What to Wear In Cartagena: Your Comprehensive Packing List

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What to Wear In Cartagena: Your Comprehensive Packing List What to Wear In Cartagena: Your Comprehensive Packing List

With its colorful streets, rich culture, and laid back vibe, Cartagena, Colombia is exactly what I was looking for in a bachelorette party destination. However, as I am starting to prepare for my trip in just two short weeks, I am quickly realizing that my usual travel packing list of neutral-colored basics is just not going to cut it in colorful Cartagena. If you’re wondering what to wear in Cartagena, whether for a bachelorette trip, a solo adventure, or a couples getaway, you’ll find everything you need to stay cool and fit in with the locals in the comprehensive packing list below.

What to Wear In Cartagena: Your Comprehensive Packing List

General Guidelines

Cartagena, located on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, has a tropical climate, a laid back vibe, and lots of sun. There are beautiful beaches scattered off the coastline, and taking a boat trip out to one of these islands is one of the most popular activities for tourists and locals alike. Despite its warm climate, however, it is unlikely that you’ll find many local women wearing shorts around town. Rather, light, flowy dresses and skirts are much more common and acceptable among locals. You’ll also find more light and airy colors and patterns around than darker colors, so don’t be afraid to get colorful, but stay away from deep hues as they just don’t fit the vibe of Cartagena as well, and you’ll regret dressing yourself as a heat absorber.

Needless to say, you’ll want to pile on the sunscreen when you’re there, especially if you have a paler complexion or are coming from a colder area without much sun (hello Chicago). Light cover ups and sun hats will also help protect you against the harmful rays while still keeping you cool, fashionable, and tan.

What to Wear In Cartagena: Your Comprehensive Packing List

Maxi Skirts/Dresses

I’m starting with maxi skirts and dresses because you’re definitely going to want to pack at least one of these for your Cartagena trip. Since the weather will most likely be very hot, and shorts will automatically make you stand out as a tourist, maxi skirts and dresses are the best way to stay cool and blend in with the locals. Below are a few of my favorite maxi skirts and dresses, but you can find my complete list in my Amazon shop.

MAXI SKIRTS

Asher Bohemian Elastic Waist Maxi Skirt $19.59 | Afibi Floral Pleated Vintage Chiffon Maxi Skirt $23.99 | v28 Elastic Pleated Retro Maxi Skirt $27.01

MAXI DRESSES

SVALIY Floral Off The Shoulder Chiffon Maxi Dress $22.99 | Yidarton Blue and White Porcelain Strapless Boho Maxi Dress $22.99 | NERLEROLIAN Strappy Beach Midi Dress $22.99 R.Vivimos Deep V Cotton Beach Dress $28.99

Short Skirts/Dresses

If you are someone who finds herself sweating in just about anything when you’re in the heat and are afraid that a maxi skirt or dress will be too much fabric for your sweat glands to handle, or if you’re short like me and have a hard time finding maxi dresses that don’t drag, fill your backpack up with some short skirts and dresses instead. Below are a few of my favorite short skirts and dresses, but you can find my complete list in my Amazon shop.

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SHORT SKIRTS

ZAFUL Vintage Floral Pleated Swing Midi Skirt $16.99 | WDIRARA High Waist Asymmetrical Floral Wrap Skirt $17.99 | Hibluco High Waist Polka Dot Asymmetrical Ruffles Skirt $19.99

SHORT DRESSES

Asvivid Halter Neck Floral Sleeveless Mini Dress $18.99 | ECOWISH Floral V-Neck Spaghetti Strap Mini Swing Skater Dress $20.99 | Yobecho Off Shoulder Floral Pleated Dress $23.99

Two Piece Jumpsuits

Two piece jumpsuits and sets are SO cute and easy to mix and match too, which is an important element for light packers like me. I love a crop top paired with a flowy skirt or flowy pants, keeping it cool and stylish. Below are a few of my favorite two piece sets for summer, but you can find my complete list in my Amazon shop. If you’re a fan of two piece sets like I am, you may also be interested in checking out my favorite travel rompers.

W-Grace Sleeveless Plaid Summer Crop Top + Knot Front Set $18.99 | Angashion Floral Crop Top Maxi Skirt Set $21.99 | Floerns Strapless Tube Top and Pants Set $23.99 | FANCYINN Deep V Crop Top Side Slit Wide Leg Pants Set $24.99

Crop Tops

Two piece sets are adorable and fun, but if you’re a minimalist traveler like me, you might be more interested in mixing and matching your own tops and bottoms rather than packing matching sets that can be a little more difficult to mix and match. Below are a few of my favorite crop tops for matching with flowy bottoms, but you can find my complete list in my Amazon shop.

Misaky Lace Crochet Vest $5.99 | SheIn Boho Ruffle Off Shoulder Crop Top $9.99 | Generic Sleeveless Tassel Hem Chiffon Crop Top $14.86

Flowy Pants

While shorts aren’t banned or considered offensive in Cartagena per se, they are also not the go-to for local women. In fact, one surefire way to stand out as a tourist in Cartagena is to walk around town in your jean shorts and a tee. Substitute your shorts for one of the flowy pants below, and enjoy Cartagena like a local. You can also find a complete list of my favorite flowy pants in my Amazon shop.


