For culture lovers heading off to Spain’s sun-soaked Costa Blanca, Murcia is hard to beat as a base for your holiday. This delightful Baroque city punches well above its weight with its wealth of cultural and historical attractions, including the splendid Murcia Cathedral, the bustling Plaza de las Flores, the intriguing Santa Clara la Real Convent Museum and the Moorish Monteagudo Castle. Oh, and of course there are those beautiful beaches for the other kind of culture…
It’s important to note, however, that not all the culture of the region is contained to Murcia – the surrounding area is well worth exploring as well. Not sure where to start? That’s okay, because even on the one-hour transfer from the airport at Alicante to Murcia, you’ll pass several off-the-beaten-track places that you should mark down to return to and explore on a day excursion.
Less than 20 minutes from Alicante on the route to Murcia, the historic town of Elche is surrounded by more than 200,000 palm trees, giving it an exotic ambience that’s quite unique in this part of southeastern Spain. As the largest palm grove in Europe, it not only defines the landscape of the city, but also permeates the very fabric of its culture. The Palm Grove Museum, housed in a lovely nineteenth-century building, is the ideal first stop during a tour of Elche, in order to gain an insight into this UNESCO-listed cultural site.
The Baroque Basilica of Santa Maria is one of the most important historical attractions of the city. Located on the site of a former mosque, the cathedral was rebuilt in a Gothic-Renaissance style and is the site of the famous annual play The Elche Mystery Play, which dates back to the thirteenth century.
Sitting alongside the cathedral, the magnificently preserved twelfth-century Calaforra Tower forms part of the ancient city walls, which were constructed by the Arabs as a fortification. Another monument of great significance, the Moorish Lord’s Fortress (aka Palacio de Altamira) is one of the most impressive strongholds in Alicante and can be found close to the city’s peaceful municipal park.
Recommended Visit Time: Although you could cover the attractions in less time, those who really want to delve into the cultural offerings of Elche should plan to spend a whole day in the city.
Another 20 minutes or so along the route, set against the dramatic backdrop of the Sierra de Orihuela mountains, the city of Orihuela offers a diverse cultural smorgasbord for visitors. It’s renowned for its arts and crafts and plays host to a number of festivals throughout the year, including the most famous, the Moros y Cristianos.
Even if you’re not fortunate enough to visit during festival time, the city has plenty to offer in terms of architectural and historical attractions. The Cathedral of Santa Maria is the centrepiece of the city and, while the Gothic exterior is striking in itself, it’s well worth going inside to see the impressive central organ surrounded by altars. Another highly notable piece of religious architecture, the imposing Iglesia Santa Justa showcases the intricate techniques of the medieval stonemasons. While the design of the church is simple, its size and the execution of craftsmanship are outstanding.
For a glimpse into the city’s rather more modern history, a visit to Casa Museo Miguel Hernandez provides an evocative and detailed insight into the renowned Spanish poet’s life and the inspirations for some of his beautiful works.
Recommended Visit Time: Another place that deserves a full day if you want to make the most of its culture and history. Take your time and stay for lunch!
3. Callosa de Segura
Within half an hour of Murcia, the inland town of Callosa de Segura sits at the foot of the vast Sierra de Callosa mountains. Many of the houses are located on its steeply terraced slopes, which are also dotted with the agricultural crops on which the town’s economy relies.
The best known attraction is the sixteenth-century Saint Roque Hermitage, built in honour of its patron saint, which presides over the town and is visible from almost every vantage. It was restored in the nineteenth century and now serves as an important local monument and tourist site. Sitting just above the Hermitage, the remains of the Castle of Callosa are also well worth a visit, with the site offering fantastic views over the town.
Situated in the old part of town below the Hermitage, Saint Martin’s Church dates back to the sixteenth century. It features a striking blue dome, and inside the chapel you’ll find a collection of gold work by celebrated artist Miguel de Vera.
The town has three notable museums for those looking to explore the culture on a deeper level. The Archaeological Museum houses collections of artefacts from the Neolithic era, along with Roman and Iberian relics. The Hemp and Agricultural Museum is dedicated to the town’s important hemp production, and the Holy week Museum is home to displays of images and thrones created by some of Spain’s eminent artists.
Recommended Visit Time: As it’s so close to Murcia, half a day is enough to explore Callosa de Segura.
From Alicante to Murcia
Don’t pass the time with your head down on your transfer from Alicante to Murcia. The pleasant one-hour journey is the ideal time to discover some of the true cultural gems of the Costa Blanca, which you can then come back to and explore at your leisure. Your driver may even be able to offer some local tips – just ask!
About Shuttle Direct
Get from Alicante to Murcia in the most convenient and comfortable way with a fast and friendly transfer from Shuttle Direct. We’re the most trusted name in airport ground transport throughout Europe and, with an easy-to-use online booking system and a range of shared and private options, we’ve got you covered.
NB. This route guide has been compiled as an aid to visiting the region. Your airport transfer service from Alicante to Murcia does not include stops to these destinations.