora and fauna by snorkeling or swimming with the dolphins. Relax and go for a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear waters before cruising back to Cartagena in the evening while you witness a stunning sunset as you leave the islands behind.
Exotic Fruit Market Tour & Cooking Class
Explore Colombia's diverse culinary palette in a guided tour through the Bazurto Fruit Market followed by a Colombian Cooking Workshop.The day will begin with the group venturing through the Bazurto Market, Cartagena's largest and busiest market. With its maze of colorful stalls, exotic foods, and local artisans, a professional guide will share with you the stories of each exotic ingredient.
Let Presenters sample an array of colourful and sometimes strange fruits and vegetables. Continue the authentic experience by choosing your favorites from the tour, and creating your own healthy concoction in a smoothie or cold-pressed juice, before participating in a cooking workshop to learn local recipes like how to make Arepas or Patacones. This experience is sure to leave you with a unique taste of Cartagena!
Be sure to spend time in the “Brooklyn" of Cartagena, just outside the city walls -- Getsemani. This neighborhood is an authentic local blend of hipster cafes, shops and stunning graffiti art installations. Escape the tourist overload of Old Town, take a 15 min walk and check out this up and coming neighborhood.