Home of paella the Valencian region of Spain is a lush landscape rich in history, culture and gastronomy.
Full of magnificent castles, tranquil coastal towns, and one of the country’s liveliest cities the Comunidad Valenciana has everything you need for a perfect Spanish vacation.
A visit to the capital Valencia leaves one appreciating the natural and cultural beauty of a historic place. Cycle your way through the old and new parts of the city, sip olive oil made from thousand-year-old olive trees, taste traditional paella, and travel back to medieval times as you stroll through narrow streets and up winding paths to imposing castles. There are so many of things to see and do in the Valencian region of Spain and while we could not cover everything in this short article we have put together 8 great ideas to get you started.
Visit the Capital Valencia
Founded by the Romans in 138 B.C., the coastal city of Valencia is packed with cultural sites and historic buildings just waiting to be explored. Relatively untouched during the Spanish Civil War, Valencia is home to La Lonja a 15th-century civil building where merchants met to exchange silks. A masterpiece of gothic architecture, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. After the Silk Exchange wander through the old town to Valencia’s cathedral built on the remains of a mosque following the Reconquista, the cathedral took over 500 years to build and claims to be home to the Holy Grail. The cathedral also houses several great works of art, including two paintings by Goya.
Built in the early 20th Century Valencia Central Market is the oldest indoor market in Europe with 300 stalls selling every imaginable foodstuff you could think of.
On your bike
In 1957 the Turia River flooded the city, killing 81 people forcing the government to reroute the river further south. Now with a dry riverbed snaking through the centre of the city Valencia cleverly turned it into a park with bike paths, tennis courts, football fields and an impressive futuristic City of Arts & Sciences. Doyoubike Rental has three locations near Turia Park, where you can rent bicycles by the hour or by the day and explore Valencia in the best possible way.
Game of Thrones
The popular HBO Game of Thrones series was filmed using several locations in Spain, one of with is the Castellón town of Peñíscola or the Slaver City of Meereen.
Built on a mound connected to the mainland, the 13th century Knights Templar castle later served as home to Pope Benedict XIII. Visit the castle and the old town before spending a lazy afternoon at the beach.
Learn about Black Truffles
Not far inland from Peñíscola is the walled village of Morella famous for it’s much sought after Trufa Negra (black truffles). Growing at the foot of holm oak trees, these nuggets of black gold can fetch as much as $100 an ounce.
Coveted by the Egyptians and Romans black truffles today are harvested during the winter with the help of specially trained hunting dogs who recognise the scent of the truffles despite them being buried in the ground.
Moorish Caves of Bocairent
Often called the prettiest village in Spain the medieval town of Bocairent near to Alcoy on the other side of the Sierra Mariola natural Park is also home to some unique man-made caves.
Carved out of a sheer rock face during the Moorish occupation of the Iberian Peninsula it is believed that the caves were used as a place to store grain.
Bocairent is also home to the oldest bullring in the Valencian Community and has many unique architectural features left over from the Moors. For an experience, you won’t forget, take a morning hot air balloon ride for incredible views of the Valencia countryside and the Mediterranean Sea on the horizon.
Modernist architecture in Alcoy
Home to the Moors & Christians Fiesta and birthplace of the Three Kings Parade, Alcoy was once one of the richest cities in Spain thanks to its paper and textile industries during the industrial revolution. Known as the city of bridges a stroll through the centre of town reveals a unique group of Art Nouveau buildings that once belonged to the city’s elite industrialists. Follow the Modernist Route and visit some of the finest examples of Art Nouveau design to be found anywhere in Europe.
Once you have completes the route and visited the city’s museums, take a short ride out of town to the serene Sant Antoni Abat Cemetery a unique place of above ground burial vaults that is on the Council of Europe’s official European Cemeteries Route.
Learn about the Borgia’s in Xàtiva
Known as the “city of a thousand fountains,” Xàtiva and its imposing castle was home to the Borgia’s an Italo-Spanish noble family, which rose to prominence during the Italian Renaissance providing the Roman Catholic Church with two Popes. Marred with scandal the tale of the Borgia’s is a journey through jealousy, resentment, addiction, illness, malice and madness. Spend the morning visiting the castle before embarking on a tour of the city’s unique fountains.
What would a trip to Valencia be without sampling the regions famous paella a rice dish originally made with rabbit which has now become a seafood staple for thousands of holidaymakers each year? Declared a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy in 2015 the seaside town of Dénia boasts three Michelin Star restaurants and countless others where you can have this iconic rice dish as part of a Menu del Dia for less than $15. The main street in town is closed to traffic during the afternoons to allow people to enjoy outdoor eating with the area around the marina the place to dance the night away. Dénia is a wonderful place to visit in the summer and even offers high-speed boat trips to the island of Ibiza.