Sleeping in Airports

Cartagena Airport Layover Sightseeing

This article includes links to our travel partners at Tripadvisor, where you can read traveller reviews, book tours and plan your visit to Cartagena.

cartagena layover sightseeing
(photo credit: DroneDreams / Shutterstock)

Cartagena Airport (CTG) is less than seven kilometres from the city’s historic centre, so even a short layover can be used to explore this exciting city. One of the major ports on the Caribbean north coast of Colombia, the city has a rich maritime history and plenty of heritage sites to enjoy. From beaches and boat trips to excellent eateries and bars, you can pack lots into a stopover in Cartagena. Please keep reading for our sightseeing recommendations below!

Airport Overview

Cartagena Airport is open 24 hours a day and has free WiFi, so you can pass the time regardless of when you arrive. For more information on the airport, check out our Cartagena Airport Guide.

Cartagena Sightseeing Attractions

Below are a few of the top things to do in Cartagena:

The Old Town

Cartagena old town layover sightseeing
(photo credit: eskystudio / Shutterstock)

Encircled by a fort wall, the historic old town of Cartagena is brimming with beautiful Colonial architecture. Simply wandering around the cobbled streets is a joy, with every twist and turn seeming to offer another plaza, cathedral or café where you can sit and do a bit of people-watching. The Gold Museum and Naval Museum are worthwhile stops if you’re interested in the history of Cartagena. And last but not least, enjoy some of the wonderful food! Felice Pasta and Novo Kebab offer delicious budget-friendly options, but many high-end restaurants and bars are here, too.

  • Time required: You could spend anything from a couple of hours to a full day here, depending on whether you’re stopping to eat, how many museums you visit, your desired pace, etc.
  • How to get there: Check out this Google Map for details on transit options and the required time.
  • Plan your visit: Visit Tripadvisor for more information about visiting Cartagena Old Town, book a tour or read traveller reviews.

Rosario Islands boat trip

Rosario Islands layover sightseeing
(photo credit: saverion / Shutterstock )

If you’ve got the best part of a day spare, it’s worth considering a boat trip from Cartagena. The city is on the Caribbean coast, so a tropical paradise of clear turquoise waters is only a short boat ride away. There are varied options, with a full day to Rosario Islands being the most popular. Enjoy a social day aboard a catamaran, snorkelling in the Rosario and San Bernardo Corals National Natural Park.

  • Time required: These trips tend to be a full day, so this activity is for those with a more extended layover.
  • How to get there: Your tour operator will provide information about where to meet, but most excursions leave from La Bodeguita. Check out this Google Map for details on travelling here from the airport.
  • Plan your visit: Visit Tripadvisor for more information about boat excursions.

Castillo San Felipe

Castillo San Felipe layover sightseeing
(photo credit: Hugo Brizard – YouGoPhoto / Shutterstock)

This uniquely shaped castle sits atop a hill just a 20-minute walk from the old town. Tour the fortress and enjoy the impressive views of the city and ocean from up high. You can enter the underground tunnels here and walk up and around the walls. Tickets can be purchased on the day at the site.

  • Time required: One to two hours is sufficient for looking around the fortress. It’s an excellent activity to tag onto visiting the old town, which is within walking distance (or a short and cheap taxi ride).
  • How to get there: Check out this Google Map for details on public and private transit options and the required time.
  • Plan your visit: Visit Tripadvisor for more information about visiting Castillo San Felipe, plus recent traveller reviews.

Airport Transportation

CTG Airport is close to the city centre, so getting around will take little time. There are both public and private transit options available.

  • Bus: The T102 bus, operated by Transcaribe, runs from the airport to the city centre. For maps, timetables and live arrivals, check out Moovit.
  • Taxi: Given the airport’s proximity to the city centre, a taxi is the quickest and easiest option. There are certified taxis at the airport that don’t require pre-booking and shouldn’t be too expensive for the 15-minute journey.

Before You Go: Layover Tips

Now that you are motivated and excited about your mini layover vacation, check a few final logistical concerns off your list before you fully commit.

  • Do you need to organize a visa to leave the airport? Requirements change frequently and for each nationality, so be sure to seek out current details on the availability, cost, and procedures of obtaining a transit visa.
  • When is your next flight’s check-in time? Double-check with your airline exactly when you need to be at the airport – and plan your layover accordingly.
  • What are security wait times like at the airport? Some airports are notorious for extended security wait times, so research in advance and factor that into your overall time budget.
  • What’s happening with your luggage? When you check in to your first flight, confirm whether your luggage is checked through or needs to be picked up between your connecting flights. Visit our Cartagena Airport Guide for information about luggage storage.
  • Prepare for the environment – Cartagena is known for its intense heat and humidity. Walking at even a slow pace can feel like a sweaty workout! So ensure you wear sun protection, a hat and mosquito repellent for this layover.

Other Useful Resources

Finally, here are a few handy resources to help you plan your layover even more thoroughly: