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Expat Exchange - Best Markets in Cartagena 2024
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Cartagena, Colombia

Best Markets in Cartagena

By Joshua Wood, LPC

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Summary: What are the best markets in Cartagena? In this article we highlight the best markets in Cartagena.

Cartagena, with its vibrant culture and rich history, is a haven for expats and digital nomads seeking a tropical lifestyle infused with local charm. One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the daily life of Cartagena is by exploring its diverse markets. From bustling food markets offering fresh produce to artisanal markets showcasing handcrafted goods, there's a market for every taste and interest. Here are some of the best markets in Cartagena that you simply can't miss.

Mercado de Bazurto

Location: Avenida Pedro de Heredia
Type of Market: Local Market
Open: Daily, 5 AM - 5 PM

The Mercado de Bazurto is not for the faint of heart but is a must-visit for those looking to experience the authentic side of Cartagena. This sprawling market is where locals come to buy everything from fresh produce and meat to clothing and household items. It's a lively, chaotic, and colorful glimpse into the everyday life of Cartagena's residents.

We Recommend: Try the freshly made ceviche or the local fruit varieties that you might not find elsewhere, such as zapote or nispero.

Las Bovedas

Location: Between the Santa Clara and Santa Catalina fortresses
Type of Market: Artisanal Market
Open: Daily, 9 AM - 7 PM

Set within the historic city walls, Las Bovedas was once a dungeon and now houses a series of boutiques and artisanal shops. It's a picturesque spot to shop for souvenirs, handcrafted jewelry, and traditional Colombian textiles. The market's ambiance, combined with its historical significance, makes it a unique shopping experience.

We Recommend: Look for the beautifully woven mochila bags, a traditional Colombian craft that makes for a stylish and practical souvenir.

Plaza de San Diego

Location: San Diego neighborhood
Type of Market: Artisanal and Food Market
Open: Evenings, especially on weekends

Plaza de San Diego comes alive in the evenings with a more laid-back vibe than the daytime hustle. Here, you'll find street vendors selling local snacks, artisans with their crafts, and sometimes live music that adds to the ambiance. It's a great place to enjoy an evening stroll and pick up some unique items.

We Recommend: Sample the arepas de huevo (egg-filled arepas) from a street vendor for a delicious local treat.

Centro Artesanal de Cartagena

Location: Bocagrande, near the beachfront
Type of Market: Craft Market
Open: Daily, 9 AM - 8 PM

This market is a one-stop-shop for tourists looking to buy Colombian crafts and souvenirs in a more organized setting. The Centro Artesanal offers a wide range of products, from hammocks and clothing to coffee and sweets, all under one roof.

We Recommend: Don't miss the chance to buy some authentic Colombian coffee to take home; it's some of the best in the world.

Portal de los Dulces

Location: Under the arches of the Plaza de los Coches
Type of Market: Food Market
Open: Daily, 8 AM - 9 PM

Portal de los Dulces is a sweet-tooth's paradise. This market is famous for its traditional Colombian candies and sweets, which are displayed in glass jars under the colonial arches. It's a picturesque spot to indulge in local confections and observe the bustling plaza life.

We Recommend: Try the cocadas (coconut sweets), a local favorite that comes in various flavors and colors.

Getsemani Street Market

Location: Getsemani neighborhood
Type of Market: Street Market
Open: Evenings, especially on weekends

The Getsemani Street Market is a lively night market where you can find a variety of street food, handmade goods, and sometimes live performances. The neighborhood's bohemian vibe is the perfect backdrop for an evening of exploration and shopping.

We Recommend: Look for unique artwork by local artists, which captures the spirit of Cartagena and makes for a great keepsake.

La Matuna Commercial District

Location: Downtown Cartagena
Type of Market: Shopping District
Open: Daily, varying hours

La Matuna is not a traditional market but a commercial district where you can find a variety of shops selling electronics, clothing, and more. It's a bustling area where you can experience the city's modern commerce and perhaps find some good deals.

We Recommend: Visit the local boutiques for contemporary Colombian fashion that blends traditional styles with modern trends.

These markets in Cartagena offer a glimpse into the city's soul, where the warmth of the people and the richness of the culture are on full display. Whether you're looking for fresh food, unique crafts, or just a vibrant atmosphere, Cartagena's markets are sure to provide an unforgettable experience.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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