“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles” – Tim Cahill
Murcia is one of the lesser known regions of Spain. So much so, more than one person I told I was going to Murcia to asked me what part of the States I was going to… they thought I had said ‘Merica! Probably my favourite misunderstanding ever. But I was fortunate to discover that Murcia is in fact one of Spain’s best kept secrets. The region has been well preserved and it was (mostly) skipped when tall, white washed apartment blocks took over the south of Spain. The tourists there are mainly Spanish which means you can safely avoid the (inevitable) cringe that ensues when you encounter British and Irish abroad! The city is actually the 7th largest city in Spain which I find shocking because until my friend moved there I had barely heard of the city that turns out to be steeped in culture, history and all round allure.
The areas surrounding Murcia city, in Murcia region are just as quaint and the beaches are impeccable. The sand is pure and white, the sea is as blue as can be and there are palm trees for days (my favourite!). You also have the option of swimming in the Mediterranean sea (which is relatively cold) or you can swim in Mar Menor which, I thought, was pure bliss.
I went to Murcia to visit my stunning friend, Mairead, who I lived with on Erasmus. We are always sure to have fun when we’re together but she really showed me an authentic Murciana experience and on top of that I’m always so at ease in her company which allowed for a lovely, relaxing week. As they say, friends you make in college are friends for life and as Maid said herself, I don’t have a choice, we’re friends forever! I also happened to be visiting the same week as Eoin, another college friend of ours. Neither of us told each other that we were going to Murcia and Mairead didn’t remember our dates which meant that us being in Murcia at the same time was a complete fluke but the most welcome fluke that ended in a hysterical week of reminiscing! More serendipity if you ask me!
Cathedrale de Santa Maria
The Cathedral is breathtaking. It is in a plaza that is so incredible I couldn’t take enough photographs of it. There is a palace right next door and the two historic buildings compliment each other no end. The interior of the cathedral is surprisingly unique. I’ve seen the inside of a lot of cathedrals and they can often all resemble one another but Murcia’s cathedral is something else. We happened to visit during mass too and the Bishop was there! Quite a unique experience in itself.
Casino de Murcia
Once upon a time a casino, now an inspiring building filled to the brim with decadence. This jaw-dropping facade leads to what is now a private members club which is open to the public for tourism purposes. There is a heavy Moorish influence in the architecture, and we all know how I feel about anything with an Arabic influence.
Peruse the parks and plazas
No matter where you go in Murcia city, you’re bound to come across a beautiful park or an even more beautiful plaza. The town is inundated with pretty buildings and what better way to appreciate them than sitting drinking a café con leche in a local cafetería. I would especially recommend Plaza de las Flores. We hung out there watching the local painters paint masterpieces of scenes around the city. I was in my element chomping down on the traditional Murciana tapa of a bicicleta which is ensaladilla rusa on bread sticks, yum!
Mercadillo de La Fama
We were lucky enough to be in Murcia on a Thursday and we caught this bizarre of a market in the city centre. It happens to be on Maireads road and it’s fascinating. They sell everything from fruit and veg, to bags to bras and knickers. I bought a brand new backpack for travelling from the cutest old man for €15. I tried to haggle… but he was having none of me! Haggling is an art form I’m yet to master! But the bag was worth it. If you’re in Murcia on a Thursday and you’re free between 9 and 2, definitely pop by. It’s huge and it’s a wonderful maze to get lost in!
There’s also another market called Mercado de los Hippies (Hippy Market) beside the Ayuntamiento in the city centre. I had so much fun there. We made best friends with an old Spanish vendor who sold us bracelets for €1. He introduced us to Rama from Senegal who put braids in our hair for €5. Clearly the ideal day out. Anyone who knows me, knows… I love a good braid!
This isn’t too far outside the city and it’s 100% worth the trip. We got a taxi ( which cost about €15) and we arrived just in time for sunset. Fuensanta is a hill overlooking the city of Murcia. There’s a beautiful church at the top as well as a restaurant where we had some more delicious tapas. We had a ball, explored the woods at the top and it was the perfect place to countdown to my 24th birthday!
La Manga de Mar Menor
About 40 minutes outside the city, there’s a strip of beach that spans 13 km’s and we spent 3 days there. I loved it. As you can see by the picture below, there’s a piece of land that encloses a bay and on one side (Mar Menor) the water is still and warm and on the other side it’s wavey and the Mediterranean, so relatively cold. We got the opportunity to bath on both sides. It was the best. I would definitely recommend going for a dip in Mar Menor at sunset, its balmy and you can really appreciate the breathtaking views. The area is cool too with some nice restaurants and bars nearby. We stayed on the campsite there and it was quite the experience!
San Javier is another beach side town that is also so marvelous. It’s perfect for a day trip to Mar Menor. It’s not too far from the city and it’s lined with lovely little restaurants too. We just went to hang out for the afternoon and it was the perfect place to enjoy great company. It’s insanely picturesque.
Murcia is a world of it’s own and I don’t understand why most Spaniards brush it with the same brush that they brush the Andalusian’s with. It’s very much it’s own city with it’s own life and traditions. The city is impeccable and the seaside towns are next to none. It deserves a lot more credit than it gets, but in a way, I’m happy for them because this way they can remain one of Spain’s best kept secrets!
If you’re going to Murcia and want any more information or you’ve been, I’d love to hear all about it! You can contact me on any of my social networks – insta, snapchat (imperfectlyfree), facebook or twitter!