The capital of the province of the same name, Murcia is one of the least visited and little-known cities in Spain, despite being the seventh largest in terms of population size. Tucked in between the regions of Almería and Alicante, set inland from the coastal towns, Murcia has a lot to offer to those who do decide to make it here. Here’s our guide to what to see and where to eat and stay in the city.
Catedral de Santa María and Museo Catedralicio
Murcia’s Cathedral is one of its main highlights, standing on a large plaza in the centrer of the old town. Built in 1394 on the site of an old Moorish mosque, it combines both Gothic features and Baroque grandeur. The attached cathedral museum is also worth a visit, where you’ll find a display of religious artefacts, as well as the excavations of the former 11th century mosque. You can also get a guided tour to visit the bell tower.
Catedral de Murcia, Plaza del Cardenal Belluga, 1, Murcia, Spain +34 968 216 344
This museum is dedicated to the Murcian sculptor Francisco Salzillo, known as the ‘celebrated sculptor of Spain’. Born in 1707, he was one of the great masters of Renaissance sculpture and created mostly religious icons.
Museo Salzillo, Plaza de San Agustín, 3, Murcia, Spain +34 968 291 893
Real Casino de Murcia
Even if gambling is not your thing, Murcia’s casino is well worth a look, even if just to marvel at its stunning interior. The grand building first opened as a gentlemen’s club back in 1847, and today has been restored to its former glory. Inside you’ll not only find poker tables and slot machines, but a classic wood-clad library, an ornate Moorish patio and a sparkling ballroom. Don’t forget to look up to admire its beautiful ceiling frescoes.
Real Casino de Murcia, Calle Trapería, 18, Murcia, Spain +34 968 215 399
Bar Los Zagales
Just around the corner from the cathedral, this small establishment is a very traditional old tapas bar and serves plates such as ensaladilla Rusa (a typical Spanish salad called a Russian salad), fried squid and spiced octopus. It also has some excellent local wines.
Bar Los Zagales, Calle Polo de Medina, 4, Murcia, Spain +34 968 215 579
El Jardin de Oli
A lovely, vibrant, family-run restaurant, this place is a local favorite. Great value for money, it serves tapas dishes such as chicken wings and homemade croquets, as well as meat and seafood mains and a great menu of the day, which constantly changes. Make sure to try the tocino del cielo – a dessert made from egg yolks, sugar and cream.
El Jardin de Oli, Calle Alfaro, 12, Murcia, Spain +34 968 242 200
One of the finest dining venues in the city, this place has excellent food and excellent service to match. Think crunchy cod fritters, artichokes with ham and prawns, wild mushroom croquettes and poached eggs. They also do a good range of seafood dishes such as octopus, and barbecued meats.
Arco de San Juan Hotel
The three-star Arco de San Juan is situated in the center of the city and is housed in an old, neoclassical palace. Rooms are contemporary and classic, decorated in cool pastel colors. There’s also a warm and welcoming café-bar and a restaurant.
Hotel Arco de San Juan, Plaza Ceballos, 10, Murcia, Spain +34 968 210 455
The only boutique hotel in the center of the city, Hotel Cetina is ideal for those who want to explore Murcia’s alleyways on foot. Featuring bold and bright décor, its rooms are spacious and contemporary. Guests will also find a lobby-bar, street-side café and a breakfast room serving a daily buffet breakfast.
Hotel Cetina, Calle Radio Murcia, 3, Murcia, Spain +34 968 100 800
Catalonia Conde de Floridablanca
Located right next to the Floridablanca gardens, just a short walk from the old town, four-star Catalonia Conde de Floridablanca offers classic modern rooms with en suite marble bathrooms. It also has a lovely old-style restaurant with sculptures and a wood-panelled ceiling, and an on-site gym.