Written by Pablo and Patricia, from Backhome
The Region of Murcia is the perfect place to escape from the cold this time of year. Its mild temperatures and 300 days of sun per year make this region a very appealing place for travelers who don’t like cold weather. This area has lots to offer, from local cuisine to incredible scenery and from serene beaches to unique health treatments you won’t find anywhere else in the country.
We were lucky enough to see a lot of what Murcia has to offer in just 3 days. Want to come with us?
Calblanque Park, Monte de las Cenizas, and Peña del Águila
The first day of our trip through the Region of Murcia started at 9 in the morning. We set off for the Calblanque Nature Park, located on the coast near Cartagena. We parked in the parking lot near Playa de las Cañas and started our journey through this tranquil coastal area.
What we liked most of all was that there was nobody around and there was absolute peace and quiet! We were amazed by its clean waters, beautiful dunes, and how pleasant the temperature of the sea was. What a shame that we left our swimsuits in the car! After enjoying the solitude and the sea breeze and once we had snapped a few photos, we headed towards Playa de Calblanque, or Calblanque Beach, just a few minutes away. On this beach, there is a rocky area where the waves are over six feet tall and, being a little too intrepid, we ended up getting soaked, camera and all!
Our next stop was the Cala Magre parking lot, which is where we started our ascent to the Punta Negra scenic overlook. The views from this overlook were spectacular: you could see the Montaña del Indio, or Indian Mountain (named for its characteristic shape, which resembles an Indian), the Rasall salt flats, and of course the sea. To the other side of the overlook, the scenery was a riot of color that was the icing on the cake. 10 out of 10 for this place!
Afterwards, we set off towards the salt flats area, close to the Mar Menor, or Smaller Sea. We had an afternoon of thalassotherapy at the Thalasia Costa de Murcia spa planned.
For those of you who haven’t heard this term before, let me explain: thalassotherapy involves treating the Mediterranean’s living sea waters with a special ionic concentration of minerals such as magnesium, calcium, sodium, bromine, iodine, and fluorine. It is used in natural therapies and relaxation rituals. The pool area of this sea spa includes a large pool with different types of jets, several hot tubs that are integrated into the pool, another small pool which is very shallow, and one more pool used for physical therapy sessions. All of the pools are at a temperature of between 90 and 93 degrees. What was most surprising to us was that when you breathe, you can taste the salt, thanks to evaporation of the pools’ waters.
This center also showed us a demonstration of a massage with a sea mud wrap that they make themselves. Later, we had a very relaxing facial treatment to cap off our first day.
The Salt Flats and the Sands of San Pedro del Pinatar
The alarm rang on our second day at 8 in the morning. After a good breakfast, we headed towards the San Pedro del Pinatar salt flats regional park, one of the areas of greatest ecological importance in this region. There we were met by Sonia, who was in charge of showing us this precious corner of the Mar Menor.
She pointed out the walkways that had been created a few years ago so that people could easily access the area where the muds are, a zone that is open to the public and accessible to all. Next to the walkways, there is a path with palm trees and benches, a perfect place to sit for hours and observe the various birds that circle around. We were lucky enough to see several flamingos up close. These migratory birds pass through the Mar Menor region on their way to Africa.
When we were done visiting the surrounding areas so that we could understand the work and the therapies offered in the Aguas Salinas center, we headed to the massage room. There, they applied oils (a base of almond oil mixed with several essential oils) followed by a peeling with salt (which came from the salt flats we had visited before), a mud wrap with mud from the Mar Menor (which was left on for 45 minutes while we lay in a bed of hot water), and a Scottish shower (a piping hot shower that ends with a blast of cold water) to complete the treatment.
When we finished, we had a natural body detoxification session with a device called a Hidralinfa. How it works is quite interesting: you put your feet in a machine where they add water with salt. Then, this machine sends a continuous current through the water. The Hidralinfa then makes the body’s impurities flow out of the 2,000 pores that are on each foot. The color of the water turns different colors based on where the toxins in the body come from. In our case, it turned out that the greatest number of toxins came from our joints and soft tissues.
We left the center at nearly 4 in the afternoon and feeling like new! As it was a bit late, we decided to stay in the Mar Menor and salt flats area. We saw the sunset from the walkways where we had been before and the colors left us dumbstruck! On the side where the salt flats were, the sky tinged pink and on the great salt lake side, it took on an orangeish hue that gave this magical place a perfect touch. There are sunsets that you really fall in love with; this was one of them.
Salto del Usero Region
Our third day started very early. At 7 a.m. we were already eating breakfast so that we could set off for salto del Usero, or the Usero waterfall, a place we wanted to see no matter what before our route through the Region of Murcia finished.
A little over 35 miles from the city of Murcia, you can find this beautiful expanse of turquoise waters and rock formations that won’t fail to astonish you. Located in the town of Bullas, more specifically on the Mula River, it’s known as one of the most beautiful areas of nature in the region.
