When is the Best Time to Visit Cartagena? Here’s What to Watch Out For!

What is the best time to visit Cartagena? Find out below!

Cartagena, Colombia is one of the most beautiful and historic cities in South America.

With its colorful colonial architecture, picturesque beaches, and vibrant culture, it’s no wonder Cartagena is a top tourist destination.

Best Time to Visit Cartagena

However, the weather and crowds vary greatly depending on the time of year.

In this post, we’ll explore the best time to visit Cartagena to enjoy mild temperatures and avoid the peak season crowds.

What is the Best Time to Visit Cartagena?

The weather plays a huge factor when it comes to choosing the best time to visit Cartagena.

Cartagena enjoys a tropical climate with temperatures consistently ranging from 75°F (24°C) to 88°F (31°C) throughout the year.

Best Time to Visit Cartagena

Here’s a quick guide to the best time to visit Cartagena weather-wise:

Dry Season (December to April)

You can expect the least rainfall and the most sunshine during these months.

It’s the perfect time for beach outings and exploring the Old Town without the worry of rain.

This period also coincides with peak tourist season, so expect larger crowds and higher prices.

Wet Season (May to November)

Although you’ll encounter more rain, showers are often short-lived. The city is less crowded, and accommodation prices can be lower.

This time is ideal if you prefer a more laid-back atmosphere.

Best Time to Visit Cartagena

Events to consider

Events are key to choosing the best time to visit Cartagena. Here are a few to consider (more info below)

  • Hay Festival (January): A renowned literary event attracting international writers and thinkers.
  • Cartagena Film Festival (March): The oldest film festival in Latin America, showcasing a variety of films, with a focus on Ibero-American cinema.

Here’s a simple breakdown by month:

Dec – AprDrySunny weather, various cultural eventsHigher prices, crowded
May – NovWetLower prices, fewer touristsHigher chance of rain

To enjoy outdoor activities like snorkeling and island hopping, aim for the dry season.

If you don’t mind an occasional downpour and are looking for a quieter experience, the wet season can be equally rewarding.

Best Time to Visit Cartagena

Best Time to Visit Cartagena by Season

Cartagena’s coastal charm shines throughout the year, but each season offers a different experience.

Your ideal visit depends on whether you prefer sunny days on the beach or the city’s lush, green landscapes.

Dry Season Perks

During the dry season, from December to April, you’ll enjoy consistent sunshine and minimal rain.

This is the perfect time for beach activities and exploring the historic city without interruption.

  • Peak Tourist Season: December to February
    • Expect crowded beaches and busy streets.
    • Higher prices for accommodations and tours.
  • More Tranquil: March to April
    • Fewer tourists.
    • Better deals on hotels.
Best Time to Visit Cartagena

Rainy Season Considerations

The rainy season spans from May to November, with October being the wettest month.

While you’ll encounter rain, it’s usually in brief showers rather than all-day downpours.

  • Lush Landscapes: May to November
    • The city becomes greener.
    • Cooler temperatures after rainfalls.
  • Potential Disruptions:
    • Sudden showers could alter outdoor plans.
    • Lower prices and fewer tourists.
Best Time to Visit Cartagena

Best Time to Visit Cartagena: Month by Month Breakdown

Cartagena’s tropical climate means warm weather year-round, but certain months offer unique experiences that could make your visit extra special.

January – March

  • January: Enjoy the cool sea breezes and the Hay Festival, an international literature gathering.
  • February: Experience the romance of Valentine’s Day with Cartagena’s perfect date night spots along the charming streets.
  • March: Windsurfing is fantastic during this windy month, plus the International Film Festival is not to be missed.

April – June

  • April: The Easter celebrations are vibrant, and the city is filled with processions and festivities.
  • May: This is a quieter time to visit, with fewer crowds and ideal for enjoying the local culture.
  • June: Start of the rainy season, but don’t worry, showers are short-lived; perfect for visiting museums and historical sites.

July – September

  • July: The city buzzes with the Summer Music Festival, featuring traditional and modern acts.
  • August: Celebrate the Caribbean culture at the Cartagena Festival of the Arts for music and dance.
  • September: As the tourist season winds down, enjoy more space at beaches and attractions.

