Tourists visiting Murcia and the Costa Cálida in December will be able to sign up for free guided tours showcasing the region’s rich cultural history.
On the eve of the festive season, and preparing for renewed interest in the region in 2022 as travel restrictions are (hopefully) eased again, tourism authorities have also created a new eco-tourism route that links the north-western and Campo de Cartagena greenways.
Official guides are available for eight routes in four towns and cities – Murcia, Cartagena, Lorca and Caravaca de la Cruz – every day of the week until 29 December. The four-hour tours must be reserved beforehand, for a minimum of two people up to a maximum of 29.
For those unable to take advantage of the free tours organised this month, Murcia’s tourism offices will be able to provide information about other official guide options for 2022, covering the same routes (see below) as well as other fascinating parts of the region.
One route, “Madinat Mursiya y la Paz de Tudmir” discovers the origins of the city, founded and fortified under the mandate of Abderramán II, visiting the Muralla de Santa Eulalia visitors centre, Santa Clara La Real museum and Arrixaca suburb. The second, “Essence of Murcia”, visits the cathedral, casino and Dominican, Saint Claire and Las Anas convents.
The first option, “Cartagena Before Christ”, offers a journey back in time to the Carthaginian and Roman eras, with visits to the Muralla Púnica interpretation centre and Roman theatre. The other route, “Cartagena – Mediterranean Port”, focuses on the city’s maritime attractions, including the Naval Museum (home of the Peral submarine) and the National Museum of Subaquatic Archaeology, which houses the Nuestra Señora de Las Mercedes galleon treasure.
“Viva Lorca” explores the rich history and culture of the “City of 100 Coat of Arms” with visits to the visitors centre, Archaeological Museum, Palacio de Guevara, Artisan Centre and former San Patricio collegiate church. The other route, “Lorca – Open All Year”, covers the city’s old town area, declared a “Historical-Artistic Site” in 1964, and the Archaeological, Pasos Blanco y Azul and Casa del Artesano Museums.
Caravaca de la Cruz
Tourists taking the “Caravaca Singular” tour visit the Caballos del Vino and Fiesta Museums, and the Fuentes del Marqués nature reserve. “Indispensable Caravaca” showcases why Caravaca is the fifth Holy City of Catholic Christianity, with visits to the Basilica of Vera Cruz, Salvador, Compañía and Carmen y El Templete churches, Santísima y Vera Cruz Museum, Arco plaza and San José convent.
Meanwhile, the ministry of tourism’s new eco-tourism route extends from the Caravaca de la Cruz “vía verde” (greenway) in the north-western part of the region (Noroeste) to the Campo de Cartagena greenway in Totana.
Well-signposted and including rest areas, the 80-kilometre route begins at the Totana train station and passes through the La Santa sanctuary, Aledo, the Lorca districts of Las Terreras, Avilés and Coy, and La Almudema and La Encarnación in Caravaca de la Cruz, finishing at the tourist hostel located in Caravaca’s former train station.
The new link creates a major eco-tourism route extending for 200 kilometres when added to the Noroeste (78 kilometres) and Campo de Cartagena (53 kilometres) greenways.
Murcia’s greenway network also includes Mazarrón, Almendricos, Chicharra Cieza and Chicharra Yecla.
Active-Tourism Visit by British Tour Operators
In November, a group of specialist tour operators from the UK were invited on a familiarisation trip to discover the Murcia region’s natural and active-tourism attractions.
Organised in conjunction with the Spanish tourism office in London, the visit was aimed at reactivating interest in alternative options to traditional sun and beach tourism.
“Since the arrival of COVID-19,” noted the regional ministry of tourism, “this is a safe and non-crowded travel alternative that promotes healthy, active and sustainable experiences and also encourages synergies with other segments.”
In total, the Murcia region has 23 protected nature reserves, the aforementioned network of greenways, and a climate that allows outdoor activities throughout the year, as well as a vast network of cycling trails including a key section of the EuroVelo 8 pan-European Mediterranean route.