A couple of weeks ago I headed out to the region of Murcia. Situated in the southeast of Spain, in between Andalusia and the Valencian community, on the Mediterranean coast, Murcia is often overshadowed by well known nearby destinations such as Valencia or Malaga. It was my very first time visiting this part of the state and after only 4 days of exploring I was already in love.
I was particularly surprised by the diversity that the region can offer: from green forests, hiking paths, lunar landscapes and historical sites to picturesque fisherman villages, beautiful sand beaches and crystalline water.
The natural and historical scene of the region is just incredible as well as the food scene: here you will find everything you can dream of. The region of Murcia is a major producer of fruit and vegetables not only for the rest of Spain but for Europe too. Lemons and oranges plantations can be easily spotted when travelling from town to town and fresh lemons can be easily found at your dining table at any meal along with platters of fresh fish, meat or paella. Me encanta!!
In Murcia you can expect a less saturated experience of tourism with an exciting variety of activities: here is a taste of what you can live & feel in this spectacular region. Ready? Let’s go!
1. Go hiking, climbing or cycling in the Regional Park of Sierra Espuña:
If you love to be surrounded by nature and you are in need of breathing fresh mountain air, the Regional Park of Sierra Espuña is the place where you need to be. Deep green pine trees cover majority of this 25,000 hectares park making it the biggest forest in the whole region. Kilometers of hiking trials are available for any kind of level, from beginner to expert as well as plenty of mountain bike paths. It is really worth mentioning there are some short paths available for people with physical disabilities too, and they are great!
If you love stronger emotions, Sierra Espuña offers some incredible places for climbing: the Paredes de Leyva are considered one of the best climbing areas in Spain. I am not a climbing kinda girl but omg, this place has options!!
Overall Sierra Espuña is a wonderful part of the region, perfect for a picnic and a walk in the woods while sinking in the wonderful views over the mountains. Pure magic!
- Here in Sierra Espuña, at 1300 mt of altitude, you can find ice houses. They were first built during the 16th century and they used to be filled with fresh snow that then was tamped down inside to get ice.
Top tip: check out the Visitor Centre where you can find a permanent and brand new exhibition about the flora and fauna existing in the park.
2. Explore the lunar landscape of Barrancos de Gebas:
A unique lunar landscape sits at the bottom of the Regional Park of Sierra Espuña, it is the Barrancos de Gebas. Possibly the most singular landscape I have ever walked through: imagine 2,000 hectares of white gullies and ravines, with no particular vegetation around. Just little white canyons. Incredible, I know. So close to the green Sierra Espuña and yet incredibly different.
The landscape of Barrancos de Gebas, also known as the Badlands of Gebas, is formed of marls and clays, in which erosion caused by torrential rain has carved the gullies and ravines in the deeply incised landscape which is possible to see nowadays. Experiencing this place in person was absolutely mind blowing and I couldn’t recommend it enough.
Top tip: to get an unforgettable view of this rather surreal landscape head to the Mirador, an excellently constructed viewpoint right in the middle of the Barrancos de Gebas.
To arrive in Sierra Espuña I flew from London to Murcia, and then had a transfer of 1hr 30mis to Sierra Espuña. Another option is to fly to Alicante airport. Sierra Espuña is a little bit more far away from here: almost 2hrs drive.
Where to eat: check out La Perdiz for delicious homemade and traditional dishes.
Where to stay: the Hotel Jardines de la Santa is what you need if you are planning to explore this beautiful part of the world. It is a lovely converted monastery right in the heart of Sierra Espuña: rooms are spacious and with gorgeous views over the mountains.
3. Head to the seaside for water activities and a relaxing day at the SPA:
Only 1hr 15min divides one of the greenest and thickest areas in the southeast of Spain, Sierra Espuña, with the blue and clear water of the Mediterranean Sea.
The city of Águilas is the perfect spot for enjoying water activities as well as taking some time to actually relax without being surrounded by plenty of tourists.
Being a sucker for nautical activities, I was impressed by seeing how many different options you can find in this fairly small town: the Juan Montiel Marina offers sports and water activities for all levels including sailing, windsurfing and kayaking. I opted for paddle boarding: first time trying to stand on a paddle board and it was awesome! I enjoyed it so much that the 1hr lesson flew away in a blink of an eye. Also, by the end of it my skin colour went from a white mozzarella shade (thank you, London.) to a fairly bronzed one. Double win! 🙂
Why not finding time to actually relax too though? Treat yourself to an afternoon in a SPA. Head to the Spaxión Don Juan SPA, enjoy some “me time” while witnessing some of the best views of the Bay of Águilas. You won’t regret it.
