Visit Valencia and Murcia
Valencia and Murcia lie on the Eastern coast of Spain. Each year millions of tourists come to the beaches in this part of Spain. Part of the attraction is the climate. With 3000 hours of sunshine per year along the coast and an average winter temperature of 18°C this is a tempting destination even in the winter.
Along the coast tourists can visit the beautiful ancient towns of Valencia, and 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.
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.
Further south in Murcia the fertile soils of Valencia give way to a virtual desert, this is one of the driest regions in Spain. A lot of the coast is over-developed but there are still plenty of nice beaches to be found.
Costa del Azahar
This stretch of coast is called the "Orange Blossom Coast" after the groves of orange trees along the coast.
Benicassim: Every year, in August, thousands of music fans come to the international music festival here.
Peniscola: The medieval walled city cited on a promontory has lots of little alleys to explore. There is a castle which was built by the Knights Templar.
The Costa Blanca
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.
Gandia: Long sandy beaches, this resort attracts mostly Spanish visitors. The old town of Gandia is home to the Palacio Ducal de los Borja which was built in the 14th century.
Xabia: An attractive town with a good beach and lots of cliffs and coves.
Altea: The whitewashed old town on the hill top provides the perfect backdrop to the small resort of Altea. The beach is a pebble beach.
Benidorm: One of the most popular resorts in Valencia with a range of tourist attractions including the Terra Mitica theme park, the Terra Natura wildlife park and the Aqualandia water world.
Alicante: long sandy beaches next to Alicante, Valencia's second city and definitely worth a vistit. See Alicante below.
Valencia and Murcia Inland
Valencia is one of Spain's most dynamic cities. Not yet as vibrant as Barcelona it is non-the-less well worth visiting. Murcia is also a lively university town and Alicante is also a vibrant and interesting city. The historic towns of Morella, Xativa and Lorca are also a must when in this region. The freshwater lagoon of L'Albufera, the saltpans of Santa Pola and the mountains of the Sierra de Mariola provide some of the scenic beauty of the area.
Cities and Places to Visit
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.
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.
Benidorm, the largest resort in Europe.
Calpe, a popular coastal resort.
Cartagena, the old town near the port has narrow medieval streets and a lively eating and drinking area.
Denia, A resort town overlooked by a large castle.
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.
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.
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 town, this one 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.
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.
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.
Map of Valencia and Murcia & places nearby