Visit Valencia and Murcia
3000 hours of sunshine every year, hundreds of kilometers of sandy beaches, pretty villages and some dynamic cities attract visitors to these eastern provinces of Spain.
VALENCIA AND MURCIA TOURIST SITES AND PLACES TO VISIT
Valencia and Murcia lie on the Eastern coast of Spain, south of Catalonia and north of Andalucia.The regional capital of Valencia is the city of Valencia and Murcia is the capital of Murcia provvince.
Sun and beaches attract millions of visitors every summer and an average winter temperature of 18°C makes this is a tempting destination even in the winter.
Below we introduce you to the three provinces of Valencia and the province of Murcia offering suggestions and highlights so that you can make the most of your holiday in Spain.
Castellon - northern province of Valencia
120 km of Mediterranean coastline and some lovely coastal resorts and the mountainous area inland mean there is something for everyone in Castellon.
The coastal area is known as the Costa del Azahar or "Orange Blossom Coast" after the groves of orange trees along the coast. It is home to some large resorts such as Alcossebre, Benicarlo, Benicassim, Peniscola, Vinaros and Oropesa del Mar.
Also visit Castellon de la Plana is an attractive city of medieval origin which sits on the sea front.
If you are interested in cave art then visit the town of Tirig which is home to UNESCO World Heritage Site caves.
For fabulous views visit Ares del Maestrat which sits perched on top of a rocky hill and looks out over the rocky El Maestrazgo countryside. Also in the El Maestrazgo countryside in the north of the province is the town of Alcala de Xivert with its castle and fortifications.
Not to be missed is the town of Onda with its castle and historic centre dating back to the middle ages, or the town of Morella with its dramatic medieval fortifications.
Valencia - middle province of Valencia
Go sunbathing on over 100 kilometers of golden sandy beaches, throw tomatoes in the Tomatina tomato battle at Bunol or marvel at the stunning buildings of the City of Art and Science.
The Costa Valencia has mile upon mile of sandy beaches backed by the gentle slopes of the foothills of the Valencian mountains. Valencia's fertile soils are covered with orange and lemon groves, olive and almond trees and, remnants of Valencia's Moorish occupation, date palm plantations and rice fields. Inland the mountains dominate the scenery.
The coastal city and regional capital of Valencia is Spain's third city and has a huge amount to offer visitors from its historic silk exchange to its ultra-modern City of Art and Science.
It is the beaches of the Costa Valencia stretch of coastline that attract most visitors to this province. Cullera, with its historic centre and great beaches, and Oliva are popular destinations.
The long sandy beaches of Gandia attract mostly Spanish visitors. The old town of Gandia is home to the Palacio Ducal de los Borja which was built in the 14th century.
Alicante and the Costa Blanca - southern province of Valencia
The sandy beaches of the Costa Blanca have long been a favourite holiday destination and offer an excellent range of attractions from rocky coves to large, bustling resorts.
The long sandy beaches of the Costa Blanca have attracted foreign visitors for many years now. A lot of the coastline is built up but it is possible to find quieter beaches and coves.
Along the coast tourists can visit the beautiful ancient town of Alicante. Modern holiday resorts such as Benidorm and Torrevieja cater to large numbers of English tourists though as with Southern Spain, these areas are trying hard to shake off their lager lout images and attract families.
Xabia (Javea), in the north of the province, is an attractive coastal town with a good beach and lots of cliffs and coves. It also has a lively nightlife. North of Xabia, Denia has a huge castle overlooking the resort. Just south of Xabia, Altea is a lovely resort with its whitewashed old town on the hill above the resort.
Between Xabia and Benidorm is the lovely resort of Calpe which mixes a modern resort with plenty of historical sights. Near to Benissa are some of the most beautiful coves and scenery of the Costa Blanca.
Tired of the beaches? Go to Elx (Elche) and visit the huge palm tree grove.
Over 3000 hours of sunshine, beaches and spas are some of the major draws of Murcia province.
Further south in Murcia the fertile soils of Valencia give way to a virtual desert, this is one of the driest regions in Spain, perfect for holidaymakers.
Coastal destinations include San Pedro del Pinatar, Cabo de Palos, Santiago de la Ribera and Los Alcazares. Near to the beaches and town of Mazarron there are some unusual rock formations, the Bolnuevo Erosions, worth visiting.
Another highlight is the city of Lorca with its fabulous Barroque architecture. The regional capital of Murcia has an interesting array of architectural styles reflecting its diverse history.
Places to Visit: Towns and Villages
Aguilas, a seaside town with an attractive port and a beach dominated by a 17th century castle.
Alicante, with a medieval fortress above the town, a Boroque town hall, wide esplanades, sandy beaches, terrace cafes and a palm-lined waterfront plus an airport this city is worth a visit.
Altea, a small resort set below the historic village which has views over the sea and coastline. The beach is a pebble beach.
