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- 18 Jan 2021, 3 nights
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Cartagena is a port city set between the mountains of Sierra de Almenara and Sierra del Algarrobo in southeastern Spain. Centuries of civilisations have come and gone in Cartagena, and they've all left their mark with the ancient ruins scattered around the area. Across the city's plazas, you'll see modernista buildings in the style that iconic Spanish architect Gaudí is known for. With a picturesque waterfront and vibrant cafés and bars, it's a perfect base for exploring the surrounding area.
You can stay in a hostel in Cartagena with soundproofed rooms, a free gym and an outdoor terrace with panoramic views of the city. There's also a place with its own swimming pool, hot tub and games area. Cartagena hostels usually come with free Wi-Fi and self-catering kitchens to save your cash, plus cosy common rooms where you can mingle with your fellow travellers. Check out our guide to the best hostels in Cartagena here.
A wander down to the port will take you to medieval streets and a promenade packed with lively bars and restaurants. The historic old town is dotted with incredible buildings, including the 13th-century Castillo de la Concepción with its sweeping view of the city. The pedestrianised downtown area is home to lots of eateries where you can sample tapas or an ice cream at a chic café while you people-watch.
History is everywhere you turn in Cartagena. Head to Molinete hill to see ancient remains from several civilisations including a Roman amphitheatre. There are also lots of sandy beaches that are easy to reach. You'll find small coves to chill in and naturist areas ideal for getting that all-over tan. Take a trip to nearby Mar Menor, the biggest saltwater lake in Europe, for paddle-boarding, sailing and kayaking. Back in town, the nightlife centres around bars on the waterfront and in pockets of the old town.
Murcia-San Javier Airport is a 30-minute taxi ride from Cartagena. If you're travelling through Spain by bus, you can get there with a 45 to 75 minute journey from Murcia Bus Station, and it's just under 3 hours from Alicante. The local train from Murcia station is cheaper than the Altaria/Talgo lines, and takes about an hour. Cartagena is a compact city, so it's easy to walk around, and you can save your energy when going up the hill by using the glass elevator.