Albufera is home to Spain's largest lake, an important wetland area with rare wading bird species, & rich wildlife varieties. A place of fishermen and rice growers, & source for many traditional local dishes such as Paella, and Arroz a Banda; also All i Pebre with eels from the lake. Sample the food at small town restaurants; boat trips onto the lake may be arranged too.
El Saler has rolling sand dunes alongside Pine woodlands that separate Albufera from the Mediterranean Sea. Clear waters & beautiful beaches (including some clothing-optional areas at Pinedo Beach), plus a premier golf course that ranks among the world's top 50. All within easy reach of downtown Valencia, by car or 20-25 minutes by "yellow bus" from terminal at C/ Alicante between North Station and the Bullring. Stops at the beach in summer months - otherwise a short walk from El Saler center.
Stunning scenery, sights, sounds, tastes of real Spain at edge of the Sierra Mariola National Park, Valencia. Casa Mariola B&B in 600 yr-old house, 4 en-suite bedrooms, suite with terrace, dining room with terrace and lounge room. Views of the Ermita del Santo Cristo (hermitage). Picnic, read a book, lie by the pool or sit and enjoy leisurely meals and glasses of wine in this medieval hill-top town of Bocairent. Walking, swimming, cycling, fishing, horse riding, rock climbing, and hot air ballooning are other options.
Chucilla, in verdant highlands of Turia River is one hour's drive northwest of Valencia city: a more traditional, unspoilt Spain, among the most picturesque villages of the Serrania del Turia region. Natural springs feed into streams & rivers, carving canyons through pine-clad mountains. Walking, fishing and rock climbing; secluded pools for swimming. Ancient villages, Moorish castles; winding streets, shady squares, and history around every corner. La Casa Serana has five bedrooms, each with distinct decor; terrace views, airport transfers, breakfast, and WiFi for 50 euros per night (as of 05/2011).
Public homosexuality in Valencia reminds one of homoerotic styles in America before Stonewall. There's active gay cruising in the Turia (Valencia's dry riverbed park), in the Royal Gardens, and in plazas near the train station and the university (especially in the Tossal plaza in El Carmen, and around the fountain at the plaza of the Virgin). Look for t-room cruising at the train and central bus stations and other public facilities. Add to that the action at peep shows and porn cinemas near the train station and also near the Plaça de l'Ajuntament (City Hall Square). After dark in neighborhood parks one can have the occasional encounter. The three saunas, and several sex clubs and bars with dark rooms, much as elsewhere, have become the cruising place of choice for many Valencian men. See our listings for details.
Casa Rural San Miguel, Cami del Merlich, Ador, northwest of Valencia City, easy drive to beautiful beaches, welcoming all sunshine and wildlife lovers to relax and enjoy the Mediterranean climate. Rural Gay House has six fully-equipped houses located in the Spanish countryside, from just 40 euros/day. Amenities include squash court, swimming pool with solarium and a peaceful area for lunch or dinner. English, Spanish, Dutch and German spoken. Phone: 34 961 022 089, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Of wine and song -- a fiesta to sample local wines is the bacchanal of Requena (Fiesta de la Vendimia), held during the grape harvest at at the end of August. It's a short train ride up mountains and through tunnels, just northeast of the city. At every corner in Requena's old town there are booths with wine. As locals of all ages parade around the streets, joining in ancient dances and songs, the wine gets shot down the throats of revelers from glass carafes. Some people arrive on the train from Valencia with with wine glass in hand.
A popular day trip from Valencia, cheap and easy, 30 minutes north by train from downtown: the walled settlement founded by 5th century BC Celtiberians atop a hill. Cyclopean limestone slabs survive from the old temple of Diana. Greeks, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Roman once influenced or ruled here. Under Muslim Arabs the city prospered as part of the Caliphate of Cordoba, a splendid era of 500 years when baths, palaces, mosques and schools were built in the city, known for it's cosmopolitan population. Captured by James I of Aragon in 1238, Sagunt declined as Valencia grew.
Sights: Ruins of the Citadel on top of the hill retain much of the walled ramparts from Roman and Moorish periods. A Roman theater, partly restored in the late twentieth century, is located on the northern slope of the citadel hill. The Gothic Esglèsia de Santa Maria in the Plaça Major. The Palau Municipal, or town hall, 18th century building with neoclassical façade.
In July and August, the "Festival d'Estiu-Sagunt a Escena" brings dance and music to the old roman theater here.
Clothing-optional, mostly nude area, north from the foot of hills overlooking Cullera, about a half-hour walk up the sand, just beyond single condo tower within the protected seashore. Or walk 20 minutes south into the protected dunes (Parque Natural de la Albufera), from condo towers of Mareny Blau. Easy-to-spot group, all-ages mix of families, gay men, and straight couples. Sand dunes are crossed by wooden foot-bridges from parking area inland. Quiet most days, it gets crowded on hot summer weekends with a mostly local Spanish crowd escaping the heat of inland towns and city of Valencia.
By car, take Avinguda del Dosel off route CV-502, Carrer del Far (Calle del Faro) north from Cullera. Alternately, take the hourly train from Valencia to Cullera (under 4 euros). Taxi from station to Playa del Dosel, or take the bus north to El Faro (the lighthouse) - then walk 30 minutes north along the shore. Take sun block, a hat and/or an umbrella -- especially if pale of skin. Chinguitos (beach cafes) at Playa del Dosel and Sant Llorenç sell food and drinks in summer months - attractive nude waiter at the latter. Water is clean, pleasant and usually calm. Link below shows approximate map location - but zoom in, satellite-view, to area south of google's pin, to find the cluster of a hundred parked cars by 3 small ponds, next to the foot-bridges over the dunes, for the true location.
March 19 is the climax for annual events in the weeks leading up a big night of La Cremà bonfires, with daily mascletas (fireworks) that are surely the loudest on earth. In addition to the official mascleta, 2pm daily in Plaça de l'Ajuntament, there are fireworks in every park and neighborhood -- going on in later days until about 4am, then starting over at 8am, with serious small children who saunter down the streets tossing firecrackers into doorways, to begin the daily cycle of blasts again. Parties in the neighborhods, also until 4am, include loud traditional & rock music, dancing, & feasting on paellas cooked over fires in the streets. Parades in traditional costumes & local bands wend their way through the streets, and join to form huge processions at the center - which is closed to traffic (even buses don't pass). Many other events include religious festivities to honor Joseph and Mary, fire parades, guests from around Spain, a medieval marketplace, bull-fights, street musicians, and towering figures in the streets and squares all over the city to amuse and entertain with satire and irony, poking fun at life and the rich and powerful - before all goes up in flames around midnight the last day. Next day it's all gone, suddenly very quiet, and Valencia is ready for springtime (and soon the big Easter celebrations).
Xativa, in the Region of Valencia, has been inhabited since pre-history. From the stone age until today civilisations including Iberians, Carthaginians, Romans and Moors have left their traces. The seat of an early Christian bishopric, it was from here the Borgia popes, Calixtus & Alexander came. Noble palaces, renaissance buildings, churches and numerous fountains here date from the Borgia period. At the time of the Kingdom of Valencia, Xativa, and its magnificent castle, ranked second only to the city of Valencia. Today Xativa has a wide selection of restaurants, and a theatre where drama, ballet, opera and concerts are performed.
Casa Aldomar B&B, Bosch 11, near the Basilica & Market Square in the Old Quarter, was originally a silk weaver's house. Four rooms, spacious patio, breakfast, AC & heat, WiFi throughout, reasonable prices.