Cartagena, a gorgeous colonial city set on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, has long been Colombia’s premier international destination. Besides the charming Walled City, one of the few places where there is still a large portion of the colonial era wall still standing, there are also some terrific Cartagena beaches, and there’s year-round beach weather to boot.
There are a slew of fun things to do in Cartagena, from visiting the nearby islands to getting your groove on and enjoying the vibrant nightlife. However, there is also a rising foodie scene, and there are some places that not only have great food but are set in gorgeous locations, perfect for the charming vibe Cartagena is known for.
Here, we will look at the best beautiful restaurants in Cartagena, Colombia for you to enjoy during a visit.
1. Restaurante Fuerte San Sebastián del Pastelillo
This place, formerly known as Club de Pesca, belongs at the top of any list of the most beautiful restaurants in Cartagena. It is located atop a former colonial-era fort. That gives it a historic and charming setting. The fact that it overlooks the bay makes it even more beautiful. Combined with the fact that it is right next to the marina and has some of the best and freshest seafood in town pushes it over the top.
For a really special experience, try to reserve one of the tables located in former cannon openings in the fort walls. Looking out over the bay, it’s one of the best views in town and makes for a private feeling meal. It’s not a bad idea to plan to come here around sunset time and enjoy a drink or two with the view before dinner.
Speaking of dinner, the seafood here is amazing and the menu has a combination of traditional and unique preparations. There is also frequently live music in the evening, adding to the romantic charm. For dessert, be sure to try the delicious coconut pie!
2. Carmen Cartagena
One of a number of beautiful restaurants in Cartagena located in colonial-era mansions in the Walled City, Carmen has some of the best food in town too.
You’ll want to get one of the tables in the gorgeous courtyard and garden. There is also frequently live music here that sets a perfect ambiance. The food is a blend of traditional and creative that highlights ingredients and cooking methods from throughout Colombia.
3. Restaurante Jardín Santa Clara
While we are on the topic of gorgeous colonial courtyard gardens, we have to mention the next place on this list of the best beautiful restaurants in Cartagena, Colombia. Jardín is located in the inner courtyard of the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Hotel, which was once upon a time a colonial-era convent.
The exclusive tables set in the courtyard gardens are wonderfully elegant. The food here is also terrific with some unique flavor combinations. Drinks are also very good with some unique handcrafted cocktails you won’t find anywhere else in Cartagena.
4. Buena Vida Marisquería
It’d be a mistake to talk about the most beautiful restaurants in Cartagena without mentioning one with a rooftop. Buena Vida is one of Cartagena’s more recently opened popular restaurants and has a great little rooftop.
On the rooftop, you can enjoy great drinks and a solid menu that mixes upscale bar fare-inspired dishes with a bit of a Mexican influence (the margaritas are also terrific!). You’ll find a larger menu that features a variety of seafood along with a pretty and colorful ambiance inside as well.
5. Marea by Rausch
Located in the city’s convention center, Marea by Rausch has a gorgeous deck that overlooks the bay right beside the Walled City. Seeing the walls and the nearby San Pedro Claver church lit up at night makes this another great setting for dinner in Cartagena.
Run by some of Colombia’s most famous chefs, the Rausch brothers, the food here is also terrific and is a fusion of traditional Colombian ingredients and flavors with an international flair. You’ll definitely want to make sure you get a table on the deck here, as the inside, while nice enough, just doesn’t compare to the gorgeous views on the water.
Located in the Casa San Agustín Hotel, Alma is one of Cartagena’s most elegant restaurants. Everything on the menu here is exquisitely prepared and, like so many of the other beautiful restaurants in Cartagena, the seafood really shines.
The restaurant is decorated in true Cartagena charm, with walls that look like colonial facades with little balconies. It’s a great place to enjoy a meal and feel right at home in a lovely Cartagena locale.
7. Restaurante Candé
Candé also has a lovely locale and ambiance. It is set in a huge former mansion and has some pretty tables inside as well as a gorgeous courtyard dominated by a giant tree.
