MURCIA – Top 10 things to do in the Murcia Region

Murcia (2) (1)

About the province of Murcia

It’s fair to say that Murcia has everything you love about Spain but without the crowds – history, gastronomy, fabulous coastline, fiestas and parades, stunning architecture and a relaxed pace of life. Although one of the smallest regions of Spain, Murcia punches well above its weight and is becoming ever more popular as a relocation destination of choice.

Nestled in the south-eastern corner of the Iberian peninsula, Murcia’s Mediterranean coastline stretches for 250 km from beyond Aguilas in the west through to the Mar Menor border with Alicante. But it’s not just about sun, sea and sand – Murcia has an amazing variety of terrain from plains to mountains, vineyards stretching for miles across the Altiplano and huge pine forests waiting to be explored.

With so much variety, it’s hard to know where to start enjoying this undiscovered gem, but here is Upsticks “Starter for 10” to give you a taste of the best bits.

Murcia city
Regional capital since 1833, Murcia city was founded in around AD 825 by the Emir of Córdoba and the Moors expertise with irrigation lead to the area becoming known as the “orchard of Europe”. The wide boulevards, narrow alleys, and several beautiful plazas (town squares) are full of historic charm.

Upsticks favourites are:

Plaza Cardenal Belluga – Home to the Cathedral of Murcia, the Episcopal Palace and the Town Hall, start your exploration here.

Bando de la Huerta – Fiesta on the first Tuesday after Easter where locals don local dress and there’s live music, dancing and regional food stalls everywhere.

Calle Traperia and the Royal Casino – doesn’t get more authentic than this, and the art deco Casino is a must-see.

Veronica’s Market – two storeys of the best fresh produce Murcia has to offer – fruit, vegetables, meat and fish, plus cookery classes and cafes.

Cartagena has 3000 years of history that’s only just being fully explored. Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Moors, all the way through to Art Nouveau left their mark on this amazing city, prized for having one of the best natural defensive harbours on the Mediterranean.
Founded in 227BC by Hannibal’s brother Hasdrubal, and named after his home city of Carthage, the Romans renamed it Carthago Nova and built the old town across 5 small hills, similar to Rome. Famous for the mining of slate and marble
, Cartagena is a treasure trove for anyone interested in the ancient world, military history or architecture.

It’s really hard to choose, but these are Upsticks picks:

Roman Theatre, only discovered in 1990 under the ruins of the old bullring, along with a colonnade, House of Fortune and Torre Ciega

Concepcion Castle – rebuilt in the 13th century using stone from the amphitheatre, the Castle houses the “Interpretation Centre for the History of the City ”. With air raid shelters from the Spanish Civil War, plus the Santa Maria de la Vieja Cathedral with a Roman mosaic in the crypt, this is the story of Cartagena.

 National Museum of Maritime Archaeology – treasures from shipwrecks and more.

Naval military history – Cartagena is home to the Spanish Navy and also the Naval Museum where you can find the world’s first submarine, plus other sites including Castillo de San Julian, The Arsenal, Midshipmen’s Barracks and Campus Muralla del Mar, once a military hospital and now home to the Polytechnic.

For nature lovers, walk the PR-1 route from Cala Reona to Calblanque, enjoy the beach at Playa El Portus and the deserted beauty of Cabo Tiñoso – this is a great location for scuba divers as well.

Murcia inland

There’s a lot more to Murcia than the coastal areas, Upsticks are big fans of Spanish wines and the quality coming out of Murcia has improved in leaps and bounds over the past few years – you really should give them a try.

Wine routes – Yecla, Jumilla and Bullas

Home of the Monastrell grape (known as Mourvèdre in France) Murcia was once a land of mass wine production, where the focus was on quantity rather than quality. In 1988, almost a century after the phylloxera bug decimated the major wine producers of much of Europe, it was Jumilla’s turn – but what could have been a disaster was transformed into an opportunity for Murcia to start a “wine revolution” that is delivering results already. If you’re a fan of richly ripe and fruity wines, then you need to make a beeline for Carche, 10 minutes outside Jumilla and explore some of the beautiful wineries in the town or if you prefer to stay in the DO of Jumilla itself, then this is the winery for you.

Not very pretty and there’s not much there – apart from some fab wines, especially at Bodegas Castaño the primary driver behind the huge improvement in quality of the Yecla DO wines over recent years. If you’re looking for great quality wines at really good value prices, this is your place.

We’ve saved the best till last! There are more than 200 traditional and preserved wineries in the town centre alone – welcome to Bullas, the most recent DO (Denominación de Origen) in Murcia. Bullas covers a much bigger area than either Yecla or Jumilla and has a bit more to offer in terms of things to see and places to visit. There are 8 towns and villages, all of which owe their existence to winemaking. Taking the Bullas wine route is immersing yourself in the very essence of the land – not to be missed.

And if you manage to visit in February – be sure to take part in the Wine Festival; as the people of Bullas say “If you come to Bullas, drink wine, don’t be shy!” If you miss this one, don’t worry, they do it all again in September at wine harvest – party on!

There’s so much more to Murcia than these areas so we’ll be taking a closer look at Mazarron, Aguilas and the San Javier area near the border with Alicante very soon.

The information in this article was current on the date published.
Article last reviewed/updated 26/02/2024

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