Calpe, a beautiful beach dominated by the Rock of Ifach. Plenty of historical attractions to see including the Roman baths.
Caravaca de la Cruz, with its beautiful church the El Santuario de Vera Cruz (Sanctuary of the True Cross). Two other churches tower over the town, La Iglesia de la Concepcion and La Iglesia del Salvador.
Benicassim, every year, in August, thousands of music fans come to the international music festival here.
Benicarlo, a fishing port and tourist town with an attractive medieval centre.
Benidorm, the largest resort in Europe.
Benissa, mountains meet the sea resulting in some beautiful coves and scenery.
Calpe, a popular coastal resort.
Cartagena, the old town near the port has narrow medieval streets and a lively eating and drinking area.
Cullera, great historic centre and seaside location.
Denia, A resort town overlooked by a large castle.
El Campello, a popular Costa Blanca resort excellent for a range of water sports.
Elx, home to a forest of palm trees, surrounding Elx.
Gandia, home to the Palacio Ducal de los Borja, built in the fourteenth century .
Guadalest, a very pretty mountain village with a belfry perched on top of a rocky outcrop. The moorish castle is built in to the rock and is entered through a gateway built into the rock.
Lorca, an attractive historic town.
Morella, this dramatic town built on a high outcrop in the province of Castellon is surrounde by a medieval wall with six gateways leading into the old town. The narrow streets and alleys are a joy to explore and the ruined castle can be seen from miles around.
Murcia is a lively university town
Onda, home of a very good natural history museum the Museo El Carmen which belongs to a monastery nearby.
Orihuela, home to the second largest palm forest in Spain and a small gothic cathedral which contains Velazquez's The Temptation of St Thomas.
Peniscola, another fortified, medieval town, this one is surrounded on three sides by the sea. With alleys and white houses the town has lots to explore. Its Castell del Papa Luna was built by the Knights Templar and was the location for some of the filming of El Cid.
Sagunto or Sagunt, this historic town was occupied by Romans and attacked by Hannibal. The Roman remains include a second century roman ampitheatre, the Teatro Romano and a huge castle. With sea views, a Moorish castle and a medieval Jewish quarter there is lots to see.
Tirig, home to UNESCO World Heritage Site cave with prehistoric paintings.
Valencia, third largest city in Spain and one of the most progressive. An attractive city with an historic centre but also a lively centre with trendy bars, restaurants and shops. The Silk Exchange in Valencia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a gothic masterpiece.
Villafames, an attractive medieval hill town with Renaissance and modern aspects. With an ancient castle and a museum of contemporary art, the Museo de Arte Contemporanea.
Xativa, an attractive medieval town with a castle, a thirteenth century church and some impressive mansions.
Xabia (Javea), a popular but attractive resort town with a lively nightlife.
Valencia and Murcia tourism and sightseeing
Parks and Nature Reserves
Parc Natural de L'Albufera (Albufera nature reserve) - The Albufera nature reserve is located about 10km south of Valencia. It is a vast westland area where a freshwater lake is cut off from the sea by a sandbar. As well as a wetland habitat for about 250 species of bird there is an area of paddyfields which produces about a third of Spain's rice! Surrounding the lake is woodland made up of umbrella pines.
There is a visitor centre with information of walks you can do in the park and also an observation tower.
Penyal d' Ifach Nature reserve - This 323m tall rock rises up from the sea on the Costa Blanca coast just south of Xabia and north of Benidorm. To walk on the rock start at the visitor centre at Calp harbour. A tunnel leads to gentle slopes on the seaward side of the rock. The rock is home to many wild plants and many species of birds colonise the salt flats below.
Caves de Sant Josep - These caves are explored by boat and large chambers can be seen.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Valencia and Murcia
- La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia - This 15th century Silk Exchange is a Gothic masterpiece. Built 1482-1492 by Pere Compte and finished after his death by one of his pupils the Silk Exchange is a beautiful Gothic building. The site is more than 2000 square metres and includes the Room of Columns, the Tower, the Sea Consulate Room and the Orange tree Patio. The Silk Exchange became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
- Rock-Art of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula - This is the largest group of rock-art sites in Europe and is a vivid picture of human life in late prehistoric times. The site became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.
- Palmeral of Elche
Museo de Arte Contemporanea, Villafames, a contemporary art museum.
National Ceramics Museum, Museo Nacional de Ceramica Gonzalez Marti, Valencia. Spain's National ceramics museum housed in a Baroque mansion.
Museu de Belles Artes, Valencia. One of the best general collections of art in Spain.
The Valencian Institute of Modern Art, Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno, Valencia. Includes works by Julio Gonzalez.
Casa Modernista, Novelda, an Art Nouveau house built in 1903.
Monasterio de El Puig , a Mercedarian monastery which houses a collection of paintings.
Paradors in Valencia and Murcia
Parador de El Salar, El Saler
Parador de Javea, Javea (Xabia)
Parador de Lorca, Lorca