Best bars, rooftops & clubs in Cartagena, Colombia in 2020
Much like the array of food options in Cartagena old town and Getsemaní barrio, there are soooo many places to be considered for the best bars in Cartagena. We’ve broken them down into three categories – our favourite bars to get your night going, the best clubs in Cartagena to see in the wee hours of the morning and rooftops for spectacular city views and vibes all night long.
Once you’ve checked out the nightlife in Cartagena, Colombia, get the best out of your stay with these guides:
We absolutely love this place as a brilliant spot to start your night. It’s on the edge of Getsemaní so a short walk from either the old town or centre of Getsemaní barrio. The open air courtyard is inspired by the architecture and character of Cartagena, so you’ll find mock balconies on the walls, colourful umbrellas hanging above you, and incredible murals of key sights in the city. In our opinion, this is amongst the best bars in Cartagena for grabbing a cheap beer in a good atmosphere with decent deals on buckets – 7 for the price of 5. Whilst not an easily divisible number, it’s cheap enough to keep loading up, to the point we probably had a bucket each on our last visit!
If you’re looking for food too, there are some tasty options on El Patio’s menu, with everything from burgers to salads and sharing platters of mini empanadas. The staff are always chirpy in here and all recognised/greeted us when we returned. We actually went to this bar on its first night of opening ever, and it seems they are still finding their feet a few months on – although have had some pretty wild looking nights when they run events or have live music there. Alongside it, there are a couple of other nice (though pricier) options, too.
El Arsenal: The Rum Box
Another of the best bars in Cartagena to be located in Getsemaní, but still no more than 5 minutes’ walk from the Clock Tower in the old town, The Rum Box is a super cool establishment, which as you can probably guess, specialises in… RUM! A good array of rum-based cocktails and mixers as well as a complementary rum with any order, makes this a good spot to hit up to try some of the region’s best rum. If you’re feeling adventurous – or stupid – they even have rum vaporizer shots, the making of which comprises of all sorts of kit, including a bike pump, tubes, beakers, blowtorches and cinnamon. It really is as horrendous as it sounds, as you inhale the fumes of burning cinnamon & rum followed by a chaser shot of the stuff. Still, it’s fairly amusing to seeing someone else do it, and we felt blessed to have the pleasure of watching Andy’s 60-year-old step-Dad hold back tears as he took on the challenge… It did not disappoint!
On a street bustling with high-end options for drinks and cocktails in Cartagena’s walled city, Alquimico is an excellent choice for something a bit more special. They have multiple floors, each with a different atmosphere, and deal with some impressive-looking kit for their cocktail-making. Alquimico offers a great selection of premium spirits, poured by a disproportionate number of good-looking staff. They do also have a pretty decent rooftop, although we feel it is outdone by the bar on the other side of the road (La Jugada, which we’ll talk about in the best rooftops in Cartagena section), so we’d probably recommend the vibe inside more so than the rooftop at Alquimico.
You may have already heard of Donde Fidel as one of the best bars in Cartagena for salsa, and you’d be right to think so. This tight space is used night in, night out for dancers to twirl the hours away. If salsa (or at least dancing it) isn’t your thing, they also have a huge outdoor space on the edge of the Clock Tower main square where you can sit and enjoy a beer, soaking in the atmosphere of the buzzing plaza and have a cheeky peek in at some of the salsa dancing inside, without having to get too involved. This area is also popular with street mimes, so keep on your toes when walking by or expect to be entertained as the mime mocks passers by for a good few mins before collecting tips from the crowds (we’re not usually fans of this stuff, but their routines are pretty entertaining). The drink options are fairly basic here compared to some of the other best bars in Cartagena, but a reasonably priced national beer and seat out in the square is a lovely way to kick-off or end your evening in the walled city.
The Clock Pub
Whilst we’re still not entirely sure if they are trying to impersonate an Irish Pub or an English pub – perhaps a fusion of the two – this is an ideally-located bar on the Clock Tower main square of the walled city, and is without doubt the best spot in Cartagena to watch football (or sports in general). There is a great selection of beers on offer, and a discount if you stay at The Clock Hostel (one of our highly recommended hostels in Cartagena). The food here is also pretty amazing: classic gastro-pub grub, with burgers, salads, chicken strips and much more – but most importantly The Clock Pub is home to the greatest plate of nachos we’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. BBQ pulled pork, refried beans, cheese, piles of guacamole and pico de gallo; definitely worth trying. Priced at around 50k COP, the nachos will comfortably fill two people for a lunch or light dinner. The coconut chicken strips with oriental fried rice are also highly recommended here. This is a decent choice for casual beers from lunchtime onwards and is always busy late on, too.
La Fantastic Pirate Ship
Teetering between the amazing and the ridiculous, La Fantastica is a pirate ship that sails from Cartagena’s Muelle de los Pegasos pier at 5pm and takes you on a 2 hour sail around the bay, complete with an open pirate punch bar. Try something a little more out of the box for your time in Colombia! You can reserve your spot on the pirate ship here.
