Let us, the Hostelgeeks, introduce the 3 Best Hostels in Cartagena, Colombia. This city is really on top of the hostel game. You can find many fantastic hostels, offering a swimming pool, fun events, cool and clean dorms.
We’ve strived to find you the real deal, the 3 best hostels in Cartagena on offer, suitable for female and solo travellers, couples and backpackers.
The location is soooo important. So please read this to avoid disappointments!
Cartagena is a tropical Caribbean paradise. This 16th-century old town offers cobbled streets, colourful buildings and beautiful Colombian beaches. It is on everyone’s bucket list when backpacking Colombia.
All you need to add is a cool Cartagena hostel and you’re ready to go!
Average price for a bed: Quite pricey for Colombian standards, yet a budget option. A bed in a dorm can be as cheap as 15€-25€. This is a rough average just to give you an idea.
Private rooms cost $40 – $80.
If you can, try to avoid high season in Cartagena, which is from Christmas to mid/end of January as well as Easter. Many locals travel at this time again. After this, prices will drop again.
Prices always depend on season and holidays. Please always check exact rates on Hostelworld.com or Booking.com. Hostelz.com is the best place to compare hostel prices.
Check-In and Check Out: The average check-in time is from 15:00 (3pm), while the Check Out time is before 11:00 (11am). Hostels usually offer luggage storage in case you arrive earlier or leave later. Make sure you check if luggage storage is free or if there is an extra cost.
Safety in Cartagena: Unfortunately there’s a lot of pick-pocketing in Cartagena. There is little violent crime in this city, compared to other cities like Santa Marta. But, it is possible; this is Colombia.
You can walk at night from the old town to Bocagrande and Getsemani. We did this four times. Yet, a taxi ride is cheap anyways, around $3.
Getting around Cartagena: Walk! It is by far the easiest. The old town is quite small and you are at max 10 minutes in Getsemani, the backpacker area. You can take a cab to the airport for around $5. A free walking tour is also much better than a bike tour in the old town in our opinion.
Best Hostel Location: Basically there are three districts you can consider for staying in Cartagena. Old Town, Bocagrande and Getsemani. I highly recommend to stay in the Old Town or in Manga, because at night it is more quiet than Getsemani.
1. Bocagrande has all the tall buildings and the beaches.
There are many good restaurants and bars. Yet, from the touristic point of view, it is nothing special.
2. The Old Town is absolutely spectacular.
Walking around here, it feels like a time machine back to Sevilla in Spain in the 17th century. I recommend to walk early as the city gets packed from 10am onwards. At night, it is a safe place to stay in Cartagena too. Other than cities like Barcelona or Rome, staying in the very heart of the city is a good idea. Why? Because there is usually no loud music and party. This brings us to…
3. Getsemani – Backpacker district!
The nightlife area and creative artsy spot. Come here for the night, it is AWESOME! Lots of street art, street musicians, bars, restaurants, you name it. This is where the party takes place. Get a beer on the street and enjoy and dance a bit. That being said, avoid staying in a street with loud music. Easier said than done. Below I list all the hostels that are not in the loud area.
4. Manga – local gem
Manga is a very local and underrated area right behind Getsemani. Same as Getsemani it has a seafront promenade, with striking city skyline views across the bay. It is much less touristy and you can find fantastic local bars and food here.
1. Casa del Puerto Hostel & Suite (Pool and Activities)
One look at this hostel and you want to stay here. This is how I felt!
Casa del Puerto Hostel features a big pool and its own bar. It is a very laid-back hostel, easy to chill. Just get a drink at the swimming pool and cool off here. After all, we consider a swimming pool a must-have in this city.
Casa del Puerto has its own cinema/TV room with Netflix. Each private room has also its own TV with Netflix on it. Therefore, if you need a break from all the tours, trekking and things to do, this is the perfect place to be! Trust me, this can easily happen when backpacking Colombia.
