Cartagena is a must-see destination and Colombia’s most visited city. People flock to check out the colonial architecture, beautiful beaches, delectable food, and wild nightlife here!
This community is the first autonomous slave colony in the Americas. They’ve preserved an exquisite indigenous lifestyle that has been integrated into contemporary society. Today, Cartagena has a distinct social scene and thriving arts and cultural sector.
Visitors swarm to the “Jewel of the Indies” to take advantage of the Caribbean temperature, stunning medieval Walled City, distinctive fusions of cultures, and neighboring beaches.
Tropical weather with rainy and dry seasons prevails in Cartagena. It’s a little taste of paradise in Colombia! You can maximize your stay by knowing the best time to visit Cartagena. We’ll explore that and more in our guide.
Overall Best Time to Visit Cartagena
The best time to visit Cartagena are during the months of December through April, the dry season. Although average annual highs hover around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the city’s tropical climate results in wildly varying amounts of precipitation across the four distinct seasons.
Cartagena experiences its summer during the dry season (December–April), which is also when the city sees the largest influx of tourists. It’s worth braving the crowds of tourists, though, because the winter months feature nearly constant precipitation and oppressive humidity that make outdoor activities unpleasant.
Daytime highs in the upper 80s and nighttime lows in the upper 70s characterize Cartagena’s summers when the city is flooded with tourists and sunshine.
During this time, rain is uncommon, though it is possible to experience a few showers at the start of December or the end of April. Visitors can take advantage of the city’s outdoor activities because of the reliable weather.
During summer, kayaking and paddle boarding are fun activities to try here. The kayak paddles will require some strength and skill to propel you through the water, but you don’t need countless hours of practice to master the sport.
Snorkeling is a great activity for people who want to see the underwater world but don’t want to dive too deeply. Don a mask, fins, and snorkel to experience the city in a new way. The islands of Bar, Tierrabomba, Rosario, and Bocachica are all suitable for this activity.
Cheapest Time to Visit Cartagena
The cheapest times to visit Cartagena are during in the shoulder seasons — late August through November and in May. Even though it is the rainy season in the highlands and along the coast, it rarely rains all day here.
You may have to switch your plans around to accommodate short-lived showers, but it’s very possible to enjoy time outdoors during the rainy season! Having fun in Cartagena during the rainy season isn’t hard.
It’s home to some of the world’s best festivals, historical sites, and great spots to eat in addition to those stunning beaches.
The homemade candies and Caribbean treats are a highlight of the Festival del Dulce, which takes place in March and April. That’s definitely a reason to look forward to trip planned during the cheaper shoulder season! Cartagena’s rains are quick to arrive and just as quick to leave.
After taking a break from the tropical sun to enjoy a leisurely lunch or explore the stunning Catholic churches of the Old City, you’ll find that the sun has dried up the rain while you were inside.
Keep in mind that it’s cheaper to fly during the week rather than on the weekend to make your trip even more cost-effective.
Least Busy Time to Visit Cartagena
The rainy season from May to mid-June and August to November is the least busy time to go to Cartagena. Prices for both attractions and lodging are typically reduced during the rainy, less busy off-season.
Go sometime in May through the middle of June, or from August through November. You’ll benefit from smaller crowds and better availability for flights and accommodations.
These are the wettest and hottest times of the year, so fewer tourists are clamoring to arrive at these times. For a relaxed, uncrowded stay, that’s ideal! Temperatures typically reach record highs before clouds roll in later in the day.
Additionally, the city frequently experiences tropical storms during these periods. There’s a brief rainy season in May, with an average rainfall of about 5 inches. This declines to about 4 inches in July and August. Rainfall rises to an estimated 9 inches in October during the height of the hurricane season.
Traditionally, Carnival takes place in February, during the four days preceding Lent. The partying is just as exciting and lively as the Caribbean carnivals. The cost of staying in a hotel naturally rises during this time, so keep that in mind.
Worst Time to Visit Cartagena
The worst time to visit Cartagena is during the busy tourist seasons – Carnival, Easter’s Holy Week, and mid-June through July.
February’s Carnival, Holy Week (March or April), and mid-June through July see a huge increase in tourist numbers. This drives prices up and restricts room and flight options, making them the worst times to go.
The dry months of December and January are followed by relatively wet months of June and July. This period gets an average rainfall of about 4 inches, which can add to the frustration of traveling at this time of year.
Meeting new individuals is easy and enjoyable throughout both busy seasons.
Locals will tell you that Cartagena’s nightlife is worth visiting the city for year-round, but note that it’s more relaxed than other Colombian towns. Since the worst times to visit Cartagena are peak travel seasons, expect higher prices wherever you go.
