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The Best & Worst Times to Visit Cartagena in 2024

The Best & Worst Times to Visit Cartagena in 2024

What's the best time to visit Cartagena?

The best time to visit Cartagena is from December to April, the dry season offering ideal weather for exploring and participating in events like the Hay Festival and Barranquilla Carnival. This peak period attracts a diverse crowd, enhancing the city’s vibrant atmosphere. Despite the crowds, the pleasant climate makes it perfect for outdoor activities, festivals, and markets.

The beautiful Colombian city of Cartagena is one of the country’s most popular destinations, whether you’re looking for a city break or a beach vacation. The center of Cartagena is the perfectly preserved walled 16th century colonial city, one of the best in all of South America.

It’s also located right on the Caribbean Sea, so you can lounge on the beach near Bocagrande. Visitors also love the vibrant Caribbean culture with a diverse food scene and of course, lots of music and dancing.

You’ll find it hard to tear yourself away from the street party! There’s a lot to do in Cartagena, but its location on the coast means that it’s strongly affected by seasonal weather patterns. Read on to learn how to pick the right time to visit.

Overall Best Time to Visit Cartagena

City square showing the best time to visit Cartagena de Indias during the dry season

Luis Inacio P Prado/Shutterstock

The best time to visit Cartagena is during the Caribbean dry season, from December to April, when slightly cooler temperatures and less rain make it more pleasant to walk around.

This time also has some of the most popular events for visitors. Cartagena is located on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, giving it a tropical climate. That means that temperatures are consistently warm all year round, even in months that we may consider “winter” a bit further north, such as January.

Temperatures are usually in the 80s on the Fahrenheit scale no matter the month. The main difference between the seasons is in precipitation.

The dry season lasts from the beginning of December to the end of April. January, February, and March are the driest months of the year, with less than 5% chance of rain per day. The lack of rain brings other benefits, such as very little cloud coverage and relatively low humidity.

This is the best weather you’ll get all year for exploring. The relatively low humidity makes it more pleasant to walk around the streets of Cartagena.

It’s also ideal beach weather, and the perfect weather for excursions to the rest of Colombia’s Caribbean coast, such as the Rosario Islands. Conditions are great for swimming, kayaking, and other water-based activities. January is also excellent for surfing as it tends to be windy.

In the city itself, this is one of the busier times of year. Expect plenty of travelers but also more permanent visitors such as digital nomads.

If you want to meet other backpackers or travelers on your trip, this is the best time to visit since there are plenty of other people around. The dry season is also the peak season for festivals and events in Cartagena, from religious festivities to international events.

Some of the best events include:

Besides these organized events, expect more informal festivities including film screenings, street parties, and more.

Cheapest Time to Visit Cartagena

View of the Walled City during the cheapest time to visit Cartagena

Hakat/Shutterstock

The cheapest time to visit Cartagena is during the peak of the rainy season, from August to November, when there is less demand. Prices are lower during this period for a few reasons.

This is the height of the rainy season, which tends to chase tourists away since it’s not pristine beach weather. Plus, Colombian students are only on break in June and July, so there is less demand from families for travel and accommodation.

The result is lower hotel prices. In September, the least expensive time to visit Cartagena, you can find hotel rooms at rates discounted by 20-40%.

Just keep in mind that Cartagena is the most expensive city in Colombia, so even during the low season you shouldn’t expect prices as affordable as in other parts. This is also the best time to find discounts on flights to Cartagena.

September and October have the least expensive flights because not as many people want to visit Cartagena during this time. If you’re visiting another Colombian city first, this is also the most affordable time to visit the rest of the country and fly into other airports, such as Bogota.

Least Busy Time to Visit Cartagena

Aerial view of Islas de Rosario during the least busy time to visit Cartagena

R.M. Nunes/Shutterstock

The least busy times to visit Cartagena are May and the peak of the rainy season, from August to November. May functions as a mini shoulder season in Cartagena.

