REVIEW: The ultimate getaway to sunnier climates in the Spanish hideaway of Murcia

PUBLISHED: 18:30 15 August 2018 | UPDATED: 18:31 15 August 2018

Murcia, Spain. Cabo de Palos. Photo: Clare Butler

Murcia, Spain. Cabo de Palos. Photo: Clare Butler

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A sun-drenched strip of golden sands, crystal clear skies and blue seas that lead to an exotic paradise…Murcia is the Spanish hideaway that brought my heart back home.

Murcia, Spain. Playa La Carolina. Photo: Clare ButlerMurcia, Spain. Playa La Carolina. Photo: Clare Butler

Rich in history, culture and some of the best tapas bars and restaurants - the city encompasses years of heritage with modern day chic.

Yet on the bays of this province lay some of Spain’s best kept secrets in the form of charming beaches, bars and bazaars.

Time is not of the essence in Murcia - the cathedral itself took 400 years to build - so why rush when you can soak up the sun and gaze at the architecture in the alleyways or cycle less than an hour away to the mountains.

My first stop is Sierra Espuna which is a forest region ablaze with years of natural beauty and parks perfect for walking and climbing canyons and peaks.

Murcia, Spain. Photo: Clare ButlerMurcia, Spain. Photo: Clare Butler

There’s a strong focus on sustainable tourism here, meaning that your visit has an impact by continuing to preserve millions of years worth of mosaic landscapes.

Homemade paella is served at quaint restaurant La Perdiz, and is possibly the best you’ll find in the region.

The Hotel Los Jardines de la Santa is also set within the picturesque landscape of the mountains, with exquisite food and starry night views.

Next up is the seaport of Aguilas, boasting the superb 4-star Hotel Puerto Juan Montiel, which sits at the edge of coast and is the ideal area for trying out nautical activities.

Murcia, Spain. Photo: Clare ButlerMurcia, Spain. Photo: Clare Butler

Paddle boarding is perfect for beginners to get a taste of adventure and talented instructors can have you up on your feet amid the waves in less than half an hour.

But if sipping a sangria by the pool is more your style, then why not try out a spa session at the hotel?

Complete with individual hot tubs, eucalyptus steam rooms and breath-taking views of the stretch from the rooftop solarium - it is the ultimate unwind treat.

About 20 minutes from here is Playa La Carolina - one of the most emblematic beaches on Murcia’s Costa Calida coastline that can make your heart skip a beat at sunset.

Murcia, Spain. Photo: Clare ButlerMurcia, Spain. Photo: Clare Butler

Take your loved one here if you wish to impress or simply visit by yourself for some quiet reflection.

A short transfer to Cartagena brings me back to a cosmopolitan city hub of designer shops, fancy bars and the luxurious chain hotel NH.

The port city and naval base was founded by the Carthaginians around 220 B.C.

Among its many Roman ruins are a 1st-century B.C. theater and Casa de la Fortuna, a villa with murals and mosaics, which is an essential visit for all history lovers.

Murcia, Spain. La Manga. Photo: Clare ButlerMurcia, Spain. La Manga. Photo: Clare Butler

A boat trip around the coast is a must for all tourists which run hourly throughout the summer months.

And with the sun beating down and shades on - I had to pinch myself to realise I wasn’t on set of a James Bond movie.

My final visit was to the beautiful Cabo de Palos, a marina village with a lighthouse and excellent restaurants which are renowned for serving a great selection of fresh fish.

Visit El Pez Rojo for a selection of the finest seafood dishes including their speciality of rice cooked in fish stock and garlic.

Murcia, Spain. Cabo de Palos. Photo: Clare ButlerMurcia, Spain. Cabo de Palos. Photo: Clare Butler

If tapas is more your thing, then be sure to order a selection of the best Spanish delicacies including marinera, pisto, patatas bravas, longaniza and ensalada murciana.

A battle off the cape took place in June 1815 between US naval forces and the Barbary Pirates and the tragic sinking of the Italian passenger ship Sirio in 1906 - a similar disaster to a Titanic just six years prior.

The rocky sun kissed coastline is perfect for exploring and delving into some of the history of the area.

At the start of my trip I was told that Murcia was the “land of contrast and hope” but for me, it was so much more.

Murcia, Spain. La Manga. Photo: Clare ButlerMurcia, Spain. La Manga. Photo: Clare Butler

My first time Spain and sunnier climates - I rediscovered myself in Murcia. Full of pleasure and indulgence, it quite simply was la vida es buena.

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