Travel Spain: The Valencian Community – One of Spain’s Jewels
Located in the southeast of Spain, the Valencian Community (Comunitat Valenciana in Valencian or Comunidad Valenciana in Spanish) is one of Spain’s autonomous communities. The region is divided into three provinces (Valencia, Alicante and Castellón). With its great weather and 516-kilometer coastline, the Valencian Community attracts lots of tourists every year, with its peak season going from May to September.
Main Destinations and Attractions
Valencia: Valencia is a charming city located on the Mediterranean Sea, approximately 4 hours south of Barcelona. It is known as the birth place of the paella, one of Spain’s most traditional dishes. Attractions include the old city center (town hall, post office, plaza de toros, etc.), the City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias), the Seu Cathedral, the Llotja (a UNESCO landmark), the Central Market (Mercado Central) and the Torres de Quart (two medieval towers that were part of the ancient wall).
Castellón de la Plana: Castellón de la Plana is the capital city of the province of Castellón. The city has a strong Moorish heritage and is absolutely charming. Main sights include the Cathedral (Concatedral de Santa María), the Tuscan-style City Hall (Ayuntamiento), the bell tower called El Fadrí, the Basilica of Santa María del Lledó and the bishop’s palace.
Alicante: Along with Valencia, Alicante is one of the most popular tourist cities of the Valencian Community. Popular attractions include the Castle of Santa Barbara (an old fortress that was built in the ninth century by the Moors), the Archeological Museum of Alicante (MARQ), the Postiguet beach, the Explanada de Espanya and the Santa Cruz neighborhood (Barrio de Santa Cruz). Alicante is also famous for its nice restaurants, bars and nightclubs where you can enjoy the real Spanish lifestyle. Also, if you go to Alicante, make sure to check out Tabarca Island (Isla de Tabarca), a small beautiful island with turquoise waters perfect for a day trip. The island is accessible by taking a ferry from Alicante harbor.
Benidorm: Located in the province of Alicante, Benidorm is a beach resort on the Costa Blanca. Benidorm is mostly renowned for its beaches (Playa Levante and Playa Poniente) and nightlife. Activities include Aqualandia (water Park), Mundomar (sealife park), Terra Mítica (amusement park) and Terra Natura (wildlife and water park).
Elche: Located in the province of Alicante, Elche is mostly renowned for The Palm Grove of Elche (Palmeral de Elche), a UNESCO World Heritage site. The parque is absolutely stunning and contains over 200,000 palm trees. Other major attractions include the Altamira Castle, the Basilica of Santa María de Elche, Huerto del Cura (botanical garden) and several museums.
Altea: Altea is a small town located in the province of Alicante. Its cobbled and crooked streets are absolutely charming. Another sight is the church of La Mare de Déu del Consol with its blue domes. The town also features restaurants and beaches that are worth a visit.
Jávea: Jávea is a beautiful town on the Mediterranean Sea, in the Province of Alicante. It is a small resort and market town. Main sights include the Old Town, the Gothic Church of San Bartolome, the port and the Playa de Arenal with its amazing vistas. From Jávea, you can also organize various day trips (Valencia and Alicante are both one hour away by car) and go visit nearby towns or resorts, such as Denia or Gandia.
Things to do
Attend the Hogueras de San Juan in Alicante: The Hogueras de San Juan (“Bonfires of Saint John”) is a popular festival celebrated in Alicante for St. John’s day. For this festival, bonfires are created which look like the puppets of Valencia’s Fallas. They are then burnt on St. John’s day. The festival also features traditional food, fireworks and parades with the beauty of the fire (belleza del fuego) and her honor ladies (damas de honor).
Visit Valencia during the Fallas: Valencia is famous for hosting the Fallas, a Valencian tradition celebrating Saint Joseph. The celebration consists in burning ninots (huge puppets – absolute artworks – made of wood and wax) on the last day of the festival, which is called la noche del fuego (“the night of fire”). The ninots are created according to a theme and are usually satirical. The festival takes place for a week and ends on March 19. The celebrations also feature traditional food, parties, processions and parades.
Attend the fiesta of Moros y Cristianos in Villena: the fiesta of Moros y Cristianos (“Moors and Christians”) is a festival celebrated in various Spanish cities and towns. It commemorates the battles between Christians and Moors (Muslims) during the Reconquista period (8th-15th century). The festival features parades that recreate the conquest of Spain by the Moors and then the reconquest by the Christians. People participating in the parades wear medieval costumes.
Try some typical food: Tasting the local food is certainly one of the best possible activities during your vacation in Spain. Enjoy some tapas (delicious appetizers), try the world-famous paella which originated from Valencia, and eat some local sea food.
Hit the local bars: Spain is and will always be famous for its nightlife. Go to the local bar and have some cervezas (beers). It is also a good way to talk to the locals and know more about the culture.
Take a day trip to Fuentes del Algar: Las Fuentes del Algar (Algar waterfalls) is one of the must-see attractions during your trip. Located 15 kilometers from Benidorm, the Fuentes del Algar are absolutely breath-taking. Go for a swim in the river (only 18°C!) and take a look at the surrounding landscape. It is a really nice place to take a break from the beach on a hot summer day.
Visit Guadalest: Guadalest is a small village located in the mountains that has absolute stunning scenery. Attractions include the Castle of L’Alcazaiba, the Church of Mare de Déu de l’Assumpció, the tower-crag of Alcalá and various museums. From the village, you also have a stunning view over the Guadalest dam.
Enjoy the beaches of Costa Blanca: The Costa Blanca is mostly renowned for its stunning beaches. Stroll along the seaside and go for a swim in the deep blue and turquoise waters.
With its beaches, traditional festivals and tasty food, the Valencian community is definitely a place worth visiting. If you try it, you will see that there is much more to Spain than just Madrid, Barcelona and Andalusia.