Cycling in Murcia Highlights
MURCIA - A REGION OF CONTRASTS
The Region of Murcia offers an incredibly diverse landscape which offers something for all cycling levels. The coastal areas to the south and east feature the flatter terrain with easy access to beaches, hidden coves and the Roman port of Cartagena.
If you're looking for more challenging cycling then you won't need to go far. The Sierra Espuna Natural park is the most well-known climb topping out at 1550m. However, a number of other climbs in the region often feature in the Vuelta a Espana.
Agriculture is an important part of the region's economy. The coastal areas are best known for their fruit and vegetables whilst inland apricots, almonds and olives are more prevalent. The highlight however, is the 3 thriving wine producing areas in the north & west of the Region.
JUMILLA & YECLA
The towns of Jumilla and Yecla are both located in the Northern “altiplano” or plateau of the Region of Murcia. Although the area can experience extremes of temperature in both winter and summer the climate does support one of the region’s most important crops - the Monastrell grape. The area’s wine growing heritage dates back 5000 years and has seen a resurgence in production in the last century. The rolling countryside is full of family run bodegas producing their own wines and most of them are open to the public. Wine production provides the theme for many of the fiestas that take place throughout the year.
Our accommodation choices in Jumilla and Yecla are all based around “Rural Houses”, with real character, located in the countryside. These locations enable you to relax, take in the atmosphere, and try the wines produced in the local area. They are however, close enough to the town centres that you’ll be able to enjoy the tourist attractions and fiestas of Jumilla and Yecla.
Bullas is home to Murcia's third wine producing area. The town itself has little evidence of it's key export; a casual visitor could be forgiven for missing the small museum and a handful of bodegas. However, the sparsely populated land surrounding the town boasts vineyards as far as the eye can see.
The real jewel in the crown is the Valle del Aceniche declared as an area of special interest due to its beauty and biodiversity.
The Sierra Espuña Natural Park offers some of the most stunning scenery in Murcia and one of the most challenging Murcia cycling climbs. Every weekend hundreds of cyclists climb to Collado de Bermejo (1200m). For those looking for a further challenge the rideable road terminates at 1550m above sea level. Don’t be put off - the beauty of the area can be seen without climbing to the top.
Our favoured accommodation is in the 16th century Monastery Santa Eulalia set in a tranquil spot with stunning views of the Sierra Espuna, Don't miss the chance to explore the breathtaking sanctuary housing the image of Santa Eulalia de Merida.
CARAVACA DE LA CRUZ
Caravaca de La Cruz is one of the five holiest Catholic cities in the world, and a key destination for pilgrims and travellers alike. Caravaca is dominated by the medieval Santuario de la Vera Cruz (Sanctuary of True Cross),
Our hotel in Caravaca de La Cruz is the restored and spectacular 16th-century monastery “Nuestra Senora del Carmen” which is set around peaceful cloisters and gardens. This hotel is situated just 10-minutes from the Santísima Cruz Sanctuary.
CAMPO DE CARTAGENA
The Campo de Cartagena is a wide agricultural area which sits inland just behind the town of Los Alcazares; the base for our Murcia Bike Camps. The area provides much of the fruit and vegetables sent to the UK. Throughout the year the varied crops provide ever changing sights and smells. Our favourites are the spring blossoms of the almond trees and the melons harvested in summer.
The flat landscape makes it ideal for cycling on those easier rest days. Nevertheless a wide selection of moderately challenging climbs are located in the surrounding hills.
The city of Cartagena is steeped in history from the Roman amphitheatre (discovered in 1988) through to it's rich naval heritage which is still evident today. As a military harbour it was protected by a number of fortresses strategically positioned on the hills surrounding the city.
Whilst many of the fortresses are on inaccessible military property there is one which is achievable by bike. It's a fairly challenging ascent but the views from the summit are worth the effort. After all that exertion reward yourself with some refreshments in one of the city's many tapas bars. Why not try the city's famous Cafe Asiatico?
The Ricote Valley, just a 25 minute drive from Murcia city, really is a the hidden gem of the region. Of historical importance since the Muslim occupation it contrasts imposing rocky outcrops with fertile agricultural land. Following the River Segura it provides the ideal location to undertake a variety of outdour activities. Cycling through the valley is moderately challenging but the rewarding views are well worth the effort. The valley links the remote North Western parts of Murcia with the town of Archena.
There is evidence of settlements in the area of Archena dating back to 200 BC. However, it was the Romans that exploited the areas natural hot springs. Nowadays the town is home to the "Balneario de Archena" featuring a variety of spa options based around the natural spring. The location provides the ideal spot to recuperate, after a week's exertions, on the penultimate night of our Murcia wine tours.
The city of Elche is famous for its shoe factories (allegedly more than 1000) and its palm groves. The latter date back to the 8th century AD when the area was under Muslim control. During this period the irrigated orchards formed an integral part of the local economy. In 2000 they were designated as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Elche is actually in the neighbouring Province of Alicante. Its location, just 20 minutes from Alicante Airport, makes it an ideal start/finish point on our wine themed tours. Our chosen hotel offers the benefits of a city hotel with enough space to assemble your bike and store bike boxes. The adjacent “Huerto del Cura” is the perfect natural environment to wind down and relax after the day’s exertions.