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Hola Valencia’s Top Five: Day Trips

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With our impending 3-month trip to Asturias coming ever closer, we thought it’d be a good time to look back on our years here, and compile some “Best Of” lists. We’ll start with Day Trips. As is always the case when creating lists, we’ve had to leave a lot of great things out… but these are our favorites. In the next few days, we’ll be publishing more Top Fives!

The city of Valencia offers enough diversion for any length of trip, but it’s worthwhile to get out and see some of the other incredible spots which are nearby. We took a lot of day trips during our time here, but these are the five which we enjoyed the most, in no particular order.

El Palmar and the Albufera

Found just a few kilometers south of Valencia, the natural park of the Albufera is home to an enormous freshwater lagoon. From the city, you can bike there in less than an hour, and be rewarded with some incredible nature… dunes, wetlands, birds and fauna, the beaches of El Saler, and beautiful nature trails. The village of El Palmar is found deep within the Albufera and is world-renowned for its paella restaurants.

El Palmar – The Perfect Day Trip
Bike Trip to Saler and the Albufera
El Palmar and the Albufera – Another visit

Sagunto

Sagunto is famous for its Roman theater, and its hilltop castle which stretches over a kilometer. A must-see for history fans, “Saguntum” was a powerful Roman city, and the first to be attacked by Hannibal. It’s just a short train trip away from Valencia.

Sagunto: City of Ruins
Sagunto, Part II

Dénia & Xàbia

There are a lot of great opportunities for biking in the Valencian Community, but the trip we most enjoyed was around the Montgó Mountain, between the touristy seaside villages of Dénia and Xàbia. Even without the bike trip, both towns are worth visiting; particular Xàbia with its crystal blue water and beautiful coastline.

Bike Tour around the Montgó: Dénia-Xàbia

Alcoy

Alcoy, with its magnificent old town and castle, is worth a visit any time of year. But it’s especially impressive in late April, when the Alcoyanos put on Spain’s biggest Christians & Moors Festival. For three days, marchers, dancers, musicians and animals fill the streets. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Alcoy – Christians & Moors Festival 2009
Mentira – Alcoy’s Awesome Party Drink
Valencia Scenic Drive: Alcoy to Altea

Xàtiva

With trains leaving the Estación del Norte about every half-hour for Xàtiva, there’s very little excuse to miss out on this fascinating town south of Valencia. The Castle of the infamous Borgia family is the highlight, but there is a lot to see and do in this city of the Setabenses.

Day Trip to Xàtiva
Xàtiva – Introduction & History
Random Xàtiva Photos
Xativa Castle in HD

Rent a car for your day trip from Valencia

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July 23, 2010 at 9:19 am Comments (2)

Xativa Castle in HD

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We returned recently to Xativa, in order to impress Mike’s parents, visiting from the castle-less USA. Since I’ve already taken practically every possible picture of the Xativa castle, this time a I made an HD video.

I’m not entirely happy with the quality or editing… and the music kind of gets annoying after a while. But I think the video provides a good overview of the castle. Hope you enjoy it!

Cute Little Hotel in Xativa

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April 24, 2010 at 4:50 pm Comments (3)

Valencia Scenic Drive: Alcoy to Altea

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valley-Valencia

We have been living now in Valencia for over a year and a half, and are ashamed to admit that we know very little of its surroundings. Turns out that Valencia has breathtaking landscapes to offer, and we finally got to see a tiny glimpse of them while taking a scenic drive from Alcoy (home of the Moors & Christian festival) to Altea.

valencia-hills-mountains

almond-valencia

The highlight of this short drive was passing by the Castillo Guadalest:

castillo-guadalest

guadalest-castle

We were short on time to return the rental car so we didn’t stop much. But this has given us the appetite for more.

Anyone have recommendations for more scenic drives around Valencia?

Best prices on car rentals in Valencia

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July 12, 2009 at 10:36 am Comments (6)

Day Trip to Jérica

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Set along a slope in the mountains of Alto Palancia, Jérica is a beautiful village with an abundance of sights. Easily reachable from Valencia by regional train, it makes an excellent day trip.

day-trip-valencia

No more than 200 meters from the railway station (“Jérica-Vivier” on the C5, one stop past Navajas), Jérica has a population of less than 2000 people, but offers plenty to see.

jerica-tower
jerica-mountains

The first stop should be to the tourist office, unmissable & found near the entrance to the city walls. Apparently, Jérica is not exactly overrun with tourists — the man working in the office absolutely came to life when we entered, brushing the cobwebs off his shoulder and eagerly launching into his long forgotten art of Advice Giving.

flieder-spanien
jardin-secreto

The first dated accounts of a settlement in Jérica are from Muslim times, in the 11th Century. The city towers — its most recognizable and impressive landmarks — date from this time. Walking around Jérica means a lot of ascending and descending. The city is small enough to make getting lost nearly impossible, and around nearly every curve, something else impressive reveals itself… an old church, a covered alleyway, a strange Christ icon, an old lady selling olive oil from her window, an ancient gate. It makes for a great couple hours of exploration.

little-chaple-jerica
fountain-jerica
tilted-tower-jerica
menu-del-dia-jerica
macarones-jerica

Once you’ve had lunch (we enjoyed an excellent €8 menú del día at Tonico), you’ll have the necessary strength to walk up to La Torreta, an abandoned watchtower in need of repair set on Jérica’s highest point. From here, you’ll have an amazing view of the region. To the northwest you can see Viver, a similarly-sized town 2 kilometers away, and an impressive cliff face and valley to the south.

jerica-jercia
climbing-jerica
jerica-vally

A round trip ticket on the Renfe train costs around €8,40. Jérica itself doesn’t demand more than a few hours, but there’s excellent hiking and biking opportunities in the area, as well. In that case, you’d probably want to stay the night.

This was a wonderful day trip. I think next time, we’ll be taking our hiking boots — the Alto Palancia area has a lot to offer the intrepid.

More images from Jèrica:

street-plants-jerica

(more…)

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March 31, 2009 at 4:34 pm Comment (1)

Walk Down Obama Street in Náquera

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Náquera is a small touristic village located 23 kilometers north of Valencia city. In accordance with The Law of Historical Memory, a Spanish ruling that obligates the removal of anything Francoist from the public square, Náquera has decided to rename one of their streets after my homeland’s new president.

Calle José Antonio out … Calle Barack Obama in!


Satellite Imagery: Google Earth

As a rule, I’m skeptical of any law that encourages the popular amnesia of dark history. Better to have statues and street names as a reminder of a difficult past. Of course, you don’t want a statue which celebrates El Caudillo as some sort of hero, but to remove any reference to him seems like a good intention gone too far.

Then again, I’d be all for a US law that bans naming any monument after G. W. Bush or Dick Cheney. And I’m definitely for anything that ends up with a small Spanish town naming one of its street after Barack Obama!

Situated in the middle a beautiful protected natural park, Náquera boasts a population of just 2000, and offers a great day trip for lovers of nature. According to its website, Náquera is reachable with a Metrobus from the station of Bétera (Metro Line #1).


Obama Inauguration Own a Piece of History!
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February 3, 2009 at 3:00 pm Comment (1)