From Serra to Benitatxell: Off the Beaten Path in Spain
Most eager globe trotters would count Spain high on the list of must-see destinations. However, like many, I too made the mistake of spending my first trip to Spain solely in the tourist-laden streets of Barcelona.
Don’t get me wrong, Barcelona is an incredible city; vibrant, lively, creative and delicious. But I left feeling like somehow I’d missed out on something. It was only years later when I returned to explore Valencia and Alicante that I realized how accurate this feeling was.
Discover the other side of Spain
Approximately 350km south of Barcelona lies Spain’s third largest city, Valencia. A beautiful, historic city known for it’s signature paella, Valencia is too often overlooked for better-known Barcelona and Madrid.
Recent development has taken what was once the dried-up river El Turia and converted it into a beautiful park that runs 6km through the centre of the city. Whether you decide to watch los toros (the bulls) at the Plaza de Toros de Valencia, spend an afternoon walking through Old Valencia, or enjoy pintxos (bar snacks) at the local beach, this is a city that will impress and delight.
Explore the rich natural landscape
To the north of the city is a region laden with olive groves and orange trees. A quiet bike ride from Bétera to Serra takes you into the Parque Natural de la Sierra Calderona, one of Spain’s largest national parks. This region is spectacular to explore on a warm, clear day when you can enjoy uninterrupted sightlines. Serra sits atop the area’s mountain range, a perfect spot to grab a cold Estrella Damm beer and a bocata sandwich at the end of your tour.
Find the less-travelled beaches
An hour’s drive south of Valencia is El Poble Nou de Benitatxell, a region on the south-east coast of Spain that juts out towards the nearby island of Ibiza. This region is famous for it’s coastal cliffs and beautiful beaches.
Though a popular destination for nearby Spanish residents, the locale is still relatively untouched and unknown. Spend a lazy day unwinding in the sun, and – for the risk takers out there – cliff-jumping into the cool blue sea. One insider note: locals here know that all beaches are clothing-optional!
Next time you go…do Spain differently
There’s much more to Spain than meets the eye for those who never leave Barcelona. While only a few lesser-known highlights have been mentioned here, Spain holds a rich diversity of landscapes, languages, cultures and cuisine. So skip the standard tourist itinerary and do Spain differently next time.