Long coastline, orange orchards and delicious wines
The Mediterranean landscape of the region of Valencia with its long coasts alternating with striking mountains is a great place to visit for any tourist. The region boasts more than 600 kilometers of coastline with amazing climate all year round and is a perfect holiday destination. It has a population of about 5 million people spread out in the major cities like Valencia and smaller towns and villages. The region is also major orange growing area and accounts for more than half of the total Spanish production. Other that the oranges, the region also produces excellent local wines. Some important wines of the region are DO Utiel-Requena and DO Valencia wines.
Places – top 3 to visit if you are in Valencia
1. Rioja – The region which brings you the most famous Spanish wines
Rioja is a province of Spain located in the north of the Iberian Peninsula. This region is famous for the wines and has over 500 wineries spread across 54000 hectares of land. The diversity of Rioja is not just limited to its wines though. It offers a great amount of religious and cultural variety. Rioja is linked to the famous Saint James pilgrim route and boasts the San Millan Yuso and Suso monastaries, which are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is also a great destination for nature lovers. The amazing landscapes of Sierra de Cebollera Nature Reserve and the Arnedillo Biosphere Reserve are not to be missed!
2. Alicante – The heart of tourism in Valencia
Located in the middle of the Costa Blanca, Alicante is one most important tourist destinations in the Spanish east coast. The many golf courses, along with the tranquil waters of the Mediterranean Sea, are part of the appeal of this beautiful harbour city, which sits at the foot of the Castle of Santa Barbara, a silent witness to the numerous civilisations to have settled here.The historic quarter, at the foot of this fortress, conceals an interesting religious and civil architectural legacy, including the emblematic Explanada de España (Spain boulevard), a traditional recreational area to the local residents.Alicante is also a land of deeply-rooted traditions, such as the Moors and Christians festivities and the Night of San Juan.
3. Benidorm – Beauty and buzzing energy at every turn
Located in the Marina Baixa region in Alicante, Benidorm is one of the top tourist destinations on the Costa Blanca, thanks to its excellent beaches and its wide range of accommodation, restaurants and leisure activities. Its historic centre stands on a promontory, and contrasts with the broad avenues lined with buildings, shops and outdoor cafés which extend five kilometers along the coastline. Benidorm offers a whole range of possibilities: from strolling along the seafront promenade or swimming in the sea, to enjoying a range of water sports or taking a boat trip to the island of Benidorm. Benidorm is one of the most important tourist resorts on Alicante’s Costa Blanca. Its fine sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and outstanding year-round climate have made it justly famous, and it also has a full range of first rate infrastructures and services.
Food and Drink – top 3 to try in Valencia
Happiness is great food and great company
Like the rest of Spain, Valencia was an important zone for many invaders – Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Moors, and Visigoths. The capital city is also called Valencia, founded by Romans in 138 B.C. as Valentia, meaning “strong” or “powerful.” In the early part of the 8th century, the Moors arrived in Valencia and governed the region for 500 years. Their influence is evident in the area’s culture and cuisine. The Moors introduced rice, sugarcane, oranges, and almonds and advanced irrigation systems. Valencia was reconquered by Christians in the 15th century. Although there is an incredibly diverse cuisine in Valencia, rice dominates the region’s menus. Rice dishes can be broken down into “dry” rice dishes, like paella, and rice stews called arroz caldoso in Spanish, which is cooked in traditional ceramic or metal dishes. Then, there are oven-baked rice dishes like arroz al horno (arros al forn) and soft rice dishes made in earthenware casseroles like arros amb costra with an egg crust. Although Valencia is known for the high-quality rice it grows and rice dishes, such as the now world-famous paella, the traditional gastronomy of the region has much more to offer. The coastal plains and the inland mountain areas have two distinct cuisines. Fish, seafood, and rice are the mainstays of the coastal cuisine, whereas meat dishes including game, lamb, and kid goat are common in the mountain areas. Both mountain and coastal areas of Valencia can claim their own ollas or stews that can include seafood, vegetables, beef, pork, lamb or other meat, dried meat, bacon, beans and/or sausages.
1. Paella – The most well known Spanish cuisine
One of the most well-known Spanish dishes on the Iberian Peninsula and beyond, paella has its roots in Valencia. Some paella purists even argue it should only be eaten in Valencia, not in the rest of Spain!
The wetlands near the region’s Albufera lake are ideal for growing rice, which the Moors brought to Valencia in the 10th century. Paella was originally cooked in giant calderos in the open air near the lake in the 18th century, and it exploded in popularity around the mid-1800s. Traditional Valencian paella includes chicken, rabbit and local white beans called garrafó—but seafood, vegetarian and “mixed” paella, containing both meat and fish, are also popular. Other typical additions include artichokes, lobster and even snails! And of course, the best paella always has a layer of crispy rice along the bottom.
2. All I Pebre – Eat like a local Valenciano
This delicacy is a favorite among Valencianos, and after trying it we’re sure you’ll see why. All i pebre is a stew containing chunks of eel and potatoes simmered to perfection in a sauce that includes garlic, paprika and almonds. Not as well known outside the region as other typical food from Valencia, this hearty meal is one of the locals’ best-kept secrets and a true gastronomic hidden gem.
3. Bunyols – The best part of a meal is the dessert
Don’t forget to save room for dessert! Bunyols are yummy fritters containing a touch of pumpkin in the dough. Valencians usually snack on them during the famous Las Fallas festival in March, but we recommend enjoying them any time of year! This delicious snack is one of our favorite typical foods from Valencia!
