Murcia, Spain’s seventh largest city, is home to a simmering gastronomic scene
Nicknamed ‘Europe’s Orchard’ because of its production of fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers, Murcia is home to a simmering gastronomic scene.
Flat and walkable, Spain’s seventh largest city is value visiting for restaurants alone, all offering cheap regional dishes.
WHERE TO STAY
Catalonia Conde de Floridablanca Hotel
Despite an in depth refurb, this hotel retains a few of its old-world charms, comparable to the coat of arms showcasing the villages within the region. Double rooms are modern and airy. The pool is a bonus. Room-only doubles from £52 (cataloniahotels.com).
If you’re planning a visit to Murcia, consider a stay on the Catalonia Conde de Floridablanca Hotel, where rooms are priced from just £52. Above is a bird’s eye view of town
Sercotel Amistad Murcia Hotel
Around five minutes’ walk from Murcia’s central shopping district of Gran Via, you’ll find this inexpensive, unfussy four-star hotel.
Wood-panelled rooms are barely old-school but spacious. Good-size TVs, wifi and air-con.
Room-only doubles from £65 (sercotelhoteles.com).
Hesperia Murcia Centro Hotel
In the center of town, this hotel is brilliant and modern, with white leather headboards and smart TVs you may link to your Netflix account. There’s also a gym.
Room-only doubles from around £56 (hesperia.com).
Hotel Cetina Murcia
The contemporary and fresh Hotel Cetina Murcia is positioned close by the ornamental Catedral de Murcia (pictured)
Just 100 metres from Murcia’s famous cathedral, Hotel Certina is in a chief spot for exploring town. Interiors are contemporary and fresh with pops of color and big smart TVs.
Room-only doubles from £51 (cetinahotels.com).
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Admire the grandiose Bishop’s Palace (above), set in considered one of Murcia’s many plazas
Murcia is all about plaza hopping. Start on the ornate La Glorieta, home to town’s pink-tinged town hall and grandiose Bishop’s Palace (Palacio Episcopal). Wander past the towering cathedral via Plaza de los Apostoles. Then go to the flower-strewn Plaza de las Flores.
Visit the tower at Catedral de Murcia
Murcia’s decorative cathedral was built on the location of an old Arab mosque — the Moors founded Murcia in AD 825. A mix of Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance styles, the cathedral has a 95m tower visitors can scale for five euros (£4.50). Two each day tours to be booked upfront, but make sure that you request English. It’s value a visit for views of town (catedralmurcia.org).
Tapas with the locals
Go for lunch within the Mercado de Correos, above, a contemporary grocery store housed in an old post office
Mercado de Abastos de Veronicas and Mercado de Correos are very different markets. The previous is a conventional fish, meat and vegetable market where locals pick up their groceries.
The latter is a contemporary grocery store housed within the old post office. You’ll find a variety of options, from tapas to Chinese, Italian or international fare.
Tour the Real Casino de Murcia
Above is the French-style neo-Baroque ballroom in the enduring Real Casino de Murcia
Founded in 1847, the enduring Real Casino de Murcia, is maybe town’s finest architectural showpiece. A mix of nineteenth and early Twentieth-century style, it’s home to an elaborate Arabic courtyard and a French-style neo-Baroque ballroom. Entrance costs £4.30 (realcasinomurcia.com).
WHERE TO EAT
On the sting of an unassuming plaza, Pura Cepa is the place to go for an outside lunch (or dinner). The small corner restaurant serves a variety of fairly-priced tapas, from its red shrimp croquettes (£2.40 each) and succulent Iberian pork cheeks (£14.70) to the best baked cheesecake in Murcia (£6, puracepamurcia.com).
Enjoy a Michelin-starred meal for a fraction of what you’ll pay within the UK at AlmaMater (above)
Recently awarded its first Michelin star, AlmaMater offers fine-dining experiences for a fraction of what you’ll pay within the UK. Dishes are full of progressive flavours, comparable to grilled fish with kaffir lime soup, coconut and lemongrass (£20). This quality restaurant is worthy of a splurge (almamatermurcia.com).
Not much from the surface but Alborada food is great. Try creamy jamon croquettes (£1.70 each), codfish salad (£13.90) and rice with vegetables (£14.70), a Murcian staple. Don’t miss dessert — flambeed milk (£5.20) (alborada restaurante.com).
Street food in Murcia. Town is value visiting for restaurants alone, all offering cheap regional dishes
This typical tapas bar, its partitions adorned with cabinets, azulejo tiles and oak barrels, is where you go for reasonable, no-frills food. For lower than £2 try Murcia’s classic tapa, marinera Murciana — a glorified breadstick topped with Russian salad and an anchovy (barloszagales.com).
HOW TO GET THERE
EasyJet flies directly from London Gatwick to Murcia for around £139 return (easyjet.com).