Are you one of those insatiable travellers, the sort who always craves more? If what's on offer in Valencia doesn't seem like enough, why not round it off with some excursions to the surrounding area? Within a radius of about an hour's drive, you'll find castles, palaces, monasteries, archaeological sites, and many other examples of the province's rich historical legacy, as well as wild countryside and finger-licking local gastronomy. What are you waiting for to explore?
Take a look at our Top 10 selection:
1. Along the banks of the Xúquer: A River Trip
If you're looking for adventure, explore the river Xúquer (Júcar), which runs to the south of València. You can go kayaking, canoeing or paddle surfing in its calm waters, or explore its banks on horseback or mountain bike. There are also more relaxed cycling routes through the rice fields that border the Albufera, or through the orange groves of Carcaixent. While you're in the rice fields, why not take the opportunity to learn how to make an authentic Valencian paella? If you like sweets, don't miss the Chocolate Museum in Sueca, and don't leave without trying the typical panquemao d'Alberic (a type of sweet roll).
2. Cullera: beaches and pirates
Next to the mouth of the Júcar, Cullera offers extensive beaches of fine sand where you can do water sports or simply relax in the sun. Discover its enigmatic past of pirate sackings in the 15th and 16th centuries in the Cave Museum of the Pirate Dragut, and enjoy its rich historical and artistic heritage in a visit to its castle of Arab origin. Cullera is a land of rice dishes and in its restaurants, you will find an infinite variety: in a rich broth, creamy, with meat, with seafood, or in paella... Which one do you fancy?
3. La Valldigna: A historical valley
Further into the province, to the south of Cullera, the Valldigna valley oozes history from every corner. King James II of Aragón was already impressed by its beauty, considering it a "valley worthy" of a great monastery (hence its name). The Royal Monastery of Santa María de la Valldigna, founded in 1298 in the town of Simat, or the Cova del Bolomor, an important Palaeolithic site, are some of the sites not to be missed. But to appreciate the true charm of the valley, the best way is to visit villages such as Benifairó or Barx, an area full of surprises!
4. Gandía: the legacy of the Borgias
If you got hooked on The Borgias TV series or are simply curious to learn more about this famous dynasty, you can't miss a visit to the Ducal Palace of the Borgias in Gandía, the capital of the La Safor region. It is not only one of the most beautiful examples of Valencian civil Gothic architecture, but also a showcase of different architectural styles, which led to its declaration as a Site of Cultural Interest. After your visit, enjoy some tapas in the city or go to the Grau de Gandía to taste the freshest fish.
5. Vall d’Albaida and Bocairent: tradition and gastronomy
La Vall d'Albaida is another picturesque valley with charming villages such as Quatretonda, Luchente or Benissuera, and rich traditions, which extends inland from Gandía. Here you will find natural areas for hiking and cycling, as well as castles, hermitages, old mills and military shelters. Its rich gastronomy will tempt you to make one or more stops along the way: to try its traditional cured meats, do a wine or olive oil tasting, or simply enjoy a good esmorzaret (a substantial snack) in the middle of the morning. Are you up for the Lunch Route? You have until 20 June to take part in this tasty opportunity.
Bocairent is one of the most outstanding towns in the Vall d'Albaida. Wander through its medieval quarter, with its typical huddled houses and steep streets, and enjoy the best views of the valley from its lookout points. Visit its famous "Covetes dels Moros" (Moorish Caves) and be sure to stop by its bullring, most of which is carved out of living rock.
6. Xátiva: stately nobility
The tough climb to the Xátiva Castle, a thousand-year-old fortress at the top of Mount Vernissa, is rewarded with spectacular views over the city and its surroundings. Xátiva is the cradle of the Borgia dynasty, and here you can follow their legacy, visiting the most outstanding buildings, such as the birthplace of Pope Alexander VI. As you stroll through its streets you will find palaces and stately homes, and architectural gems such as the Renaissance-style Collegiate Basilica of Santa María de La Seo. Be sure to visit the Almudín Museum, to discover why the famous picture of Philip V, painted by José de Ribera, is displayed upside down.
7. The Canal de Navarrés: the best-kept secret
The region of La Canal de Navarrés may not be one of the best-known destinations in the province. However, it is home to a real treasure trove. In the small coves of Río Grande and Millares you will find a large part of the collection of Mediterranean arc cave paintings which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Take a tour of towns such as Anna, Chella, Bolbaite, Quesa, Bicorp, Estubeny, Millares and Navarrés and take a dip in one of their natural lakes and pools, such as the Gorgo Catalán or the Ponds of Quesa. The beautiful natural surroundings also offer many opportunities for hiking, mountain biking and canyoning.
8. El Puig Monastery: knights and princesses
To the north of Valencia, the El Puig de Santa María Monastery is a place of legend. Built by King Jaume I in the 12th century in a strategic enclave, it combines a Gothic-style sanctuary with a Renaissance convent. You can sign up for different guided tours that will take you back to the time of the conquest of Valencia, an era of knights and princesses - the little ones can even dress up in period costume! You can also discover the more recent history of El Puig, visiting shelters and trenches from the Civil War.
9. Sagunto: one involving Romans
On the way to Castellón from Valencia, the silhouette of Sagunto Castle , immediately comes into view, an impressive fortress almost a kilometre long on top of the hill that protects the city. Of Iberian origin, the castle withstood the siege of Hannibal's Carthaginian troops in the 5th century, and preserves numerous remains from the Roman era, such as the forum and the partially reconstructed Roman Theatre, where the Sagunt a Escena theatre festival is held every summer. Around the city you will also find archaeological sites that show the ancient Roman Saguntum, such as the Casa dels Peixos (Fish House). You can also visit the Port of Sagunto to discover its industrial heritage or take a stroll along its beaches.
10. Ademuz: a multi-sensory getaway
If you want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, there is nothing better than the Rincón de Ademuz, an area so remote that it is even physically separated from the rest of the province of Valencia. Enjoy its beautiful natural surroundings and historical heritage with all five senses, thanks to a programme of experiences that includes walks along the river Bohilgues, visits to the Iberian settlement of La Celadilla, or a journey into the past in the village of Sesga, a place literally frozen in time since 1964. And, of course, you can't miss sampling the typical products of the area.
You'll find all this and much more just a stone's throw from Valencia. The perfect complement to your visit to the city.
If you live in the Region of Valencia, you can take advantage of the discounts offered by the Tarjeta València On on more than 200 activities. Download it and start preparing your getaways.