One of the most beautiful cities in all of Spain, Valencia has a well-deserved reputation for food, culture and music, as well as beaches and commercial activity. There are also some amazing festivals in Valencia. But the greater Valencia region has more to offer still, and I wanted to explore some of the best walking routes that will take you into the gorgeous countryside of Valencia, with its mountains, rivers and forests.
The Albufera Rice Trail is unsurprisingly in the Albufera National Park, about 15 kilometres from the city of Valencia, is a small enclave where natural beauty and environmental protection are held in the highest regard. Sand dunes, rice fields, beaches and forests can all be found in this diverse little eco-system, and it's a fantastic place to explore some of what Spain can offer away from the main tourist cities. You can also find the largest lake in Spain here, as well as 21,000 hectares of open land.
There is an information centre in the tiny town of El Palmar, right next to the nature reserve, and here you can find all the information of the walking routes, where they start, how long they are and more. The terrain in the area is sometimes flat and open, sometimes woody and hilly and everything in between. You'd be well advised to take good hiking gear here, and plenty of water as well!
The Pequenos Recorridos walking trails are a little further from the city (around 60 km), beginning in the small town of Requena. The routes here are even more wild than the Albufera National Park, and will really show you some of the wilderness scenery that Spain has to offer. I think it's actually quite rare for people to explore the inland areas of Spain, but when I first moved to Spain and was making the 5 hour journey from Madrid to my little city of historical Caceres, I drove through incredibly varied and beautiful landscapes and promised to myself that I would explore the inland areas more!
These walking routes are tucked up against the mountains in the area, and most of them circle around the hills and vineyards that make up the majority of the countryside here. There are short, medium and long routes here, and it's absolutely advisable either to take a reliable GPS with you, know how to read a map (and take one) or have a guide. The area is vast, pretty hard to navigate in and fairly easy to find yourself lost, so go prepared.
The beaches of Valencia city are great, as is the incredible food, but if you want to see the real Spain, my advice to always to get out of the city, and explore the remarkable countryside that is waiting for you just a short drive away in almost any and every part of Spain!
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