El Capitan

Next stop on our tour of the Costa Blanca was Cartagena, a navel port just over two hours drive south from Javea. It is a busy port town, with a wealth of Roman ruins and a university population that ensures it's vibrancy and helps to offset the day traffic of the cruise ship visitors.

Consider staying in the University district which is only a 10 minute walk from the Old Town and sea front, hotels are a fraction of the price. And whilst the Old Town has it's far share of good restaurants, in the university district you can take advantage of the cheaper and more authentic bars and restaurants frequented by locals. And as always seek out the local fisherman's cooperative, this one was called Varadero, and it didn't disappoint.

Old Town, Cartagena, Spain

Always a good way to get your bearings is a boat trip round the town harbour. The tour of Cartagena harbour allows you to jump off at the Christmas Fort where there's a small museum chronicling the naval defence of the port through the ages. You'll also get a close up look at the Faro De Navidad, the red harbour light.

 Faro De Navidad, Cartagena, Spain

Hop back on the boat and the remainder of the trip clocks up another two lighthouses, Faro de la Curra, the green harbour light and the distant lighthouse on the Isle of Escombreras.

Faro de la Curra, Cartagena, Spain

Once you've returned to dry land, take in the Old Town, stopping off for some tapas and a glass of red, then make sure you ascend the spectacular lift to the Conception Castle which offers fabulous views over the city including the Roman amphitheatre.

Roman Amphitheatre, Cartagena, Spain

Not far east of Cartagena are three lighthouses, easily accessible in a pleasant afternoon's drive.
We headed to La Manga which is a thin strip of land separating the Mediterranean from the Mar Menor lagoon. At the start of the 21 kilometre strip, on the small peninsula of Cape Palos you'll find the hugely impressive Faro Cabo de Palos. It's a great place to stop for a cold beer and take in the imposing lighthouse.

Faro Cabo de Palos, Murcia, Spain

Then you'll enter the strange world of La Manga, only 100 metres wide in places it segues between luxury complexes, thin stretches of beach and the odd ghost hotel. Towards the end of the strip you'll find the stripey Faro del Estacio.

Faro del Estacio, La Manga, Spain

Heading back to Cartagena, the last lighthouse was a bit more difficult to find.
High in the hills above the black beach of Playa del Lastre was the Faro De Portman.
We may have trespassed on abandoned military grounds to get to it!

Faro De Portman, Murcia, Spain

We found Cartagena to offer everything we would want for a short city stopover. A great choice of food and wine, the sea, an old town to explore and plenty of lighthouses only a stones throw away.
Next stop Valencia.


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