5 Best Day Trips From Valencia

Valencia is a vibrant city with plenty of things to see and do. But if you’re looking for a change of pace, here are some great day trips from Valencia. From ancient Roman cities to picturesque villages and scenic natural parks, there’s a lot to explore within just two hours of the city.

I’ve visited all these places in the past year, some more than once, and I had an absolute blast every single time. I truly believe that these day trips are some of the best options for those looking to explore the surrounding areas of Valencia. They are easy to reach by car or public transport, combining convenience and flexibility and I highly recommend them to anyone visiting or living in Valencia.

1. Albufera Natural Park

Sunset over Albufera’s flooded rice fields in February

Distance from Valencia: 10km
Travel time: 30 minutes

Albufera Natural Park is the largest freshwater lake in Spain and one of the most important wetlands in Europe. It is situated a mere 10km south of Valencia and it is known for its stunning landscape, sand dunes, and pine forests.

This dream-like natural wonder is home to some 300 bird species and the birthplace of paella. The park occupies an area of some ​​24 km² and is surrounded by 220 km² of rice fields.

El Saler pine forest

What to do in Albufera:

  • Eat paella in one of the restaurants situated in the village of El Palmar
  • Take a boat ride, enjoy the tranquil atmosphere, and learn about this diverse ecosystem on this guided tour from Valencia
  • Do some birdwatching – March is the perfect month to witness the arrival of migratory birds, including the pink flamingo
  • Watch a magical sunset – this is one of the best places to watch a sunset in Valencia
  • Bike through the rice fields – July is when the rice fields are at their lushest
  • Explore Albufera in an open-topped Jeep (book here) – it allows you to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time and with minimum effort
  • Take a deep breath in the El Saler pine forest
  • Relax on the beach – Playa del Saler and Playa de la Dehesa are two of the best beaches in Valencia
  • Play golf – Parador de El Saler is considered one of the best golf courses in the world
El Palmar canal

How to get from Valencia to Albufera:

Albufera Natural Park is one of the easiest day trips from Valencia. Driving to El Palmar takes about half an hour. You can also take bus #24 or #25 from Puerta del Mar in the center or from the City of Arts and Sciences and get off either at Embarcadero de Albufera or El Palmar.

2. Xàtiva

The Royal Hospital, Xàtiva

Distance from Valencia: 60km
Travel time: 1 hour

Xàtiva is a historic city some 60km south of Valencia. During Roman times, it was known for its linen fabrics and in the 12th century, during the Al-Andalus era, it was one of the first paper manufacturing centers in Europe. From the mid-13th century to the end of the 16th century Xàtiva was one of the most important towns in the kingdom, rivaling Valencia itself.

After the Reconquista, Xàtiva was home to the House of Borgia and the birthplace of Pope Callixtus III and Pope Alexander VI as well as painter José Ribera. During the War of Spanish Succession, the city was besieged and burned to the ground at the hands of Philip V of Spain.

Fountain of the 25 spings, Xàtiva

What to do in Xàtiva:

  • Visit Xàtiva Castle – this twin fortification was strategically located along Via Augusta. Half of it dates back to the Iberian era, while the other half was built by the Romans. Both were altered by the Arabs
  • L’Almodí Museum – where the portrait of Philip V of Spain hangs upside down in protest for burning the city over three centuries ago
  • Drink La Socarrada – a local beer flavored with honey and rosemary, considered one of the best flavors in the world. Socarrada means “scorched” and is a reference to the town being destroyed by Philip V of Spain
  • Eat arnadí – a delicious local pastry made with sweet potato or pumpkin and almonds
  • Try arroz al horno – an oven-baked rice dish made with black pudding and bacon
  • See the largest nativity scene in Spain – from December through the first week of January
  • Visit the Colegiata Santa María Church and the Royal Hospital across the street
  • Follow the route of the fountains – Xàtiva is nicknamed the Town of a Thousand Fountains, a legacy from its Al-Andalus era
Part of belén monumental (nativity scene), Xàtiva

How to get from Valencia to Xàtiva:

You can get to Xàtiva either by car or train. In both cases, the journey lasts about 1 hour. If you’re going by train, take cercanías train line C2 from Estación del Norte in the city center.

3. Castellón de la Plana

Co-Cathedral of Santa Maria and El Fadrí bell tower, Castellón

Distance from Valencia: 75km
Travel time: 40 to 90 minutes

Castellón de la Plana is a largely overlooked city some 75km north of Valencia. The city is the capital of the Spanish province with the same. Castellón was founded in 1251 when people received permission from King Jaime I of Aragon to relocate to a level ground soon after the Reconquista.

Castellón continues to be a relatively small city, with some 170,000 inhabitants. Not only that, but you can cross it on foot in merely half an hour. The main city is situated some 5km from the sea but has a separate maritime district, called El Grao de Castellón, with lots of restaurants and miles-long beaches.

