Even though the peak season for traveling is now behind us, it is now clear Europe will still see an influx of international tourists in the fall, as temperatures are set to remain at record highs, especially along the Southern Mediterranean coast.
Spain is one of such locations where summers seem never-ending and a country that continues to enjoy pleasantly balmy days while most of its counterparts see leaves turn amber and colder winds blow. On top of that, it is home to one of the trendiest beach destinations in the entire continent.
That is why if you’re in need of an off-season sunny getaway, it’s the hugely overlooked Murcia where you should be headed:
The Shortest Possible Introduction To The Wonderful Murcia
Murcia is an autonomous region in Spain’s central Mediterranean coast, sandwiched between the much larger provinces of Andalusia (where the lively city of Malaga is located) and the Valencian Community (home the city of Valencia, one of the world’s fastest-growing digital nomad hotspots).
As it is not as popular a destination as its famous neighbors – Malaga and Valencia themselves concentrate a huge portion of Spain’s coastal tourism, alongside Barcelona – Murcia should not be underestimated:
The region as a whole boasts 160 miles of spotless Mediterranean beaches, part of the aptly-called Costa Cálida, Castillian (or Spanish) for Warm Coast, and it’s easily the sunniest region in Spain, with more than 300 sunny days per year.
Its marvelous weather also puts Northern European countries to shame: as it straddles the Mediterranean, directly facing the North Coast of Africa, Murcia can be a lot warmer than other European beach destinations, with an average temperature of 21°C, or 70°F for the year.
In summer, it easily reaches 93.2°F or above, while in fall, the temperature decreases to a more tolerable 86°F, with lows of 66°F in the evenings. Murcia stays relatively warm well into the winter months, recording an average high of 70°F as late as December and very few, if any, rainy days.
Needless to say, it is perfect for a mid to late-fall beach escapade.
Top 4 Destinations In Murcia, Spain
Some of the best resort towns on the Warm Coast include Los Alcázares, La Manga, and Cartagena (the original one, not its Colombian equivalent).
Los Alcázares is easily one of the top spots in Murcia for both appreciating Mediterranean nature and going for dips in the warm sea, and taking in the culture, as it was previously a traditional fishing village before resorts and big international brands started pouring into it.
Somehow, it’s still retained its small-town character, with several fiestas and festivals held throughout the year. If you’re planning on visiting Alcázares this fall, you should mark October 12th as the day to be there, as it coincides with the Día de la Hispanid, a vibrant national holiday in Spain.
Unlike in Malaga, Valencia or Barcelona, local resorts are also a lot more affordable, with overnight rates starting at just $84 at the Ona Mar, a five-star golf & spa resort in Torre-Pacheco, a quieter settlement only 3 or so miles from downtown Alcázares.
If a more exclusive beach vacay piques your interest, perhaps it’s La Manga you should hit up. A natural spit – a narrow strip of land – separating a crystal-clear lagoon from the Mediterranean, it is lined with luxury hotels, and either lagoon or oceanfront stays.
It can be considerably pricier than the more underdeveloped Alcázares, with overnights at all-inclusive resorts costing as much as $416, but the privacy and high-end amenities will be greatly appreciated by visitors looking to escape the crowds.
Cartagena, on the other hand, is a much larger coastal hub with over 200,000 residents and equipped with an enormous cultural wealth. One of the oldest cities in Europe, it has been inhabited for over two millennia, and several ancient monuments have survived to this day.
This includes a Roman Amphitheatre dating back to the 1st century AD, historical ramparts and forts, while the newer port area of Cartagena is embellished with a plethora of traditional 18th and 19th-century ornately decorated facades.
Cartagena also offers access to the sea, with long, sandy beaches bounded by turquoise-colored waters being located within short driving distance of the old city, such as Playa de Calblanque and Cala Cortina, but its main appeal is surely the cultural aspect.
Murcia (The Capital)
Also on the coastal zone, the regional capital of Murcia, which the province is named after, concentrates a vast number of historical landmarks.
These include the Cathedral of Saint Mary, a combined Gothic-Reinassance-Baroque effort, Monteagudo Castle, with its iconic Christ statue on top, and the stately University of Murcia.
Europe’s Orchard (as Murcia is affectionately called), is just as popular for its flavorful Mediterranean cuisine, with regional favorites like marinera, a potato and seafood snack, zarangollo, scrambled egg cooked with various fresh vegetables, and tomato-egg-tuna-based Murcian salad.
Why You Should Visit Murcia
According to a recent study headed by Itrem, the Tourism Institute, in partnership with the University of Murcia, beaches, the weather, and gastronomy are three of the main reasons why tourists flock to the region.
As Murcia is not as popular a destination as Costa del Sol, Costa Brava, or even Spain’s Basque Country, it sees less crowding off-season, while Barcelona, Seville, Malaga, and the like suffer from a massive influx of tourists.
If you’re wondering just how difficult Murcia is to reach – after all, the local airport isn’t that big and it hosts mostly seasonal flights from Northern and Eastern Europe – the capital is a short 3h25 train ride from Madrid, when taking the AVE high-speed service.
Getting to Madrid from America is incredibly easy, as nonstop flights are available daily from multiple departure points – just check the closest airport to you or the nearest major transit hub – and tickets from Madrid to the city of Murcia can be as cheap as $27 one-way.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com