The Spanish Inquisition put Cartagena on the map in the 1600s, but its reputation as a tropical respite for the 1980s Columbian drug cartels made it infamous. Today, Cartagena is a UNESCO Heritage Site and its colorful vibes ring through the walled city’s architecture, culture, and food. The Spanish-Afro-Caribbean influence is unmistakable, which is why it’s strange to say that the ‘must hit’ spot in all of Cartagena is actually an old school Cuban restaurant with scrumptious food, heavenly drinks, chill music, and an indoor plunge pool. Yep.
You’ll no doubt get your fill of sancocho, ceviche, camarones de ajillo, and any other local delicacies, but make an effort to experience a little Havana while in Cartagena and visit the Cuba 1940s. It’s the bright blue-walled joint with the Cuban flag on the corner of Calle 39 and Carrera 8, right across from Plaza San Diego. It’s quaint, cool, and just the perfect reward after exploring the cobblestone alleyways of Cartagena and its tropical climate. The menu is perfect for snacking or feasting and the list of cocktails will have you staying longer than you intended – and that’s a good thing. The live music sets the mood, but the most unexpectedly bizarre bit that makes this spot so damn special is the indoor plunge pool where you settle in with cocktail in hand and toes in the water. Oh, and they just happen to sell Cuban cigars that you can smoke in the private bar upstairs…if that’s your thing.