The food here is also great with a variety of seafood and other dishes that highlight traditional Colombian food served up elegantly. There is also frequently live music and dance performances on the mini stage in the courtyard which adds to the charm.
8. Rooftop at Townhouse
If you’d like something a bit different from traditional Colombian food, check out the rooftop restaurant and bar at Townhouse Boutique Hotel. The drinks here are great and there is always a fun vibe.
The food also really shines. They serve tapa and appetizer-sized portions and have terrific nachos, sliders, and one of the tastiest grilled octopuses around. There is also a nice view and you’ll be able to enjoy the cool sea breeze. On weekends, they do a terrific all-you-can-eat and drink brunch as well, and if you’re looking for one of the more unique bars in Cartagena, head downstairs to Prohibition which is decorated like a 1920s-era speakeasy, complete with a burlesque show.
9. Café del Mar
If you want more sea breeze, head to this iconic Cartagena restaurant and bar. It is located on a corner of the walls and looks directly out over the Caribbean Sea.
It’s more well known as a place to get drinks at sunset or in the evening, however, the food here is actually quite good. There is a limited, rotating menu but you can get appetizers to share as well as more complete entrees. The fantasia del mar seafood mix is a delicious platter of seafood in garlic sauce that you should not pass on if it happens to be on the menu the night you visit this beautiful restaurant in Cartagena.
10. Rooftop at Hotel Movich
For another terrific view of the sunset, head to the rooftop bar at Hotel Movich. This is also more well known as a place for drinks but the food is also top-notch, whether it be the appetizers or the plated meals.
It has a privileged view of the San Pedro Claver Church with the bay and modern-day skyscrapers of the Bocagrande district behind it.
11. Harry’s Cartagena
Located inside the elegant Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa, also a former convent, Harry’s is managed by another one of Colombia’s most famous chefs, Harry Sasson.
There is a large menu here and everything is well presented and bursting with flavor. The gorgeous courtyard inside the hotel with vines hanging down from the balconies also makes it one of the most beautiful restaurants in Cartagena. There is also a neat bar and restaurant area on an outside plaza in front that is nice if you prefer the fresh air.
12. La Cevichería
This little spot that serves up ceviches and other seafood dishes was put on the map when Anthony Bourdain featured it on No Reservations. It’s a tiny place and its popularity means there is normally a wait. Set in a little colonial-era building, it’s a crowded and bustling, but charming locale. There are also some tables perfect for overlooking the nearby Plaza San Diego outside.
13. Mar y Zielo
This elegant little restaurant not only serves up terrific food, but it also has a privileged view of Cartagena’s Santa Catalina de Alejandría Cathedral. There’s a neat little rooftop here and the view of the cathedral lit up at night is gorgeous.
If you’re looking for sushi in Cartagena, be sure to check out Kokoa. It has a sort of reggae inspired beach bar decoration. The rolls here include traditional ones as well as some unique mixes inspired by traditional Cartagena and Colombian food.
Located just off the San Fernandez de Madrid Park, this is another of the most beautiful Cartagena restaurants. It has a mix of Peruvian, blended with traditional Cartagena-inspired seafood and non-seafood dishes. It also has great sushi.
There is a pretty little courtyard in this former colonial home as well as pretty decorated inside areas. That makes it a great place to enjoy some flavorful cuisine in a charming atmosphere.
16. La Langosta
Set in a gorgeous home just outside of Colombia’s Walled City, this is another beautiful Cartagena restaurant with terrific food. It has a simple, yet elegant decoration, the type of place you might go for a nice Sunday dinner.
The seafood is the star here, including the many different preparations of fresh lobster you can get. It’s a little less well known than some of the other popular restaurants in Cartagena, but it’s a favorite classic for a special occasion among locals.
These are just a few of the many beautiful restaurants in Cartagena, Colombia. With its stunning architecture and vibrant colors, it’s not hard to find a gorgeous setting in which to enjoy a delicious meal.
About the Author
Adam McConnaughhay lived in Cartagena from 2011 to 2022 and writes about it and other destinations in Colombia at CartagenaExplorer.com.