Road Trips With Avis: Valencia
Costa del Azahar - Just Coasting
Discover the beaches and culture around Valencia with an Avis hire carSee wild flamingos and hilltop monasteries from the winding roads that run the length of the Costa del Azahar. The region's cool coastal towns have great food and even better water sports, while excellent golf courses and hidden vineyards lie in the amazing landscape of the rural interior.
Test drive this two-day road trip for the best of Valencia
Pick up your Avis hire car from Valencia Manises Airport and head east on the V-30 road to the monastery at El Puig and enjoy fine dining in Tortosa. After a beachside stroll in hip Benicassim you can explore the wine towns of Requena and Utiel, before hitting the coast again for walking and dining at rock-climbers' paradise, Calpe.
High points en routeEl Puig – A Walk in the Clouds
Drive up the east coast road and watch out for the Gothic El Puig de Santa Maria Monastery, with its towering view of the coastline. Stop off inside for a guided tour of its chapel and numerous artworks before an afternoon back on the coast. This is your first chance to get properly wet – head north to hire a jet-ski to cruise the sweeping beach at Peñíscola.
Paseo del Pilar Coloma, Benicassim – Life's a Beach
Spend a day exploring Benicassim's four miles of white-sand beaches, a short drive up the coastal road. The langoustines here are reputedly the best in Spain, so make sure you have a beach-front lunch and, of course, a siesta afterwards. Leave your rental car at the hotel for an evening's bar-hopping on the beachside Paseo del Pilar Coloma.
Hotel Castillo de La Zuda, Tortosa – King of the Castle
Now this is the life. Sitting in the smart dining room of a grand 10th-century castle, looking out over the medieval town of Tortosa with a plate of local speciality, arroz negro – rice cooked in squid ink, thick with onion and garlic. You can dine like a king at the historic Hotel Castillo de La Zuda before an afternoon of walking and wildlife among the flamingos of the Parc Natural del delta de L'Ebre.
Playa Restaurant, Calpe – Time for Auction
It’s another great drive down the east coast to Calpe. Stop off at the towering Penon de Ifach – the 330-metre outcrop just begs to be scaled. Sporty types may want to try their hand at rock-climbing, but there's a winding path to the summit, so anyone can enjoy the view. You'll need to build up an appetite for the afternoon – watch the chefs from the seafront restaurants bid for the freshest seafood at the famous fish auction and then have it cooked in front of you for dinner.
Free time on your hands? Take your pick from the following gems1. Club de Golf La Sella, Denia – Sport and Sunshine
Follow the coast all the way down to Denia. The tip of the Costa Blanca offers the best of both worlds – it has all the water sports and beach life of its southern neighbours, but none of the tourists. Dine on fresh seafood before swinging inland for 18 holes at the excellent La Sella Golf, a tricky course designed by Spanish superstar, José Maria Olazábal.
2. El Palmar – Bikes and Boats
Time for a more sedate form of travel. Take the coast road down to El Palmar, on the shore of Lake Albufera. It's up to you how you explore the Albufera Nature Park. Hire bikes and ride the miles of paths that wind trough the wetlands or take a boat trip out onto the lake. Either way, be back in El Palmar for dusk – it's time to try the local peppery local speciality, All i pebre – river eels!
3. La Matandeta, Alfafar – Paella Paradise
Everyone knows that Valencia does the best paella in Spain, but where can you eat the best paella in Valencia? Locals like to head out to the neighbouring town of Alfafar, where La Matandeta, a converted farmhouse on a small island in the paddy-fields, might just make the best
paella in the world. Valencians swear by the local cuttlefish version, but with ten different paellas (and 50 types of olive oil) to choose from, this might be somewhere you have to visit twice.
4. Terra Mitica, Benidorm – High Rollers
Benidorm has something for the adrenalin junkies among you – the Terra Mitica amusement park. Warm up on Europe's longest wooden rollercoaster before you try the big one – Tizona. Strap in, sit back and get ready for 360-degree spins and shooting along upside down at 100 kilometres an hour. If you need to recover, you're just minutes from some of Europe's most popular beaches.
5. El Serallo, Tarragona – Walk the Walls
It's another fantastic drive along the length of the Costa del Azahar to the ancient walled city of Tarragona. Ditch the car and explore the five-mile Passeig Arqueologic on foot as it winds its way in and out of the city, before dinner in the city's fishing district, El Serallo. Here you can choose from more than a dozen restaurants serving up tapas and seafood specialities.