Fanteecy Boho High Slit Flowy Wide Leg Palazzo Trousers $8.85 | Simplee Striped High Waisted Flowy Wide Leg Pants $20.99 | Ecupper Elastic Waist Cotton Cropped Trouser $24.98

Swimsuits

You simply cannot visit Cartagena without making a trip to the beach or pool, so make sure you pack your favorite swimsuits (yes, plural, because you’ll want to show off all your swimsuits – and that beach bod you’ve been working so hard on – once you get to this beautiful coastal city). Whether you’re looking for a new one piece swimsuit, high-waisted two piece, or bikini, I’ve got my top picks for you below.

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dilinte One Piece Strappy Cross Women’s Swimsuit $25.99 | Tempt Me Two Piece Off Shoulder Crop Bikini $25.99 | Blooming Jelly High Waisted Bikini Set $22.99 | Seaselfie Tropical Forests High Neck Push Up Padding Bikini $28.99

If you have a bigger budget for your upcoming trip, I would highly recommend checking out these swimsuits from LIVELY, a primarily lingerie brand that also has super cute swimsuits and draws its inspiration from women with wild hearts and boss brains. Below are a few of my favorite styles and prints. Don’t forget to use code ‘AMB-ddwchen’ at checkout or simply click this link for $10 off your order.

The Tank One Piece $65 | The Bralette + The High Waist $80 | The High-Neck Halter + The High Waist | $80

Cover Ups

The easiest way to go from the beach or pool to a restaurant or street is to throw on a beach cover up over your swimsuit. Below are a few of my favorite cover ups, but you can find my complete list in my Amazon shop.

Chalier Chiffon Beach Wear Cover Up $11.99 | Zoye Chen Loose Kimono Floral Cardigan $15.50 | Jeasona Bathing Suit Cover Up Crochet Dress $16.99

Sandals

A quality – and comfortable – pair of sandals is a must have in Cartagena, as you’ll be doing a lot of walking around old town and showing off your salsa skills at night. Below are a few of my favorite pairs, but you can find my complete list in my Amazon shop.

SANDALUP Open Toe Slingback Sandals $7.99 | Sanuk Yoga Sling 2 Print Vintage $37.95 | Dirty Laundry  Peyton Espadrille Wedge Sandal $49.95

If you have a higher budget to work with, I highly recommend checking out these sandals from Everlane. They are classic, pretty, and comfortable – a perfect match for the colorful dresses listed above!

The Modern Buckle Sandal $55 | The Form Slide Sandal $60 | The Form Crossover Sandal $118

I cannot wait to leave my winter clothes behind and head down south to Cartagena with my girls in two weeks! Let me know in the comments below what your staple pieces are for a beachy/coastal destination like Cartagena, Colombia, and don’t forget to bring your favorite sunnies and sun hat!


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Hi, I'm Diana, the big sister in the sister duo. I left my job as an attorney in March 2017 to pursue the work-from-anywhere/travel-everywhere life aka The Dream. I blog about off the beaten trail travel destinations, adventure travel, immersing in local cultures, and publish plenty of travel guides for all you who are too lazy to plan your own trips. I've traveled to 61 countries to date, and some of my recent adventures include hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro, visiting a child I've sponsored for over 10 years in Rwanda, and exploring the Middle East.

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12 Responses
  1. Jane Dempster-Smith

    Such a great selection of clothes. I want every piece. That is a little difficult seeing I travel the world with only a carry on. Cartegena looks such an amazing place place to visit.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Kristy Bullard

    These would be great for any tropical vacation or cruise! I couldn’t pull off a crop top, but I love the dresses, maxi skirts and jumpsuits. And cover ups are perfect when you’re heading to the beach or pool.

  3. Wow…. don’t think I’ve had to really think about my wardrobe in such detail based on colours! No dark hues…. I’m in so much trouble but I totally get what you’re saying though. I want to blend in too and get on the party, Colombian vibe! I am beyond crop tops but so could do the jumpsuits! Hope you had a wonderful bacholerette party!!

    1. Thanks, Amy! Half my wardrobe is black and it’s my favorite “color” to wear, so this will be a different experience for me too! But you gotta switch it up once in a while, right?

  4. Sarah

    Lovely choice of clothes, I dream (and so does my boyfriend lol) of dressing so feminine but I’m such a jeans and T-shirt girl. Maybe one day 🙂

  5. Cartagena is an exotic place and also tropical. So as you mention it makes sense to wear clothes that suit the climate. Also, it is best to follow the locals. It is a nice opportunity to flaunt those colourful, flowery, and flowing dresses.

  6. umiko Silalahi

    They all look cute, but my favorites are the short skirts and dresses since they don’t take up too many space in the luggage. But maxi skirts and dress look nice for a sunset watch and walk or partying along the beach after. Either way, you will stay cool and fit in in your trip. Have fun!

  7. I, too, cannot wait to leave my winter clothes behind and head south to Cartagena! Unfortunately, I don’t have any set plans to go there — AS OF YET! But it keeps getting bumped up higher and higher on my list. And now I have a great idea of what to pack once I finally go! Thanks for the beautiful tips and fashion inspo! 🙂 And have a great time on your next trip!

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