The autonomous community of Murcia is Spain’s largest ‘one province’ community. Situated in the south-east of the country, it can be divided into very differing geographical areas. The largest river of the region, the Segura, acts as the main source of irrigation for Murcia’s best farming lands, the fertile plains, or ‘huerta’, but other parts of the province experience serious drought conditions; there is an annual rainfall of less than 300 mm.
The highest points of Murcia can mostly be found in the Parque Natural de Sierra Espuña and the Revolcadores Massif, with some impressive pine forests. The other main point of interest geographically is the impressive Mar Menor, a 65 square mile salt water lagoon separated from the Mediterranean by the long strip of La Manga. The 177 mile coastline known as the Costa Cálida, although becoming more popular recently, is still nowhere near as developed as some of the other southern Spanish costas.
Murcia’s economy is very dependent on both agriculture and tourism. Oranges, lemons, grapes, tomatoes and lettuces are grown in abundance here and, largely thanks initially to the development of the La Manga Resort Club and other golf resorts, the area’s touristic appeal has increased dramatically in recent decades. The economy of the region has undoubtedly benefitted from the number of Northern Europeans who now have homes here – either permanently or as holiday accommodation.
History of the Murcia Region
The Phoenicians, the Greeks and the Carthaginians all settled in Murcia at different times although there are cave paintings near Cieza, Jumilla and Moratalla which indicate a heritage even older than those. The Carthaginians established a permanent trading post on the coast which later became Carthago Nova under the Romans, who first fully established the region. The Arabs, under the control of Abdelaziz, seized the area in 713 after a battle at Cartagena bringing with them their systems of irrigation to enable the previously barren land to be farmed. After their defeat at the hands of Alfonso X in 1243 the region lost much of its significance and, indeed, much of its territory, which was annexed by its more powerful neighbours. It was in the 18th century that the city of Murcia and the province as a whole found their most glorious times, thanks mainly to the silk industry that developed there. The name Murcia itself is derived from the Latin word for mulberry, murtae, the tree that fed the silkworms in the region for hundreds of years.
When to Visit
The majority of Murcia experiences a Mediterranean-type climate of hot summers and mild winters. With about 2,800 hours of sunshine each year, the average annual temperature is 18°C. Apparently the official highest 20th Century temperature in Spain was recorded in Murcia in July, 1994 – a mere 47.2°C. The differences in temperature between the coast and the inland regions are much more pronounced in the winter with temperatures seldom falling below 10° on the coast but being much cooler in the mountains inland.
Generally, there is very little rainfall in the region, with hardly any in the summer period. In the coastal areas there are few days of rain throughout the year but the majority of the precipitation will fall in spring and autumn and is often concentrated into a few very wet days. The coast experiences about 300 mm of rainfall annually but the mountain areas can expect about twice this amount.
By Air: Murcia airport lies 48km from the city of Murcia in San Javier on the northern shore of La Manga del Mar Menor. There are few regular flights to Murcia operating all year round since Ryanair dropped a number of their routes although additional summer services are provided by several budget operators. It is mainly used by visitors to the Costa Cálida but is also an option for visitors to Torrevieja and other resorts of the southern Costa Blanca. A new airport at Corvera should eventually replace Murcia-San Javier but its proposed opening date continues to be delayed.
By Train:There are good rail links to both the city of Murcia and to Cartagena and Lorca so it is possible to take a train direct to Murcia from Madrid, Valencia or Alicante. Timetables appear on the RENFE in English website.
By Bus: Murcia, Cartagena and the other major towns of the area are well served by local buses, most of which are now air-conditioned and very new. Latbus is the main regional bus service, unfortunately its website is only in Spanish at the moment. In addition, in Murcia itself there is an urban tramline which is useful for tourists. This site is also only in Spanish.
By Road: The excellent coastal motorway has made a significant difference to the area, linking it much more easily with the north and south Mediterranean coasts.
Transport from Murcia Airport
Private Transfers: You can arrange private transfers to your final destination and have a vehicle and driver waiting for you on arrival. Transfers are available to Cartagena, Murcia city, Torrevieja and La Manga. Other destinations on request. Live quotes are available below:
Taxi Services: Taxis are available just outside the terminal building and will take you to your destination but may be a bit more pricey than pre-booking a transfer.
Bus Services: There is a coach service run by Lat Bus to Murcia directly from the airport. You will then have to take another bus to your final destination.
Airport Car Hire: Rent a car at Murcia airport with Zest Car Rental who offer great deals without any hidden extras.