Weather in Cartagena in January

Joanne Owen

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 24.04.2024

There are plenty of reasons the Colombian city of Cartagena attracts stacks of visitors in January. First up, it’s hot and dry, and the sea is wonderfully warm — perfect for enjoying its Caribbean coastline, idyllic islands, and exploring UNESCO Heritage Site marvels in blissfully warm weather. At the same time, though January sits within the high season, the city becomes less crowded as the month progresses. For more intel, read on for detail on the weather in Cartagena in January, along with suggestions for what do see and do during the month.

Is January a good time to visit Cartagena?

January is a great time to visit Cartagena. Having a tropical climate, the city enjoys two distinct seasons — wet (May to November) and dry (December to April). Sitting in the dry season, the weather in Cartagena in January offers warm, sunny days with little to no rain.

With average temperatures ranging from 24°C (75°F) to 30°C (86°F), January is a wonderful time to bliss out on beautiful beaches, and meander its walled city UNESCO treasures in the cooler mornings. Come the evening, it remains plenty warm enough to dine alfresco.

In addition, as the peak holiday season tails off through early-to-mid January, Cartagena becomes less crowded and more chilled as the month moves on. That’s especially noticeable when you’re out and about in the Old Town, and taking day trips to the likes of the Islas del Rosario and Playa Blanca.

That said, when you consider Cartagena’s visitor numbers across the year, January remains pretty darn popular. More on crowd numbers below.

Interested in visiting Cartagena? Talk to our local Colombia experts to kick-start creating your dream trip. 

Travel Guide Colombia Rough Guides - Cathedral San Pedro Claver in Cartagena

The weather in Cartagena in January offers warm, sunny days with virtually no rain © Shutterstock

Average temperatures in Cartagena in January

Given its tropical climate, temperatures are warm throughout the year, with the weather in Cartagena in January yielding an average of 30°C (86°F) during the day, dropping to 24°C (75°F) at night.

This compares with it usually being slightly hotter — and more humid — from April to June, when temperatures range from 26°C (79°F) to 31°C (88°F).

Sitting in the dry season, January also sees a very low level of rain. As for the numbers, both January and February see an average of 1mm (0.04 inches), in comparison with 206mm (8.11 inches) falling in October. 

Editor’s tip: for a bigger picture of the weather, read up on the best time to visit Colombia.

What about the crowds and cost?

While Cartagena’s high season months are December to January, visitor numbers drop off through the month. So, if you’re not a fan of peak season crowds, consider heading here from mid-January.

On that subject, it’s worth knowing that Semana Santa (Easter week) also attracts a significant influx of domestic and international visitors.

If you’re looking for the smallest crowds — and lowest prices — visit in the June-November low (and rainy) season, or during the February-April and late-November to early December shoulder seasons.

But back to January. It remains a great month to visit if you fancy experiencing the city in a warm, dry, lively environment, and are prepared to pay more for flights, accommodation and tours than you would in the low and shoulder season periods.

Still not sure where to go? Discover some of the best places to visit in January.

View of the marina and tall apartment buildings in the modern section of Cartagena, Colombia

View of the marina in the modern area of Cartagena, Colombia © Jess Kraft/Shutterstock

Unforgettable customisable Colombia itineraries

If you fancy seeing a rewarding range of Colombia, consider taking a trip that’s been curated by a Rough Guides' local expert.

As revealed in our guide to backpacking Colombia, going it alone takes some planning and can present challenges. In contrast, taking the Rough Guides route means our experts will take care of planning an unforgettable trip that’s been 100% tailored to your preferences.

Here are a few sample itineraries to spark inspiration:

  • Magnificent Colombian Highlights (11 days): from exploring bustling Bogota and charming Cartagena to uncovering the natural wonders of Puerto Narino and Medellín’s vibrant culture, this trip is rich in experiences and magnificent in nature. 
  • Fascination Colombia - Medellín and Cartagena (11 days): This immersive two-center trip will see you divide your time between Medellin and Cartagena, with each base offering opportunities to experience a richness of Colombian culture, from taking authentic cooking classes to exploring the great outdoors on horseback.
  • Unforgettable Colombia - cities, coffee, and islands (13 days): encompassing Colombia's three main areas, including the capital, Bogotá, the beautiful colonial town of Villa de Leyva, and Cartagena, this diverse trip will see you uncover coffee culture in lush hillsides and valleys before blissing out on the idyllic Islas del Rosario.
Metropolitan cathedral church in Medellin, Colombia © Shutterstock

Rough Guides' trips can take you from Medellín (pictured) to Cartagena, and beyond © Shutterstock

What to do and see in Cartagena in January

Being in the dry season, and lively with peak season crowds, January is a great month to enjoy the full diversity of Cartagena’s attractions and activities, from its sublime beaches and water-sports offerings to uncovering culture.

