Let me open a new Blog Series – Alternative Getaways in Spain with the highlights from our long weekend in Murcia region. Check my favorite things to do in Murcia Region and discover one of the lesser-known corners of the Iberian Peninsula.
Visiting Murcia Region
Alternative getaways in Spain
While most of international visitors focus on Madrid, Andalusia, Alicante, and Catalonia, my advice is that you keep your plans open to all the amazing alternative weekend getaways across the Iberian Peninsula.
While a few of my favorite places in Spain are clearly cliche destinations, the most revealing and surprising experiences for me have always been the Spanish gems off the beaten track (check the Blog Series: Undiscovered Spain).
Spain has no shortage of cities and regions full of local traditions, delicious cuisine, unique landmarks, and calming outdoors. Alternative Weekend Getaways in Spain usually feel so refreshing and educational at the same time. Instead of spending most of your time in lines to popular landmarks, you end up practicing basic Spanish and occasionally blending in with the locals.
While I loved my recent trip to Catalonia, it just made me realize once again that there´s a clear connection between the number of visitors per year and how the locals treat you. The top touristic areas in Spain are definitely the best prepared in terms of infrastructure, but the human experiences are mostly less personal and therefore less unique.
Exploring top things to do in Murcian Region
Murcia is one of the coolest destinations to enjoy an alternative weekend getaway in Spain. It is relatively undiscovered by international tourists, so you can still spot the authentic Spanish vibe everywhere across the region. Alongside with the impressive Roman Ruins, you can go on a search for the off-the-beaten-path beaches in Spain at Murcia´s Costa Calida.
If you´re traveling in the off-season – don´t worry either. With more than 300 sunny days per year, Murcia is one of the top winter sun destinations in Spain.
Where is Murcia
What is Murcia known for
Murcia is mostly known in Spain for its vegetables, meat industry, and the unique salt lagoon of Mar Menor. The region houses popular national feasts – Semana Santa de Lorca and Caballos del vino de Caravaca. Also, one of the most unique things to do in Murcia is the city of Cartagena with its stunning Roman ruins.
If you love the vibrant flower fields in Spain – don’t miss the Peach trees in Cieza flowering around March, a popular instagrammable place in Spain.
Famous people from Murcia
The list of the most famous people born in Murcia includes Juan de la Cierva (who invented the autogyro or gyroplane) and Isaac Peral (who developed the first electric-powered submarine). The list of modern celebrities from Murcia Region includes the tennis player Carlos Alcaraz and the actor Jaime Lorente (from Money Heist).
No list of things to do in Murcia Region could miss delicatessen. Local typical dishes are pastel de carne (a meat pie), entierro (anchovies with crisps and olives), arroz caldero (rice cauldron), michirones (stew with beans).
Top Things to do in Murcia Region
1. Murcia City
Murcia city was always conveniently on the way during my Spanish road trips to Almeria and Andalusia. Therefore my past visits to Murcia were always quick lunch-break stops and I never got to appreciate the city fully till this trip. While there are numerous things to do in Murcia region, you should definitely begin with the region´s capital. This is where most of the popular museums, temporary expositions, and iconic buildings are located.
While enjoying the sunny Spanish city of Murcia don´t miss the Santa Maria cathedral (head to the top of the bell tower for the views), Salzillo Museum, Monteagudo Castle, Terra Natura Murcia, and Casino de Murcia.
2. The Roman Ruins of Cartagena
From the first glimpse at Cartagena, I could help the same feeling I had in Cadiz. Both are probably the most underrated Spanish cities on the Iberian Peninsula. The port city of Cartagena is full of ambitious Roman sites which literally take you back to the times of the ancient city of Carthago-Nova and the peak of the Empire´s glory in Hispania. This city is still one of my favorite stops on a hunt for some impressive Roman ruins in Spain.
Fans of Roman Cultural Heritage can´t miss:
- Municipal Archaeological Museum (built over the 4th-century necropolis of San Anton)
- Interpretation Center of the Punic Rampat (houses the remains of the Punic wall, one of the city´s first defensive walls)
- The House of Fortune (the remains of the ancient roman road and house walls, with the fresco-painted decoration inside The House of Fortune)
- Augusteum (one of Cartagena´s first religious and worship places)
- Roman Forum Museum (one of the largest urban archaeological parks in Spain)
- Museum Roman Theatre (is divided into 2 important Roman historical sites – the museum’s archeological items found during excavations and the Theatre´s restoration itself)
- Amphitheatre ( built in 1st century AD and located beneath the present-day bullring)
- The Blind Tower or Torreciega in Spanish (a Roman tower without windows that was once part of a local necropolis)
3. The small town of Lorca
Lorca is almost always featured on all the lists of the most beautiful small towns in Spain. It is known for its unique Easter week celebrations, gorgeous old town, and the hilltop castle Fortaleza del Sol, which means “the fortress of the sun”. You can see with your own eyes the stunning handmade costumes, used during the Easter week, at muBBla, one of the Spanish secret museums.
4. La Manga del Mar Menor
For decades La Manga has been a renowned tourist summer hotspot. La Manga is a 22-kilometer spit of land from Cabo de Palos, which encloses Mar Menor (a 170-square-km-wide saltwater lagoon, the largest one in Europe). It is such a beautiful and unique natural setting. Therefore, for this trip to Murcia, we rented an apartment in Los Alcazares (a small coastal town with views of La Manga). It was such a joy to walk along the peaceful coast in the morning on the way to get a breakfast in one of the local cafes.
Since the 1960s the first tourist infrastructures and high-rise blocks were built in La Manga del Mar Menor. Currently, ecologists in Spain report the critical environmental situation at La Manga due to fertilizers (used in local agriculture) and tourism. So, I honestly have no idea how the whole situation at La Manga will evolve and whether it will be open for visitors during the next decade.
As we were exploring all the amazing things to see in Murcia region during the off-season, most of the hotels and bars at La Manga del Mar Menor were closed, and swimming was also not an option. The whole landscape was mesmerizing.
5. Gredas de Bolnuevo
While Spain is full of otherworldly beautiful landscapes, the peculiar sandstone formations of Gredas de Bolnuevo are some of the most unique in the whole of the Iberian Peninsula. This place is often called ”The Enchanted City of Bolnuevo” and it does not concede another Spanish fairytale location – The Enchanted City of Cuenca.
The unique sandstone formations were eroded by water and wind for thousands of years. Today the landscape is one of the top things to do in the Murcia region that most visitors try not to miss.
Day trips from Murcia Region
In case you plan to enjoy Murcia region for more than 2-3 days – you can plan a few interesting day trips to the nearest Spanish provinces. Don´t miss:
Plans for the next trip: More things to do in Murcia Region
While we had a long weekend (or as the Spanish call it el puente) to enjoy many unique things to do in Murcia Region, it was definitely not enough to see in all. So, what’s left for the next trip?
- Parque Natural de Calblanque
- Serra minera de Cartagena-La Unión
- Small towns of Aledo and Moratalla
- Valle de Ricote
- Mazarron mines
To enjoy all the top things to see in Murcia Region via videos – check my IG highlights on Murcia.