Cartagena, Colombia is becoming one of the top destinations on many people’s bucket lists; with the beautiful beaches, incredible history, and epic nightlife, Cartagena is brimming with possibilities, adventure, and fun!
Many people assume that traveling as a solo female is risky, and although there are some extra precautions that need to be taken, with some simple tips, solo female travelers can have a unforgettable experience in Cartagena!
Plan before you leave
There are so many aspects of your trip you need to plan before you fly off to Cartagena, and that’s where we come in! Take a look at the following tips, and absorb everything you need.
Stay at a hostel
Staying in a hostel allows for the opportunity to make connections in this city; whether it’s with quick passerbys, long-time visitors, or Cartageneros who work for the hostel. It allows you easy access to finding others to exchange itinerary ideas and experiences with and even find friends to go on adventures.
Many hostels also have activities each day to encourage those staying in the hostel to meet other fellow travelers. Sometimes it can be difficult to spark a conversation with a stranger on your own, but it’s much easier to break the ice over a game of beer pong or while gathered to watch a local soccer match! Additionally, many of the hostels host parties and events to bring together locals and visitors alike. For example, MediaLuna in Getsemani has a rooftop dance party at night on the weekends (free for woman before midnight) and Republica hostels in the walled city has a free pool party every Sunday starting at 4 p.m.
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Couch-surfing is another increasingly popular and budget friendly way to travel. You can crash with a local or long-time expat and learn the true ins and outs of city. When couch surfing, there are a few common tips that are recommended: Be sure to do your research on the city and host. Ensure the profile is complete with their real name, photos that clearly show the person or persons, and complete descriptions. Always read the references of the host and travelers who stayed with them previously As a solo-female traveler, you may find it more comfortable to stay with a female host.
Remember to only book if you are feeling comfortable - discomfort is not worth the savings. Be aware of how much privacy you will be given where you will be sleeping. Again, be sure that you are comfortable with the available accommodations.
Be sure to get to know your potential host or other surfers prior to your arrival, but keep the communication within the Hangout application. Ask questions!
Be sure you will have your considered essentials - if you need wifi, be sure the host is willing give you access, if you like to cook, ensure you will be able to use the kitchen etc. Ask your host about safety and the ease of access to transportation in their neighborhood.
Stay in Getsemani or the Walled City
Most of the action in the city is centralized in both Getsemani and the Walled city. This means you can walk to nearly all the day and nightlife. Additionally, these areas are safe with a strong police presence both during the day and at night.
Travel with an Accredited Tour Company
Whether you’re taking a day trip or shuttle to popular Playa Blanca Barú, or you want to experience nearby Santa Marta or Tayrona Park be sure you are using an accredited and experienced tour company. (cof cof!)
These companies have a reputation to maintain and work hard to ensure your experience will leave them with great reviews. Additionally, they offer great prices for often private accommodations and allow you to book online in advance.
What are you weekend plans? We're thinking Kayaking on a tropical weekend getaway in style at Isla del Encanto in #RosarioIslands . . Já decidiu o que fazer no fim de semana? Nós estamos pensando em andar de #caiaque em um refúgio tropical com muito estilo na #IsladelEncanto, tá pronto pra ir com a gente?
Nightlife in Cartagena is New Orleans meets Vegas. It is almost guaranteed that you will have a great time.
Do the Chiva Party Bus! This is a budget-friendly, extremely fun way to meet some other people and enjoy the city before going to a local club. On your ride, you will mingle with other travelers and locals while you enjoy unlimited FREE rum. After about 2-hours of partying with your new friends, you will be brought to a popular club in Getsemani where your admission is covered.
Party on a rooftop! There are plenty of parties around the clock tower (Eivissa, the clock pub) and in Getsemani where the rooftop hosts a Dj and dance floor. This fun and breezy experience will leave you dancing till your heart's content!
Hang out in Plaza Trinidad! This area has become a popular area for tourists and backpackers to hang out. Enjoy some delicious street food and a local beer while sitting and chatting in the cool night breeze. Be conscious that your libation must remain in a bag and it is discouraged to sit on the church steps.
Negotiate! You’re a woman. They want you in the club. If there is a cover charge, try to negotiate the price especially by the clock tower.
Tinder and other Dating Apps
Tinder can be a fun and flirty way to meet other singles visiting or living in the area. If you pay for the service, you can even begin looking in Cartagena before arriving in the city. Make your tinder date once in a lifetime by meeting up to try an experience together. Head for a day at the nearby Beach club in Punta Arena. You can safely enjoy a great experience with the added bonus of a nice companion.
As with all dating sites, it is advised to only meet people in high traffic, public places.
Take a class
Into Salsa dancing? There are private and group lessons at bars such as Crazy Salsa in Centro for beginner to advanced. Step out of your comfort zone and into your Champeta or Salsa shoes.
Want to improve your Spanish? There are local teachers who can help you improve your Spanish skills no matter your level. Expect to pay between $35.000 - $70.000 pesos ($13-25 USD) per hour (2019 rates). Click here and here to see more info
Are you into Zumba? Between the amazing local music and unmatched dancing skills, THIS is where you need to get your Zumba on! Check out the free Zumba every Sunday in Plaza Trinidad (Getsemani) from 8-10 p.m.
Do Something you’ll never forget! Cartagena is one of those cities you will talk about for years and dream of coming back to - so why not make it even more unforgettable? Use your time here to do something you’ve always wanted to do like Scuba Diving in the Caribbean reef or Skydiving towards the northern coastline of South America.
Be conscious of your drinking. Cartagena is a city where you can party nearly all night, but drink responsibly.
When going to the beach, it is not recommended to bring your cell phone or other valuables. If you leave the common tourist areas, it is recommended to keep your cell phone and money on your person and not in your bag.
Uber or Indriver apps is recommended as you and your driver are tracked by GPS, however, they are not technically legal in Cartagena - when using the app, be aware that the driver will want you to sit in the front seat with them. Additionally, Uber will often take longer than catching a cab as there are cabs everywhere in Cartagena.
Whenever using a cab, negotiate a price prior to getting in the car. Whenever possible, ask your hostel staff the acceptable rate for where you want to travel.
Listen to your intuition - if something doesn’t settle with you, move on.
Have fun! This city is amazing and is filled with opportunities for every type of traveler. Have an open mind, talk to fellow travelers, expats, and locals and enjoy the the warm beach breeze, local friendly dance clubs, and wide variety of adventures.