On the crossroads of mighty cultures, this Murcian port has endless ancient stories to share. A valuable natural harbour attracted many civilisations to this sun-bathed, southeasterly setting - following its foundation by the Carthaginians in 227 BC. Blending the imprints left by countless cultures on this global junction, the presence of everyone from the Vandals to the Phoenicians and Moors can be felt as you explore, walking between ruins and celebrated modernist architecture along Calle Mayor.
Cartagena is crowned by the soaring Castillo de la Concepcion - rise to the stout castle aboard a panoramic lift. Inside, look through reams of archaeological treasures, or admire the rolling views down over the port and across the waters. Watch out for the electric blue peacocks who strut flamboyantly. Cartagena's emergence as a visitor destination coincided with a stunning discovery in 1988 - the bowl of a gloriously preserved Roman Theatre. Enter to sit among the grandiose ancient venue, so evocative, you can't help but imagine the historic performances that have graced its stage.
Wander the breezy waterfront, looking across the narrow strait towards Africa's distant haze, and spotting gleaming warships. Cartagena's perfect harbour means it has been one of Spain's oldest strategic navy positions since the 16th century. Settle to enjoy the joys of tapas in lively bars - sampling crisped paella, squid and honeyed-aubergine. Easter's Semana Santa festivities are typically lively here, as hooded processions, lavish floats and sombre fiery displays roll through the streets.