Hola! My name is Julia and I’m 24 years old. I was born in the Region of Murcia. The inspiration to travel came to me as a result of the pandemic. When the lockdown ended in Spain, interregional travel was restricted – so we could only visit nearby places. My partner suggested that we head to various destinations in the Region of Murcia in order to discover more of our natural surroundings. And once we started doing this, we couldn’t stop!
We became enthusiastic explorers of our own land, and shortly after began sharing what we found with others. To me, the Region of Murcia is the great unknown! We have everything here and it’s all within an hour’s drive: incredible beaches, wild coves, deserts, mountains and canyons. Plus, the fantastic year-round weather and delicious cuisine is the icing on the cake!
I love many places here such as Calblanque, Playa de Calnegre and Valle de Ricote. Calblanque is a marvel and it’s not just me saying this – The Guardian chose it as one of the 40 best beaches in Europe. Puntas de Calnegre holds sentimental value for me as well. And then there is Valle de Ricote which I find beautiful in terms of landscapes. But by no means are these the only amazing spots to visit in the Region of Murcia! Below I outline the 10 best things to see and do, combining nature and food.
Best Things To Do in the Region of Murcia
1. Try a Caldero Rice Dish in Cabo de Palos or Cartagena
Caldero is a typical rice and fish dish from the Region of Murcia, and some of its best versions can be found in Cabo de Palos and Cartagena. This dish has been prepared for generations and is deeply rooted in the fishing communities of the area. The name itself comes from the cooking vessel traditionally used to prepare the dish, a large cauldron or caldera.
The most important ingredients of a caldero dish typically include a variety of locally-caught fish, different types of seafood (prawns and shellfish) and rice. The dish is richly flavored with aromatic herbs, exotic spices and a saffron-infused broth. The rice is cooked in this flavorful broth – absorbing the essence of the sea – and served alongside the succulent seafood.
Cabo de Palos is well-known for its traditional caldero. The town is home to numerous seafood restaurants that serve it. Many of these establishments are situated by the sea, providing lovely views as you savor your meal. After enjoying your caldero, you can explore the picturesque streets of Cabo de Palos or take advantage of the nearby coves for snorkeling!
2. Visit the Cathedral and Try Paparajote in Murcia City
The Catedral de Murcia is a must-visit in the city of Murcia. This masterpiece of Gothic and Baroque architecture stands as the spiritual heart of the city. When you visit the cathedral, you will be captivated by its magnificent facade adorned with intricate sculptures and decorative elements. Inside you will discover a sanctuary filled with beautiful chapels, stunning stained glass windows and a sense of deep historical significance.
While visiting the city of Murcia, trying paparajote in the barracas is another must-do experience. Barracas are essentially temporary stalls that appear during the Spring Festivals (Fiestas de Primavera) or in the month of September during the fair. Among the many traditional Murcian dishes on offer, the paparajote desert is something you can’t leave without trying!
Paparajote consists of lemon tree leaves coated in a sweet batter, deep-fried to a golden perfection. The fragrant lemon leaves provide a delightful citrusy aroma and flavor, which beautifully contrasts with the sweet and crunchy exterior. Paparajote is often dusted with powdered sugar or cinnamon, and sometimes served with ice cream or a drizzle of chocolate – making it a delicious treat that showcases the unique flavors of the region.
3. Order Marinera Tapas All Across the Region of Murcia
Marinera is the most distinctive Murcian tapa and it’s easier to find than the food in the barracas. It’s served on a type of donut – with a potato mixture (consisting of potato, egg, carrots, beans and mayonnaise) sitting below anchovies, tuna or other seafood. You can’t go wrong with this snack as everyone loves it! You can order it at beach bars with a beer or in the center of Murcia at Plaza de las Flores where it’s said to have originated.
4. Attend the Spring Festivals in the Region of Murcia
Attending the Spring Festivals is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of this beautiful Spanish province. These festivities, also known as the Fiestas de Primavera, are celebrated with great enthusiasm by the locals and offer a joyful experience for tourists. They take place in the week following Easter, and mark the arrival of the warm and pleasant weather that graces the region during this period.
The festivals let the city of Murcia come alive with an explosion of color, aroma, music, dance and food. Plazas and courtyards are adorned with floral displays, and people dance in the street. The most iconic element of the Fiestas de Primavera is the Bando de la Huerta. This procession shows the region’s agricultural heritage with decorated carriages filled with local produce, traditional costumes and folkloric performances.
