Murcia is an interesting and captivating Spanish city yet undiscovered by many. It’s often overlooked in favor of nearby more popular coastal cities like Alicante, Cartagena, or Almeria – and it definitely shouldn’t be! City has a lot to offer for all travelers and can be a perfect, quiet getaway from bustling tourist destinations on the coast. Stay with us and discover the best things to do in Murcia City in Spain.
For us, a visit to Murcia was a day trip from La Manga del Mar Menor where we were living for a few weeks during our digital nomads life. We visited the city in April and during that time it was very quiet and without huge crowds. We only came across just a few organized trips. During one day we managed to visit each place we had on our list, and it took us about 6 hours (including 1.5h of a lively and colorful parade that we didn’t plan for).
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Murcia City, Spain FAQ
Yes, Murcia is a big city. It’s the 7th largest city in the country with a population of about 510k people (stats for 2022). Despite that fact, Murcia has a relaxed and calm vibe. The old town, the city’s most touristy part, is fairly small and can give you a feel of a smaller Spanish town more than one of the biggest cities in the country.
Murcia City is best known for its old town full of historic buildings featuring incredible architecture and many charming streets and squares. It’s also known for its delicious regional cuisine, rich traditions like Entierro de la Sardina or Semana Santa celebrations, and many green spaces perfect for relaxing along the Segura River. What’s more, Murcia is a university city so you can expect vibrant nightlife there.
Yes, Murcia is a city worth visiting. In our opinion, it’s one of the most interesting and beautiful places in the Region of Murcia. It’s a perfect destination for those looking for a quieter place with many things to do. Also, it’s a cheaper destination compared to other big cities like Alicante or Malaga.
Murcia is a nice destination for a one-day trip or a weekend getaway. It’s also a great spot for a home base for longer stays to slowly explore the Region of Murcia, as it’s located in close proximity to other places in the region. We started exploring Murcia around 9 AM and without rushing visited all the places we wanted in just a few hours. But if you want to get to know the city even better we recommend staying for at least 3 days.
Best Things To Do In Murcia City In Spain
Plaza del Cardenal Belluga
The number one thing to do in Murcia City is to visit Plaza del Cardenal Belluga, also known as Plaza de la Catedral. It’s a lively pedestrian-only square located in Murcia’s old town. It features two best-known Murcia attractions – the 14th-century Cathedral and the 18th-century Episcopal Palace. There you’ll also find a City Hall, Tourist Office, modernist buildings, and restaurants and cafes where you can sit for a moment, chill and watch the world go by. Plaza del Cardenal Belluga is also a place where many city events take place.
Episcopal Palace (es. Palacio Episcopal) is a unique-looking building that serves as the official headquarters of the Diocese of Cartagena. It was built in the 18th century in Rococo style and is one of the most important buildings of monumental heritage in Murcia City, declared a Cultural Heritage Site in 1992. Inside you can admire the imperial staircase, the courtyard, and a small chapel with a circular plan and rococo style that is open 24 hours. Entrance to Episcopal Palace is free.
Murcia Cathedral (es. Catedral de Murcia) is one of the most famous city landmarks, located on Plaza del Cardenal Belluga. It was built on the site of the former Great Mosque, between 1394 and 1465. An impressive bell tower was added a bit later, between 1521-1791. Thanks to that, in Murcia Cathedral you can admire a mix of architectural styles like Baroque, Gothic, or Renaissance.
From the square in front of the Murcia Cathedral, you can admire its majestic facade with large columns and sculptures of saints, archangels, and the Virgin Mary. Also, take a good look at the 90m tall bell tower, the third tallest bell tower in Spain. Also, you can climb up the bell tower and enjoy one of the best views over Murcia. Inside you can explore numerous chapels and see the tomb of King Alfonso X. You can also visit the Cathedral Museum to see the collection of religious art from the 14th and 15th centuries.
According to the website, entrance to Murcia Cathedral is not free (which surprised us as we entered for free and can’t really remember any ticket office). Tickets for adults cost €4 (August 2023) and additional tickets to the museum and bell tower are available as well. But you can buy combined tickets if you want. For current prices and opening hours please visit the catedralmurcia.org website.
Murcia Old Town Streets
Can there be a better thing to do in Murcia than getting lost in the labyrinth of its charming old town streets and squares? Probably not! In addition to the already mentioned Plaza del Cardenal Belluga, direct your steps to Traperia and Plateria streets. Those are the two most popular and busy city streets, located very close to the Cathedral. There you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do some shopping and taste Murcian or worldwide cuisine. Also, be sure to visit three popular squares: Plaza de las Flores, Glorieta de España, and Plaza Santo Domingo. We’ll take a closer look at a few of them below.
