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Things to do in Valencia
You don’t need any more than two wheels to explore Valencia city – which has 150km of cycle lanes. Beyond the city the whole Valencia region offers some really good biking. For flat esplanades, you might be content pedalling along the Costa Blanca coast. For something with a little more bite, head inland. The Vuelta de España (Spain’s answer to the Tour de France) often tackles Alicante’s limestone crags during its annual race, but you don’t need to be sponsored by Sky to enjoy the Costa Blanca mountains. Well maintained, winding roads thread between the mountains, whilst off-road routes follow 2,000 year old mule trails up the hills.
Lovely hikes abound in the Alicante province. In the pockmarked hills and sun-baked barrancs (gorges), you can hike a whole day and not see another soul. Valley walks climb up past old ice houses and tip-toe around Mediterranean orchids. Red squirrels cling to the sides of Aleppo pines – the only observer on your morning ascent. There are popular hotspots along the way: the Algar Waterfalls and Guadalest village both bus in tourists, but hike to each of these out of season and you could get them all to yourself. Some popular bases for hiking include villages like Tarbena and Quatretondeta, and the Marina Alta region, with its network of pretty valleys. You could hike from a single base, or guide yourself through a larger stretch of the Costa Blanca mountains on a rewarding hut-to-hut hike.
Yoga holidaysAnd… relax. Treat yourself to a yoga retreat in the Valencia countryside. You’ll do a few hours of yoga a day – normally a morning and afternoon session, with plenty of time in between to absorb your surroundings. The Valencia region is biodiverse and beautiful; there’s plenty here to inspire you to abandon your stresses. Many yoga retreats take advantage of the fertile local soil, and offer exclusively vegetarian and vegan cuisine. With locally-grown produce from persimmons to figs and avocados, you’ll find menus offering far more than just veggie paella – being kind to the environment never tasted so good. Put your fork to a delicate home-made almond cake, and leave room in your suitcase for made-from-scratch granola and quality local olive oil. Have a wholesomely holistic holiday.
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Whilst Spanish authorities are busy coaxing Stag Dos down from lamp posts in Benidorm, consider staying in a casa rurale instead. These country cottages are often formerly abandoned properties – perhaps old farm houses or labourers’ cottages. Tourism has given them a new lease of life, but they still offer a humble, simple way of living. Though close to local amenities, they sit in rustic settings – perhaps looking out over almond or olive groves. They’ll be traditionally furnished, and offer a humble, slow travel side to Valencia with high responsible tourism credentials – think home-made laundry soap, low-energy light bulbs, and modest water supplies heated by solar power. A casa rurale can be a great base for an active holiday, or a wonderful setting for your next retreat. Pack your sketchpad: a visit from the local bread delivery van, or maybe a golden eagle sighting, will be your only distractions all morning.
More Valencia articles
If you want to visit Valencia in time for its famous Fallas festivities then you’ll need to arrive in mid-March.
The Valencia region is one of the sunniest eastern regions of Spain and its three provinces share a penchant for festivals.
Perfect paella, freshly squeezed orange juice, abundant seafood and omnipresent almonds are on your Valencian plate.
V is for Valencia and also for variety, and the two go hand in hand.
You don’t have to go anywhere near Benidorm; travel inland, and travel off season, cycling on quiet roads along riversides.