Cruise Port Atlas | Cartagena, Spain Day Trips | Attractions

Cartagena, Spain Day Trips | Attractions

With limited time in port, planning is the best way to make the most of your time. Should you strike out on your own? Should you hire a local guide? Or should you book a shore excursion offered by the cruise line or an international tour company? Below we have listed the attractions and activities that many other cruisers have enjoyed. This information should help you plan.

The advantage to cruise line tours is that they are timed for your visit and give you flexibility to change your mind after your trip begins. The advantage of using a large international firm is that tours are often less expensive than cruise sponsored tours. The advantage to using a local tour company or guide is that prices can be significantly lower or you may be able to get a customized trip just to see the attractions that interest you most.

Cruise lines that visit Cartagena, Spain: Star Clippers, Windstar, Crystal, Oceania, SeaDream Yacht Club, Silversea, Celebrity, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Viking River Cruises

Key Attractions: Roman Theater, Roman Theater Museum, Archaeological Museum, Underwater Archaeological Museum, Conception Castle Esplanade de Bandaras, Mar Menor, Murcia Cathedral, Santa Clara Convent Museum, El Portus Beach, Cabo de Palos, Cala Fria, Cala Flores, Cala Reona, Cartagonova, Cala del Pino, Manga Beach, Torrevieja

Cartagena Attractions

Port to Underwater Archaeology Museum - 0.6 KM, 4 minute walk
Port to Roman Theater, Cathedral Ruins, Roman Theater Museum - 1.5 KM, 5 minutes, 10 minute walk
Port to Naval Museum - 1.7 KM, 5 minutes
Port to Archaeology Museum - 3 KM, 8 minutes
Port to Conception Castle - 1 KM, 10 minute walk uphill
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Cartagena is a Naval town and many of the sites are military buildings built over the last century, frequently in a lively Art Nouveau style. The Town Hall is an iconic building of this era. The ancient town is built on five central hills, one of which features the Conception Castle that was built with stones from the Roman theater and now houses a museum honoring the resistance of the town to Franco's fascist forces. The Roman Theater is the second largest in Spain. Only discovered in 1987, it has been beautifully restored and is now connected to an excellent museum which provides a great introduction to the historic ruin. Adjacent to the Theater is the remains of the 13th century Gothic cathedral which was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War. The Municipal Archaeological Museum is one of the city's most popular attractions. There is now a waterfront Underwater Archaeological Museum which offers items found in shipwrecks from many centuries of trade in the region and a life-size replica of a Roman merchant ship. Of special interest is the Carriage-Motorcyle Museum in the city. One of the best ways to experience the city is on a harbor tour. Along the waterfront and next to the yacht marina is the lovely Esplanade de Bandaras.

        

   

Photo of Roman Theater by Trasamundo, Photo of Town Hall by Morinigo

Mar Menor

Port to Mar Menor - 25-35 KM, 30-40 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

The Olympic swimmer and movie actress Esther Williams described Mar Menor as the world's largest swimming pool and it is the largest lagoon in Europe, separated from the Mediterranean by a 22 kilometer long sandbar that offers beach on both the sea and lagoon sides. The lagoon has a shoreline of 70 kilometers and encloses a protected wildlife habitat that features several volcanic islands in its center. The lagoon is no more than 7 meters deep and offers a habitat for a wide variety of wading birds including flamingos. At the northern corner of the water is a large area of salt flats which served the area since the Phoenicians arrived. The sandbar is called Manga Beach and ranges from 100 meters to just over a kilometer in a few sections.

           

   

Photo of Mar Menor volcanic island by Nioger, Photo of Mar Menor flamingos by Nanosanchez

Torrevieja

Port to Torrevieja - 57 KM, 50 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Torrevieja is to the north of Mar Menor and is on the outer edge of two lagoons that also have salt flats. Until the tourists arrived, it was a small fishing village. Now, more than half the residents are expatriates who come from Northern Europe, especially English-speaking countries. If you want to visit a tourist mecca with lots of English-speaking locals, Torrevieja is an excellent choice.

        

   

Photo of Torrevieja seafront by TioRuben

Murcia

Port to Murcia - 61 KM, 45 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Murcia was founded by the Moorish rulers of the region in the early 9th century and shows significant Muslim influence. Situated in the fertile valley that provides some of Spain's best fruits and vegetables, the city's most famous attractions are the Santa Clara Convent Museum, which houses an excellent collection of art, along with architectural and archaeological artifacts from both the Moorish and later Christian eras. The Baroque Murcia Cathedral has an awe-inspiring facade and sculptures by Francesco Salzillo, considered one of the finest of all Baroque artists and who was born in Murcia. The Salzillo Museum features over 500 of his works.

           

   

Photo of Salzillo Museum by Sebasgs, Photo of Murcia Cathedral by JCRA

Cartagena Area Beaches

Port to Cala Cortina - 3.5 KM, 9 minutes
Port to El Portus Beach - 12.5 KM, 28 minutes
Port to Cartagonovo Beach - 23 KM, 27 minutes
Port to Cala Reona / Cala Flores - 31 KM, 33 minutes
Port to Cabo de Palos / Cala Fria - 32 KM, 36 minutes
Port to Cala del Pino - 35 KM, 41 minutes
Port to Manga Beach - 36 KM, 45 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Beaches near Cartagena are generally of the black sand variety with gentle seas. In fact, the area boasts more award winning beach than any other area in Spain, so beach lovers should take advantage of this stop. Because of the calm waters and rocky coasts, Costa Clarida is also an excellent place to go scuba diving. Besides the long beach on the seaside of La Manga and the lagoon beaches of Mar Menor, many of the beaches here are small and situated in coves. Here is a short list from the many available. El Portus has lovely black sand and offers scuba. On the road to Cabo de Palos, there are two nice coves called Cala Reona and Cala Flores which have golden sand. At the end of the Cabo de Palos is the small cove called Cala Fria which is good for scuba. On the western shore of the lagoon you can experience the still waters at Cartagonova. If you want to watch the sunset, Cala del Pino faces west. One of the closest beaches to the port is Cala Cortina.

           

   

Photo of Lapuntica Mar Menor Beach by Nioger, Photo of Los Alczazres Beach by Polosureste

Mojacar

Cartagena Cruise Terminal to Mojacar - 131 KM, 1 hour 25 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Northeast of Almeria and south of Cartagena is the coastal town of Mojacar which is perched in the hills above a beach with the same name. Mojacar retains some of its historic Moorish heritage making it a popular tourist destination for well-healed visitors staying in seasonal homes and resorts. While not as authentic as smaller, less popular villages, the views and pristine charms of this well-tended town make it irresistible to visitors.

                 

   

Photo of Mojacar by Digigalos

Interests Key:

Art Architecture Beach Children Wild Animals Local Cuisine Flora Gardens-Parks Geology

Diving UNESCO Views Wine Dance Music Shopping History Hiking

Walking & Wheelchair Accessibility:

No Walking Easy Walking Normal Walking Difficult Walking Accessible Limited Not Accessible