Murcia is probably Spain’s least talked about region. Nestled quietly between Valencia, Andalusia, and Castilla La Mancha, it is easy to overlook Murcia. I spent nine months living in Spain’s best kept secret. Now, I am ready to share Murcia’s hidden treasures and hot spots with you!
One of the reasons I loved living in Murcia was the weather. Due to its location, Murcia is home to lots of sunshine and very little rain. The summers are hot (think 100°F + hot) and the winters are mild. The temperature hardly ever drops below 50°F and rain rarely lasts more than a day at a time. The only weather faux pas is the wind. Due to its close proximity to the coast, Murcia gets the brunt of sea storms.
In addition to its enviable weather, Murcia has some amazing cities, tourist destinations and beaches everyone should visit. Here are the top 8 places to visit in Murcia, Spain.
Murica is the capital of the region. It is located along the, mostly dried up, river Segura that runs through the center of the city. Although it is often overlooked, Murcia is the seventh largest city in Spain. Its most popular tourist attraction is the 14th century Murcia Cathedral of Santa Maria. The facade of the Catholic Cathedral is ornately Baroque while the interior has more Gothic influences. Additionally, tourists enjoy visiting the Town Hall, The Puente de los Peligros (Murcia’s oldest bridge), and the Casino. Murcia is home to one of the most well-known Holy Week festivals in Spain. The week before Easter, processions are held daily throughout the city. Some are somber while others include the throwing of candies, biscuits, hard-boiled eggs, and even sardines from floats!
I most often visited Murcia for its lively nightlife. Being an expat, I of course, went to mostly expat bars. Our favorite was Badulake Bar. Badulake is a small chupito (shots) bar with enough room for dancing. Other popular spots include Luminata Disco and Bar and Sala Revólver. Murcia parties equally hard as the rest of Spain. Parties start post-siesta and last until sunrise. Bring your dancing shoes!
Cartagena is Murcia’s second largest city. Cartagena is located along La Costa Calida and is the regions most important port. Due to its ideal location, Cartagena has been the capital of the Spanish Navy’s Maritime Department since the 18th century and has played an important role in Spanish industry and naval duties since as far back as the 16th century. Cartagena has a beautiful old town with numerous tourist attractions and beautiful Art Nouveau buildings. The Roman Theater and the Conception Castle are the two highlights. The Conception Castle offers immaculate views of the port and the city below. The Roman Theater was recently restored and gives great insight into Roman times.
Cartagena has many music and film festivals throughout the year. In addition, the Carthaginians and Romans Fiesta recreates the conquest of Cartagena by the Roman empire in 209 BC. Members of the community dress in traditional costumes, battles are reenacted, troops march the streets, and parties last for an entire week. This is a festival you should not miss!
3. Puerto de Mazarrón
Puerto de Mazarrón was my home in Murcia. Puerto is located directly on the Costa Calida. Costa Calida, meaning warm coast, is named this because the water is said to be 5°C warmer than the rest of the Mediterranean sea. The warm weather, sunshine, and beaches make Puerto the ideal holiday destination for Spaniards and British vacationers.
Apart from the summer season, Puerto is a very quiet town. Locals live minimally and the many miles of beaches are bare for most of the year. The mostly undeveloped coastline makes for a great escape any season.
Bolnuevo is a short bus ride from Puerto de Mazarrón. Here you will find an extension of the beautiful coast line and beaches. Bolnuevo has a walkway that lines the beach with restaurants and homes for rent. Bolnuevo’s most popular attraction is what I like to call Murcia’s “mini Grand Canyon”. The Erosions are natural sand sculptures caused by centuries of water and wind erosion. The erosions are not monitored by security, you can climb them, jump on them, or admire their mushroom-shaped pedestals from afar.
Águilas is another seaside town with crystal water and white sand beaches. Águilas is the best place to celebrate Carnival in Murcia. In Spain, the party combines parades, costumes, elaborate decorations, and weeks of festivities prior to Lent. The carnival in Águilas is one of the most vibrant in Spain. The parade processions are extravagant and people party in the streets and central squares from dusk till dawn.
6. La Manga del Mar Menor
La Manga del Mar Menor is a 13 mile long strip of land that separates the Mediterranean Sea from the Mar Menor. The Mar Menor is Europe’s largest salt water lagoon. The land that separates the Mar Menor from the sea is only half a mile wide. The warm and calm water of the Mar Menor is popular for water sports. The sea-side has better views and is a great place to spend a day on a sandy beach. La Manga is the most touristy and urbanized area of Murcia.
In the middle ages, Lorca was a fighting ground between Christians and Muslims. Lorca is most well-known for the Lorca Castle, locally known as the Fortaleza del Sol, or Fortress of Sun. Today, the Lorca Castle is home to one of Lorca’s most prestigious hotels and the site of many medieval re-enactments and events. The Lorca Castle is open to the public for a small fee. It sits high on a hill above the rest of the city and is one of the largest, yet least visited, castles in Spain.
8. Caravaca De La Cruz
Caravaca de La Cruz is the capital of the Northwest region of Murcia. Caravaca is important to Catholics worldwide because it is the 5th Holy City. Other holy cities include Jerusalem, Rome, Santiago de Campostelo (also in Spain), and Santo Toribio de Liébana (also in Spain). Holy Year is celebrated in Caravaca de la Cruz every seven years. The next jubilee will be held in 2017. The main tourist attraction is the medieval castle that sits high on a hill in the center of the city, Castle of Santa Cruz. Due to its religious richness and historical roots, Caravaca often hosts festivals and lively celebrations.
These are my top 8 places to visit in Murcia, but there are so many more amazing places to see. Hope these tips were helpful! You can read some more advice on things to do in Murcia, Spain here.