Living in Cartagena Spain: The Definitive Guide

Cartagena Spain View

Not many Spanish towns can pride themselves as Cartagena Spain for mixing so different landscapes and lifestyles.

The beach and the mountain.

Monuments and nature.

Busy life and touristic, relaxing atmosphere.

Big city and old customs.

A place where you may visit a military site and enjoy the sunset from the peaceful harbour.

Welcome to Cartagena Spain!

Cartagena Spain


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About Cartagena Spain

Cartagena is a major city in the region of Murcia along the Spanish coast of the Costa Calida in the south east of the country.

The highlights Roman remains, a historic castle, and a ruined 13th century cathedral. Surrounded by mountains, Cartagena has some wonderful beaches that attract people to this vibrant city.


Where is Cartagena?

The city of Cartagena is located in the south east of Spain along the Costa Calida. It is within easy reach of the city of Murcia and its international airport at San Javier.

The busier international airport at Alicante is a little over an hour drive from the city.

La Manga, the famous spit of land that separates Mar Menor from the Mediterranean Sea

There are other important towns around twenty minutes driving such as Los Alcazares and San Pedro del Pinatar.

Cartagena Spain maps

(Cartagena Spain, located in the Costa Calida – Google Maps)


The History of Cartagena

Hasdrubal, the Carthaginian general founded the city in the 3rd century BC, on the site of an ancient Iberian settlement. Due to its being close to the nearby silver and lead mines, the importance of the city as a port grew as trade increased, particularly with Carthage in north Africa, and Rome.

Despite its apparent secure position the Carthaginians lost the city to the Romans in 209BC. In turn, the Goths, pillaged the city in 425 AD and the introduction of Christianity meant it became a seat of a bishop until 1289.

In the 16th century, Cartagena became a naval port. Cartagena Spain has always been an important naval base and its importance continues up until the present time.

Cartagena Spain lighthouse


General Information about Cartagena 

With a population of 213,000, Cartagena is the second largest city in the region of Murcia (a region where many British citizens have been moving to Spain from the UK for years).

Cartagena is Spain’s sixth-largest non-provincial- capital city. The metropolitan area of the city has a population of almost 410,000 people and is known as Campo de Cartagena.

Cartagena Spain, like many historical Spanish towns and cities is split in two, between its historic town located inland and the newer coastal location of Puerta del Cartagena.

The historic old town has attractions such as Veles Castle, La Purisma Convent and San Andres Church.

Very important, due to Brexit, UK citizens have to apply for a visa to live in Spain long-term (more than 90 days), you may want to explore the non-lucrative visa Spain.


What is the Weather like in Cartagena?

Cartegena has very favourable weather with more than 2800 hours of sunshine annually, with approximately 325 sunny days and an average temperature of almost 20C.

The weather during August is at its extreme reaching up to 40C, with the summer average being between 25 and 35C.

The winter temperatures can vary greatly from around 20C one day down to just 6C the next.

Not too far away from Cartagena, you will find two well-known coastal towns with similar weather: Aguilas and Mazarron.

November is the wettest month although there can be sudden downpours of rain at any time, sometimes resulting in localised flooding after periods of torrential rain.


What Architecture can be seen in Cartagena?

A location such as Cartagena, with is long history has an abundance of architectural styles from the old city walls built in the 3rd century BC, to the ruins of the Castillo de la Conception built during the 12th century on its foundations dating from the Roman era.

Within the archaeological museum there are several artefacts dating from the Iberian, Greek and Roman periods.Cartagena Spain Castillo Concepcion


Gastronomy in Cartagena

There are no dishes that can be attributed to being exclusive to the city of Cartagena, although there are numerous dishes served in the city that have strong connections to the region of Murcia, including Grandmother’s artichokes or Alcachofas de la abuela, they are full of flavour and restaurants keep the method of cooking a closely guarded secret.

Arroz meloso can best be described as creamy rice and is somewhere between being a paella and a stew. The stock provides the flavour and contains peppers and paprika to add to the taste.

Murcian style octopus, or pulpo a la Murciana requires the carefully regulated cooking time and careful supervision. This dish is slowly cooked in the oven for around four hours, paprika and olive oil are added, sometimes a little lemon too.


How much does it cost to rent or buy property in Cartagena?

The property prices in Cartagena are reasonably priced when compared to resorts across the region.

Two bedroomed apartments cost from 112,000 Euros while three bedroomed apartments are available from just 115,000.

Single bedroomed finca’s or country houses cost from 125,000, while a  three bed finca will cost from 129,000, and villas are available from 380,000 Euros.

The price of long term rentals in Cartagena varies due to location. A two bedroomed apartment close to the beach will cost around 800 Euros per month, while renting a three bedroomed apartment away from the beach area will cost from 550 Euros per month.


What are the most Interesting Attractions I should visit in Cartagena?

Roman Amphitheatre

The Roman Amphitheatre is the second largest of its type to exist on the Iberian peninsula yet it was only discovered in 1988, beneath the ruins of the Old Cathedral which was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War.

Around two-thirds of the 2,000 year old Roman theatre remain and are now open to the public after an extensive restoration project.

The adjoining museum holds artefacts discovered during the restoration project including an altar to Jupiter, a statue of the god Apollo and even Islamic ceramics dating from the middle ages.

Cartagena Spain Roman Theatre

Castillo de la Concepción

This hidden fortress was not discover until an excavation of the Parque Torres was carried out.

Known as an Alcazaba, it was an Islamic fortified palace. Before this it had been a Roman temple with cisterns remaining from the Roman era.

What remains of the structure dates mainly from the 13th century.

Cartagena Spain Castle


Some of the best beaches in and around the city include Cala Cortina, Islas Menores, El Galua Beach and La Gola Beach.

The 35km of coastline along the shores of Cartagena have beaches of fine sand, with some small coves for those wanting some privacy.

There are some beaches that are reserved for nude sun bathing such as at Percheles and Los Lobos, so be careful which beach you choose!

Cartagena Spain Beaches

Cartagena’s Museums

Cartagena is a city with so much history and therefore it is not surprising that it has so many good museums. The ARQUA, is the Marine Archaeology Museum with artefacts from underwater discoveries in and around the harbour.

This museum should not be confused with the Municipal Archaeology Museum which has items dating from the existence of Neanderthals, Phoenician remains, Roman artefacts as well as evidence of early Christianity into the region.

As a base for the military for centuries, Cartagena has a military museum as well as a Naval Museum exhibiting the strength of these services throughout history.

A Museum covering a more modern period of history is the Spanish Civil War Museum covering the conflict that lasted from 1936 until 1939, the city was heavily involved in this dark period of Spanish history.

Cartagena Spain museum

Palacio Consistorial

Cartagena’s Town Hall has stood for a little over one hundred years and is triangular in shape and was built during the period when the city was expanding due to the success of the mining industry and the former town hall had outgrown its use.

The building was recently renovated after some structural problems and visitors should take some time to study the impressive facade of white marble topped with domes of local zinc. On closer inspection you may even see evidence of bullet holes from the Spanish Civil War.

Guided tours are conducted in English and include the balustraded stairs and an exhibition of period tapestries.

Cartagena Spain Town Hall

Credit Image:  Santiago Lopez, Luis A. Camargolksriv, Maria Rodriguez, wsifrancis


Yours Free

Spain 101 is a free ebook full of unique tips that will save you thousands of Euros when moving to / living in Spain.

Would you like to get it now?

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