Cartagena is Colombia’s jewel on the Caribbean coast. The magical city enchants visitors with its colorful streets, historic charm, and tropical beauty. This coastal city is a destination that combines history, culture, and relaxation. It is important to determine the best time to visit Cartagena in order to best explore its magic.
Cartagena is a frequent southwestern port of call for cruise ships. It is worthy as its own destination. Let’s embark on a journey through the seasons and other factors to help you plan your visit to this Caribbean gem. With the information below you can find the best time to go to Cartagena for your dream vacation.
Best Time to Visit Cartagena Based on the Weather
Dry Season (December to March):
The dry season in Cartagena is the best time to experience the city’s pleasant weather. During these months, temperatures range from 75°F to 88°F (24°C to 31°C). Rainfall is minimal, and the skies are clear, offering plenty of sunshine for outdoor activities and beach visits.
Rainy Season (April to November):
Cartagena’s rainy season coincides with the low tourist season. The temperatures remain relatively consistent ranging from 77°F to 88°F (25°C to 31°C). Unfortunately, there is frequent and heavy rainfall. Afternoon showers and thunderstorms are frequent, and humidity levels rise. While the city remains vibrant, outdoor plans may be disrupted by the rain.
Best Time to Visit Cartagena Based on Prices and Crowds
High Tourist Season (December to March):
The dry season marks the high tourist season in Cartagena. Prices for accommodations, flights, and tours tend to be higher during this period. Popular attractions and beaches can become crowded, so booking in advance is recommended.
Low Tourist Season (April to November):
The rainy season ushers in the low tourist season, making it an ideal time for budget-conscious travelers. Accommodation and flight prices drop, and you’ll encounter fewer crowds at tourist sites. However, you should be prepared for occasional rain showers.
Discovering Cartagena’s Cultural Experiences
The local culture in Cartagena is a vibrant blend of Spanish, African, and Indigenous influences, reflected in its music, dance, cuisine, and festivals. Here are 10 of the more popular cultural experiences that occur annually in or around the city of Cartagena:
- Carnival de Barranquilla (February/March): Although not in Cartagena itself, the Carnival de Barranquilla, held in nearby Barranquilla, is one of the largest and most celebrated carnivals in Colombia. It typically takes place in February or March and features vibrant parades, traditional dances, elaborate costumes, and lively music.
- Hay Festival Cartagena (January/February): This international literary and arts festival usually occurs in late January to early February. It brings together renowned writers, artists, thinkers, and performers from around the world, offering a fascinating cultural experience.
- Cartagena International Film Festival (March): This annual film festival takes place in March and showcases a diverse selection of national and international films. It attracts filmmakers, actors, and cinema enthusiasts to the city.
- Independence Day Celebrations (July 20th): Cartagena goes all out for Colombia’s Independence Day on July 20th. Festivities include colorful parades, traditional dances, fireworks, and concerts, creating a patriotic and joyful atmosphere.
- Musical and Dance Performances (Throughout the Year): Throughout the year, Cartagena hosts various music and dance events that highlight the city’s cultural diversity. From salsa and cumbia to classical and folk performances, there are ongoing opportunities to enjoy the rhythm.
- Art Exhibitions (Year-Round): Local galleries and museums frequently host art exhibitions featuring contemporary and traditional Colombian art. These displays provide insight into the country’s evolving artistic landscape and can be enjoyed throughout the year.
- Gastronomic Festivals (Various Times): Cartagena offers a variety of food festivals celebrating Colombian cuisine. These events occur at various times and allow visitors to savor local dishes and delicacies while enjoying live music and cultural performances.
- Religious Festivals (Throughout the Year): Cartagena observes several religious festivals throughout the year, such as Holy Week (Semana Santa) during Easter. These events include religious processions, reenactments, and cultural traditions.
- Afro-Caribbean Celebrations (Various Times): Given Cartagena’s significant Afro-Caribbean influence, there are events that celebrate Afro-Colombian culture, including music, dance, and art festivals that happen at various times.
- Cultural Workshops and Classes (Year-Round): For a more immersive experience, you can participate in cultural workshops and classes, where you can learn traditional dance, music, or cooking. These opportunities are available year-round and allow you to take a piece of Cartagena’s culture home with you.
These annual cultural experiences offer visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the rich and diverse cultural tapestry of Cartagena and its surroundings at specific times of the year. Whether you’re interested in literature, film, music, dance, or culinary delights, Cartagena has something to offer throughout the calendar.
Exploring Cartagena’s Outdoor Experiences
Playa Blanca: This stunning beach is a must-visit, especially during the dry season. Crystal-clear waters, soft white sands, and water sports activities await beach enthusiasts.
Rosario Islands: Located just off the coast of Cartagena, these islands are perfect for snorkeling and diving. While you can visit year-round, the dry season offers the best underwater visibility.
San Felipe Castle: Explore this historic fortress during the dry season when you can comfortably walk along its walls and learn about the city’s past.
What Is the Best Time to Visit Cartagena and Why?
The best time to visit Cartagena is influenced by your personal interests. If you desire sunny days, beach outings, and vibrant outdoor experiences, the dry season from December to March is your target. During this period, you’ll enjoy pleasant weather and clear skies.
However, if you’re on a budget and don’t mind occasional rain showers, the rainy season from April to November offers more affordable options and fewer crowds at popular attractions.
In conclusion, Cartagena’s tropical allure beckons travelers year-round. Whether you’re exploring its historic streets, lounging on its beautiful beaches, or indulging in Caribbean cuisine, each season brings its unique charm to this coastal paradise. So, when is the best time to visit Cartagena? It’s a decision influenced by your preferences and the experiences you seek.
Experience the warmth of Cartagena’s dry season or embrace the tranquility of its rainy season—it’s a city that promises unforgettable memories.