Arriving in Cartagena, Spain was a welcome relief from the long days sailing down the Spanish and Portuguese coast. Berthing in Yacht Port Cartagena marina allowed us to relax, regroup and visit Cartagena old town before embarking on an overnight sail to The Balearic Islands.
Approaching the entrance to the harbour, we were worried that we had chosen to rest in an industrialised port with little to offer. Happily, we discovered a great marina within close walking distance of wonderful old town rich in naval and Roman history.
Architecture and Sights
A marble pedestrian high street (Calle Major) leads up from the port through the major commercial and old town. Cartagena has a wonderful Carthaginian and Roman remains, old military installations and Modernist buildings to see and visit during your stay.
Juxtaposed against the ancient ruins is an urban town full of colourful quirks, Spanish wines and tasty food.
The Impact of Mass Tourism
Owning to its growing popularity, and sadly in my view, Cartagena is now a major cruise ship destination. The tourists from these ships flood Calle Major on arrival; tending to visit the town during the day and mostly frequent the main street. So, avoid the main part of town during the days the ships are in town and you’ll get a more local atmosphere in the evenings.
My 3 Highlights of our Cartagena Visit
- The Roman Amphitheatre and Museum. A very well preserved amphitheatre right in the middle of the old town.
- An anniversary dinner at La Catedral de Cartagena with delicious food, eccentric owner and eclectic decor. The restaurant is situated directly next to the Roman amphitheatre and ancient footings can be seen through parts of the glass floor. You’ll find that the locals won’t arrive at this restaurant until after 10pm as the Spanish typically prefer to eat late.
- The lowering of the Spanish flag at the Palacio de Capitanía General, conducted with much pomp and ceremony; while enjoying an evening drink and tapas. The flag lowering happens on the last Thursday of every month at sunset and brings people together in the square to witness and applaud this solemn event. The video below shows a small snippet of the ceremony.
So, with so much to see and enjoy in this relaxed town, I’d highly recommend a visit to Cartagena while you are travelling down the Spanish coast.
If you have to Cartagena, let me know what your thoughts and any suggestions of other sights to see.