MOCHILAS Brightly coloured or neutral toned natural fibre handwoven bags with striking geometric patterns. They hail from indigenous artisans from La Guajira and near Santa Marta. Prices vary depending on quality... but they aren't cheap! They hover around the $50 mark. Buy from the street, from the wide collection at or get fancy versions in boutiques like St Dom.
BIKINI As Colombia's and much of Latin America's beach-side playground, Cartagena is also home to some of the most innovative and beautiful beachwear designs. I think one of the brightly patterned, sometimes bejewelled bikinis would make an awesome souvenir. Or for the men, the tropical kitschy bermuda shorts are completely rad. Go to St Dom Touché, Del Mar, Ondade Mar in Centro, Hookipa in Bocagrande or Laguna Rose in Mall Plaza for a dazzling selection of all the top brands.
HATS Panama hats in every colour under the rainbow, the traditional black and white weave of the Vueltiao hat or one of Planeta Champeta's urban cool gorras.. you are challenged to stop at just one!
ANTIQUES By now you're sure to have noticed all the incredible doorknockers adorning the historic houses here. Why not buy one of your own? El Arcon Anticuario sells replica doorknockers together with other amazing artefacts. Or in Getsemani, check out the awesome Ocho Reales Maritime Artefacts and Collectable store on Calle Larga (near the Puente Roman).
ART I love buying art when I travel.. in Cartagena it can be a bit more difficult to unearth the gems.. it seems to be touristy mass produced paint by numbers from the street, or super expensive gallery pieces. There are a few good options if you know where to look. Book in an art tour or alternatively, I can also put you directly in touch with some of my most favourite artists and photographers here for a unique souvenir that will appreciate (and be appreciated) forever.
EMERALDS Colombia is responsible (according to Wikipedia) for 70-90% of the world's emeralds. The mines are mostly located outside of Bogota in Boyaco.. but the stores and workshops in Cartagena are the most famous retailers. Gem traders come to wield deals on the sparkly shiny stones with their haul valued at considerably higher prices in the US and European markets. So potentially you can pick up a bargain.. Mostly though I just think they are super pretty. Check out Lucy Jewelry, Elia Jewelery and the amazing designs of Paula Mendoza.
CIGARS I know less than nothing about the Cuban cigars sold here, except that the ones on the street are usually fake and you should probably go to a reputable place like La Cava del Puro to purchase with confidence. Also a great place to buy the best Rum Colombia has to offer.
MUSIC Remember dancing your nights away by purchasing some of the musical mixes from Cartagena - salsa, champeta, cumbia, porro, meringue, reggaeton. There's dozens of street vendors who can't wait to load you up with ripped versions of all the classics.
LINEN Nothing says vay-cay like linen. Holidaying Colombians take great delight in wearing a wardrobe strictly comprised of white linen when they come to Cartagena. Blend in and stock up on this luxe staple. Special occasions and weddings call for a Guayabera; a tailored-button-up shirt.
More? I kept to 10 but there's also a bunch of beautiful artisan-type goodies available around town that deserves a mention.. like the brilliantly bright designs of Alvipop, who takes the stereotypical tourist souvenirs of the palenque fruit woman and the statue of catalina and then paints them in fluroscent make-you-happy colours.
Other good souvenirs available from the supermarket: Santander Chocolate, Juan Valdez Coffee and Copelia Coco and Arequipe Cocadas. Mmmm...