Spain may well be Europe’s second most popular destination, behind only France, having hosted a whopping 85 million visitors alone last year.

However, most people tend to forget that it is a fairly big country with several autonomous territories under its domain.

What we’re trying to say is, however beautiful the powerful Madrid-Barcelona duo may be, or regardless of how incredible the Balearic islands (Ibiza, Mallorca) are, there is an entire nation awaiting discovery beyond the typical touristy spots, and one area in particular has been stealing all the attention lately.

Perhaps not the usual obnoxious tourists, who probably couldn’t name a single Spanish landmark beyond a Gaudi-dominated Barcelona, but certainly National Geographic‘s:

Murcia Is One Of The World’s Most Underrated Destinations

Murcia Town Hall, Spain, Mediterranean Europe

According to the renowned travel and geography publication, Murcia in Spain is one of the most underrated destinations in the world, having amassed ‘an infinite number’ of cultural treasures over the centuries while offering access to a turquoise coast.

Considering Murcia is located in Southern Spain, bounded by the ever-trendier Mediterranean Sea, and the fact it is one of the warmest regions in the whole of Europe, you’d expect it to have surged in popularity a lot sooner.

Coastal Batteries In Murcia, Spain, Mediterranean Europe

Somehow, it’s historically been more popular with Spanish locals than it is among foreign tourists, but it’s not exactly your typical hidden gem: 2023 marked the first year it broke the barrier of 1.7 million guests, ranking as one of the fastest-growing destinations in Spain.

Still, it pales in comparison to other regions like Catalonia or Andalusia, which host tens of millions of tourists, but there’s no denying travelers are becoming increasingly interested in Murcia, and seeing it’s not been exactly promoted across the pond, you may be wondering why that is:

Amazing Culture

Aerial Shot Of Murcia City, The Capital Of Murcia, Southern Spain, Iberian Peninsula Of Europe

For starters, Murcia is a cultural hotspot of the first order.

Even though most tourists flock to Spain for the beaches and lively resort zones, this is the Old Continent, after all, and chances are they’re looking to sample some culture on the side.

It is home to the legendary Mediterranean city of Cartagena – the original onenot the Colombian equivalent – founded an immemorial 2,220 years ago, almost two millennia before the United States was founded, and an important naval port well into the modern era.

Ancient Roman Theatre In Cartagena, Mediterranean Coast, Region Of Murcia, Spain, Europe

Cartagena is quite literally littered with ancient ruins—we’re talking an ancient theater that preceded the birth of Christ, Roman villas with well-preserved mosaics, and a 3rd-century B.C. defensive wall—as well as later Art Nouveau buildings.

It may be the region’s most representative name, but the regional capital, also named Murcia, or Murcia City to distinguish it from the wider autonomous community, is just as historically-charged, with its wealth of Gothic and Baroque monuments and a strikingly pink-washed Palacio Episcopal.

aerial view of Murcia, Spain

Other important Murcian cities tourists don’t want to miss out on include Lorca, famous for its medieval heritage, Mazarrón, set on a particularly scenic bay unfolding along the azure Mediterranean waters, Caravaca de la Cruz, dominated by a hilltop fortress, and the laid-back coastal Cabo de Palos.

Gorgeous Mediterranean Beaches

Speaking of ‘coastal’, Murcian beaches are just as big an attraction. With sands that range from honey-colored to powder-white, they are always bordered by crystal-clear waters and stretch for 155 miles along the aptly-titled Costa Cálida.

cala cortina beach, Murcia

If you’ve been failing to exercise your Duolingo Spanish, this translates as ‘Hot Coast’, and boy, isn’t the name appropriate:

This April, Murcia is already seeing temperatures rise above 75.2°F, and it’s only going to get progressively better as we approach the hot summer months, where thermometers can reach a dangerously-red 100 degrees.

Piece of advice? If you’re planning on sunbathing in Cartagena’s busy, golden-sand Calblanque, or the beautiful La Manga, a Cancun-style resort sandbar protruding from the mainland for 12 miles, make sure you bring plenty of sunscreen (SPF 70, preferably).

woman in Murcia, Spain

Murcia is this warm thanks to its unique geographical location nearer the tropics and closer to the African mainland than much of Europe: winters and springtime are pretty mild, summers and autumns are generally scorching hot, and from April onward, it rarely ever rains.

Murcia Is Very Affordable

That’s not the only good news we have for sunseekers out there: as the region of Murcia is not as heavily touristed as Barcelona or Madrid, accommodation prices are a lot more affordable:

The Spit Of La Manga In The Murcia Region Of Southern Spain, Iberian Europe

Adults-only Poseidon La Manga Hotel & Spa, on the Manga resort zone, costs only $67 to book per adult, per night in May, and if you’re looking to treat yourself to something more exclusive and luxurious, the five-star Grand Hyatt La Manga Gulf Club & Spa is charging an acceptable $294 nightly.

In Aguilas, a casual, overlooked seaside resort near the provincial border with Almeria, three-star hotels with breakfast included will only set you back by $54 per night, while a three-night stay in a B&B hotel in lively Cartagena, the cultural heart of Murcia, is only $208 per adult.

Aguilas Beach In Murcia, Southern Spain, Iberian Peninsula Of Europe

Eating out in Cartagena or other major Murcian cities, you can find inexpensive restaurants where a ‘menu of the day’ meal accompanied by a soft drink will cost $13, while a more elaborate dinner, three courses for two people in a mid-range eatery is still reasonably under $50.

If anything, Murcia is proof going on a Mediterranean vacation does not mean you have to break the bank.

Flights To Murcia From Only $17 (From Within Europe)

Los Alcazares, A Coastal Village In The Murcia Region Of Spain, On The Mediterranean Coast, Iberian Peninsula Of Europe

Unlike Madrid, Barcelona or Malaga, Murcia does not host Transatlantic flights, but it is still served by a host of short-haul intra-Europe flights.

This means that once you get to the Old Continent, it’s relatively easy to find cheap flights to Murcia.

This year, Europe’s leading budget carrier Ryanair is ramping up operations in Murcia, connecting it to 23 destinations across seven countries, including London and Dublin, two popular transit hubs for Americans heading to Europe, Porto in Portugal, and Prague in Czechia.

One-way tickets from European hubs start from only $17.70 this season.

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