Where to stay: the Hotel Puerto Juan Montiel is situated on the seafront and right in front of the marina of Águilas. From here you will have super easy access to the nearby beaches and all the water activities. The hotel itself has so much to offer including a SPA, padel tennis courts and mini-golf.
4. Immerse yourself in the historical beauty of Cartagena:
After having spent a day in between the blue water of the Mediterranean Sea and chilling in a jacuzzi, is time to hit the road again and get ready for a new day of exploring. Next stop: Cartgena.
Before I arrived little I knew about this charming and historical city that quietly sits 1hr drive far away form Águilas and only 30min far away from Murcia airport. I am sure majority of you are in the same situation I was, hence I am really excited to unveil the beauty of one of Spain’s most historically fascinating places.
Thanks to its strategic position on the Murcia coast, Cartagena has been inhabited by several cultures thoughtout the centuries which have left their mark on its artistic heritage, and what a mark!
The city is mainly known for its Roman Theatre which I completely fell in love with. Built at the end of the 1st century, discovered in 1988 and restored by 2003, this theatre is a pretty impressive historical find. 88 are its meters of width and 6,000 is the total of people the place could host.
As soon as you step in it is like you are instantly thrown into a mini Rome. it is a jaw dropping experience so make sure not to miss it out.
Top tip: I have visited the Roman Theatre twice in a day (I know, I got pretty excited about it!), at lunch time and at sunset. I can confirm the BEST time to explore this gem is at sunset time: less warm, better light (in case you are a picture addicted like me!) and less visitors around too, which is always a bonus! 🙂
Cartagena is not just about the Roman Theatre though, the city itself is lovely and plenty of other historical finds can be spotted around the city like the Roman Forum District
Top tip: for superb views of Cartagena head to the Parque Torres, one of the highest points in the city. Good news: it is free!
Where to eat: if you are looking for great food in a unique location then La Catedral is possibly THE best spot in the whole Cartagena. Tasty and beautiful presented dishes will make your dining experience a truly unforgettable one.
Where to stay: NH Cartagena is perfect if you want to stay central and close to the major attractions. It is only 200mt far away from the Roman Theatre and 5 mins walk from the port. Just great!
5. Visit the fisherman village of Cabo de Palos and dive into its crystalline water:
I ended up my trip in Cabo de Palos, a small but yet stunning fisherman village located at the south-eastern tip of the Region of Murcia and at 30min drive from Cartagena.
Its insane food, dreamy sandy beaches and crystal-clear water are genuinely to die for. I can’t believe this part of the world was completely unknown to me!
- This area is particularly well known for diving. The marine reserve of Cabo de Palos and Islas Hormigas is one of the most popular destinations for lovers of underwater exploration in Spain. Here you will have the chance to observe not only the marine fauna but also a few wrecks that sunk around the rocky headland over the centuries. The most famous one is the Sirio, a steam transatlantic of 120mt that crashed in front of Cabo de Palos in 1906. If you are a diving lover take note, this is the place for you!
- Cabo de Palos is situated just around the corner from the Mar Menor: the biggest salt water lagoon in Europe and separated from the Mediterranean Sea by La Manga, a strip of land which is 22km long. Super cool!
Top tip: take a walk to the lighthouse, witness the incredible views and the gorgeous rocky coast.
Where to eat: El Pez Rojo (The Red Fish) is hands down the BEST one in town. Get ready to fill your tummy with platters of mouth-watering fresh fish. Starters and mains were ridiculously tasty that I simply couldn’t stop eating. I just wanted more. The dessert was a combination of 3 different ones including homemade tramisù. Yum!
Find here the video of my adventure in Murcia to get a better idea of what I am talking about! 🙂
Big thank you to Visit Murcia for organising such an unforgettable trip, cannot wait to come back and discover more!
What about you Lovelies? Have you ever been in Spain or in Murcia at all?! If not, I hope all this content inspired you to start planning your Murcian adventure! 🙂
Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!!