Located in the city of Elche, Valencia (Province) this palm grove, called El Palmeral, has been on my Spanish travel bucket list for ages. It´s hard to imagine 200 000 palms in the heart of Europe. Let me walk you through the exotic palm forest, which has been a part of Elche´s unique urban landscape for over a 1000 years.
*This post has been updated on May 7, 2020
Visiting Elche, Valencia
The city of Elche, Valencia (Province) is a small town located in the Spanish region of Alicante. It can be visited on a day trip from Valencia, Alicante, or Murcia. I personally prefer traveling by car in this case (especially since starting from January 1, 2o20 the toll road AP-7 Tarragona-Valencia-Alicante is free), but you can also head to Elche by train (check Renfe.com website).
Also read: Top Valencia Day Trips by train
While there are quite a few interesting sights in Elche, the city’s star-attraction is definitely The Palm Grove of Elche. This place absolutely belongs on the lists of the otherworldly landscapes in Spain and the top Spanish landmarks. You might expect to come across an oasis while heading to the Middle East, but perceiving with your own eyes 200 000 palms in Elche, Valencia is not something easy to forget.
The Palm Grove of Elche
With more than 200,000 trees, the Palm Grove of Elche (El Parmeral in Spanish) is the largest in Europe and was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. As seen from a distance it may appear to be a palm forest, while it is actually a plantation with agriculture purposes. Each of the groves is flanked by rows of palm trees in such a way that when viewed from the air, they form a grid pattern.
The origins of the Palm Grove date back to the X century when the Arabs relocated the city to its current site. The Moorish cultivation methods employed in Elche centuries ago have survived to the present day.
More things to do in Elche, Valencia
1. Take a walk through The Town Park of Elche
Not many city parks around the world look like The Town Park of Elche, Valencia (Parque Municipal in Spanish). This oasis of greenery in the heart of the city is a sort of an open-air museum where you can rest in the shadow of the local palms. Don´t miss the windmill, the Park Museum, and the Rotonda.
A walk through The Town Park of Elche, Valencia reminded me of Spain´s magical forests. While it was extremely hot outside – strolling down the park´s alleys was quite pleasant. Honestly, I´ve never realized palms would have such a refreshing effect on me. Moreover, the park had some rare palm species, so a simple walk ended up being a cultural visit as well.
2. Visit The Basilica of Santa Maria
Head to the top of The Santa Maria Basilica: the views are simply stunning. However, keep in mind you´ll need to walk your way up and it´s a lot of stairs, so this might not be a match for everyone.
If visiting Elche, Valencia in August don’t miss Misterio de Elche, a unique theatrical and musical performance dating back to the 15th century.
3. Huerto del Cura Garden
Huerto del Cura Garden features palm trees from around the world, beautifully laid out and combined with other plants. This places is known for its calm and serene atmosphere
4. The Archaeology and History Museum of Elche
If you’d like to learn more about the region´s history don’t miss The Archaeology and History Museum of Elche (or Museo Arqueologico y de Historia de Elche in Spanish).
The most iconic symbol of the city is La Dama de Elche (The Lady of Elche) – one of the most famous sculptures in the world. It is currently kept in the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid. However, during the inauguration of The Archaeology and History Museum of Elche, the bust was back in its hometown for almost 6 months, where the Lady of Elche was valued at 15 million euros (for insurance purposes).
5. Beaches near Elche
While I do not mention the region of Elche, Valencia (Province) on the list of my best beaches in Spain (it´s quite touristy), there are few amazing beaches you can enjoy withing a 20-min driving distance: Arenales Del Sol, El Carabassi, El Pinet, La Marina, and Les Pesqueres-El Rebollo, and El Altet.
Palms of Elche: Photo Gallery
To feed your inner nature lover I´m leaving you more photos of palms and nature in Elche, Valencia.