The dry season ends in April, and with it the people seeking pristine beach weather. However, the summer rush when families start traveling thanks to school break hasn’t started yet, so you can enjoy some peace and quiet.

Towards the end of August and into November, the rainy season along the Caribbean coast is at its peak, and kids have gone back to school. That means there are far fewer crowds around.

You will see a slight increase in visitors in October, which is when many students have break times, but this only lasts for a week or two. The lack of crowds makes this one of the best times to visit the Rosario Islands.

This popular vacation destination feels like a bit of a circus during peak season, with crowds blasting music from their speakers on the beach.

Visiting during the off-season means that you’ll get to experience nature without the distraction of other people. The islands don’t get much stormy weather, just gentle rain, so the seas are relatively gentle for sailing and snorkeling trips.

The lack of crowds in the city itself also makes it a lot more pleasant to walk around and get to know the atmosphere. Locals are more relaxed without the pressure of the tourist industry.

You will have to duck indoors every so often to get away from the rain, and there may be a few days when you have to adjust your plans due to the weather, but that’s easily done when you don’t have to wait in line for restaurant reservations—and when you know that you’ve saved a lot of money on your hotel.

Worst Time to Visit Cartagena

Aerial view of the city center showing the worst time to visit Cartagena

RONEDYA/Shutterstock

The worst time to visit Cartagena is during the height of the rainy season, from September to November, when the city becomes soaked in downpours.

The worst months weather-wise in Cartagena are August, September, and October. October is the rainiest month of the year, with nearly 16 days of rain on average.

The chances of the weather ruining your vacation are pretty high during this time. Cartagena is usually not affected by the Caribbean hurricane season, which has its epicenter further north in the region.

However, there have been dangerous incidents in the past, such as the landfall of Hurricane Iota in 2020, which caused bad flooding in Cartagena and at least one fatality on a nearby island.

As long as you are willing to take a risk with the weather, there are some benefits to traveling during the off-season. The discounts on hotel rooms and other costs are significant, as is the reduction in crowds at popular locations.

The rainy season has far fewer festivals than the dry season, so you don’t get to experience the atmosphere of the famous party-loving city as much.

However, the few festivals that occur are blowout celebrations. The best is Independence Day on November 11th, which has parades, street dance parties, and crowds spraying each other with foam.

Cartagena by Month: Climate & Activities

Colorful umbrellas cover a Getsemani street near the Walled City to show why you should visit Cartagena

eskystudio/Shutterstock

Still unsure about the best time to visit Cartagena? Take a look at our summary of the weather and climate by month below:

January

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.

February

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.

March

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.

April

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

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.

June

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

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.

August

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.

September

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

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.

November

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.

December

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

Image of empty boats on the shores of a small island for a frequently asked questions section on the best time to visit Cartagena

Venturelli Luca/Shutterstock

Here are a few of the most common questions people have asked about visiting Cartagena:

When is the best time of year to visit Cartagena?

The best time of year to visit Cartagena is during the dry season, from December to April, which has the best weather and most festivals.

Does Cartagena have a rainy season?

Cartagena has a tropical climate, which means it has a rainy season. The rainy season lasts from May to November.

What is the hottest month in Cartagena?

The hottest month in Cartagena is July, with average temperatures of 87 degrees Fahrenheit. The high humidity makes it feel even hotter.

How many days do you need in Cartagena?

You need at least three days in Cartagena. You want to have enough time not just for all the historic sites, but also for relaxing on the beach.

Which is better: Medellin or Cartagena?

Cartagena has an advantage over Medellin because it’s located on the beach and has a better historic center. However, Medellin is a bigger urban destination with more to do.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Cartagena?

The best time to visit Cartagena is during the city’s dry season, from December to April, when the weather is beautiful. The rainy season brings heavy showers, especially from August to October, but also fewer crowds and bigger discounts.

So, with so much to see and do and countless amazing times to visit, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience for yourself all that Cartagena has to offer. Happy travels!