Cartagena Spain is a delightful port city.
It was and still is one of the famous naval station by the Mediterranean Sea.
Cartagena is located in the province of Murcia, in the South East of Spain.
The part of the coast of Spain is called the Costa Calida.
The best of the Costa Calida and Cartagena Spain is that the climate is hot and dry. In the most places of this coast , you can enjoy the warm Mediterranean weather. As result nearly the all year-long, warm summers and smooth winters.
Thanks to the proximity of the sea, Cartagena enjoys of a Mediterranean climate. Meaning : a excellent weather and nearly 325 days of sun in a year.
Cartagena a hidden gem.
Cartagena is one of the oldest cities in Spain.
It has over 3000 years of history to its name. The City is one of the hidden gems in Spain.
In the recent years the city is renovated and modernized to attract more tourists.
As a result that the town is a place worth to explore and to discover.
Cartagena is a multicultural city.
In the past and still is a mix of several historical cultures. First there were the Romans, later on the Muslims, and finally the Spanish.
Now you can see the influence of this mix first of all reflected in the museums.
Tourist also plays an import role in the local economy. In particular the West and North European tourists are more than 50 % of the visitors. And finally more than 25% of the this visitors are British.
Start your visit.
To start a visit of Cartagena Spain make a visit to the tourist office. The place to be for more information about the churches, museums and monuments.
Remember that you are in Spain , therefore the most museums are closed on Monday.
Again do not forget the famous siesta . Even a large city as Cartagena is death between 14.00 and 17.00 in the summer. And everything is close between 14.00 and 16.00 in the winter.
The most popular sites are the Roman Forum and the Roman theater. But also the Conception castle, the “Casa de la Fortuna” and the fortress “El Fuerte de Navidad”.
Visit the museums to learn more about the Punic walls. These famous walls where build in the 3rd century before Christ. In the past this walls helps defend Cartagena Spain.
After all Cartagena is one of the most important cities in the region of Murcia.
Where to eat in Cartagena Spain ?
Near the Calle Real, there are many narrow streets. This streets are full of little cheap noisy tapas bars, nice restaurants and cafeterias. A nice way to discover this beautiful town.
In one of these cafeterias you can eat the famous Spanish breakfast. Indeed bread with tomates or “Pan con tomate, café con leche y sumo de naranja”. It is simple, cost about 3 euro and is excellent. We love it. .
In the restaurants in the old quarter, try a “caldero”. This is a fish stew with tomatoes, garlic, scorpion dish and saffron. With bread and homemade Alioli.
At most restaurants you can eat a daily menu for max 10 euro . You get a 3 course menu, with drink and bread included !
A nice address is also the ” Mare Nostrum” at the eastern end of the harbor . On the first floor you are overlooking the Marina. Try the specialty from the house ” the Caldero ” of Murcia.
You get it with wine and bread for approximate 25 €.
For this with a rental car, there is a free nearby parking. From there you can stroll towards the promenade and the town.
For the lovers of sweet liquor : Cuarenta y tres ( 43 ) is the specialty from Cartagena.
Do a tasting trip to the 43 liquor factory.
Besides Cartagena is the only place in the world where the sweet liquor is produced. This sweet temptation of the city is now exported to more than 70 countries.
Cartagena Spain Shopping
Besides the beautiful harbor and the ancient buildings, Cartagena is also known for its many shops.
In the pedestrian zone of the avenue Mayor, tourist can window shop from the “ayuntamiento” till the “Plaza de Espana”.
Side by side there are department stores such as Mango, Zara, Celio, Springfield and Pull & Bear.
But also the well-know Spanish clothing outlet “Desigual” and ” Sfera” are located in the Mayor street.
But Cartagena has also little characteristic old narrow streets. This are full with small bookshops, exclusive fashion boutique, jewelers, shoes and perfumes.
This part of the city is a pleasant area to walk and enjoy the Spanish lifestyle and explore the many shops .
Cartagena Spain Shopping Center Espacio Mediteraneo.
Outside the village, direction Torrevieja, there is 54,000 m² large covered shopping centers ” Espacio Mediteràneo ” .
In the shopping center there is a Cinema and a Bowling Park. The Center offers you restaurants and fashion. The branches are Massimo Dutti , Zara, C&A, Cortefiel, Pull&Bear and others .
There is also a large Carrefour.
Centro Comercial Y De Ocio Espacio Mediterráneo, Calle Londres, Polígono Industrial Cabezo Beaza, Cartagena
El Corte Inglés, Alameda San Antón, Cartagena
Parque Comercial Y De Ocio Mandarache, Avenida Ronda Ciudad de La Union, 30, Cartagena
The town takes a very important strategic position as a maritime enclave on the Coast of the Costa Calida.
First of all the harbor of Cartagena Spain has a history of naval constructions since ancient times.
For instance the harbor is well-known for the inventor of the submarine, Isaac Peral. This is considered to be the first torpedo-firing sub.
Furthermore a boat trip in the harbor explains the important of this port and the famous “Armada”. In the past the Armada had played a key role in several wars in the history of Spain.
During the 18 century the great wall around the old centre “ Muralla del mar “ was build.
Now the wall can be seen when walking from the harbor to the Town Hall. The town hall itself is dating from the early 20th century.
Cartagena Spain is also booming as port of call for cruise ships.
This growth continues. A record of 150 000 cruise ships was arriving in Cartagena in 2015.
In the future this number will increase even further in the future .
Cruising in Cartagena.
A total of 150 cruise ships are expected on Cartagena.
This ships are going to bring around 230 000 tourist to the city and his region.
This number is more than ever.
