A gorgeous historic hotel, actually situated on the beach.
A local place to meet friends for a cerveza or tapas on the terrace. Also has a fine restaurant. The hotel balconies have hammocks to laze on, facing the blue Med. Bliss.
The location is absolutely perfect, just next to the Cathedral on the very central Plaza de la Virgen. Lots of quiet little streets and great restaurants in the vicinity, it is the ever charming Barrio del Carmen district.
The central B&B only has two or three guest rooms, which means the proprietors take an hour or so to point out their favorite sights and restaurants on a map.
Breakfast in this wonderfully restored Victorian townhouse is very, very rich and the variety is breathtaking.
Small touches that make a stay perfect: a bottle of champagne popped when entering the door, a selection of teas for the guests' convenience at all times, two large lounge rooms for guests, and beautiful art and antiques throughout the entire house. It is just lovely.
I was in Valencia last year in Valencia, and I fell in love with the place. It's very beautiful, and not so big like Madrid or Barcelona. I was doing a Spanish course in a school called Taronja. Very good classes, teachers, facilities. It's all decorated by Valencian artists that's why the school looks very different. I encourage you to visit Valencia and, if it is possible the school. It was a very nice stay. I really enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere.
I want to thank Marie-José, Adela (they were both great as teachers) and Fernando (for twice cooking delicious paella.)
calle Convento Santa Clara, 10, 1ª
+34 96 325 85 45
I was recommended Tailor-Made Tours by a friend. We have been to Spain quite a few times on weekend breaks but our weekend in Valencia was the best. We were met at our hotel by an English teacher who had been living in Valencia for five years. He took us on a great tour, telling us about the sights and answering our questions. We were taken down streets that looked like dead ends, he took us to some fantstic bars that we would never had discovered on our own. We were recommended places to eat in the evening and the insider information on the best, most authentic paella in Valencia.
Really it was more that a tour as it was an introduction to Valencia by someone who knows it like the back of his hand. We were told where to go and when to go there. Some streets that looked dead during the day were full of life and bars in the evening.
Great value for money as it really made our weekend.
Valencia is perfect for budget travellers - most of the best sights and most impressive buildings are free to poke around, so you can conduct your own architectural tour, with plenty left over for some paella!
Start at Valencia Cathedral, a mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles (with the 'Holy Grail' tucked inside!), and then head to the Palau de la Generalitat, a Gothic palace used by the local government, with elaborately tiled floors and frescoed walls.
Other must-see sights include La Lonja, a grand Late Gothic hall filled with grisly gargoyles and other grotesqueries, and the Colegio del Patriarca, a 16th century seminary adorned with religious frescoes.
Valencia Cathedral, Plaza de la Reina,
Palau de la Generalitat, www.gencat.cat/generalitat/eng/guia/palau/index.htm
La Lonja, Plaza de la Virgen, Valencia
Colegio del Patriarca, Nave 1, Valencia 46002
Looking for something free to do? Valencia has several large public parks and gardens which are great places for a quiet stroll or a scenic picnic.
The pretty Jardin Botanico is home to 7,000 species of shrubs and trees, and the Italian-style Monforte Gardens are filled with marble statues and beautiful flowerbeds. The Jardines de Rio Turia was once a river, but is now a strip of gardens, sports fields and playground, with a world-class concert hall smack bang in the middle.
Monforte Gardens, Plaza de la Legión Española, Valencia, V 46010 Spain
Botanic Gardens, Calle Quart 80, Valencia 46008
Jardines de Rio Turia, Antiguo cauce del Turia
Forget forking out for the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, this cathedral is free to visit and is just as much of an architectural jumble.
Work started on the cathedral in 1262, resulting in a building that ranges from Romanesque to Gothic, so it's a fascinating place to wander around. Take a trip up the Miguelete Bell Tower, a city landmark, or check out the a cup believed to be the Holy Grail.
These aren't the most scenic beaches in Spain; two former fisherman’s districts transformed in the 1960s into a slightly ugly urban sprawl - but there's still plenty of sand, a promenade of palm trees and the deep blue sea.
There are still a few traditional houses tucked along the mile-long esplanade, and the Paseo de Neptuno is a great place to pick up some cheap Paella.
For a quieter beach a little further afield, try Saler.
Take the tram from Pont de Fusta (opposite Torres de Serranos in Barrio del Carmen).
The Museo De Bellas Artes is a great free museum. Tucked away in the 19th century suburbs of the city, it costs nothing to gawp at 2,000 paintings by artists such as Goya, Velazquez and several other important Valencian artists from the 14th-19th centuries.
The building itself, a former seminary built between 1683 and 1744, is also pretty spectacular.
Calle de San Pío X 9
46017 Valencia, Spain
+34 963 870 300
Valencia manages to be both super chic and cheap, with a glut of boutique hostels and budget accommodation in the city center.
But the ABC B&B is no backpacker's crash pad; me and my partner stayed in this small bed and breakfast run by a young couple, and the rooms are minimalist and super modern - all whitewashed brick walls, futuristic furniture and plasma TV screens on the wall. There was even a mini Apple Mac in our room!
