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Finding beautiful destinations is one of my great pleasures in life. While living on Oahu, Hawaii, I had the extreme luck in finding my island bestie, a very knowledgeable lifelong resident. He would take me on great adventures. He would always preface our adventure with, “You better not geotag us on social media or write about this place!” It was my compromise with him to be able to go see these amazing places. I understood he did not want to let the secret out and risk mass amounts of people finding out about its existence.
There is no denying social media has changed the travel game. There are very few unspoiled destinations, as influencers and travel bloggers thrive on finding the new “IT” place and telling the world about it. Once it is found, it is exploited to the extreme. Although I am on the fence in my personal feelings about this, I too, have found an incredible, unexploited location I just have to share. So, here I am, telling you why Cartagena, Spain is a destination you need to put on your travel list ASAP!
How often do you vacation in a place without many tourists? Many times we choose places crawling with those people desperately wanting to experience the same things you want to see. They hound you to take photos, and in turn you do the same. There is no quiet to be had.
It makes sense. We all seem to learn about the same places at the same time. We all want that cultural experience, and document it to remember it forever. I am guilty of this.
Well, Cartagena has yet to become one of those places. Even though it has beautiful architecture, cultural experiences, close beaches, and kind people, it is still not overrun by tourists. It seems only a handful of Europeans have found this great little city.
It is Cheap, Cheap, Cheap!
How often do you go on holiday and dread looking at your bank account when you are finished? I know I do this. In fact, this is how/why I actually stumbled upon this hidden gem in Spain. On a 4 week journey, I was feeling the pocketbook burn. I wanted to go to Valencia, but it was costly for the peak of summer, but we needed a coastal town to get a break from the heat. So, my travel partner and I just went down the map to find a cheaper option.
Luckily, we stopped on Cartagena. Don’t get me wrong, it is still Europe so you are not getting South East Asia prices, but they are less than the most visited European cities.
After a decently priced train ticket taking roughly 4 hours, we arrived in Cartagena from Madrid. We were able to find what I refer to a “lazy hotel” called LoopInn. It is categorized as a hostel, but it had private rooms with bunk beds, an ensuite bathroom, and air conditioning. It also had a common area full kitchen, a small gym, and beautiful rooftop terrace. It cost just at 30€ a night… Quite a bargain traveling in Spain.
Once you are settled in with accommodations, you will find the food options are very affordable as well. Tapas and drinks are very common for dinner and can be found in many places. Steer clear of the main tourist trap by the port, as those food options are much more costly. Just a few minutes away you will find restaurants serving delicious tapas and cheap drinks like the ones listed.
What to do in Cartagena, Spain
Touristy type attractions are also much more affordable than many other Spain destinations. At the elevator just outside of the Concepción Castle Museum, you can even find combination sightseeing tickets with flexible dates and times to make it even more wallet friendly. I have listed some of the amazing sites to see, but there are many more beautiful buildings and historical gems throughout the city.
Cartagena, Spain Beaches
One of the great things about visiting Spain is the sheer amount of beaches one can see on their visit. You are able to see the Meditarrian and the Atlantic Ocean in the same day if you so desired. This is why many people love visiting the country.
Unfortunately, the word is out in many coastal cities. A trip to the beach in Barcelona leaves you fighting for a place in the sand, and once you get there, you will be constantly hounded by vendors trying to sell you everything from beach blankets to marijuana. It is rarely just a chill day at the beach.
Cartagena, Spain is a different experience, though. Since many tourists are not visiting and the town itself is not sprawling, a day trip to the beach is nice and relaxing. For just a few Euro and 30 minutes on a bus (Blue Line 12), you will be dropped at a very small, low population beach, El Portus. You can spend your time actually enjoying the water, without worrying about finding space or dealing with vendors. There is even a small bar serving food and beverages if you do not feel like packing one for yourself.
*The beach is a bit rocky, so water shoes are nice. Also, it is common in Europe for ladies to swim topless.
For the naturists out there, there is even a small nude beach just a little ways down from the more visited Playa El Portus. To get there, you will need to veer left toward the sign noting “Camping Naturista”. Follow the road down and to the right. You will find an obvious path to the beach. While we were there, most people were fully dressed, but by all accounts, this beach is attached to a nudist camp site.
I will be back to Cartagena, Spain!
Overall, I am elated we were able to find this hidden Spainish gem. It was a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the larger tourist spots; such as Madrid, Barcelona, Granada, and Seville. Had I to choose again, I would jump on the opportunity. I may even choose to stay longer!