I knew I’d fall in love with Murcia the second I stepped off the plane. The tiny airport terminal of San Javier is the perfect welcome from the typical bustling terminals I’m used to. Although I was staying for just a weekend, I was determined to find the best things to do in Murcia.
Where is Murcia?
Murcia is a city in south-eastern Spain. It’s the most populous city of the Region of Murcia, and the 7th largest city in the country.
With its vast landscape and healthy terrain, Murcia is known as ‘Europe’s orchard’ given its long agricultural tradition. The city’s sights, and surrounding attractions in the region, makes Murcia one destination where a weekend just isn’t long enough.
Top things to do in Murcia in a weekend
Landing anywhere warm in November can raise any mood, and Murcia doesn’t disappoint.
With an enviable 300 plus days of sunshine a year, winter in Murcia is something anyone can get used to. The region has an average of 360 days of sunshine each year. January has average temperatures of 16.6 °C (62 °F) during the day, and around 34.2 °C (94 °F) in summer.
Where to stay in Murcia
Driving through the vast and sparse landscape, you’ll notice the extremely dry and arid land. Murcia’s more of a local Spanish city than one overrun with tourists. And let’s face it, that’s never a bad thing.
Immerse yourself in the culture and history of Murcia and neighboring Cartagena by booking a local tour. These guides are experts on their destinations, and they speak your language too!
While the nearby city of Alicante is known for being a summer spot for foreigners and locals, Murcia is the opposite.
I stayed in Los Alcazares. It’s a small but friendly town not far from one of the most popular strip of beaches, La Manga del Mar Menor.
The streets are eerily, yet beautifully, quiet if you visit in November. Look out for owners walking their dogs, fishermen, and the cyclists racing each other along the promenade.
Things to do in Murcia – check out the architecture
You’ll find a splendid combination of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance architectural styles. In fact, it reminded me of the sights I saw on a day trip to Segovia. The cathedral in Murcia City is one striking example of Gothic and Baroque design.
It was built between 1394 and 1465 in the traditional Castilian Gothic style. Its impressive bell tower dates all the way back to the 14th century, standing at 90m (300ft) tall.
A short distance from the Cathedral is the Episcopal Palace. It’s another building from the 18th Century, with a colourful exterior with influences from the Italian Mannerism period.
The Glorieta in Murcia
Another sight in Murcia worth seeing is the Glorieta. Built in the 18th century, this large city square built in the 18th century, is surrounded by Segura River. It’s also home to the city hall, and highly regarded as the traditional town centre.
On the subject of the river Segura, be sure to walk across the Puente de los Peligros. It’s Murcia’s oldest stone bridge and dates back to the 18th century.
Santa Clara la Real Convent Museum
For a spot of culture, you may want to see Santa Clara la Real Convent Museum. It’s a monastery that also has the architectural and archaeological remains from the Muslim and Christian royal palaces. Inside the museum is an array of art and archaeology from the period of Al-Andus.
Here you’ll come across pieces such as ceramic art and utensils that were used throughout different periods of Islam in Andalusia. It’s also free to enter the museum, so don’t miss the chance to go and see it for yourself.
El Valle Regional Park – best things to do in Murcia
El Valle regional park is one of my top picks to see in Murcia, especially if you enjoy being outdoors. Mountains 200m to 1000m in height surround the area of 11,000 hectares. Along with a wide variety of flora and fauna, this park’s home to many wildlife, including wild boars, red squirrels and golden eagles.
While in the park, you can’t miss out on seeing the beautiful La Fuensanta sanctuary. It costs nothing to visit this 16th century monastery, and your jaw will drop when you see the views of the valley below.
There are 2 free visitor centres in the region: the Centro de la Luz and the Centro Naturaleza El Valle. These are the places to visit if you need any assistance with your trip.
How to get around Murcia – things to do in a weekend
Getting around the region is incredibly cheap and with many options too. The buses actually run to schedule, give or take 10 minutes. At the time of travel, a journey from Los Alcazares to Murcia City cost around €4.30.
Buses to other cities like Cartagena, Torrevieja and Alicante range from €5 to €6 euros (one way). Prices are pretty reasonable, especially when you consider that a journey – depending on the destination – can last over 2 hours!
Murcia: embracing the simple life
The simplicity of the lifestyle in Murcia, however, is the biggest draw, and why I’d love to return again.
Getting lost in the city streets and dining al fresco on Morcilla sausage is an existence I’d happily embrace forever if possible.
To put it simply, I fell completely in love with Murcia, and in only one weekend. It may not tally on the same popularity scale as Madrid or Barcelona, but this only makes its allure all the more appealing.
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