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Jardins del Turia
Stretching 9km, this unique park is surrounded by ancient walls in the old riverbed of the Turia. The river was prone to flooding and in 1957, the city decided to divert it, leaving a fertile riverbed that was quickly converted into a lush stretch of greenery. The trenched nature of the river creates a peaceful refuge for Valencians to escape the city, losing themselves in the park’s gardens, sports pitches and playgrounds.

Parc Natural de l’Albufera
The centrepiece of this nature reserve is the enormous lagoon of Albufera. Surrounded by pine trees and rice fields, leave city life behind and stroll through its forests or relax on an empty beach. And be sure to take a dip in the invigorating freshwater lagoon. Perhaps more significantly, this is allegedly the place where paella was born. So head down to one of the inviting waterside restaurants in the fishing villages of El Palmar or El Perellonet, right in the heart of the nature reserve, and get stuck into a delicious seafood treat. At only 40 minutes by bus from Valencia city, it’d be rude not to.

Step back in time in this quaint little town, about an hour to the southwest of Valencia city. Set at the foot of a hill straddled by a massive castle, Xàtiva dates back to Roman times when it was famous for its silk fabrics. The local museum commemorates the moment King Philip V ordered the town to be burned by hanging his portrait upside down. Explore the narrow, meandering streets before walking up to the well-preserved castle, its extensive grounds including gardens, prisons and lavish living quarters. Best of all, you’ll get some spectacular views of the town and surrounding countryside from this vantage point.

La Devesa beach
The Costa Blanca is famous for its fantastic beaches and there are plenty of resorts both north and south of Valencia. But it can be hard to avoid the crowds as most of the beaches are easily accessible from the capital. However, few tourists make the trip to La Devesa – also confusingly known as La Dehesa – which is a short bus ride or a half-hour walk from the city. Take the ‘Yellow Bus’, departing from the train station, to Perello; tickets cost €1.20 (about 99p). The walk, through a secluded pine forest and past a small lake, is worth the journey before you even reach the golden, clean sands and warm waters of the beach. Bordered by lush forests and near Albufera Lake, this is a truly stunning location. Head to the right at the beach and join the nudists, or stick to the left if you don’t fancy airing your wares. If you prefer a beach with a bit more life, just get off the bus slightly earlier at the well-served resort of El Saler.

Words: Azzam Alkadhi ❚


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