Good to know: You find more private rooms than dorms here. It feels more like a laid-back guesthouse or even resort instead of a typical backpacker hostel. Meaning, it is super chill, but not the best for activities and backpackers. Yes, you can meet other travelers, and in fact, you can bond much better. But it’s not a typical Youth Hostel. For the social butterflies, please hop over to our #2 below.
Casa del Puerto Hostel& Suites is the best hostel in Cartagena for:
For us, this is the best Boutique Style Hostel in Cartagena, no doubt! It is sparkling clean and professionally managed. There is a reason why this is the best-rated hostel in all Cartagena.
As for the location: it is located in safe and underrated area of Manga – please check our map here. It is just 15 minutes walking to the old town, and in 10 minutes you are in the backpacker district of Getsemani for nightlife action. Manga itself is a beautiful part of town with much less tourists.
To sum it up, you have the advantage of being a bit away from the hustle-and-bustle and seeing an underrated, beautiful part of the town. The disadvantage might be, you are not in the Old Town.
If you want to stay in a quiet and beautiful hostel and want to go out to drink at night, this is the best place!
Where do you sleep?
You can choose from different private rooms (single to triple rooms) or a bed in a 4-bed dorm. All rooms and dorms come with AC, Ensuite facilities and a yummy breakfast.
You can also expect privacy curtains on the bunks in the dorm.
2. Republica Hostel (double bed dorms + social vibes)
We recommend Republica Hostel – a very social hostel with plenty of activities, a pool and its own bar.
This is a pretty big hostel, with a total of 100 dorm room beds. Don’t worry though; the maximum per room is 14. This hostel is located in a stunning 3-story colonial building and has one of the largest courtyards in the entire Old City.
Along with the many dorms on offer, Republica also has two private rooms.
Good to know: the 10-bed dorm includes double beds as well as single!
Republica Hostel is located within the walls of the beautiful Old City – the famous Old Town! It is the heart of why you are visiting this city. Most of the beautiful photos you have seen are taken within the Old Town walls. Yes, we are talking about the instagram photos too! This instantly sets the scene for an authentic Colombian experience. For me, this is the best location in all the city.
Republica Hostel is the best hostel in Cartagena for:
top choice for everyone who loves activities like crawls, dinner nights and music events
They also hire only handicapped people to give them a stable income. I absolutely love this place. Besides the social effort, the food and café is also fantastic and still affordable.
Back to Life is Good Hostel, they also run their own events and even cooking classes. Their roof top terrace might be my highlight. They have a small Jacuzzi on their roof top and lots of hammocks to chill and kick back.
Rooms come with Air Conditioning, which is important, really. Make sure you ask if the AC works in your room; there has been some hick-ups!
What else?! Well, the usual stuff all great backpacker hostels offer: Laundry service, 24 hour reception, great team with cool tips on things to do. WiFi is quick as a bunny and they also have board games in case you hit a rainy day.
As for the rooms, you can choose between private rooms (twin beds and double rooms) as well as dorms. For dorms they have everything from 4-bed dorms to 10 bed mixed dorms max.
So again, personally I feel the location of being inside the Old Town is better. BUT, this is only me being picky.
Both this exact and quiet location of Life Is Good Hostel and the Old Town is great. In fact, it only takes you a 5 minute walk to enter the old town.
I do not want to sound like a broken record, but it is cheaper here…
Okay, I know this was a lot and the different locations and different types of hostel might be confusing. This is how I felt before I visited the first time. I made a simple and handy comparison chart for you here. I hope this helps!
If you are looking for the backpacker hostel in Cartagena, Colombia…
Let us tell you why Hostel Mamallena Cartagena should be also on your list.
Update: Mamallena permanently closed its doors in 2020.
They may not consider themselves a party hostel but they know how to party and provide a great backpacking experience.
This hostel has great and plenty of space to chill and make some friends.
El patio or El bar
The bar opens until 2 am and has great deals like 2 for 1 on drinks. Anyone after Happy Hour?!