Despite the super-cool exterior, the owners have just returned from travelling as a couple, and so offer a load of homely extras perfect for a budget romantic break, like breakfast in bed and a bottle of Cava in your room. The original building is also a beautiful old apartment with huge balconies overlooking the city.
It can be difficult to find somewhere cheap and romantic, but the ABC more than delivered. There are only a couple of rooms, so it's easy to get to know the other guests, and you're just around the corner from one of the main squares.
Calle del Taquígrafo Martí 10, Valencia, Spain 46005
Benicassim is a must for a festival-goer, particularly as you are almost guaranteed great weather, an excellent line-up, access to the nearby beach, and festivities continuing late into the night.
If you aren't lucky enough to book one of the apartments in the local area (they are often booked up months in advance), then the camping areas have blackout awnings set up to protect tents from the early morning sun. My main advice to anyone going would be to get to the campsite early enough to bag a spot under the awning if you don't want to be woken up by the blazing heat shortly after you have headed back to your tent! Remembering to pack an eye mask and some earplugs will help you get some sleep.
Avon's Skin So Soft Dry Oil body spray is also supposed to be one of the best insect and mosquito repellents around, so it could be worth stocking up on this before heading off.
If you're over 25 and like to party hard (festival starts at 8pm, winds up around 5am with the main acts on at 1am) but still value a few good hours shut-eye do yourself a favour and rent an apartment. They're not cheap for what they are - approx 200euros each for a week in Beni for a two twin bed, one lounge apartment with sofa bed and a balcony. However you won't regret it because;
1) day time temperature regularly tops 35/38 degrees. No one can sleep in that, especially under canvas in the sun.
2) In said temperature, a proper and private shower is a wonderful thing (albeit camping showers are remarkably good too).
3) you can chill your beer/water in the fridge/freezer.'Nuff said
4) you can relax in your own personal shade between festival/swims. If you camp, you need to find any bit of shade in town you can - you will see campsite refugees scattered in any bit of shade around parks/beach town.
5) you can make your money go further by cooking at home
If however you do decide to camp, bear in mind the following:
1) Buy a beach umbrella on the first day - approx 10-15 euros on the beach and will be a godsend - it can be errected by your tent for daytime snoozing, or on the beach to prevent sunstroke.
2) Campsite toilets are cleaned frequently and excellent compared with UK festivals
3) Take a couple of decent swimsuits/bikinis - easiest to have a shower in, and you will wear nothing but this in any daylight hours you're awake in
4) ear plugs. Get them free from the festival or bring your own unless you want Surrey's finest students keeping you awake all night
A final word on getting out of Benicassim. You need to fly into Valencia, Barcelona or Alicante and train/bus down. Highly recommend Valencia as closest with best connections. If you can, ensure you have one night in valencia on the way back. The bus (most reliable) is notoriously packed and it can take literally four hours to queue up to get on a bus to make the 40min odd journey. Don't even think about getting the train no matter how early - it's a massive crush, desperately hot and uncomfortable.
I highly recommend La Llantia Dorada (Golden Tear) for a relaxed and enjoyable evening of good interesting food.
Tucked on a little street just off the Plaza de la Virgen (blink and you'll miss it), the menu is an eclectic fusion of flavours, Mediterranean, Asian and Caribbean.
We went for the Menú Degustación, excellent value at 25€ a head (including an aperitif and a bottle of house wine per couple Monday to Thursday) six interesting and tasty courses started with a delicious little soup and then a salad whose main ingredient was a wonderfully smoky Tandoori style chicken. The main courses include such delights as a Caribbean style fish lasagna with vegetables and avocado, and a chicken dish with star anise and basmati rice. But each week brings new surprises.
The wine list is small but the house wine is very drinkable, and in addition to the free bottle offer, there is also the offer Monday-Thursday of you paying 2.50€ for your first glass and they keep topping you up throughout the meal at no extra charge. Minimum order is one main course per person. Thursdays there is live music to accompany your meal.
The lunchtime deal is an absolute bargain at 10€ a head (15€ on Saturdays) and in the evening there is not only the 25€ menú but a lighter meal (one less dish) for 16€.
From time to time there are themed dinners on offer - Jazz, Medieval, Renaissance, with live music and a menu inspired by the period and, as you would expect, ethnic evenings including Indian, Caribbean and Latin American.
C/ Hierba 4 (next to Plaza de la Virgen)
Reservations 96 391 2716
Lunch: Thursday-Saturdayday 14:00h-16:00h
Dinner: Monday-Saturday 21:00h-23.30h
Have a drink in Laboratorio before your meal - owned by the owner of La LLantia and of the wonderful Café de las Horas -
Extravàlencia is a comprehensive guide for long-weekend visitors looking to get the most out of their stay in the city. It includes listing of recommended hotels, restaurants, disco clubs, and info about all the attractions. The site is updated on a daily basis with the latest news of tourist interest.
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