Wine – Top 3 To Know About Wines
Valencian wines – a new generation of excellent quality Spanish wines
Valencia is known worldwide for its oranges, but its long days of warm sun and position next to the Mediterranean Sea also make it an ideal place for growing grapes. Generally speaking, Valencian wines tend to be intense, with body, structure and a relatively high alcohol content. Within the general region, one can distinguish seven or eight main wine producing areas, each with its own specific topography, climate, and very often its own dominant grape variety, resulting in an array of very different wines. The Alto Turia, for example, an area at 500-1000 meters altitude, is known for the white Merseguera, which produces wines with relatively high acidity. The low-lying regions near Valencia City and in Alicante are known for Moscatel, a very aromatic white wine. The Terres dels Alforins valley, aka the “Tuscany” of Valencia, is known for its high-quality red wines. To the west, en route to Madrid, the Utiel-Requena region is famous for reds from the indigenous Bobal grape as well as quality cavas. In the warmer south, around Alicante, the Monastrell grape is used for powerful dry reds, as well as the historically significant Fondillón, the sweet ‘wine of kings’, which in the 17th-18th century, was exported all over the world. In short, there is a huge wine world to discover here in Valencia!
1. Wine highlights
Valencia might not be the most famous of Spain‘s wine regions, but there’s plenty for wine lovers to explore. As well as the Valencia D.O. title, the Valencia region is also home to light sparkling cavas and rich fruity reds. The first name you’ll hear when researching Valencian wines is Utiel-Requena. This is the largest wine region in Valencia, with most of the local economy focused on grape-growing, and it’s easily the best known label. The area has a long and proud tradition, known to have been a winemaking region as far back the 7th century. The name comes from the two towns of Utiel and Requena, around which you can find a high concentration of vineyards. Many of them offer private guided tours and tastings, while wine tasting day trips exploring the area are popular. These can be organised through various tour operators in Valencia. It’s quite far from the city, some 80 km (50 miles) inland. If you only have time to visit one wine region while in Valencia, this is a good pick. The dreamy mountainous landscape, dotted with wineries and medieval villages, makes touring the area completely unforgettable. The towns of Utiel and Requena themselves are also worth a stop. Both are small, picturesque, walkable places with medieval architecture and, as you might expect, plenty of wine bars. Wines with the Valencia D.O. title are made in the fertile patches of land between the huerta, or market gardens surrounding the city, and the impressive mountain ranges that border the region. Exploring one or more of the several small regions producing wines with the Valencia D.O. is a great way to get out and see the region’s stunning countryside. If you can hire a car this makes a great independent road trip, or alternatively you can book a tour with specialist guides.
2. Grape varieties
3. Style of wines
The DO Alicante is the most historically celebrated of Valencia’s DOs due to the ancient fame of its Fondillón, a dessert wine based on Monastrell (Mourvèdre). Rio Vinalopó is a hot and dry valley that extends inland from the coastal city of Alicante. The western reaches abound in limestone and can hit elevations of up to 400 meters. Here, Monastrell dominates. Tiny La Marina lies in the east and effectively occupies a coastal outcropping, as a considerable amount of the region is surrounded by water. As such, the vineyards are lower in elevation and more humid. Moscatel (Muscat) is the most successful grape. Fondillón is an unusual creation. It is a non-fortified dessert wine made from super ripe Monastrell grapes that are occasionally dried in the sun. The wine is then aged for a minimum of 10 years, typically in a solera. Though quite sweet and oxidized, the wines tend to retain that notorious Monastrell structure well into old age. The DO Utiel-Requena is authorized to produce Cava, making it one of only a handful of areas outside Catalonia with such permission.
Nature – top 3 to visit in Valencia
Valencia – where there is something for every type of tourist
Valencia has many of the things that attracts tourists to Spain, all in one place: The city has a vibrant old centre, with a knot of little streets and splendid medieval buildings like the UNESCO-listed Lonja de la Seda. Valencia is also right on the Mediterranean, so you can laze on broad sandy beaches and tuck into delectable cuisine that draws on the sea.
1. La Albufera National Park – Dreamy nature where Paella was invented
Pure nature 10 km away from the city, dreamy sunsets, boat rides and being able to completely switch off for a while. Like an oasis surrounded by rice fields and forests. We are obviously talking about La Albufera in Valencia. You should visit it if you want to understand the origins of Valencian cuisine. Why? You might ask. Could there be any better reason than the place where paella was invented?
Visit El Palmar and try some typical dishes, such as all-i-pebre and llisa adobada. Savour food in a new way by learning about its origins. Take a stroll along six of the possible walking routes within the nature park, discover the water birds and plants, and have a true fishing experience in the largest lake area in Spain. You will want to come back for more.
2. Gorgo de la Escalera – Anna’s Stairway to Heaven
The Gorgo de la Escalera is a beautiful natural site near Anna’s town center, very close to the football field, where it appears as a large canyon sculpted by the waters of the river which is accessed through 136 steps. In its cold waters one can take a bath or simply relax and enjoy the landscape and the sound of the water that precipitates in the form of a waterfall in the depths of the ravine, once used for the production of electricityAlthough in high season – summer season – they charge you for the stay and parking of the car (a fee of just a few euros that is also valid for Lake Anna in case you want to visit the same day), it is worth the spend.
3. Muntanyeta dels Sants – As perfect as a painting
Known as the Muntanyeta dels Sants (Muntanyeta dels Sants de la Pedra) or also as Cerro de los Santos, this beautiful place is nestled in the Natural Park of La Albufera, in the municipality of Sueca and surrounded by rice paddies, a perfect place to enjoy unique views and a sunset on its terrace-viewpoint, next to the fountain. The best months to visit are the summer months before the harvesting of the rice paddies.