- Costa Azahar
Situated within Valencia just north of the Costa Blanca, Castellón the northernmost province is known as Costa del Azahar or the Orange Blossom Coast. While many of Spain’s costas have been overdeveloped and lost much of their original Spanish feel, Valencia and its 300-mile Mediterranean coast has managed to maintain much of its original identity, though the building boom may be beginning in select areas.
The relatively undeveloped Costa del Azahar has become a haven for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life, without losing any of its conveniences. The beaches along this coast are among the best in the country and the waters are clear and warm. Away from the orange groves of the coast, the interior landscape is mountainous and offers all types of outdoor activities. Within this lovely region surrounded by acres of orange groves and protected by the mountains, you’ll find the two neighbouring villages of Las Fuentes and Alcossebre just north of Valencia.
Steeped in history and full of charm, the contrasts of this region are a result of its geographical layout. Although the capital is called Castelló de la Plana or “Castelló of the plains”, in fact the province has more mountainous areas than flat ones.
The most northerly point Vinaros and Benicarlo are key fishing ports of the area supplying the local restaurants daily with fresh seafood such as prawns and date mussels.
When in a region so rich in history and monuments, one should take time out to see the Castillo de Peñíscola (Peñíscola Castle), a 13th century castle built in a Romanesque style and situated on the highest point in the town. The castle was built by the Templars on the remains of an old Arab citadel, and constructed with stone work walls. The majority of the rooms have barrel arch roofs. After his transfer to Peñíscola in 1411, the Papa Luna converted the castle into pontifical palace and library.
Declared a World Heritage site in 1924, don’t miss the Cova del Cavalls and its cave paintings. Cave painting sites have been declared World Heritage sites by UNESCO, and the works of the prehistoric period from the Mediterranean Basin in eastern Spain are one of the largest collections of cave painting art in all of Europe.
Of course with more than 300 days of sunshine each year, the fine sandy beaches of the Costa del Azahar are not to be missed including Sud de Benicassim, La Conxa, Sud de Penyiscola (Peñíscola) and more.
For golf enthusiasts, try the 18 hole Golf & Country Club Panoramica , Club de Golf Costa de Azahar (a 9 hole course right on the coast) or Club de Campo del Mediterráneo in Borriol.
HOW TO GET THERE
There are flights to Valencia airport and Reus being an hour south and north respectively, but most often people fly into Alicante Airport in the north due to its greater choice of flights.
Barcelona, approximately two to three hours away, is always a reliable alternative.
Depending on your final destination in the region, discount airline Ryanair flies to Reus from London Stansted and Luton. Discount airline EasyJet also flies to Valencia from London Gatwick or Bristol, and to Barcelona from a variety of UK cities.