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cartagena colombia old city
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Colorful streets, food with flavor you'll dream of for weeks, salsa music playing until the wee hours, and private islands on which to recover the next morning — the energy in Cartagena, Colombia right now is intoxicating. It’s no wonder the fashion set has elevated this high-contrast coastal town to It-City status.

In Cartagena, whether you’re shopping the local crafts and high-end boutiques in the charming old city, island hopping in Las Islas de Rosario or dancing the night away with a partner you’ll never see again, every moment is an opportunity to put your best fashion foot forward.

Below, a guide to what to do — and wear — for a stylish trip to Cartagena.

Old City Stroll

what to wear in cartagena
Credit: Courtesy of Retailers

To stay in the middle of it all, book your room at Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa. While you'll find it hard to leave the rooftop pool overlooking the vibrant old city, there's much to explore in Colombia's charming historical center. In Cartagena's narrow, color-soaked streets, you'll find some of the best shopping in Colombia. When you're finished deciding between the woven mochila bags that line the city's streets, visit world-renowned shops Casa Chiqui, Artesenias de Colombia, and St. Dom. Enjoy lunch at local favorite La Cevicheria and the best popsicles you've ever had at La Paletería.

A Night Out

what to wear in cartagena
Credit: Courtesy of Retailers

(clockwise from top left)
Faris earrings, farisfaris.com, $310
Marysia swim top, marysia.com, $165
Jaline skirt, modaoperandi.com, $375
Junkbrands headband, amazon.com, $16
Silk folding fan, justartifacts.net, $2
Acqua di Parma cologne, sephora.com, $110
Magnetic Midnight handbag, magnetic-midnight.com, $850
Castañer espadrilles, net-a-porter.com, $120

A dinner at La Vitrola is a must. You'll be surrounded by locals, tourists, and the sounds of a live Cuban band, and you have to try Colombia's traditional arroz con coco. Other noteworthy restaurants include Don Juan, Maria, and Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa's Harry Sasson restaurant. After dinner, either head to El Baron for the best-mixed cocktails in Cartagena or to Cafe del Mar on the city's old wall and enjoy a bottle of Aguilla. After that, head to Movida across the street and Café Havana for some late night salsa dancing.

Island Hopping

what to wear in cartagena
Credit: Courtesy of Retailers

(clockwise from top left)
Melissa Odabash dress, net-a-porter.com, $450
Adriana Degreas turban, matchesfashion.com, $160
Sommer swim top, sommerswim.com, $69 and bottom, sommerswim.com, $69
Elizabeth & James sunglasses, net-a-porter.com, $235
Après Ski earrings, shopthebreak.com, $72
Bali Body lip balm SPF15, us.balibodyco.com, $20
Antonello bag, modaoperandi.com, $595
Carrie Forbes sandals, modaoperandi.com, $300

Stunning beaches and translucent blue waters can be found on the islands just outside of the city, reachable either by car or boat. To take advantage of the Cartagena sun, we suggest renting a boat to take you to the Islas del Rosario. There, you’ll have the option to explore the beautiful beaches of Barú and the party scene at Cholon.