According to residents, the humidity levels in Cartagena tend to rise around Holy Week. Enjoying the city’s most well-known attractions might be challenging if you want to avoid large crowds.
Cartagena by Month: Climate & Activities
Still unsure about the best time to visit Cartagena? Take a look at our summary of the weather and climate by month below:
In January, summer temperatures in Cartagena range from 23 to 31°C (73-88°F). January is ideal for exploring the historic walled city, enjoying the beaches of Bocagrande, and participating in the lively celebrations of the Cartagena International Music Festival.
Similar to January, February maintains warm temperatures between 23 to 31°C (73-88°F). Visitors can enjoy boat trips to the Rosario Islands, explore the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas fortress, and experience the vibrant atmosphere during the Cartagena Carnival.
As spring begins, temperatures range from 24 to 31°C (75-88°F). March is perfect for strolling through the Getsemaní neighborhood’s street art, taking a horse-drawn carriage tour, and attending the Hay Festival of Literature and Arts.
Spring temperatures in Cartagena range from 25 to 32°C (77-90°F). It’s an ideal time for exploring the San Pedro Claver Church and Convent, enjoying seafood at local markets, and experiencing the Semana Santa (Holy Week) festivities.
May sees temperatures ranging from 26 to 32°C (79-90°F). It’s a great month for walking along the historic city walls, taking boat tours to the Islas del Rosario, and attending cultural events at the Teatro Heredia.
Summer arrives with temperatures between 26 to 32°C (79-90°F). June offers opportunities for relaxing on the Playa Blanca beach, exploring the vibrant street markets, and enjoying the local cuisine in the Old City.
July maintains warm temperatures from 26 to 32°C (79-90°F). It’s a popular month for exploring the Palace of the Inquisition, taking a sunset cruise in Cartagena Bay, and attending the Cartagena International Film Festival.
Temperatures in August range from 26 to 32°C (79-90°F). It’s an excellent time for visiting the San Felipe de Barajas Castle at sunset, exploring the Plaza Santo Domingo, and enjoying the diverse nightlife in Getsemaní.
As fall begins, temperatures range from 26 to 32°C (79-90°F). September offers a pleasant transition, with opportunities for exploring the La Popa Monastery, attending the Cartagena Fashion Week, and enjoying the beaches.
October sees temperatures ranging from 26 to 31°C (79-88°F). It’s a great month for exploring the Convento de la Popa, taking a city bike tour, and participating in cultural events at the Teatro Adolfo Mejía.
Fall temperatures range from 25 to 31°C (77-88°F). November is perfect for walking along the charming streets of Getsemaní, exploring the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, and attending the Cartagena Independence Day celebrations.
Winter returns with temperatures ranging from 24 to 31°C (75-88°F). December brings opportunities for holiday celebrations, enjoying the festive decorations in the Old City, and experiencing the Christmas and New Year’s festivities.
Frequently Asked Questions
Need more answers to start planning your perfect visit? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about visiting Cartagena.
What language is spoken in Cartagena?
Spanish is the official and main language spoken in Cartagena, but English is also widely spoken here.
It's worth brushing up on basic Spanish phrases or sticking to tourist destinations where people are most likely to speak English.
What currency is used in Cartagena?
The peso, sometimes shortened as COP, is Colombia's national currency. All prices in Colombia are denoted in dollars.
Can I use US dollars in Cartagena?
The dollar and the euro are accepted as currencies everywhere. Use caution while using credit or debit cards and always save your receipts.
It's best to use an ATM at a bank, grocery store, or other major commercial facilities during normal business hours.
Is tap water in Cartagena safe to drink?
Like other major towns in Colombia, Cartagena has safe drinking water straight from the tap. However, bottled and filtered water is readily available, inexpensive, and available anywhere if you're worried about the water.
Is Cartagena safe for tourists?
Cartagena is relatively safe for tourists. Those who stick to popular tourist locations like Old Town, Getsemani, and Bocagrande should feel completely secure in Cartagena.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Cartagena?
Visit Cartagena Colombia between December through April for the overall best travel experience. It’s the dry season, so the weather is incredible, sunny, and warm.
While the dry season is ideal, travel isn’t an issue here any time of year. Go during the rainy season in August through November or May to mid-June for cheaper prices and fewer crowds. You’ll have plenty of time to hang outdoors since the rain showers are short!
Try to skip traveling here during busy holidays, like Carnival in February, Holy Week in March or April, and July when summer tourists arrive. You’ll experience higher costs and less hotel and flight options during these times.
Whenever you decide to go, Cartagena is a warm and inviting city you shouldn’t miss. So, what are you waiting for? Get to know its history by exploring its many cultures and people today!