Cartagena is the main seaport of the Murcia region. It has 214,000 inhabitants (2018), the second-largest city in the region. Cartagena concentrates an artistic legacy that summarizes almost three millennia of Spanish history, being inhabited by most great Mediterranean empires that have conquered the Iberian Peninsula. Cartagena is a city full of monuments, with many archaeological sites and outstanding buildings of historical interest, together with the charm of the sea and the typical bustle of a port city.
Dirty and very polluted in the past (due to the nearby refinery), the new redevelopments (like the initiative "Cartagena, Port of Culture") and restorations have turned it into a major tourist destination, and is a frequent disembarkation point for numerous cruises. Its wide municipal territory also include part of the famous holiday resort La Manga del Mar Menor, part of the Mar Menor coast and several protected areas of natural beauty near the coast.
- San Javier Airport (MJV IATA) (Murcia) is a short drive from the city.
- El Altet Airport (ALC IATA) (Alicante) is located on the homonymous nearby province.
- Mainline trains from Murcia serve a terminus on Mexico Square, east of the city centre.
- Metre-gauge trains terminate in the corner of a roundabout two thirds of the way along the road to the main station.
- The city's circular bus station is adjacent to the narrow-gauge station.
Cruise ships occasionally visit, and often can "deposit" passengers at a dock on the edge of downtown.
Municipal buses are subcontracted to ALSA.
- Roman remains, including the brand-new Roman theatre. Also of interest is its museum.
- Modernist houses, made by the pupils of the famous architect Anton Gaudí, including the former Town Hall, the Gran Hotel, the Casino and the Casa Maestre, among others.
- Military fortresses and facilities.
- The Promenade and the harbour, including the famous Peral Submarine and the ARQUA (National Museum of Subacquatic Archaeology).
- Other ancient remains (of punic, byzantine or arabic origin).
- Several churches throughout the city.
- A route by the tourist catamaran throughout the port area on way to the Christmas Fortress, at the end of the harbour and at the beginning of the open sea.
- A route by the tourist bus, covering the old part of town.
- Take the panoramic elevator and have a view of the city.
- Go to the nearby beaches.
Shopping ranges from numerous, quality stores to an El Corte Ingles department store, most found on a pedestrianized avenue that begins at the harbour.
- La Tartana, Puertas de Murcia. Mediterranean food.
- La Tagliatella, Italian nice restaurant, near of the Roman Theater.
- La Mejillonera, seafood and good fish. Calle Mayor.
- Mare Nostrum, in the port. Mediterranean food.
- Mesón Jamaica, Calle Canales. Mediterranean food.
- La Marquesita, Plaza de Alcolea nº6, Mediterranean food, expensive but excellent food.
Near of city center:
- El pincho de Castilla, Calle Angel Bruna.
- Sacromonte, in "La Vaguada". Excellent food. (5 km from city centre).
- El Trovador, in "La Vaguada". (5 km from city centre).
- Alameda Tapas, Alameda San Antón.
- La Vagoneta, Alameda San Antón.
- El Rancho, cocina argentina.
- La Sella, vegetarian food and good ambience.
There is a naturist family beach at El Portus some 12 km southwest of Cartagena with a family naturist camping site where there are bungalows and apartments to rent.