Real Casino de Murcia
Real Casino de Murcia is another famous city landmark that is located on Trapería Street. Behind the beautiful facade of the 19th-century building hides… a private gentleman’s club from 1847. Nowadays, it still serves that purpose, but its ground floor also serves as a culture center and hosts many events.
You can visit some parts of Real Casino de Murcia, like the courtyard, library, dining room, or ballroom. Entrance tickets cost €5 for adults and €3 for students, and retirees (August 2023). For current prices and opening hours please visit realcasinomurcia.com website.
Plaza de las Flores
Plaza de las Flores is a beautiful and lively square in Murcia’s old town, just a few steps from Murcia Cathedral. It got its name from many florists that are still in business there today. While there, admire late-19th and early-20th century buildings, a fountain with La Niña con las Flores sculpture, and San Pedro church. There you’ll also find numerous restaurants, tapas bars and cafes in which you can sit for a moment and rest.
Glorieta de Espana
Glorieta de España is another beautiful riverside square/garden in Murcia, dating back to the 18th century. It’s located right behind Episcopal Palace on the banks of the Segura River. Fountain, flowers, statues, and benches create a great place for relaxation. The square is also home to Murcia Town Hall.
Another great thing to do in Murcia City is visit the small but very beautiful Floridablanca Garden (es. Jardín de Floridablanca) which is located on the other side of the Segura River. The most interesting fact about it is that… it is the first public garden in Spain! It was opened in the mid-19th century and during hot summer days, it’s a great shelter, thanks to huge ficus trees that were planted in the 18th century!
Paseo del Malecon & Puente de los Peligros
While in Murcia, don’t forget to take a slow and peaceful walk along Paseo del Malecón. It’s a lovely promenade on the Segura River banks, where you’ll find a few gardens and parks. Perfect place to appreciate nature and to rest a bit. There you’ll also find the oldest bridge in Murcia – the 18th-century two-arch Puente de los Peligros (eng. Bridge Of Dangers). It connects the El Carmen neighborhood with the historic center. Near the bridge, search for a huge fish sculpture, coming out of the water.
Mercado de Veronicas
If you get hungry, direct your steps to Mercado de Veronicas, Murcia’s food market. It’s located in a 20th-century building that, from the outside looks a bit more like a railway station than a place where you’ll buy delicious food. Inside, you’ll find things like fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, or pastries. It’s a real food-lovers paradise!
About 8 km outside of the Murcia old town you’ll find ruins of the 11th century Monteagudo Castle (es. Castillo de Monteagudo). It sits on the top of the lonely high hill, at an altitude of 149m a.s.l, and is crowned by a 14m high Christ sculpture. View that can’t be missed and can be admired from many neighboring areas. Up until the 16th century the castle maintained its strategic importance but after that, it fell into decline. The enormous statue of Christ was added in 1926 and destroyed during the Spanish Civil War in 1936. What we can see today is a replica, placed there in 1951.
Unfortunately, Monteagudo Castle can’t be visited. What you can do is visit the Monteagudo Interpretation Center, at the foot of the castle. The center offers a tour explaining the 5000 years of history of the inhabitants of Monteagudo. Reservation is required. For more information please visit turismodemurcia.es website.
Visiting Salzillo Museum (es. Museo Salzillo) is an interesting thing to do in Murcia City. It’s a place created in the 1960s as a tribute to Francisco Salzillo, a renowned 18th-century local sculptor. In the museum, you’ll be able to see and admire many religious pieces of a considerable size designed by him for Semana Santa parades. Entry to Salzillo Museum costs €5 (August 2023). For current prices and opening hours visit museosalzillo.es website.
Almudi Palace (es. Palacio Almudi) is a 17th-century palace where you can see paintings and sculptures in classical and contemporary styles. The building initially was built to serve as a grain warehouse, and over the years served also as cavalry barracks and a court of justice. You can enter Almudi Palace for free.
Murcia Archaeological Museum
Murcia Archaeological Museum (es. Museo Arqueológico de Murcia) is one more great spot in the city for history buffs. It’s a place with permanent and temporary displays of local region discoveries from prehistory to the Bronze Age. The entrance is free. To check current opening hours visit the museosregiondemurcia.es website.
Santa Clara Museum
Santa Clara Museum (es. Museo de Santa Clara) is located in a complex that until this day serves as a convent, and only a small part of it is open to the public. Inside you’ll find many Christian and Islamic art and artifacts, but what deserves the most attention is a stunning 13th-century Arab pool and lovely peaceful gardens. The entrance is free. To check current opening hours visit the museosregiondemurcia.es website.