Here are some of the best things to see and do in Cartagena in January.

Soak up stunning beaches and underwater adventures

Take advantage of the dry season to relax on the beaches of Bocagrande and Castillogrande.

Besides chilling out on the soft sand, take a trip to the Rosario Islands for spectacular underwater scenery and a touch of adventure.

Just a short boat ride from Cartagena, their crystal-clear waters and vibrant coral reefs are ripe for extraordinary snorkeling and diving experiences.

Head out of town for hiking adventures

More easily tackled in the dry season, outdoor adventures await in biodiverse beauty spots within reach of the city.

Though a four-hour drive from Cartagena, visiting Tayrona National Natural Park comes highly recommended for hikers and nature lovers. 

Editor’s tip: one of the most popular — and rewarding — routes on the park is the hike to the ancient indigenous village of El Pueblito. From here, the trail leads to stunning Cabo San Juan beach. 

Tayrona National Park in Colombia

Tayrona National Park © Shutterstock

Take a walking tour of undercover history

With the pleasant January weather perfect for walking tours, we suggest exploring Cartagena’s UNESCO-designated attractions in the company of a local guide. Given the heat, we suggest doing this early in the morning, or towards the end of the day.

The historic streets of the Old Town are stacked with colonial architecture, colorful houses, and lively plazas. Then there’s the iconic, imposing Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas — the most monumental fortress built by the Spaniards in any of their colonies.

Editor’s tip: time your tour to sip a sun-downer at Café del Mar — it's located on the city walls.

Explore Getsemaní at dusk 

After a day on the beach — or adventuring — enjoy the cooler evenings exploring the vibrant neighbourhood of Getsemaní.

Known for its street art, music, and local restaurants and bars, while the area draws lots of tourists in the high season January, it never loses its local vibe.

Editor’s tip: head to Plaza de la Trinidad to see street performers do their thing.

Go volcano bathing

For something different, visit the Totumo mud volcano. Around 1 hour and 20 minutes from town, you’ll have no trouble getting here, with plenty of tours available. 

On arrival, you climb into the crater to float in the warm, therapeutic mud baths. Believed to have healing properties, you’ll most likely come away with soft skin and a smile on your face.

Still, making up your mind? Read up on the best things to do in Colombia.


Street scene in Cartagena. Colombia © Shutterstock

Visit Cartagena in different months

To be better informed before booking your trip, find out what to expect of the weather in Cartagena around the year.

  • February: similar to January, shoulder-season February sees hot, dry conditions with temperatures averaging 31°C (88°F), and fewer tourists than January.
  • March: the heat continues as the dry season transitions towards more humid conditions later in the month — still ideal for hitting the beach.
  • April: this marks the start of the wet season, with increased humidity, occasional showers and fewer visitors as the shoulder season shifts to low season.
  • May: expect more frequent rain showers as the wet season progresses, while temperatures remain warm, averaging around 31°C (88°F).
  • June: the wet season continues with regular rain in this low season month, though there are still plenty of sunny intervals. 
  • July: similar to June, July offers a mix of rain and sunshine, with daytime temperatures still hitting an average of around 31°C (88°F).
  • August: another mix of rain, and hot, sunny days. Expect visitor numbers to remain low, and look to mix the beach with indoor cultural activities.
  • September: this low season month sees the city enter the peak of the wet season, but it remains hot.
  • October: this is usually the wettest month, so expect significant rainfall and prepare to be flexible with your travel plans.
  • November: the rain starts to decrease during November as the region shifts back to the dry season, with visitor numbers increasing as the month wears on.
  • December: the dry season begins with less rainfall and more sunny days. Temperatures average around 31°C (88°F), making it a popular time for visitors.
Joanne Owen

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 24.04.2024

Joanne is a Pembrokeshire-born writer with a passion for the nature, cultures and histories of the Caribbean region, especially Dominica. Also passionate about inspiring a love of adventure in young people, she’s the author of several books for children and young adults, hosts international writing workshops, and has written articles on the Caribbean and inspirational community initiatives for Rough Guides. Follow her @JoanneOwen on Twitter and @joanneowenwrites on Instagram.

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