Make Cartagena Your Next Travel Destination

This vibrant city has become an international hotspot for style.

In-the-know travelers have been weekending in Cartagena, Colombia, for years but the style-set have only just recently put this colorful destination on the map. Maybe it’s because of its many Instagram-able backdrops or JetBlue’s easy-breezy direct flights or perhaps it’s because Colombia’s fashion talent is making it mainstream. Whatever it is, this stunning seaside escape should be your next weekend getaway.  When packing for your voyage, make sure to bring an empty suitcase because—aside from the gorgeous architecture, amateur street musicians and delicious eats—the shopping in this tiny town is beyond amazing. You’ll most likely stay in the charming old city with maybe a day trip (or overnight) to Las Islas de Rosario. While in the old town, here’s where to purchase accessories, clothing, home goods and more. 

Street Shopping

The narrow streets of the old city are lined with colorful, embellished hats, bright trinkets and woven Mochila bags made by the indigenous people of the Wayuu tribe. The fun bucket bags come in various sizes and color patterns and some small boutiques sell crystal-lined versions.

Before you buy, remember that everything is negotiable on the street. The best way to know how low you can go is to walk away at your lowest offer. If the vendor asks you to come back, you win. If he/she doesn’t, you know you went too low.

Practice those bartering skills at Las Bóvedas, a local market inside an arcade underneath old town’s famous city walls. This cultural gem houses small shops that are mostly filled with tacky knickknacks and touristy memorabilia. But if you spend some time treasure hunting, you’ll find amazingly priced, artisanal goods and handmade accessories that cost almost triple back home. Shop for beautiful woven bangles, white linen tops and dresses, and local artwork.

Woven Mochila bags

Boutique Shopping 

One of the most remarkable things about shopping in Cartagena is that there are very few international chains. In fact, local designers and area artisans are highly supported and boutiques here sell mostly Colombian-made goods.

Designers like Mercedes Salazar and Joanna Ortiz are now household names among in-the-know fashion types and you can shop both while in Cartagena. 

Salazar sells her famed statement earrings at her eponymous boutique, as well as at Casa Chiqui—a haven for highly-curated collections of jewelry, accessories, home goods and more.

Shop for Ortiz’s over-the-top, signature ruffles at St. Dom, a pricey but beyond-chic shop selling ready-to-wear and home goods.

Other retail favorites include Artesenias de Colombia, Casa Muiler, Laetitia, Agua y Leon and Azulu.

Local woman Cartagena, Colombia

Retail therapy: check, check, check. Here’s the rest of your weekend plan, simplified:

Accommodations: Oasis CollectionCasa Lola, Casa San Agustin, Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa

Dinner: La Vitrola, Don Juan and Maria

Cocktails: El Baron and Cafe Del Mar

Dancing and fun: Cafe Havana and La Movida

Erica Corsano
About the author

A self-proclaimed Jackie of all trades, Erica Corsano has her hand in many creative proje...