Keep the children busy with a day trip to Cartagena, Spain. From beaches and boats, to castles and gun outposts there’s plenty to do and see in Cartagena.
Take a boat ride round the bay and see the James Bondesque gun outposts and the fortresses dotted along the bay.
The tourist boat can be found in the port, near the huge statue of the man in agony (El Zulo, dedicated to the victims of the terrorist attack on March 11th). You can buy tickets on board or at the tourist office. It’s a one hour round trip out past the Fuerte Navidad and some gun stations along the coast and along to La Algameca Chica. A multi-lingual explanation of the attractions is provided. Head down to the port and look on the board for departure times, as these change during the seasons and depend upon the weather. If you take the glass bottomed boat you can also see the fish!
Opening hours: See boards at the port for departure times, usually hourly. Telephone: +34 968 500093
Enjoy a pit stop at one of the best icecream parlours in Cartagena to recharge the batteries! This is an Italian ice cream parlour – it doesn’t look like much from outside – a bit scruffy to be honest – but they make wonderful ice cream – probably the best in Cartagena. It’s on the main shopping street, you can’t miss it. Wander in and select from the freezers, or order a leche preparada (milk, sugar and cinamon served super icey) to cool you down on a warm day.
Address: Calle Mayor, 6 Telephone: +34 968 522 629
When you’re fully recharged head on up to the castle. Built across the Cartagena hill the gangway was opened in 1878, thereby connecting Cartagena to the sea. A lift now carries passengers up the 45m elevation, replacing the natural route which was swallowed up with the excavation work. It’s quite an exciting view if you’re scared of heights. It’s an easy way to get to the top of the hill to visit the castle (Castillo de la Concepción).
Address: Calle Gisbert, 10. Opening hours: Open every day 10:00 to 14:30 and 16:00 to 20:30 in the summer and from 10:00 to 17:30 in the winter. Telephone: +34 968 500093
Castillo de la Concepción – Castle
On the hill of the same name is the Centre for the Interpretation of History and Medieval Cartagena. Most of the materials used to build the castle were taken from structures built when the city was a Roman colony. Further rebuilding was undertaken in the 14th century. A number of the castle’s old rooms have been refurbished. It’s a lovely area to walk around, look out for the peacocks, you’ll hear them before you see them!
Address: Parque Torres, Opening hours: Every day except Mondays in off peak, 10:00 – 14:30 and 16:00 – 19:30, Telephone: +34 968 500093
Tourist vouchers can be purchased that give substantial discounts. Reduced prices apply to children under 12, students, retired people, disabled people and the unemployed. Take a look here for prices www.cartagenapuertodeculturas.com. Or buy the Cartagena Card. Both tourist offices sell the Cartagena Card; price €18, which is valid for two weeks and covers admission to eight cultural sites as well as free travel around the city on the tourist bus and the harbour ferry.
You’ve earned a good lunch by now. This lovely restaurant is in the Michelin guide too. It’s run by Almudena Ferrer Almansa, who is a charming front of house host and makes you feel very welcome. The restaurant is on a pretty square, just behind the main shopping street, and is worth the slight detour to find it on on busy day. As it’s on a square the kids can run around (if they still have the energy) whilst you relax and people watch. The food is excellent Spanish cuisine, with a slightly pricey menú del día, but it’s certainly worth the little extra. Her brother runs another restaurant in town, D’Almansa which is also worth a visit.
Address: Plaza De Alcolea 6, Opening hours: Closed Sunday evenings and Mondays. Telephone: +34 968 50 77 47 ?
Cala Cortina – Beach
Spend the rest of the afternoon and into the evening with a drive round to Cala Cortina and have a swim and snorkel in the rock pools.
Cartagena itself has a superb beach, Cala Cortina in the Santa Lucía area, a calm sandy beach with toilets and showers and a life guard service. It’s a very isolated beach (near Escombreras), considering how close it is to Cartagena. It can get busy in summertime and parking can be tricky. Park in the car park indicated and walk down to the beach below.
There’s an excellent restaurant right down by the water, Restaurante Mares Bravas where you can get cold drinks (and beer!). Some local dive clubs use this beach for try-dives as it has easy access for divers. Though in high summer watch out for the jellyfish.
For more information on Cartagena get the Cartagena City Guide:
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