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The main port for the Murcia region of Spain, Cartagena is a historic town and an increasingly popular destination for cruise excursions. Now a firm favourite amongst both new and experienced cruisers, it’s a place where culture and history combine with culinary delights. Unlike some of the larger destinations you might visit on your cruise, Cartagena is a relaxing city. Numerous waterfront cafes are ideal places to sit and unwind, whilst a tourist bus provides easy access to the rest of the town and it’s most popular attractions.
You’ll dock right in the heart of the town, which means that everything you need is within easy reach. The town is clean, quiet and well-maintained, perfect for tourists hoping to enjoy the Spanish sun and the town’s architectural marvels without dealing with the crowds and busy streets you usually associate with such popular tourist destinations. Everything exudes charm and characters, from the pretty little churches to the modernist houses designed by pupils of architect Gaudi. Here are a few attractions that you won’t want to miss on your first visit to Cartagena.
The Roman Theatre
Built between 5 BC and 1 BC, the Teatro Romano is by far the town’s most famous attraction. Despite falling to ruin, it’s still an impressive sight complete with some of the original decoration and carvings. Back when it was regularly used, the theatre could hold up to 6,000 spectators.
The Roman Theatre Museum
Close to the Roman Theatre, you’ll find a relatively new museum that was built to display the artefacts found on archaeological digs. Amongst the treasures are a collection of ancient glassware items and coins.
La Manga Club
If you’re looking for a more active way to spend your shore excursion, then you can make your way to La Manga Club and hire a tennis court or play a round of golf. If that’s too strenuous, opt instead for a spa treatment. The facilities are excellent, open to the public, and there are also bars and restaurants on site.
Many people use their time in Cartagena to visit the famous Spanish department store El Corte Inglés. There, you’ll find everything you could possibly need from travel essentials, food and over-the-counter medication to clothes, electronics, perfumes and sports equipment. Aside from that, you’ll find that Cartagena has a number of smaller independent shops stocking local crafts and souvenirs, alongside luxury fashion boutiques selling designer clothes and accessories. Be sure to visit some of the many independent bookshops, and to stroll by the harbour where you’ll find street vendors selling gifts from their stands.
Traditional Spanish cuisine is always on the menu in Cartagena. You’ll have no trouble finding seafood dishes and the servings are usually very substantial. Visitors will love authentic Spanish paella, usually served to share, accompanied by ice cold beers and glasses of wine.
As well as a variety of Spanish and Mediterranean restaurants, serving an abundance of vegetarian dishes alongside meat, fish and poultry, you’ll want to pay a visit to the Valor Chocolate Shop on Plaza del Ayuntamiento. There, not only can you buy luxury chocolates to take away but you can sit in and savour a chocolate cake or a plate of churros. It’s famous amongst cruisers, and the chocolate shop is the ideal place to buy souvenirs and gifts before returning to your ship.
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