We parked at the edge of the town right where the footpath that leads to this lovely area picks up. About 20 minutes later, we arrived at our destination. We had seen it before in photographs, but the truth is that in person, it’s much more beautiful. There is a small path that descends towards the waterfall area and passes over a couple of picturesque bridges where you can see the Mula River. There was nobody around when we went. However, it seems that in the summer months, this is where the locals spend hours cooling off in the river’s waters.
We arrived to the waterfall area and decided to spend a few minutes in silence, listening to the relaxing sound of the water and the birds. This is the area where the water is deepest. The waterfall, which is about 10 to 12 feet high, is surrounded by greenery and vines. The doves flew this way and that and a multitude of fish of all sizes and colors swam around below. The truth is that we really wanted to take a dip, but at this time of year the water is quite cold!
Sierra Espuña Regional Park
After salto del Usero, we took off towards Sierra Espuña, or the Espuña Mountain Range, a large regional park that offers innumerable hiking routes. Considered the area’s greenbelt, it’s located just 25 miles from the city of Murcia.
An hour and a half by car from Bullas and a few curves later, we arrive at the Mirador de los Barrancos, or the Scenic Cliff Overlook. Here we could gaze at the park’s leafy forests and the tiny villages around it, which have architectural works from the Hispanic-Muslim era. We didn’t have enough time to visit any of them, but now we have a good excuse to come back to the Region of Murcia, don’t you think?
After stopping for a quick lunch in Alhama de Murcia, a village in the foothills of the Sierra Espuña, we continue on our way towards the last stop in our adventure: Archena and its famous thermal baths spa, located about 15 miles from the city of Murcia.
Archena’s Thermal Baths Spa
We were surprised by the change in scenery, from the intense green and autumnal ocher tones of the Sierra Espuña to the browns and tans of the arid hills of the Archena area. We parked at the thermal baths spa where we were received by Paquita, who would be our guide to this health spa. This thermal bath complex, which measures more than 650,000 square feet, comprises 3 thermal baths hotels where all types of health tourism services are offered.
The spa’s waters come out of the spring at a temperature of 125 degrees. These medicinal mineral waters have multiple benefits for the body that are recognized by doctors and physical therapists. We changed and headed towards the outdoor pools just before sunset, as we wanted to enjoy the incredible scenery before nightfall.
The arid mountains of the Ricote Valley that surround the outdoor pools and the palm trees make it a one-of-a-kind place. The water in the outdoor thermal pools is at an average temperature of 90 degrees and, with the cool air that moved in after sunset, the sensation of being immersed in the water was marvelous.
Once it was dark, we went to the covered part of the spa where Paquita showed us each space and the different pools. We had a “Archena” massage scheduled for 7 p.m., so we decided to explore the indoor pools later on. The space where the treatments take place is circular and crowned by a beautiful dome, with individual stalls where the professionals offer you a unique wellness experience.
The “Archena” massage that we had consisted of a mud bath, in this case with clay, and a full massage while jets of seawater trickle down your back. When the massage was finished, we went to a pool with a high salt concentration for a floating relaxation session. There, we did several stretching and gentle movement exercises which, as we were in the water, will make you feel like you are in suspension. This unique, different experience will transport your mind to a place of maximum relaxation.
Once we were relaxed, we explored the Balnea thermal circuit: a circuit of contrasts that alternates hot and cold. This circuit is composed of different saunas with varying temperatures and degrees of humidity. It has a counter-current pool where you can work on muscle tone; a pool with natural essence of lemon at a temperature of 94 degrees; the float pool that we told you about before; the cold water pool (68 degrees); the igloo, which is at a temperature of 36 degrees; the thermal contrast showers; the corridors for walking that have two small paths of water at different temperatures (hot and cold); and the relaxation area where you can find hammocks heated with infrared heat.
To top off our visit to the Archena thermal spa, Paquita took us to the most characteristic area. The basement of the Termas Hotel, more specifically on basement floor 2, is where you will find this treasure, which is the most picturesque area in the thermal spa: the thermal bath galleries. At the time we were there this space was already closed to the public, so we were lucky enough to be able to explore it on our own.
These galleries have a storied history. Their beginnings go back to the 5th century A.D., when Iberian settlers used the thermal waters of this area for the first time. When the Romans discovered these thermal waters with medicinal properties, they decided to build baths.
Between 1850 and 1878, the thermal spa’s current set-up was built and nowadays, it’s one of the most well-known spas nationally and internationally. The baths area and its history was incredible to us and we know for sure that’s a place we want to return to and spend more time.
Our little adventure in Murcia ends here. We hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as we enjoyed sharing our experience. We know that it’s an area we want to come back to because we have many villages and places marked on the map left to visit, so we’re going to start planning our next getaway to the Region of Murcia now. Anyone want to come with us?