Welcome to the port of Cartagena, Spain!
Nestled on the southeastern coast of Spain, in the Murcia region, Cartagena port (Puerto de Cartagena) boasts a rich Roman historic heritage and is often included in the Western Mediterranean cruise itineraries.
I’ve had the chance to visit Cartagena a couple of times on a cruise and I loved the city’s vibe, incredible history, stunning architecture, amazing shopping and food. The cruise terminal is located in the heart of the city, so you can easily explore the city landmarks on foot. In this article, I share with you the insider information on:
- Cartagena cruise port (Cartagena cruise terminal, getting around)
- Top 7 things to do in Cartagena Spain and the Cartagena shore excursions
Port of Cartagena Spain
Cartagena cruise terminal is located within a 5-10 minute walking distance from the city center and the main shopping street Calle Mayor. It can accommodate one ship at a time.
There is no terminal building. Cruise ships dock at Cartagena Promenade (aka Cartagena’s marina) where you’ll find facilities such as a taxi rank, a tourist information booth and large parking for tour buses. Taxis usually offer tours of the city and to Murcia at an affordable price that you can check at the tourist information kiosk available on the pier.
To get to the city center, turn left and walk along the Muelle de Alfonso XII quay, a beautiful tree-lined boulevard until you reach Plaza Ayuntamiento, a large square where the main pedestrian street Calle Mayor starts.
Helpful info & links:
- See the port of Cartagena on Google maps
- Cartagena Promenade and the area around the marina are flat and wheelchair-friendly, as well as the main shopping street.
- The currency in Spain is EURO (€). The exchange offices and ATMs are available in the city. The currency exchange service may be available on your cruise ship as well (check with the Guest Services desk). See the official currency converter
- Taxis are inexpensive and available on the pier. If you want to use public transport, the bus stops are located along Muelle de Alfonso XII quay, right in front of the ship. The single bus ticket costs 1,20€ and you can check the timetables at https://www.cartagena.es/
- Cartagena train station is located a 20-minute walk north of the port. You can check the schedules and fares at https://www.renfe.com/
- The Tourist Bus is available and it will allow you to enjoy both modern and the old Cartagena with its walls, buildings and archaeological remains. The journey takes 45 minutes and the ticket costs 7€. The buses run every hour, and the bus stop is located across the street from the terminal.
- Free Wi-Fi is available in cafes and restaurants on the promenade and the city center.
- When in Cartagena, keep in mind the Spanish siesta time. The majority of shops and pharmacies are closed every day from 13:30 h to 16:00 h, however, some big department stores and shops on the main street are fully open, especially during the cruise season. The museums and landmarks are usually closed on Monday.
- The nearest airport is Región de Murcia International Airport, located 32 km/20 miles (a 25-minute drive) north of the city of Cartagena.
- Murcia, the capital of the region and the city where the majority of the cruise lines offer shore excursions is located approximately 56 km/35 miles (a 35-minute drive) north of Cartagena port. Book a private transfer to/from Cartagena cruise port
- Cartagena has a hot semi-arid climate with warm, arid summers and cool, windy winters. For useful cruise packing tips, check out my article What to Pack for a Cruise in 2023 – Top 60 Cruise Essentials
- Check out Cartagena rent-a-car deals
- Explore Cartagena tours and activities
- Search the best Mediterranean cruise deals!
- Get an e-sim card to have access to the Internet at all times!
- Search for the best Cartagena Spain hotels
7 Best Things to Do in the Port of Cartagena
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1. Calle Mayor
Calle Mayor is the main pedestrian and tourist street, packed with shops, restaurants and bars. Around here you can find banks, pharmacies, tobacco shops, ATMs, exchange offices, supermarkets, hotels, administrative buildings and historical landmarks. Some of these are the Roman Theater and its museum, Old Cathedral of Cartagena (Catedral de Santa María la Mayor), Iglesia Castrense de Santo Domingo, Foro Romano, Parque Arqueológico Cerro del Molinete and others.
If you continue walking straight, you will reach lovely squares surrounded by shops and tapas bars where you can have a meal or lunch at very affordable prices. Some of these squares are Plaza de San Sebastián, Plaza Icue and Plaza de España, with its beautiful park and playground located in the center of a roundabout.
What I love about Cartagena is that everything is close to the dock and you can explore the majority of attractions on foot. However, some parts of the city are uphill so be mindful of that when booking a shore excursion or going there on your own.
Cartagena is also one of my favorite cruise ports for shopping, as the choice is amazing and the prices even better. I suggest you check out the local brand stores that you’ll find in Calle Mayor and the neighboring streets.
2. Palacio Consistorial
Built in the eclectic style at the beginning of the 20th century, Palacio Consistorial de Cartagena houses the City Hall and dominates Plaza del Ayuntamiento, the central square. It is the administrative home of the Council of Cartagena however the main public offices are in another building.
The impressive building has a triangular shape (in the picture above) and is ornated with extravagant decorative elements. It is lavishly decorated inside and consists of two exhibition halls used for protocol activities, concerts and other public functions.
