Tucked in a deep bay guarded by two cliff-top fortresses, this Spanish gem is steeped in history. In the 18th century it became a major Spanish naval base and reminders of its seafaring past can be seen down in the port, where you’ll find a prototype submarine.
• Take a wide-eyed walk through the city, which flaunts splendid reminders of its golden age. Don’t miss the city’s castle, Castillo de la Concepcion, which offers up great views over Cartagena.
• Head for Murcia, the regional capital city and an open-air museum whose centrepiece is a beautiful cathedral. It’s particularly famous for its two ornate side chapels – the Gothic Capilla de los Velez and the Renaissance Capilla del Junteron. Simply breathtaking.
• See the famous La Manga Strip, a strip of land which separates the Mediterranean Sea from Mar Menor, Europe’s largest lagoon.
• Don’t miss the ‘Huerto Del Cura,’ or ‘Priest’s Garden’, in the pretty town of Elche. Over 700 rare palm trees call this botanical garden home, as well as 500 other species of plants and flowers.
SHORE EXCURSIONS► View all EXCURSIONS
Cartagena Port of Cultures►
Spend the morning admiring La Manga, a strip of white sandy beaches which, dividing two seas, creates the World’s largest swimming pool. Hence the name “Paradise between two seas”. Not a bad start for a day! While you take in this natural piece of art you’ll have time to stroll around the bars and shops before a short photo stop at the little fishing village of Cabo the Palos. Then it's off to Cartagena - being a port of cultures, it counts more than 2500 years of history. The best way to take it all in is to climb to the castle - or better take the scenic glass lift to the castle 47m high. From here you’ll enjoy the superb views of the port, the theatre and the bullring. After that you'll have some free time and your shopping can start from Calle Mayor, the very heart of the commercial centre. Enjoy!
See the famous La Manga Strip, one of the most unique places in Europe. Soak up superb views of the strip from the comfort of your coach and stop at the best viewpoint for pictures. To give you a taster of what to expect, La Manga is 21 kilometres long and 500 metres wide and translates as 'the sleeve’ in Spanish. This strip of land separates the Mediterranean Sea from the Mar Menor or ‘small sea’ - in fact, its Europe’s largest lagoon. You’ll then carry onto Cavanna beach area before taking in the highlights of Cartagena while your guide and driver do all the work. Pass by La Manga Club Complex, it’s been voted Europe’s top golf resort three times in the past four years. A final stop will be made at the Calle Mayor street for some more free time and even a local coffee called ‘Asiatic coffee’. Made from local liqueur "43", coffee, condensed milk and cinnamon, it’s a must. The Calle Mayor is the main high street, where there’s plenty of shopping opportunities before returning to the ship.
Elche and Botanical Gardens►
Do you consider yourself to be green fingered? Then you can’t miss a visit to the Botanical Garden of the beautiful town of Elche. Famous not only for its garden, the town is actually a UNESCO World Heritage site so expect spectacular surroundings, a wealth of monuments and bags of history. Plus it’s known as the national footwear capital of Spain! So obviously free time is included as well. Ever seen a palm tree in the shape of a seven-armed candelabra? Apart from being the biggest in Europe it’s just one of the 700 palm trees and over 500 other species of plants and flowers that awaits you at “Huerto del Cura” – Priest's Garden.