Around 180 000 passengers docked in the port in the year 2016.
Indeed, Cartagena becomes more and more popular
Besides, Cartagena will welcome larger boats , meanly carrying German and English tourist.
But there will also be French passengers, Italian and even Asian tourist walking trough Cartagena city.
As a result that the Port authority will expand the cruise terminal and improve the services for the visitors
Since 2016 there is more infrastructure and staff available to help the many passengers.
The main attractions involve visiting the Roman monuments.
But also shopping and enjoying the Spanish way of drinking and eating. Tapas are very popular.
The people of Cartagena are very proud of the history of the city.
They even organize a photography contest to honor their heritage. Contestants send in photographs that focus on the Cartagena area’s archaeological heritage.
The objective of the contest is to give information about the extra ordinary historical and archaeological heritage that the area is home to.
The city has over 12 museums, many buildings of interest, nice churches and a lots of monuments. Especially relevant are the archaeological sites.
Time to discover.
In the past, Cartagena became great during Roman times.
But was also the base for the Spanish Navy since the start of the 18 century !
Take your time to discover the old town with the characterful streets.
Relax en enjoy at one of the many restaurants and bars in the old town .
Near the town hall are the remains of the Roman Theater.
Good to known is that this theater is one of the most important in Spain.
The Roman Theater Museum of Cartagena is discovered by chance in 1987. Since then is theater has been restored and is now a jewel .
The “Casa Fortuna” is a museum nearby the Roman Theater. This museum shows how the daily life of the Romans family was in the first century AD.
Do you like another view of the Roman Theater ?
Than you can walk up to the hill to the Torres park.
On the top is the site of the “Conception castle”.
In the past, this fortress was used as a strategic point.
For instance : by the Carthaginians, later on the Romans, the Arabs and of course the Castilian.
“Castillo de la Conception” offers audio guide in Elglish, French and Spanish. This audio guides to improve visitor information.
For a fee of 3 €, the audio guides offers a full history of Cartagena.
More specifically on the castle itself, which is one of Cartagena oldest defenses.
On top of the hill you can visit the History and Medieval Cartagena Visitor Centre ( cost : 4€) .
It is worth visiting because you have a extreme beautiful panoramic view at the whole city around you, the harbor, the several other hills with little Fortress.
The ancient Cartagena cathedral will be open to the public on the last four days of each month.
The Cathedral is next to the city center of the city. It is a very popular tourist attraction . Also by students.
On the open doors day the cathedral will open from 10.00 till 12.00.
If you prefer, you can hire a guide.
The mean street.
Besides this nature and culture walk you can explore the other side of Cartagena.
Indeed take a walk along the Mean street , the “Calle Real”, the Town Hall and The Casino. Furthermore the” Gran Hotel”, the railway station and several other beautiful houses and monuments.
For is the best way to learn about the lovely Spanish city is easy. Sit down in one of the many bars and relax and watch the world go by.
The nature of Cartagena Spain.
On the coastline of Cartagena there is a popular natural park , Calblanque park.
Visitors can enjoy the guided tours and activities in the park during the last summer season.
Nature lovers can take a walk alone in this beautiful natural park.
There are several visitors centers. Inform yourself before a walk because they have closing days.
When you take a guided tour, you get excellent information about the native flora and fauna living in the “Calblanque” park.
Bird-lovers can enjoy guided bird watching tours and learn about the nature.
They are others nice parks who are also very popular in the Murcian region.
Like there is the salt marsh natural park in San Pedro del Pinitar. But also the El Valle and Carroscoy mountains nearby Murcia. And the “Sierra Espuna” mountains near Alhama de Murcia. Al these are very popular by the nature lovers.
Festival in Cartagena: Historical battles.
Cartagena Spain has been inhabited for over 2000 years and was called Qart Hadasht by its founder. This was around 200 BC.
Cartagena prime period was during the Roman Empire. It was then known as Carthago Nova.
Cartagena has been controlled by the Moors, the Romans, the Punic and the Christians.
And every year in Cartagena, they celebrate this history by recreating these spectacular battles. This celebrations takes place during a week, in mid September.
Roman and Carthaginians Fiesta .
First, the celebrations (fiestas) attract people from all over Spain and also many foreign tourist.
Throughout the week the city is full of events and activities.
In fact , they are all related with the long history of the town.
While the fiesta reconstruct the battles for control over Cartagena.
Now and in the past , one of the most important strategic ports in the Mediterranean Sea.
The best , all events are free, except the Great Roman Circus.
So enjoy the recreation of the battles and the parades.
All in all , they are related to the Carthaginians and the Romans.
Some of the highlights are: the arrival of the Sacred Fire by sea at the port, The roman Senate, the wedding of Hannibal. But also the Nuptial celebrations and Weddings in the Carthaginian streets,the Roman Bike ride and the Large Craft market.
Also, enjoy the Landing of the Carthaginian navy, the Sea battle, the Large troops and legion parade.
At last but not at least, the Grand Firework at the Fiesta.
In brief for more information, maps, dates, hours see the local tourist information.
In the past we visited the town already several times with friend and family.
Were are very pleased with our visit and we will surely return once again to the beautiful and vibrant Cartagena.
How to get there .
First by rail , the most direct route is Barcelona and Valencia.
The direction Murcia and Cartagena.
Then by air, the nearest gateway is the airport of Murcia San Javier airport.
Indeed from San Javier to Cartagena it only 30 km drive .
Some well known low coast flight company are landing on San Javier.
Next a bit further away is the airport of Alicante.
From Alicante to Cartagena it is 121 km drive. Taking the A 7 and the A 30