It is possible to visit the City Hall and guided tours are offered. The admission fee is 1€, and the opening hours are the following: Tuesday to Friday: 10.30 – 13.30 h and 17.00 -19.00 h; Saturday: 10.30 – 13.30 h and 17.00 – 20.00 h; Sunday and Bank Holiday: 10.00 -13.30 h.
3. Roman Theater
Teatro Romano de Cartagena is a restored Roman amphitheater dating from the 1st century BC. It is nestled at the foot of the hill where the medieval Conception Castle (Castillo de la Concepción) is located and is best viewed from there.
The Roman Theater was built during the government of Emperor Augustus who dedicated it to his grandchildren, Gaius and Lucius Caesars. The magnificent theater could host 7.000 spectators and is nowadays fully restored, with a modern museum featuring outstanding collections and archeological artifacts. You can find more information on The Roman Theater Museum’s official webpage
The Old Cathedral of Cartagena was built over the upper cavea (seating sections of the amphitheater) in the 13th century, whose ruins nowadays make this architectural set spectacular and one-of-a-kind.
The entrance to the Roman Theater is located at Plaza Ayuntamiento, at the beginning of Calle Mayor. You may face lines at the entrance. The Roman Theater and its museum are partially wheelchair-friendly.
4. Concepción Castle
Castillo de la Concepción sits on a hill overlooking the port Cartagena and represents one of the most iconic city landmarks. Situated in the heart of Parque Torres, it is the perfect spot to admire the panorama of Cartagena and learn about the city’s impressive, 3000 thousand years old history.
Built on the place of a former Alcazaba (a Muslim palace-fortress), the construction of the castle started in the second half of the 13th century when the city was taken from the Moors by Alfonso X of Castile. Throughout history, the castle had defensive purposes until the end of the 18th century when it lost its military importance. In the first half of the 20th century, it has been transformed into a city park that nowadays houses a small museum that can be visited for a small fee (general admission fee is 4 €; general fee + access via the panoramic lift: 4.50 €)
Castillo de la Concepción is quite small and can be visited in an hour. It is located on top of the hill and there is a well-maintained road taking you there, however, the vehicles can take you only to a certain point and not all the way to the entrance. If you decide to walk to the castle from the port, be prepared to walk uphill for at least 15 minutes and if you go there by car, still there is a portion of the road that needs to be handled on foot (approximately a 10-minute walk). There may be a panoramic elevator available (the most convenient option for wheelchair users) in Calle Gisbert street, however, make sure to check that with a tourist office booth that you’ll find on the pier. The entrance to the castle is wheelchair-friendly.
5. Punic Wall Interpretation Center
Cartagena was founded in the 3rd century BC by the Carthaginian general Hasdrubal the Fair at the site of a natural harbour and until the 16th century it was one of the most important naval ports of Spain.
The city boasts a rich and thousands of years old history which can best be explored at this modern, multimedia visitor center where you can discover the ruins of the 2.200-year-old “Muralla púnica de Cartagena” which failed to protect the city from the Romans.
The defensive walls bear witness to the Second Punic War, one of the most important events of Ancient history in the Mediterranean Sea. This impressive archeological museum offers insight into the ancient history of this part of the world and allows visitors to see the remains of the Punic Wall.
- The visitor center is wheelchair friendly and accessible toilets are available.
- The Interpretation Center of the Punic Wall is located 1.2 km/0.75 miles from the dock and it takes 15 minutes walking to get there. The taxi ride from the port to the visitor center takes 5 minutes.
- The general admission fee is 3.50€.
6. National Museum of Underwater Archeology
This impressive museum is located right at the Yacht Port Cartagena, less than a 5-minute walk from the dock. Upon exiting the ship, turn right and you’ll see two modern buildings housing the museum, designed to create an underwater effect.
This fascinating museum is the first underwater archeology museum in Spain that showcases underwater items including shipwrecks, fossils, and artifacts related to historic ships used in the ancient Mediterranean maritime trade.
- The entrance fee is 3€ (free for 65+) and covers both buildings.
- The museum is closed on Monday, like the majority of the museums.
- There are a restaurant and a cafeteria on the top floor, offering great views of the harbour.
- The National Museum of Underwater Archeology is wheelchair-accessible.
A trip to the historic city of Murcia, the capital of the Murcia region, is one of the most popular shore excursions in the port of Cartagena. Nestled on the Segura River, Murcia was founded in the 9th century and nowadays primarily serves as a university town.
The city is known for its beautiful old town dominated by the stunning Cathedral of Murcia dating from the 14th century, featuring a blend of architectural styles including the Gothic, Renaissance and Spanish Baroque styles. The Cathedral overlooks Plaza del Cardenal Belluga where you can also see the colorful Episcopal Palace of Murcia built in the 18th century.
You can explore the city’s landmarks, wander around its old streets and indulge in the delicious tapas and sangria in the local bars you’ll find on every corner. Murcia is located around 56 km/35 miles (a 35-minute drive) north of the port. There are regular trains from Cartagena station to Murcia del Carmen station and the ride lasts 50 minutes one way. The train ticket starts at 4.50€ one-way. Check the timetables at https://www.renfe.com/
Whether you choose to walk around its beautiful city center, explore the archeological ruins, or take a trip to Murcia, a memorable day in the port of Cartagena Spain is guaranteed.
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