October – December

  • October: The rains begin to lessen, creating lush landscapes perfect for photography enthusiasts.
  • November: Witness Independence Day celebrations with parades and fireworks.
  • December: The holiday festivities make Cartagena magical, with lights and decorations adorning the city.
Best Time to Visit Cartagena

Best Time to Visit Cartagena for Festivals and Events

When planning your visit to Cartagena, timing it with festivals and events can offer a vibrant glimpse into its rich culture and celebratory traditions.

Cartagena Independence Festivities

In November, you can experience Cartagena’s Independence Festivities, a robust celebration of freedom with parades, dance performances, and live music.

The city commemorates its liberation from Spanish rule in 1811, with the festivities peaking around November 11th.

International Film Festival

Come March, the Cartagena International Film Festival transforms the city into a cinema lover’s paradise.

As the oldest film festival in Latin America, usually taking place in the first half of March, it’s the best time to visit Cartagena to catch groundbreaking films and potentially spot some celebrities.

Jazz Festival

The Cartagena International Jazz Festival in June is a delight for music enthusiasts.

It’s a chance to enjoy world-class jazz musicians serenading the city with their tunes, combining the allure of Cartagena’s historic setting with soulful rhythms.

Christmas and New Year’s Celebrations

Embrace the festive spirit by visiting during Christmas and New Year’s.

Streets come alive with lights and decorations, while fireworks over the Caribbean Sea at midnight on December 31st are a sight to behold.

It’s a magical time to join in the local traditions and festivities.

Best Time to Visit Cartagena

Best Time to Visit Cartagena for Prices

If you’re aiming to save on costs, the best time to visit Cartagena during the off-peak seasons.

This period generally falls between April and June, and then from September to November.

You’ll find accommodation and activities to be more budget-friendly as demand is lower.

During these times, you’re looking at a pretty sweet deal:

  • Hotel Rates: Hotels tend to offer discounts, sometimes up to 30% less than peak season prices.
  • Tours and Activities: Local vendors may have more negotiable rates, as they’re keen on attracting customers.

Here’s a brief monthly breakdown to guide you:

MonthHotel PricesTour Prices
April – JuneLower than averageMore negotiable
July – AugustPeak pricesLeast negotiable
September – NovemberLower than averageMore negotiable
December – MarchPeak pricesLeast negotiable

Keep in mind, the weather can be unpredictable, but April to June typically has warmer days, while September brings a mix of warmth and sporadic rain showers – a small price to pay for those savings.

To snag the best deals on flights, start looking early and set alerts on price drops.

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Best Time to Visit Cartagena To Avoid Crowds

If you’re looking to enjoy its charm without the bustling crowds, here’s how to pick the best time to visit Cartagena to avoid crowds:

Low Season: Plan your trip during the low season, which runs from late April to early June, and then again from late August to early November.

During these months, you’ll find fewer tourists, as it’s outside the major holiday periods and the peak travel times for international visitors.

Weather Consideration:

  • May to June: While it’s the wet season, the rain usually comes in short bursts and doesn’t last long, so you’ll still have plenty of sun.
  • September to November: The risk of rain is higher, but it’s quieter, and you can often find more competitive rates for accommodation.

Weekdays: Aim to visit on weekdays when it’s typically less crowded than weekends.

You’ll have a better chance of experiencing Cartagena’s sites such as the Walled City and Castillo San Felipe de Barajas with ease.

Best Time to Visit Cartagena: Weather

Weather plays a big factor when it comes to choosing the best time to visit Cartagena and understanding the city’s tropical climate is key.

Average Temperatures

Cartagena offers warm weather year-round, with average high temperatures hovering around 30°C (86°F) and average lows at night not often dropping below 24°C (75°F).

Here’s a quick look at the monthly temperature breakdown:

  • January – March: Daytime highs average 30°C (86°F), nighttime lows average 24°C (75°F).
  • April – June: Daytime highs slightly increase to 31°C (88°F), nighttime lows stay around 25°C (77°F).
  • July – September: Consistent with April – June, daytime highs about 31°C (88°F), nighttime lows 25°C (77°F).
  • October – December: Daytime highs average 30°C (86°F), with nighttime lows around 24°C (75°F).

