A day trip to Cartagena

After spending a while in the beautiful but rather quiet beach resort of Torrevieja, you might feel the need to visit a bigger city. If the combination of historic monuments, outstanding art deco buildings, a port and a thriving and lively inner city appeals to you, Cartagena is your destination. Easy to reach, there are so many things to do and see, that Cartagena  definitely belongs on the list of the five best day trips from Torrevieja.

About Cartagena

Founded over 2000 years ago by the Carthaginian Hasdrubal, Cartagena ows it's importance to its protected harbour. The city experienced its heyday during the Roman Empire, followed by occupation by the Visigoths, Vandals, Byzantines and Arabs until it was conquered in 1245 by King Alonso X.

Every culture has left its mark in the city, from the Roman amphitheatre, the second most important on the Spanish peninsula to churches, the 18th century rampart of King Charles III which encircles the old town and the castle of La Concepcion.

Castle and rampart,Cartagena

During the beginning of the 20th century, Cartagena experienced a time of wealth due to the mining industry in the surrounding mountains, which lead to the construction of elegant art deco townhouses along Calle Mayor.

Art deco building,Cartagena

A naval base, Cartagena features a naval museum and the prototype of the first submarine, invented by the  engineer Peral  who was born in the city.

During the second half of September, Cartagena relives the battle between Carthaginian and Roman occupiers during the 2nd Punic War in a colourful festival  and re-enactment  of the fight which ended with the victory of the Romans and the ascent of Cartagena to wealth and importance.

What to do in Cartagena

Cartagena is a city best explored on foot which is easy to do because the pavements along the rampart and port are wide and even and Calle Mayor and several other streets which lead to it, are pedestrian zones.

PunicWall

Punic Wall,Cartagena

You might want to start your sightseeing trip at the Plaza Bastarreche (opposite the bus terminal and Renfe) where you will see a tall glass and wood building which houses the remains of the Punic Wall. Go inside and have a look through the glass floor, then descend to explore the crypt and ancient tombs encased in the rock walls.

Ancient tombs,Cartagena

Casa Fortuna

Head further down Calle Duque San Diego which leads you past Casa Fortuna, an ancient Roman villa with decorative wall paintings and objects which reflect domestic life in the 1st century BC. On your left and from afar you can already see the amphitheatre and the castle de la Concepcion on top of the hill

Roman Theatre,Cartagena.

The same street ends in Calle Mayor, a pedestrian zone and main street of Cartagena. Here you can admire several of the outstanding art deco buildings like Casa Llagostera and what was once the Grand Hotel.

Turn right and have a little rest in the Cafe/Restaurant La Tartana, one of Cartagena´s most popular places with a pretty interior of mirrors and chandeliers.

Cafe La Tartana,Cartagena

Head back along Calle Mayor until you come to Plaza del Ayuntamiento and the impressive Town Hall.

Town Hall,Cartagena

Museum and Roman Theatre

Opposite, in the pink building, is the entrance to the fabulous museum and Roman theatre. The entrance lies at sea level, but the theatre itself has been hewn into the hill many meters up. You go past show cases and then along paths and tunnels on several levels until you alight at the top tier of the amphitheatre which once had room for 6000 people.

Entrance to Roman museum,Cartagena

Walk around and then follow the signs to the exit to bring you back to Calle Mayor.

Inside Roman Museum,Cartagena

Head towards the port and Paseo de Alfonso XII.

Harbour trip

Cross the avenue and climb down to the quay where you find the starting point of the tourist boats which will take you on a 30 minute trip around Cartagena´s spectacular port. You will see cruise ships as well as containerships and the two fortresses which guard the entrance of the port. Looking back you get a great view of the panorama of Cartagena, the rampart and the castle.

Harbourtrips,Cartagena

On your return, climb back up and turn right walking towards the Naval Museum and the submarine Peral.

Cross over and follow the rampart wall until you come to Calle Gisbert.

Castle de la Concepcion

Turn left and you will already see a glass and steel 45m high elevator, which takes you up and over a walkway to the castle. Enjoy the view over port and city and the full extent of the Roman theatre from above.

Elevator and walkway to castle,Cartagena

Back down continue to follow along the rampart and you will end up at the starting point of your sightseeing roundtrip on foot.

Opening times of museums:

Tuesdays to Saturdays: 10am to 8pm

Sundays: 10am to 2pm

Mondays and bank holidays all museums and sites are closed.

From 1st October to 30th April (low season)

Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10am to 6pm

Sundays: 10 am to 2pm

Admission:: €6

How to get there

To get to Cartagena from Torrevieja, you have two choices. Either you go by car taking the AP-7 south. The distance is just over 60km and, depending on traffic, you might calculate 1 hour or slightly more.

The other alternative, if you don´t want to bother with parking is to take a Costa Azul bus from Torrevieja to the bus terminal in Cartagena which is only steps from the starting point of the suggested sightseeing route above.

If you take the 8.05am one, you arrive in Cartagena at 9.50am which gives you ample time for a full day of sightseeing. The last return bus leaves at 8pm.

Full of the impressions and images of the multicultural city of Cartagena, you will twice as much enjoy a few more restful days on the lovely beaches of Torrevieja.

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