The Tayrona National Park, in the Caribbean coast of Colombia, is worth a visit, especially if you find yourself in Cartagena looking for other things to do beyond the beautiful colonial city. But it’s not particularly easy to get to, nor to visit, and it gets packed, so planning ahead is highly recommended (and visiting off-season even more ;)). The main entrance to the park is El Zaino, about 1 hour east of Santa Marta, which in turn is about 4 hours north east of Cartagena. You can either take a public bus to Santa Marta, and then another public bus to the park, and might need to spend a night in Santa Marta in between, or spend $20 to get a shared shuttle straight from your hotel in Cartagena to the park.
Right outside of the walled city, the neighborhood of Getsemani is more authentic and edgier than the old town. If inside the walls it’s all about colonial architecture and colorful flowers, here it’s about street art, street life and Afro-Caribbean heritage. There are still plenty of tourists and charming hotels and restaurants, but it does feel much more real.
Cartagena de Indias is a UNESCO Heritage Site, and regularly tops the list of most beautiful colonial cities around the world. This reputation is well deserved. Cartagena can easily be visited on foot in a couple of days, but it’s also the kind of place where you won’t regret having extra time.