Check these 10 places in the Province of Valencia you´ve never heard of. Driven by my passion for the off-the-beaten-track locations in Spain, I’m starting a new Blog Series dedicated to the hidden gems in different Spanish Provinces. .
10 Places in Valencia You’ve Never Heard Of: Part 1
Local travels and life so far
This year might be internationally called “a year of local travels” (or “no-travels- at-all year”, but I prefer the first one). Due to the current global situation, moving around internationally is tricky: countries constantly change stay-at-home restrictions, close and open up their borders… Don´t get me wrong, we all should take precautions and avoid unnecessary risks, but I also do realize that time is passing by.
So if you at least try to live by the rule “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away”, these are the hard times for your adventurous soul. Not being able to expose yourself to the new and the unknown, being closed up, dragged into your daily routine, losing your freedom of movement – all this never improved anyone´s mental health. Traveling virtually and exploring gorgeous coffee table books – might feed your travel bug for a while, but it´s only a temporary remedy.
Therefore, in my family, we´ve currently placed all of our bets on local travels across Spain. Mostly, it´s all about Spanish road trips, nature escapes, hikes, off-the-beaten-track sights: anywhere we can go to avoid the crowds, but still keep experiencing and learning. I´m also back on Instagram @at_lifestyle_crossroads, where you can find more photo reports from the recent trips and lots of real-time stories on the road.
So how about all the less-touristy places I´ve recently discovered in the Province of Valencia? This post is going to have quite a few parts before we can move to another province ( as The Valencian Community has been my home region for almost 15 years) – so subscribe and stay tuned for future adventures! Follow the blog series Valencia Hidden Gems.
For more Valencia travel ideas you can also check my posts:
- The Best Day Trips From Valencia
- Top Valencia Day Trips by train
- Top 10 Places to Visit in The Province of Castellon
- Historical Valencia: The Borgia Route in Spain
- Beautiful villages of Valencia: Bocairente
- Xativa, Spain: A Castle in the Clouds near Valencia
10 Secret Places You Should Visit in the Province of Valencia
1. Santuario de la Virgen de Balma /Zorita del Maestrazgo
Santuario de la Virgen de Balma is a small sanctuary carved in a rock and located near the village of Zorita del Maestrazgo in the Province of Castellon. This place is actually situated nearby Morella, one of the dreamiest castles in Spain.
To start with, the sanctuary has given me some real goosebumps. Built between the XVI and XVIII centuries, it is nestled in the rock in the middle of nowhere. Back in the Middle Ages, Santuario de la Virgen de Balma used to be an ultimate destination for those “possessed by the Devil”. People would come to Santuario de la Virgen de Balma in search of the Divine Healing and the miracle cure. Even though most of those searching for the Holy treatments had illnesses modern medicine now has clear names for (like epilepsy, for instance), back then they were simply doomed.
Many centuries after there are still some creepy vibes in the air …
2. Castillo de Benisanó
This Castle of Benisano is another one of the lesser-known sights in the Province of Valencia.
The most peculiar detail you might notice about this place is the coat of arms with 2 girls and someone pulling their hair.
According to a local legend the French king Francis I was defeated in Pavia and taken to the castle of Benisanó as a prisoner. Due to his honorable royal status, he was treated as a guest by Lord of Cavanillas, a noble owner of the Benisano castle. However, during one of the banquets both of his daughters refused to dance with Francis I, as he was an enemy of the Spanish Crown. Their father was so angered that he dragged them both by the hair to the dance floor with the words “La superbia de vos matará amos e dos” ( eng. your pride will get you both killed).
This phrase also appears on the capital of the noble Hall and reinforces this legend.
3. El Rivet Forest / Benassal
El Rivet forest is located near the small town of Benassal (which we’ve visited a while ago for the Hazelnut Gastronomic Weeks). It’s such a beautiful natural setting we’ve somehow overlooked so far.
My kids have been lately obsessed with fairy books of Cicely Mary Barker (ok, I admit I enjoy them too). So, El Rivet was simply a brief stop we made on the road for a quick walk into the woods in order to search for fairies. Although we loved it so much that we´ll be back for a family picnic anytime soon.
This place belongs on my list of the Magical Forests in Spain and the best part about it – there was no one around, so we could enjoy this enchanted landscape and the nature sounds with no soul around.
4. Barranco de la Valltorta / Tirig
Barranco de la Valltorta is a beautiful natural setting where you’ll find a museum and can visit caves with Levantine art.
5. Ruta de los Olivos Milenarios / Canet lo Roig
Ruta de Los Olivos Milenarios or The Millenary Olive Trees Route – this hike has already been featured on my blog quite a few times. It is absolutely one of the incredible otherworldly landscapes in Spain taking you back to Roman times.
Nevertheless, it has recently come on my radar again as we plan to do this route with the kids to show them the impressive Olive trees from Roman times, plus it is an easy family-friendly hike (one of the coolest trails in Castellon). The only drawback is that there´s nowhere to hide from the sun, so we´ll wait for the Autumn months to make it happen.
6. Parc Miner del Maestrat / Culla
The old iron mines of Para Miner del Maestrat is one of the coolest secret places to visit in the Province of Valencia for families: my kids enjoyed it a lot. Although it’s an interesting experience for the adults as well. Especially, if you never visited a mine before or love geology and caves.
- You MUST book your visit in advance, as the group number is limited and you’ll go inside with a guide
- Wear comfortable shoes but NOT the white ones (still cleaning out the orange color from my trainers)
- Google maps will lead you the wrong way: if you see the sign “Acceso al Parque Minero a 2,3 km direccion Torrre d´En Besora” – this is where you DON’T turn despite what Google might suggest you. After you reach the nearest village of La Torre d’En Besora, you’ll see the signs indicating the road to the Mines. 🪧
7. The route of the hanging bridges of Chulilla
Most people visit the Province of Valencia in search of beautiful beaches and sandy coastlines. Therefore, you’ll be surprised to find out that there are actually are many amazing hikes in Valencia nature lovers simply can’t miss. The route of the hanging bridges of Chulilla is definitely one of them.
With Valencia’s generally plain and dry landscape panorama, you just never expect to encounter a hidden oasis of greenery somewhere in the province. You can check more details&tips here.
8. The Palace of the Counts of Cervello / Anna
Valencia´s secret Alhambra or The Palace of the Counts of Cervello was built in the 17th-century over the ruins of Anna Castle. Keep in mind you need to book your visit to The Palace of the Counts of Cervello in advance (by calling Anna´s Tourist Office). Only guided visits are allowed. We were lucky to book just a day before, but it was in the offseason.
You can combine your cultural visit to the city of Anna with a picnic or stroll at Albufera de Anna lake.
9. Coves del Bata / Paterna
The Bata caves or Coves del Bata is the eye-catching location from the last Pedro Almodovar´s movie “Dolor y Gloria” with Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas.
With the Paterna tower on the backdrop, this unique urban setting is represented by 8 cave-houses with a total surface of 450 square meters.
The Bata caves were recently acquired and restored by the local government in order to commemorate the town´s traditional heritage. Inside you´ll find the exposition with objects, recreating a real life of a working-class, who inhabited the caves in the 50-60s.
10. Mascarell / Nules
Mascarell is the only fully walled-off village in the Valencian Community. It has less than 200 inhabitants and the origins of this small town can be traced back to the times of the Spanish Reconquista.
Back when the Moorish population of the nearest Burriana was expulsed and settled on the border between Nules and Burriana (Mascarell). While the only sights are the Town Hall, the local Church, and the walls, Mascarell is an interesting quick stop on the road and one of the secret places in the Province of Valencia even many locals have never heard of.