Best rooftop bars in Cartagena
Café del Mar
Though more of a wall-top than rooftop, we can’t leave this place out based on a mere technicality. Café del Mar is an awesome spot to watch the sun go down, as the crowds gather on the western side of the city walls for sunset over the Caribbean Sea. As it has such a great reputation as one of the best bars in Cartagena for sunset, Café del Mar tends to fill up pretty quickly, so if you want to get a good seat, we’d recommend getting there hours ahead of time. If you don’t make it early enough to get a table at the official bar, our top tip here would be to actually perch up on the wall edge outside it, grab a beer off a street vendor and roam around amongst the cannons on the wall of this historic city, enjoying the views without being confined to an establishment (who will charge you significantly more than the street beer vendor!).
La Jugada Club House
This place oozes cool. Located just opposite Alquimico, La Jugada Club House is another exclusive-feeling bar with various levels to it. It makes our list here, however, for its incredibly cool rooftop. Think neon flamingos everywhere, quirky décor and excellent cocktails- this is place is a must visit. It can get pretty busy on weekends so one to get to early or even arrange a reservation at.
Also making an appearance mentioned in the best clubs of Cartagena section of this blog post, it felt rude to leave out what is in fact a very cool rooftop in Cartagena, where you can grab a beer and watch the world go by in the Clock Tower square. We’ll talk about it in more detail as a club below!
Another of the best bars in Cartagena located on the edge of the Clock Tower square; this much larger rooftop has more of a lively club vibe than some of the others and is an equally good place to start or end your night with some nice city views and a beer/cocktail in hand. There is no cover charge or entry fee here, but drinks prices are pretty steep to make up for it. To find this bar, you’ll need to go under the arches that are directly opposite the clocktower. About a third along this passageway, you’ll see a small door with a sign for ‘El Mirador Gastropub’. Up the steps you go to one of Cartagena’s best rooftop bars! Apologies for the truly shite picture; we’re usually already quite tiddled by the time we get up here:
Best clubs in Cartagena
If you find yourself in The Clock Pub for some early evening drinks, you haven’t got to travel too far to find Eivissa – it is part of the same building with the entrance round the side (to the right as you are looking at The Clock Pub). This club enjoys the top two floors, whereas the Clock Pub operates on the first two. Probably the main draw of Eivissa is the stunning rooftop, with great views of the Clock Tower square and over the walls to the water. If you’re in a livelier mood – normally one for a little later in the night, the floor below the rooftop has much more of a traditional club vibe to it – blazing out reggaeton and other Latin music, with a small balcony smoking area also. Drinks aren’t the cheapest in Eivissa, but not any more than most of the options you’d find in the walled city. Cartagena is in a bubble of its own and is noticeably more expensive than the rest of Colombia due to the pull it has for international tourists. The good thing about Eivissa is there are regularly promo staff coming round to the main hostels offering free entry and a free drink on arrival if you get there before midnight, so it’s a good spot to hit with a large hostel crowd and some good savings on entry.
Bazurto Social Club
Admittedly we haven’t managed to make it here – it wasn’t open the last time we tried – but Bazurto Social club gets rave reviews from a few people we know that have been and most blogs you’d find on the best bars & clubs in Cartagena. This is a far less touristic and very much local-feeling establishment, and far more Caribbean-vibed than you get at the more fancy places in the walled city. Be prepared for a slightly more rustic feel than most and some serious dance moves.
Café Havana is definitely one of the coolest nightlife spots in Cartagena – but also up there with the most expensive. This is a very exclusive-feeling club on the edge of Getsemaní (not far from El Patio) and is famous for salsa. So much so, that it’s been visited by a number of famous names who have come to Cartagena. Though officially 30k COP, cost of entry seemed pretty flexible here, to be honest; the more in your group the greater negotiating power you have and they quite often would allow females in free if part of a larger group. Last time we went, beers were in the region of 15k COP with spirit mixers and cocktails in the 20s and 30s. The traditional style and live music in here makes it a great place to soak up some real authentic feeling Colombian vibes.
Another Getsemaní located bar-turned-club is Mister Babilla. It’s on the same street as the Rum Box and several other good options for places to eat and drink, and is just behind some big hostels such as Selina. Far from the classy nature of somewhere like Café Havana (more neon lights, less grand piano), this is a little more rough and ready with a typically younger crowd than you’d find in Havana. Mister Babilla has some pretty good (and seemingly never-ending) happy hour deals, and it’s a popular place to go as a hostel group. However, it’s a huge place, so it never tended to feel overly busy. A decent option for something a little more affordable and rowdier than you tend to find within the walled city!
The Colombian Chiva
Walking around the main roads of Getsemaní of a night-time, it’s unlikely that you’ll miss catching sight of a Colombian Chiva. These are old buses or trucks that have been decked out with windowless wooden frames to create a party bus, usually painted in the colours of the Colombian flag. Their only purpose is to drive their passengers in circles while they drink and party to blaring music on the chiva. Don’t miss signing yourself up for this hilarious Colombian experience; this one will also get you entry and a cocktail in a Cartagena club afterwards!
So there you have it, the best rooftops, clubs & bars in Cartagena! If you’re still undecided as to whether or not to visit Cartagena, Colombia, let’s see if our vlog of our time in Cartagena and Isla Barú can convince you:
Got any additions to the best bars in Cartagena? Let us know in the comments!
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