A Guide To Getsemani – Cartagena’s Hip Neighborhood
Hi everyone! In May we did a quick daytrip to Cartagena and our first stop was one of our favorite places on this city: the vibrant neighborhood of Getsemani. It used to be a no-go area because of crime and drugs, but this place has been reborn in a splash of color and is today a magnet for foreign tourists (Colombians are only catching up and discovering this wonderful place). We will share with you our recommendations regarding what to do here during the day (and night), where to eat and drink, and where to stay!
What to do in Getsemani
During the day, the main attraction of Getsemani is simply to walk around. Yes, it’s that simple. Unlike the center of Cartagena’s old town, there are not too many people around the streets of Getsemani during the day, and very few cars and taxis, except on a couple of main streets, so it’s a lot easier to take good photos.
Besides, the absence of the tourist crowds makes it a more intimate and relaxing experience. Just walk around its streets contemplating the colorful houses with typical wooden windows and flowery vines hanging from their balconies.
Street art is also a big thing here. Many houses and walls are decorated with amazing graffitis, which were used as part of the cultural policies that were implemented to give this neighborhood its new face.
Our recommended starting point to walk the streets is the Plaza de la Santísima Trinidad, a sleepy square in the middle of the neighborhood with a sober yellow church.
We have to mention that this square is completely different when the sun goes down. At night, it is the place to be: crowds of foreign backpackers hang out on this square and on the restaurants, cafes and bars around it. Street performers entertain the crowds with juggling feats, dancing and singing. It’s the perfect spot to simply sit down and enjoy the festive ambience of the night.
One of the most famous places in Getsemani is Café Havana, a Cuban-inspired bar with live salsa music. Be sure to swing by at night to enjoy a mojito as you listen to the music, and, why not, dance a little bit too! It’s located at the corner of Calle del Guerrero and 30th Streets.
Our Favorite Streets
Three streets that we believe should not be missed:
Beginning at the corner of Calle de San Juan, the walls on both sides of this street served as canvas for street artists, and are lined with amazing graffitis that are definitely worth seeing. The easiest way to find it: if you stand at the Santísima Trinidad Square, facing the church, just turn 90° to the right and after a few steps you will see this:
Calle de San Juan
This narrow street is probably our favorite in Getsemani. One side of the street is lined with small, pastel coloured houses that are a delight to look upon.
The other side of the street is a particularly colorful wall, featuring things like this:
Calle De San Andrés
This street in Getsemani is covered by these colorful pennant banners which makes it a very picturesque spot, perfect for a nice instagram photo. Where to find it? Just across the street from Café Havana. Here you will also find some hostels, cafés and shops.
Where to eat and drink in Getsemani
As we said before, the Santísima Trinidad square is the place to be at night, so there are a lot of places to choose from. During the day, however, most of the restaurants and cafés on the square (if not all) are closed, except for the corner shop right across the church. If you are looking for lunch, you should head over either to calle 30 or calle 25 streets, which are the busiest streets of the neighborhood (or simply walk 10 minutes to the old town center)
At night, the cheapest options would be:
To eat: the fast food carts right on the square.
To drink: in the corner shop right across the square, in front of the church, you can buy a beer for just $2.500 pesos (less than a dollar). Around the square there are a number of bars, or even the cafés and pizza places offer happy hour deals on beers and cocktails. Beware that drinking alcoholic drinks in the streets is “illegal” here, but despite that, it is normal to see people drinking beer in plastic cups on the street (it’s not like they are going to fine EVERY tourist). The worst thing that could happen is that a police officer passes by and kindly asks you to go back into the shop while you finish your beer.
Pizza is a very common option around this square, and we would recommend two places in particular: Demente and Di Silvio Trattoria.
Hopefully these tips will serve you as a guide on your next visit to Cartagena, Colombia!