Although the Comunitat Valenciana has three provinces, it’s usually the provinces of Valencia and Alicante that get all the attention. Valencia is the capital and third largest city in the Iberian Peninsula and it’s the province that has Bunyol, home of the famous Tomatina festival, among other great places. Alicante is home to Benidorm, which is trying to outdo Las Vegas as being the most artificial place on the planet, home to a lot of palm trees and a Christian versus Moors festival. At a guess, I’d say Alicante has more British people than Great Britain. Castellón is just one of the two random provinces of the Mediterranean that seperate Valencia and Barcelona (Tarragona is the other). Castellón is also the province where I worked 10 months in during 2010-2011 while I lived in Valencia (the village was actually closer to Valencia capital than Castellón capital.)
Castellón has a lot of unspoiled beauty (and an infamous airport that may never be used, but that’s neither hear nor there.) It has a lot of beautiful beaches, and it is also home to some beautiful mountains. Like Valencia, it has 300 days of sun a year but is a lot less touristy. While the capital city is nothing to write home about, the rest of the province makes a great holiday destination.
Peñíscola reminds me of a San Sebastián-Donostia, only smaller and even more quaint and precious. It even has its own film festival. Located almost in Catalunya, Peñíscola is so charming and beautiful that various films, including El Cid, have been filmed here. Although it is considered one of the most beautiful “pueblos” (villages) in Spain with a population of 8000 people, it’s technically a city thanks to Felipe V in the War of Spanish Succession. During the time of two popes, the Pope Benedict XIII (Papa de Luna) called the castle in Peñíscola his home. Although I was only here once on an excursion with my school, Peñíscola remains one of my favourite pueblos in all of Spain.
Morella is one of the hardest to reach villages I have ever been to, but I was not about to leave Comunitat Valenciana without visiting this medieval jewel. I had to wake up super early to take the Cercanías train to Castellón and then catch an early bus to Morella that took about two hours. It went through some of the most rural landscapes of País Valencia. The village (which has less than 3000 people living there) is built into a hill with a castle on the top and conserves its medieval streets and feel. Valenciano is definitely the language of the streets here, but they don’t mind if you speak Spanish. (I tried my valenciano, of course!) Every six years, they celebrate a Sexenni festival. Last celebrated in 2012, these festivals originally began to celebrate the fact that a statute of the Virgin Mary drove the black plague from the village.
Segorbe is a nice little village of 9000 people located between Valencia capital and Teruel, and I highly recommend stopping here along the way. There isn’t a lot to see, but there are some beautiful views if you’re wanting to climb. If you’re going by bus, however, I strongly urge you to ask the bus driver just where to catch the bus back to Valencia to avoid any confusion. I speak from experience after having unexpectedly to stay the night there because everyone in the town told me a different story about where to catch the bus to Valencia! I still think it’s a nice little village.
Coves de Sant Josep
Although La Vall d’Uixò seems like a sleepy little place, the small city does feature something incredible: The Saint Joseph Caves! These caves feature a navegable river around 5 km long. The Caves are some of the coolest I’ve seen, and I grew up visiting Mammoth Cave. The Coves de Sant Josep are definitely not as big, but there are worth a visit.
Villareal, the football (soccer) club that could
Villareal is a small city of 50,000 people that is like so many Spanish cities of its size. Industrial and not much to write home about. However, they do have one thing they can boast about. Their football team. In 1998, this small football club made its way to La Liga, the big boys, and found themselves playing against teams like the putrid, horrible Real Madrid and the amazing, awesome and fantastic Barcelona FC and València. (What? I’m not bias! Really!) Although they’ve made a few return visits to Second Division, they always find their way back to Primera División, where I think they belong. They’ve even made it to Champions a few times. I got the chance to visit their stadium, El Madrigal, to see them defeat Malaga. Amunt Vila-real!
Benicàssim (Yet to be truly discovered)
Benicàssim is a coastal village that attracts many Spanish tourists due to its beaches and music festivals. It’s located just 13 kilometres (7 miles) from the Castellón capital. It offers something for everyone, from hiking and biking trails to the beautiful beaches. I hope to visit soon.
25 kilometres (15 miles) from Castellón de la Plana, Vilafamés is another medieval mountain village with beautiful buildings, ermitas and a castle. It doesn’t have quite the fame as Morella, but it looks amazingly beautiful, and I’m going to have to make a visit there on my next trip to Castellón. As much as I try, there are just too many beautiful places in every part of Spain to be able to visit them all. That doesn’t stop me from trying!