There are more than two millennia of history to embrace in this port city in Spain's southeastern Murcia region. While Cartagena is famously home to the second-largest Roman amphitheater on the Iberian Peninsula, the city is much more than just spectacular ancient ruins.
In addition to Cartagena’s architecture—along with that amphitheater, there are striking Art Nouveau buildings, neoclassical churches and ultramodern edifices throughout the city—you’ll find many opportunities to shop for local and regional artisan wares. In the city, investigate the restored medieval fortress looking out on the bay from the city’s highest point. Or take a short trip by car or bus to the historic Agrupa Vicenta Mines, the remarkable palm forest at Elche and the holy city of Caravaca.
And the food of sunny Murcia! Friendly tapas bars with breezy terraces invite lingering over drinks, coffee or snacks. The local restaurants offer more than typical Spanish tapas on the menu—michirones (a spicy Murcian bean stew) and local spins on paella are widely available and worth a try. Grilled octopus, fried calamari, mussels and the freshest fish are some of the tasty benefits of the city’s perch beside the sea.