Fly into Alicante Airport and head west away from Benidorm’s summer crowds and you enter enchanting Murcia.
This is the region for historic cities like Cartagena and Lorca, sacred Caravaca de la Cruz and the cathedral city of Murcia.
The beaches along the bold and beautiful coastline are some of the most dramatic in southern Spain.
And holiday resorts run from exquisite Phoenician harbour towns to dramatic, modern marvels floating over calm, clear lagoons. Discover the gentle and rural north for an unspoiled landscape of sleepy hill towns and villages, local festivals and ancient traditions.
Spend time getting to know Murcia’s stretch of the Mediterranean. Or make it your mission to catch as many iconic sights as possible in every corner of the region.
Direct flights all year round from the UK to Alicante take just over two hours.
Murcia has over 170km of Mediterranean coastline, 300 days of sunshine a year and average summer temperatures of 27˚
The landscape includes mountains, forests, high plains and plateau, vineyards, valleys and lush meadows. National parks and marine reserves are perfect for walking and hiking with kids in spring and autumn.
Murcia Cathedral and the Teatro Romano in Cartagena are considered to be among Spain’s greatest treasures.
One of the finest regions in southern Spain for diving schools, sailing and water sports.
Murcia’s a family-friendly region with a wide choice of accommodation from resort hotels to self-catering and camping. Kids are welcome everywhere and museums, events and activities are generally excellent and surprisingly inexpensive.
The region hosts hundreds of festivals annually from international jazz events to some of Spain’s most colourful carnivals and Semana Santa celebrations.
Murcia’s regional capital’s famous for the extravagance of its cathedral and soaring bell tower. But, those who know this gracious city a little better are just as happy to sing the praises of tapas (the best in Spain according to some), museums and eclectic architecture. Take to the streets and go exploring, leave plenty of time to linger on dozens of extravagant plazas, sidestep into ancient and intriguing alleys and don’t leave until you’ve amply admired the river and its fine collection of bridges.
First time visitors to Cartagena should do nothing before hopping on the cable car up to Castillo de la Concepción. The 13th century castle stares imperiously across the entire city and nowhere has a better perspective on its grandeur and impressive history. From here you can see traces of the Phoenicians down by the harbour, admire ancient Rome’s contribution, check the historic Islamic influences and see the startling Modernist architecture: unsung for decades and now rightfully recognised as some of the finest examples of the legendary 19th century movement.
From nature reserves to gorgeous beaches and dramatic rock formations, Murcia’s coast is awe-inspiring from end to end. But no feature is quite as distinctive as the narrow ribbon of land which stretches for 24km across the Mediterranean enclosing the calm Mar Menor Lagoon. La Manga dominates this geological anomaly. One of the liveliest resorts in the region it’s a great holiday base for families, water sport mad kids and hard to impress teenagers.
Mazarrón’s precious minerals and metals have long been coveted. By the time the lode finally ran out in the early 20th century, every culture from the Phoenicians and ancient Romans to Muslims and conquering Christians had mined here. Traces of invading influences are still seen all over the area. But today it’s the charms of the bustling harbours and Costa Calida beaches, pretty resorts and laid-back holiday atmosphere that attracts most attention.
Murcia’s biggest waterpark is also an eco-zoo with bird of prey flying displays and Night Safaris during the summer. 20 minutes from Murcia city centre. Terra Natura
This mountainous park covers almost 17,000 hectares and has an excellent visitor centre, marked hiking paths and heaps of wildlife and unusual birds. 40 minutes south of Murcia city centre. El Valle y Carrascoy
The Science & Water Museum with a mini-planetarium, family workshops, a Spring Science Festival, fun play-learning for under eights and activities for 9-12 in the Summer Museum. Museo de la Ciencia y el Agua
They’re so confident you’ll see dolphins off the coast of Murcia, if you don’t, you can have another day cruise for free. Cétaceos y Navegación
The permanent residents of this pretty coastal reserve include flamingos and exotic wading birds, small native mammals and rare lizards. Salinas de San Pedro
With origins dating back to the Bronze Age this is one of the most historic monuments in Murcia and fun, even for kids without a bit of interest in ancient history. An hour’s drive north of Murcia. Castle of Jumilla
Catching one of the hourly tourist boats in summer and cruising round the Cartagena coast is a Murcia must-do – it’s even better if you opt to disembark for a few hours at recently restore Fuerte de Navidad. Cartagena Coast Cruise
The ancient Roman silver and gold mines of the region are the setting for a great day out with kids. The history’s gripping and very dark and the miniature tour train’s very cute. 20 minutes west of Cartagena Parque Minero
The ongoing excavation of Cartegena’s ancient Roman antiquities is thrilling and centres round the Teatro Romano and its complex which includes an outstanding museum. Teatro Romano
One of the Costa Blanca’s best loved adventure parks with everything giant swimming pools and zip-lines to its own puzzle maze. Parque Rafael de la Cedra
Murcia’s scattered with secret beaches and hidden coves, wonderful tucked away towns and villages and almost too many cities to see in one holiday so driving is definitely the best way to explore all the intricacies of coast and countryside. The roads are excellent everywhere, just remember to pack plenty of water in high summer, even for the shortest journeys.