Post office building, Castellón

What to do in Castellón:

  • Visit Plaza Mayor, the Co-Cathedral of Santa Maria, and the El Fadrí bell tower
  • Eat your way through Mercado Central
  • Attend Fiesta de la Magdalena – varying dates but usually falls in March and lasts 9 days. It’s the main festivity in Castellón, commemorating the relocation of the city from the Hill of Mary Magdalene
  • Have lunch or tapas at Glam Food Bar – one of the most exquisite culinary adventures you’ll have in this city
  • Relax with a delicious cup of specialty coffee at Ofelia – a mind-blowing concept store selling home decor, furniture, and the best specialty coffee you’ve had in a long while
  • Enjoy a walk on the beach – Castellón has 10km of fine sand beaches
  • Meet the ducks in the Ribalta Park
  • See Plaza de l’Hort dels Corders and its unusual fountain by local artist Juan García Ripollés
  • Admire the Post office building and other Modernista buildings around the city
Ribalta Park, Castellón

How to get from Valencia to Castellón:

Driving from Valencia to Castellón takes approximately 1 hour. You can also reach Castellón by train from either Estación del Norte or from Valencia – Cabanyal train station. The train journey takes 40 to 90 minutes, depending on whether you opt for a fast Intercity train or a slower cercanías train.

4. Sagunto

Roman Theater, Sagunto

Distance from Valencia: 30km
Travel time: 30 minutes

Sagunto is a city some 30km north of Valencia and its origins go back to the Bronze Age. In 219 BC, the Iberian city was taken over by Hannibal’s troops after an eight-month siege, which was the trigger for the Second Punic War between Rome and Carthage. A few years later, Sagunto (then Saguntum) became a Roman settlement.

These days, Sagunto is divided in two – the Old Town and the harbor area. The two are 5km apart, with 2/3 of the city’s population actually living in the latest. In 2022, Volkswagen announced the opening of its new mega factory of batteries in Sagunto, drawing a lot of attention to the city.

Casa dels Berenguer, Sagunto

What to do in Sagunto:

  • Visit the Sagunto Castle – a massive fortress over two thousand years old. Bring good shoes
  • Visit the Roman Theater – it has a capacity for some 8,000 people and was recently subject to a controversial renovation project. It now hosts a theater festival from July to September every year
  • Casa dels Berenguer – a Gothic Palace converted into a modern tourist office where you can see costumes worn by actors during the theater festival
  • Discover the Jewish Quarter
  • See Vía del Pórtico – a 60 meters long Roman road in the basement of a modern residential building
  • See Domus dels Peixos – the remains of several Roman houses built in the 2nd century AD complete with original murals and tiles
  • Visit the harbor, walk on the beach and see remnants of Sagunto’s industrial past

How to get from Valencia to Sagunto:

Visiting Sagunto on a day trip from Valencia is a no-brainer. You can either drive or take cercanías train line C6 from Estación del Norte. Either way, you’ll be in Sagunto in approximately 30 minutes.

5. Peñiscola

Peñiscola Castle

Distance from Valencia: 145km
Travel time: 1h 30min to 2 hours

This town of fewer than 8,000 inhabitants is considered one of the most beautiful in Spain. It is situated almost on the edge of the Valencian Community, some 145km north of Valencia, but it’s so pretty, it’s really worth the effort.

With more than 2500 years of history, Peñiscola is a Mediterranean dream with narrow cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses, and a Templar castle perched on a rock overlooking the sea.

This walled town is surrounded almost entirely by water and starred in the highly acclaimed Game of Thrones series. At the foot of the hill, the miles-long sandy beach is just perfect for taking a swim, sunbathing, or enjoying a picnic with a view.

Panoramic view from the castle, Peñiscola
Parque de la Artillería, Peñiscola

What to do in Peñiscola:

  • Visit the Castle of Papa Luna – an idyllic place with amazing views where Benedict XIII, also known as Papa Luna or the Antipope spend his long exile
  • Stroll along the streets of the charismatic Old Town and browse all the fun souvenir shops. Bring good shoes
  • Spot Casa de las Conchas – a house with a facade covered in shells
  • Spend some time at the beach
  • Listen to El Bufador – a curious howl, the result of the waves hitting against a huge hole in the rock under the houses
  • Visit Parque de la Artillería – an old military fort at the foot of the castle, now a perfectly manicured garden
  • Eat empanadillas de calabaza (pumpkin-stuffed pastries)
  • Try suquet de pescado, a tasty fish stew
Whitewashed houses and the lighthouse of Peñiscola

How to get from Valencia to Peñiscola:

Driving to Peñiscola takes some 90 minutes and is the easiest way to visit. If you have no other remedy but to use public transport, you can take cercanías train line C6 to Benicarló or Vinaròs (both a bit over 2 hours from Valencia), then take the local bus to Peñiscola.