• Photo: Ian Tragen / Shutterstock


Don’t be put off by Cartagena’s outskirts, which house chemical plants and mining machinery; plunge straight into the Old Town near the port instead. Old Town is steeped in history and bustling with life. The Roman ruins here are among some of the best in the country and Cartagena’s tapas are justly famed. Holy Week processions are as moving as those in Seville and Málaga, and music fans will enjoy the Mar de Músicas international music festival in July and the Jazz Festival in November. Flamenco aficionados shouldn’t miss the Festival del Cante de las Minas in August, an annual flamenco contest plus concerts held in La Unión, 16 km (10 miles) to the east of the city (www.fundacioncantedelasminas.org).


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