One of Spain’s best kept secrets is the Murcia region. It’s much less crowded than the popular cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville, but just as beautiful! If you’re a fan of unspoilt scenery, crystal clear water and that Spanish sunshine, then keep reading because here is a guide to making the most out of a trip to the Murcia region of Spain.
Visit the pink lake! Laguna Salada de Torrevieja
NO I’M NOT KIDDING. THERE IS A PINK LAKE! OK I’m calm. I mean have you ever seen anything more beautiful though!? One of my absolute favourite parts of Murcia is without a doubt this beautiful magical unicorn lake that you can float in. It’s quite a massive lake, but a lot of the shores are surrounded by marshland so we had no idea how to actually get there at first, but after a quick google search I read a helpful review on TripAdvisor saying to park on Calle de las Lavanderas and to take the short path nearby to get straight to the lake. (It’s a short but stony walk – take mosquito repellant and good shoes).
I’d read that it’s illegal to bathe in the lake because they want to preserve it’s natural beauty (fair enough), but the spot where we went had short pillars just beyond the shore, which makes me think they’d cordoned that area off for bathing? If you are going to bathe in the lake and apply the salt to your skin, you’ll want to take a few big bottles of water with you to wash it off as there are no washing facilities there, and the salt could potentially sting after a while or if you have any cuts on your skin etc.
Also – it’s a salt lake, so it has the same properties that the Dead Sea is famous for, which means you can float in it. When Kristian and I were side by side I pretended we were a couple of otters holding hands while they sleep. You do float very easily, however I always found myself spinning around like a rotisserie chicken, so it’s a great ab workout trying to keep yourself upright.
Go mud bathing at San Pedro Del Pinatar
The Murcia region is well known for it’s natural salt lakes and mud baths. Mar Menor is actually the biggest salt lake in Europe, and one of the best, and most popular spots is definitely the mud baths at San Pedro Del Pinatar. Even though it’s known for being one of the more popular places, it was still relatively quiet on both occasions when we visited, although I imagine it would be a lot busier in the summer. There’s tons of free street parking nearby so it’s very easy to find a parking spot, then you just walk out on the jetty and get yer mud on. If you struggle to find it – just find the windmill and then you’re there. You can also look out for the white flamingos!
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about the health and beauty benefits of mud bathing, but local legend is that in order to get the maximum benefit of the mud, you need to do it 9 times during your stay, and each time do a 3km walk before washing it off in the same place you applied it. I think I’ll stick with just chilling in the sun!
On the other side of the jetty is Mar Menor itself, which is so incredibly warm – it’s unreal! We spent a good afternoon sunbathing on the beach there, occasionally cooling off in the water, before getting a well deserved cocktail.
Cartagena is a major naval station located on the southeast coast of Spain. The marina is so impressive and a great place to play make-believe-boat-shopping. While we were there we actually saw one of the biggest (if not the biggest) super yachts in the world docked there, owned by Russian Billionaire Audrey Melnichenko. The yacht is said to be worth $450 million, so obviously I would’ve snapped it up but it’s only got 8 decks, and mine has to be at least 10…
My favourite part of Cartagena was definitely the Roman Amphitheatre, which was actually built between 5 and 1 BC. Don’t make the same mistake we did by assuming the entrance would be at the theatre itself – it’s not. Still, we had a nice walk around the paths above the theatre before we actually found the main entrance itself. The entrance is in a very modern looking building on the main street, across from the city hall. Entry is €6 per person, and from the entrance you go into the museum through a series of corridors with artefacts and remains before you get to the main theatre itself. Once you get into the outdoor theatre it’s so breathtaking, especially from the stage!
Take a day trip to Valencia
From where we were staying in the Murcia region of Spain, Valencia was around a 3 hour drive, once we’d parked, so it’s great for a day trip.
As we were driving up from the south, and we didn’t want to park in the city itself (nightmare), we wanted to take advantage of the metro. Many of the outer metro stations actually serve as a park and ride, you can park for free as long as you purchase a metro ticket, which is ideal for a day out in Valencia without a huge parking fee. We parked at the Valencia Sud metro station, which is huge and very secure, so we knew our hire car was going to be safe there for the day.
There is way too much to say here about what to do in Valencia, so I’m going to save that for another blog post coming soon, and I’ll leave you with some of the gorgeous photos I took of Valencia!
Drive up to Alicante
We hadn’t originally planned to go to Alicante, however on our final night in Spain we discovered that my husband couldn’t find his passport, and after turning the apartment upside down about three times we had to admit defeat. The closest British consulate was in Alicante which, luckily was only around an hour and a half from where we were staying. Unluckily, though, they are only open Monday to Friday, so we had another four days in Spain while we got the passport and flights sorted. I guess there are worse places to be stranded though right!?
In a way, I’m so glad we did end up going to Alicante because it’s so beautiful! We found an underground car park on one of the main streets just along from the British Consulate (€5 for about 5 hours isn’t bad!), so we were really close to everything.
As it was quite a last minute trip I didn’t know much of what there was to do in Alicante, but of the things I found there were two things I wanted to do: see the Explanada de Espana and go the Santa Barbara Castle – both of which we did and loved. The Explanada (pictured above) was so beautiful, I kind of wish we had eaten in one of the many restaurants on the street, but I know they’d most likely end up being tourist traps so we ate in a vegan restaurant further into the centre. The Santa Barbara Castle was gorgeous as well, you can either walk to the top or take the lift. I would have liked to walk, however I was not wearing the right clothing or shoes to be comfortable doing that (not to mention the chub rub would have been so real), so we took the lift. To find it, just walk for about 10 minutes along the seafront (away from the marina), then on the left you’ll see an entrance to a long aluminium tunnel (there are signs). You don’t have to pay for a ticket to get into the castle itself, but the lift is around €2.70 per person. Once you get to the top you’re rewarded with stunning panoramic views over Alicante and the surrounding area. There’s also a small cafe up there if you need a drink after the long walk! If I do go again I’ll definitely take good shoes and walk up (or probably down from) the castle, as apparently it goes through the old town which would’ve been great for photos!
Visit the Rincon Del Hornillo in Aguilas
I’d read about this art installation in Aguilas, so I figured it’d be nice to take a visit. The word I used to describe it to my husband was “Barcelonary”, because it’s so similar to a lot of the architecture in Barcelona.
To find it, go past the Aguilas Plaza shopping centre, then follow the road round and it’s located on the far eastern side of Aguilas, tucked away in a little corner next to a small beach.
There’s also a tiny little bar build into the architecture, but unfortunately it’s only open in the summer when it gets very busy!
Let me know if you’ve done any of the things on this list! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the places I’ve mentioned!
You can also watch the vlog I did here.