Humidity and Rainfall Patterns

Cartagena’s humidity levels are generally high, often exceeding 80%.

The city experiences a distinct wet season, typically from May to November, when you can expect more frequent rain showers.

Conversely, the drier season lasts from December to April. To visualize the rainfall patterns, here’s a simple outline:

  • Drier season (December – April):
    • Lesser rainfall, making it a popular time for tourists.
    • January to March are the driest months with an average of 40mm of rainfall.
  • Wet season (May – November):
    • Higher chances of rain, particularly in October, which is the wettest month with up to 270mm of rainfall.
    • Humidity is also higher during these months, which can affect comfort levels.

Best Time to Visit Cartagena for Rosario Islands

The Rosario Islands are a must-see when you visit Cartagena.

December to April is considered the optimal time for visiting these Caribbean gems.

Best Time to Visit Cartagena

You’ll enjoy less rainfall and clearer skies, perfect for island-hopping and snorkeling.

  • Average Temperatures: 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F)
  • Peak Season: December to January
  • Shoulder Season: February to April

To maximize your experience, aim for weekdays to avoid crowds, as weekends can get particularly busy. Keep in mind:

  • Avoid: Rainy season from May to November, can dampen outdoor plans.
  • February to March: Stronger winds can make the sea choppy, but visibility for snorkeling and diving is still great.

If you’re budget-conscious, consider visiting in the shoulder season, when you can find better deals on accommodation and tours.

Quick Travel Tips

When packing for Cartagena, light and breathable clothing is a must due to its tropical climate. Here’s a quick packing list:

  • Lightweight cotton or linen clothes
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Swimwear
  • Hat and sunglasses
  • High SPF sunscreen
  • Insect repellent

The city has a very laid-back vibe, so casual dress is the norm. However, if you’re planning on dining at upscale restaurants or visiting religious sites, bring a few smart-casual outfits.

Transportation in Cartagena is quite accessible. You can get around easily by:

  • Taxis: Readily available and reasonably priced.
  • Buses: An economical option, though routes can be confusing.
  • Walking: Highly recommended in the historic district.

Stay hydrated!

The humidity can catch you off guard. Always have a bottle of water on hand. For ATMs and credit cards, international brands are widely accepted, but it’s wise to carry some Colombian pesos for small vendors or bus fares.

Lastly, it’s important to respect the local culture. Cartagena has a rich history and its people are proud of their heritage.

Be polite, try to learn a few phrases in Spanish, and always ask for permission before taking photos of locals and don’t forget to try the amazing street food in Cartagena!

FAQs About the Best Time to Visit Cartagena

When does Cartagena generally experience the hottest weather?

Typically, Cartagena’s hottest months are June, July, and August, where temperatures can soar to the high 80s or low 90s Fahrenheit (about 31-34 Celsius).

Which months should I expect the most rainfall during my visit to Cartagena?

The rainiest months in Cartagena are usually September to November. If you wish to avoid heavy rains, consider planning your visit outside of these months.

Best Time to Visit Cartagena

How long should a typical trip to Cartagena last to see the main attractions?

A typical stay of 3 to 5 days is sufficient to explore the main attractions of Cartagena, including the historic Walled City, its stunning beaches, and nearby islands.

Can you suggest when I might find the most affordable travel prices for Cartagena?

Traveling to Cartagena during the shoulder seasons, which are April to May and November to early December, often means lower prices on flights and accommodations.

What period is considered less ideal for a visit to Cartagena due to weather or other factors?

Apart from the rainy season, the period from late December to February might be less ideal due to the high likelihood of stronger trade winds which can affect beach activities.

What are the peak tourist seasons in Cartagena when the city is most crowded?

Peak tourist seasons in Cartagena align with holiday periods such as Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter week—times when the city may be more crowded than usual.

Best Time to Visit Cartagena: Conclusion

In summary, December to February is generally the best time to visit Cartagena thanks to dry, sunny weather and smaller crowds.

However, the shoulder seasons of March-April and October-November can also be good options for mild temperatures and fewer tourists.

No matter when you choose to go, Cartagena’s charm and beauty are sure to wow you.

I hope this overview of the best times to visit has helped you plan your own trip to experience all that magical Cartagena has to offer.