THIS IS A GOOD ESTIMATE OF WHAT IT COST THE TWO OF US TO SLOW TRAVEL IN CARTAGENA FOR A MONTH. THIS ESTIMATE INCLUDES FOOD, TRANSPORTATION, ACTIVITIES AND ACCOMODATION.
Here is a quick breakdown of what it cost for the two of us to slow travel in Cartagena, Colombia for a month. Now, this is really a rough estimate for we will be the first to admit that we are not always the best at keeping track of receipts (who is?). Either way, if you are looking to spend a month slow traveling in Cartagena this should give you a good idea on what things will likely cost; including, groceries, transportation and coffee.
One important thing to note, is that Cartagena is one of the more expensive cities in all of Colombia. So if you are wanting to come down to Colombia and spend a good amount of time exploring, but look at these prices with a bit of horror, be aware that these prices and costs are at the top end of the spectrum. Many places in the country are much more affordable.
So without further ado, here is a (rough) estimate of what it cost the two of us to slow travel in Cartagena for a month.
WHAT IT COSTS TO LIVE IN CARTAGENA FOR A MONTH
We rented a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment right on the outskirts of the Old City for the month of July. The apartment had a nice balcony with a table and two chairs, strong internet and easy access to the beach (it was right across the street). We found the apartment on Airbnb - which it turns out, is a great spot to find affordable monthly stays.
Most of the time we actually walked around the Old City and nearby neighborhoods. The only times we took public transportation were to reach places farther away (like the bus station) or for our own safety (La Popa). We also bought two tickets out of Cartagena to the town of Armenia, where we would be spending the next month (the bus ticket cost $100 for the two of us, but it was also a 26 hour long ride...).
We also rented a motorcycle for one of the weekends in order to explore places outside of town, including the mud volcano and botanical garden. We rented the motorcycle also just for our own sanity and to once again have the feeling of independence and freedom (#worththeprice).
In our opinion, you could get around Cartagena without spending more than $20-$25 USD for the entire month, just because it is so easy to walk around. Most transportation costs come from actually leaving the city to explore nearby attractions.
We ended up cooking a lot of our meals, including almost all of our breakfasts and lunches. Most of our grocery shopping was done at either Exito, a large grocery store chain or at Ara, a smaller grocery store that had circulating items. In our experience, Ara seemed to be a bit cheaper than Exito but it also had less selection. But, if you hit Ara on a good day, you could buy a lot of great stuff for a lot less than Exito.
Finally, we also got a couple of things here and there at the local store downstairs in our apartment building. This included beer, the odd sauce packet and some bananas (or other fruit). This is also where we bought a LOT of cheese bread.
NOTE: many small stores (tiendas) in the city will have many of the basic things you would need (rice, pasta, bread, eggs, fruit, etc.), usually at very affordable prices.
\\ Going Out to Eat
We honestly didn’t go out to eat that much while in Cartagena just because a lot of the restaurants were pretty touristy and therefore quite expensive. But, the few places we did go were super tasty. Some of our favorites were Felice for freshly homemade pasta and My Sushi for really tasty sushi (at a decent price).
A lot of the time the places we would grab food would be the small fried food stalls, especially the ones that sold fresh arepas. We bought probably 2-3 arepas a week (sometimes a few more) as well as some fresh cheese bread (like we mentioned), pandebonos (a bread that tastes like a gooey saltine) and the odd smoothie or drink here and there.
We tried to explore a couple of the more popular coffee shops in town, but again because we tried to stick to a tight budget we didn’t go nearly as often as many other people might. The few places we did go though were super good. Some of our favorites were Cafe San Alberto, Bozha and Cafe Quindio.
If you are someone who enjoys working in coffee shops, or just likes to spend some relaxing afternoons sipping coffee and people watching, then you could theoretically expect this amount to double. Luckily, because Colombia is such a huge coffee producer, even the more upscale cafes are not super expensive. Most cups of coffee cost between 5000 COP and 7500 COP (under $2), maybe a bit more if you are looking for a latte with alternative milk (almond milk is more common).
Many of the activities in and around Cartagena are rather expensive and touristy. And because the city is on the coast, many of the more popular destinations are beaches. Because we aren't necessarily beach people, we didn't go on many big excursions while in Cartagena - something we did kind of regret after leaving.
Some of our favorite spots were the botanical gardens, the Getsemani neighborhood and honesty, just the drive out of the city towards the mud volcano.
If you are someone who wants to explore all the beautiful beaches near the city, then definitely expect to pay double or even triple this amount. Tours, especially to places like the Rosario Islands, are not cheap.
While we did try to order a new computer charger for our Surface because we left ours in the USA, in the end, Amazon could never actually deliver it so we canceled the order. Therefore the only thing we had to buy in terms of technology was one Micro USB cable for our drone.
Something you realize pretty quickly when planning to be in one spot for a longer period of time is that eventually you will need to buy some random things. For example, we ended up buying sunscreen (very needed in Cartagena), bug spray (same), two bowls, one Tupperware and an extra dish towel for our apartment, a beach towel for well, the beach, and a pair of sunglasses for Madalyne (because we forgot hers in the USA).
NOTE: if you do need to buy some random items like bowls or towels, we suggest heading to one of the bigger malls in the city (not in the Old City though). There is a big mall with everything you could need by the Fort, and an even bigger one near Bazurto (exact location here). Also, if you need sunglasses, don't buy them from a street vendor in the Old City (they charge double), instead head to one of the malls - or better yet, Bazurto Market.
Like we said, this is just a rough estimate of what it cost the two of us to slow travel for a month in Cartagena, Colombia. For other slow travelers this amount could be higher (if you want to go out more, visit more attractions) or lower (stay at a cheaper Airbnb, not rent a motorcycle). We suggest taking these costs as a good middle ground amount for two people living in Cartagena for a month.
Our Grand Total: 1,470 USD with our Airbnb and $870 without.
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