They have a bar, but they still let you bring your own alcohol into the hostel.
Drinks are very cheap but if you want anyone to visit you at this hostel, they have no problem letting your friends inside either.
Everyone is so welcome, even the animals! They own a very friendly dog and a cat. This place is so homie, they really make you feel at home here.
But if you are on you way to somewhere else, they can help you with that as well. At this hostel you can book your trips to Playa Blanca, Santa Marta/Taganga and boats to Panama if that’s where you are heading.
This backpacker’s hostel in Cartagena brings a lot of value to your visit.
So think no more!
More Hostels worth a mention
Cartagena is doing their hostel game right. There are many boutique hostels in Cartagena and picking only 3 was not easy, really.
Yet, we always only recommend three for you. After all, this is all you need. You do not need me to tell you 17 hostels; this is pointless. I simply give you the absolute top ones and you make your final choice.
That being said, I want to mention a few more that are worth it for you to know. Especially in high season in December and January Cartagena hostels can be sold out easily. It is a good idea to have a backup.
This boutique hostel hosts a total of 42 guests, spread over 3 mixed dorm rooms of 12, 14 and 16 beds. This is for us on top of all the best hostels in Cartagena for solo-travellers.
Why? It is a small, yet sociable design that we think is wonderful for solo travellers in particular.
The decor has created a lovely warm, homely vibe throughout the accommodation. At the same time, you will find live music here, events organized such as Halloween and a few more fun events every traveler loves.
Here we share our newest promo codes for hostels and hotels in Cartagena and all other destinations first.
Things to know before you go to Cartagena
Let me give you a few more things I think you should know before coming here. This will help you to plan a bit better and might add a few things to your list you haven’t considered yet.
Old Town – Magical, but…
I absolutely love the old town of Cartagena. It is soooo beautiful.
That being said, there is a lot of cons here. The city can be super packed from 10am on. Prices are high, no, very high compared to the rest of Colombia. Many people only enjoy 1 day here and move on. As a budget traveler, this is the better option. With a limited budget, only stay 1 night at one of the hostels in Old town Cartagena and take a bus up north to Palomino.
We woke up early and wandered the old town at 7:30am. It was empty. Not even a café was open and there we no cars. This is the best time to take photos and enjoy its beauty.
The street vendors can be quite annoying too. The ladies dressed up in their beautiful yellow and colorful dresses constantly try to charge high prices. However, always keep a smile and negotiate. You should totally get your photo with one of the ladies.
One more thing you should be aware of.
The square of Plaza de los Coches with the Clock Tower Monument, is the main square basically. When sun sets, you will notice many beautiful women looking for work here – if you know what I mean. It is a safe area though. Nothing to worry about, just be aware.
Sunset Walk at the City Walls
One of my highlights was watching the sunset form the city walls. Go to the Western side of the wall, facing the ocean. There is also a bar called “Café del Mar”. I added it to the map.
Obviously, you will need to be here ahead of time. There are not too many tables.
As a tourist, it makes not much sense to stay in Bocagrande unless you are a family or a digital nomad, planning to stay longer. It feels more like a district to actually live, but not to see anything special.
The beaches in Bocagrande and Cartagena Area are not great anyways.
The sand is dark and super busy. The vibes are great though. If you want to have a drink, go to the beach and mingle. This is always fun. There is a lot of music and dancing going on.
Much more lively than in Spain or Italy for instance.
Yes, we actually stayed here as well when we visited for 2 weeks. For Digital Nomads, the Bocagrande District can be great. You can book cool Airbnbs in Cartagena with a swimming pool and private gym, too.
For sure you might have heard of this island already. It is on ALL the lists covering the best things to do in Cartagena.
Now, it is super worth it. It is wonderful!
However, my recommendation would be not only to come as a day trip. It takes you 1.5 hours one way on a speed boat. The island is small, but has enough to discover to spend here 2 cozy days.