Festivals in Murcia, Spain
Entierro de la Sardina
Before visiting Murcia we had no idea that we’d come across one of the most peculiar celebrations we’ve seen so far. Burial of the Sardine, or Entierro de la Sardina in Spanish, is a quirky festival that marks the end of Semana Santa. It’s the time when solemn religious processions give way to cheerful festivities and the city bursts into colors, music, and laughter. Burial of the Sardine takes place since 1851.
Celebrations start on Easter Sunday, with the arrival of the sardine to Murcia during the colorful parade when sardineros give out toys to kids. The main celebrations take place between Wednesday and Saturday, with many events and parades, and events for children. Sunday, as expected, is the most important day of the week. There’s a huge, loud, and colorful parade in the afternoon where the sardineros and Doña Sardina give out the gifts to participants.
After dark, the main event begins – Burial of the Sardine. There’s a parade again, but an even bigger one! And finally… the sardine is lit and burns at the rhythm of the sardinero anthem. Later, there’s also a fireworks display. It’s definitely one of the craziest and wildest nights in Murcia! The Burial of the Sardine has been declared a Festival of International Tourist Interest.
Spain’s cities and towns love celebrating Semana Santa, and Murcia hasn’t fallen behind. As Easter approaches, the city transforms into a captivating spectacle of religious processions, heartfelt music, and elaborate floats adorned with exquisite sculptures. Take part in famous religious processions like Los Salzillos (one with Salzillo’s sculptures carried by Christian brotherhoods) on Friday, Procession of Silence on Thursday, or the most picturesque and popular one – Los Coloraos, with more than 3000 people walking together barefoot dressed in red hooded traditional cloths.
Semana Santa in Murcia City offers a unique opportunity to witness and experience a cultural masterpiece that has been cherished there by generations.
How to get to Murcia, Spain?
Where to park in Murcia?
If you’re traveling by car you can choose from many parking lots available in the city center. Most of them are paid. We left our car in this paid parking lot located right next to Murcia Cathedral.
Airports near Murcia
The closest airport to Murcia is located in Murcia, about 30km away from the city center. The next one is located in Alicante, about 70km away. Both airports offer bus connections to Murcia. To learn more about connections that might interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
To Murcia by bus
You can easily reach Murcia by bus. For example, a trip from Alicante will take about 1h (€5-13) and 45min from Cartagena (€3-12). To learn more about bus connections that might interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
To Murcia by train
Murcia has a train station so you can get there easily by train from cities like Alicante, Cartagena or Valencia. You can check out a map of available connections on acprail.com website.
Things to do in Murcia City in Spain – Summing up
Now you know what are the best things to do in Murcia City in Spain. It’s a nice one, isn’t it? It’s quite a shame that it’s slightly forgotten, but we hope it’ll change over the next few years. Rich history, charming old town, colorful celebrations… There are so many great things to do in Murcia for every traveler. We hope you found our guide useful and you’ll have an amazing time in the city choosing the best attraction for yourself.
Our opinion about Murcia
Overall, we really liked our day in Murcia. We were really lucky that we came across Entierro de la Sardina celebrations – that will surely make us remember the city for even longer. We had so much fun! The city itself is very nice and pleasant too, with a good blend of new and old. What surprised us most, is the fact that we saw all we wanted in only about 4-5h, so very quickly for such a big city. We knew that the historic center was compact but still didn’t expect it to be that compact. Did we recommend visiting? Yes! But if you can, try to fit your visit to Murcia during the Burial of the Sardine events. Believe us, it’s so much fun!
Restaurants, accommodations, and map
Check out various recommended places below.
Where to eat in Murcia City?
Here are your best, high-rated options in Murcia City:
Where to sleep in Murcia City?
Hotel Cetina is a modern and elegant hotel situated in the vibrant city of Murcia. With its contemporary design and comfortable amenities, it offers a relaxing and enjoyable stay for guests. The hotel's central location provides easy access to the city's major attractions, shopping districts, and dining options.
Apartamentos Desamparados is a great accommodation option in Murcia. With its fully equipped apartments, it offers a home-away-from-home experience for travelers. Located close to the city's main sights and cultural landmarks, guests can easily explore the vibrant city and its rich history while enjoying the comfort of a spacious and well-appointed apartment.
Hesperia Murcia is a modern and stylish hotel situated in the heart of Murcia offering guests a comfortable and convenient stay. With its prime location, guests can easily access the city's main attractions. The hotel boasts well-appointed rooms, excellent amenities, and friendly staff, making it an ideal choice travelers.
Apartamento Centrico La Catedral
Apartament offers a cozy and centrally located stay in Murcia. With its proximity to the Cathedral and other major landmarks, guests can easily explore the city. The apartment is well-equipped with modern amenities and provides a comfortable retreat for travelers seeking a convenient base to explore Murcia.
Accommodations photos source: booking.com