Murcia for under £100 a night: This lesser-known Spanish city is worth a visit for the food alone
Murcia, Spain’s seventh largest city, is home to a simmering gastronomic scene
Nicknamed ‘Europe’s Orchard’ thanks to 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 worth visiting for restaurants alone, all offering reasonably-priced regional dishes.
WHERE TO STAY
Catalonia Conde de Floridablanca Hotel
Despite an extensive refurb, this hotel retains some of its old-world charms, such as the coat of arms showcasing the villages in the region. Double rooms are modern and airy. The pool is a bonus. Room-only doubles from £52 (cataloniahotels.com).
When you’re planning a trip to Murcia, consider a stay at the Catalonia Conde de Floridablanca Hotel, where rooms are priced from just £52. Above is a bird’s eye view of the city
Sercotel Amistad Murcia Hotel
Around five minutes’ walk from Murcia’s central shopping district of Gran Via, you’ll find this affordable, unfussy four-star hotel.
Wood-panelled rooms are slightly old-school but spacious. Good-size TVs, wifi and air-con.
Room-only doubles from £65 (sercotelhoteles.com).
Hesperia Murcia Centro Hotel
In the heart of the city, this hotel is bright and modern, with white leather headboards and smart TVs you can 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 located close by the decorative Catedral de Murcia (pictured)
Just 100 metres from Murcia’s famous cathedral, Hotel Certina is in a prime spot for exploring the city. Interiors are contemporary and fresh with pops of colour and massive smart TVs.
Room-only doubles from £51 (cetinahotels.com).
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Admire the grandiose Bishop’s Palace (above), set in one of Murcia’s many plazas
Murcia is all about plaza hopping. Start at the ornate La Glorieta, home to the city’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 site of an old Arab mosque — the Moors founded Murcia in AD 825. A blend of Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance styles, the cathedral has a 95m tower visitors can scale for five euros (£4.50). Two daily tours to be booked in advance, but make sure you request English. It’s worth a visit for views of the city (catedralmurcia.org).
Tapas with the locals
Go for lunch in the Mercado de Correos, above, a modern food market housed in an old post office
Mercado de Abastos de Veronicas and Mercado de Correos are very different markets. The former is a traditional fish, meat and vegetable market where locals pick up their groceries.
The latter is a modern food market housed in the old post office. You’ll find a range 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 iconic Real Casino de Murcia
Founded in 1847, the iconic Real Casino de Murcia, is perhaps the city’s finest architectural showpiece. A blend of 19th and early 20th-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 edge of an unassuming plaza, Pura Cepa is the place to go for an outdoor lunch (or dinner). The small corner restaurant serves a range of fairly-priced tapas, from its red shrimp croquettes (£2.40 each) and succulent Iberian pork cheeks (£14.70) to the finest baked cheesecake in Murcia (£6, puracepamurcia.com).
Enjoy a Michelin-starred meal for a fraction of what you would pay in the UK at AlmaMater (above)
Recently awarded its first Michelin star, AlmaMater offers fine-dining experiences for a fraction of what you would pay in the UK. Dishes are packed with innovative flavours, such as grilled fish with kaffir lime soup, coconut and lemongrass (£20). This quality restaurant is worthy of a splurge (almamatermurcia.com).
Not much from the outside but Alborada food is superb. 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. The city is worth visiting for restaurants alone, all offering reasonably-priced regional dishes
This typical tapas bar, its walls adorned with cabinets, azulejo tiles and oak barrels, is where you go for cheap, no-frills food. For less 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).