5. Discover the Beauty of Calblanque Regional Park
Calblanque Regional Park (as mentioned) is a marvel in the Region of Murcia, and it offers a unique combination of natural beauty and outdoor activities. Calblanque is celebrated for its unspoiled nature. The park boasts 13 kilometers of golden sandy beaches along the Mediterranean coast. What sets these beaches apart is their preservation and untouched state.
While the beaches are the most apparent attraction, Calblanque Regional Park also offers a network of hiking trails that crisscross the landscape. These trails cater to hikers of all skill levels, from easy walks suitable for families to more challenging paths that lead to panoramic views. Many visitors to Calblanque find that the ideal way to spend a day is to embark on one of its hikes and then cool off with a refreshing swim at the beach.
6. Savor Baked Octopus by the Sea in Puntas de Calnegre
In the Region of Murcia, a culinary delight awaits in Puntas de Calnegre: baked octopus or pulpo al horno. This dish is a testament to the region’s seafood expertise, featuring tender octopus slow-cooked to perfection with mouth-watering aromatic seasonings. What makes the eating experience truly special is the beachside dining opportunities, allowing you to relish the flavors of the Mediterranean while enjoying the serene coastal views.
7. Take an Adventure or Two at Canon de Almadenes
Canon de Almadenes is a remarkable natural gem for adventurers. This limestone canyon, carved by the Segura River, offers hot spring baths for relaxation, majestic waterfalls and a network of hiking trails. The thermal waters in the canyon provide a therapeutic escape, while rich biodiversity and flora can be found along the well-maintained hiking paths.
For thrill-seekers, river rafting is a great option to navigate the waters and uncover extraordinary hidden gems like ancient cave paintings. All in all, Canon de Almadenes is an all-encompassing destination that marries adventure and tranquility – making it a must-visit on your Murcia journey.
8. Capture Mesmerizing Photos at Barranco de Gebas
Barranco de Gebas is probably the most photogenic landscape in all of Murcia, as the erosive formations here literally resemble the moon! It’s a massive badlands area composed of gullies, canyons and ravines. The highlight of Barranco de Gebas is the reservoir that floods the center of the landscape, with its bright turquoise waters contrasting incredibly against the desert-like surroundings. You could easily spend a few days at this site.
9. Stand in Awe of the Pristine Salto Del Usero
Salto del Usero, nestled in the northwest part of the Region of Murcia, is undoubtedly one of its most cherished gems. This protected area, renowned for its breathtaking beauty and pristine landscapes, offers an exciting experience that feels like a tranquil escape to a cenote in Mexico – rather than a visit to Spain. Salto del Usero is known for its gorgeous waterfall and crystal-clear natural pools, which exude a sense of exoticism.
The sight of the cascading water against the backdrop of greenery creates a spectacle that bears a striking resemblance to the cenotes of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The azure waters and the surrounding rock formations make this place a haven for photographers and nature enthusiasts alike, where you can capture photos and swim until your heart’s content!
Due to its ecological significance, Salto del Usero often sees regulated access during the high season. While this may seem restrictive, it ensures that the environment remains unspoiled and provides a tranquil atmosphere for those who can visit. The limited access preserves the site’s condition, allowing visitors to appreciate it in an unaltered state.
10. Check Out the Charming Villages of Valle de Ricote
Valle de Ricote is a charming area of Spain known for its villages and natural beauty. Among its many hidden gems is Ojos village and the Mirador Alto de Bayna, a panoramic viewpoint offering sweeping views of the Segura River and the Azud de Ojos reservoir. This spot provides a memorable day out where you can explore the village’s charm, admire the valley’s natural beauty and unwind by the reservoir’s peaceful waters.
Tips for Your Visit to the Region of Murcia
- Embrace the Local Cuisine to the Fullest: The food in Murcia will definitely be one of the highlights of your visit here. I wouldn’t say it differs too much from the rest of Spain, as we share many dishes from other regions. However, we do have our own typical gastronomy. Don’t let the Valencians hear this but I think our paella is much tastier! As I mentioned earlier you have to try marinera tapas, paparajote, caldero and meat pie.
- Stay Overnight in the Smaller Municipalities if You Can: Depending on how much time you have dedicated for your trip through the Region of Murcia, you should try to stay overnight in the municipalities outside of Murcia city. There are some truly spectacular accommodations in the municipalities and they add so much fun to your overall experience!
- Research the Seasons to Time Your Trip Right: We have fantastic weather almost all year round in the Region of Murcia, but I would say spring is the best season to come as it coincides with the festivals. Plus, it’s a great time for a beach swim. Autumn is quite similar to spring and summer, so it’s also a nice time. I’m less fond of summer as most people head to the coastal areas, which can get crowded, and the city center becomes quiet. However, if you enjoy the beach atmosphere, it’s certainly the right time to go!