You will need to stay at Secreto Hostel at Isla Rosario. We spent 2 nights here.
You can join their tours such as:
snorkelling at the sunk airplane of Pablo Escobar at Isla Rosario
Bioluminescent Plankton Tour (this depends on the weather conditions!!)
On Isla Rosario you can also eat at the other hotels, chill at the pool at Secreto Hostel, relax at the beaches and visit the famous Pablo Escobar villa. It is said, it was not his villa at all, but it attracts people. Either way, we went there. It is a very impressive, old building with some serious damage. Great to take photos!
How to get to Isla Rosario? Book Secreto Hostel online with Hostelworld (the only way!). You cannot go there without a reservation and it is usually sold out quickly. After your booking, write them an email about the boat connection. They will give you instructions on where you can get the boat, the terminal is near the old town.
They will tell you the time and price and which company.
Important: Do not fall for the laziest scam ever. The price was 50 pesos per person. The lady on the pier told us 50 pesos as well. The price for 2 people would be then 110 pesos. Well…not in my world?!
She tried this with every single one, and actually many people we asked fell for this…Just tell the lady 50 pesos times twice is 100…not 110.
Super important: You can only pay cash in the hostel, there are no ATMs on the island. Make the math and bring enough money with you. You need to pay the hostel, the transport, tours, and food and drinks.
I’ll keep this one short: Do not come here if you do not like crowded places.
Personally, I do not understand why someone would enjoy a day trip to Playa Blanca. It is expensive, crowded and so on. Yes, the beach itself is very nice but that’s about it.
Skip this experience and swap it for Isla Rosario. You will have a much better time!
Map of the 3 Best Hostels in Cartagena and Sights
So here it is, the magical map. The useful map of all the hostel locations and cool sights, just for you.
We also included the main tourist attractions you’ve to know in this list:
Playa blanca (not worth it on our opinion!)
Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas
Ciudad Amurallada (Old Town)
all my favorite cafés
places to eat
bus terminal to Santa Marta and boat terminal to Isla Rosario
I highlighted the three districts:
Old Town – Green
Getsemani – Orange
Bocagrande – Purple
(You can activate and deactivate the different layers in the left sidebar. Open the map in a new tab here.) Please zoom in for details and zoom out to see the kitesurfing hostel and the islands in the area.
Best Hostels in Cartagena FAQs
If you are not sure about where to start, here the answer to your most asked questions
What are the best hostels in Cartagena?
If you are looking for the best hostels in Cartagena, check this guide with our top 3 we recommend for you
If we have to choose one hostel from this guide for solo travellers, we do recommend you to check the Republica Hostel. We love their events as well as their roof top terrace and swimming pool. It is very clean and social; LOVE IT!
It is a small and cosy hostel in Cartagena, Colombia. They have a few more hostels around Colombia too, e.g. in Santa Marta.
Bogota or Cartagena which city I should visit?
Cartagena is much more beautiful, Bogotá not so much. Bogotá is a cool city, but I would always choose Cartagena.
Cartagena has the sea, islands nearby and it’s walled city. As a tourist, Cartagena is much better to visit than Bogotá. Bogotá has the Salt Cathedral and other sights nearby.
Cartagena is so well connected. In fact, you can even fly in from USA and Europe directly. Just check your options. We also took a flight from Cartagena to San Andres, the island in the far North. Flights cost here around $25, if you prebook.
Cartagena is also well connected with the rest of Colombia. You can get direct flights from Bogotá, Medellin and so on. The Airport in Cartagena is quite central. You can either take a bus, a cheap cab ride or organize an airport pick up with your hostel. I just took a cab outside the terminal, and it was around $5 to get to Bocagrande.
We enjoy Omio.com and Kiwi.com to find cheap flights all over the world, including Cartagena, Cuba and more.
This new website has super cool features like a so-called radius search.
Just draw a circle over Central America and find the cheapest rates for the area.