The city of Valencia is the third largest city in Spain, but well short of the cultural and architectural splendours of the larger Madrid and Barcelona. The city suffers from much sprawling development but the centre does have some delightful tranquil plazas and there are some fine museums. The annual season of fiestas start in Valencia with the increasingly popular Las Fallas, a week’s worth of celebrations in March which culminate in an immense bonfire when all the processional floats are burned. The accompanying fireworks crack and explode all night much to the delight of the hordes who see them through till dawn.
Along the coast, much has been spoiled with shortsighted construction work, but several spots still provide pretty beach areas such as Denia and Jávea.
Moving inland, this region is one of the fertile areas of Europe, awash with orange, peach and lemon groves and with rice fields still irrigated by the Moors. With rice in such abundance, little suprise that this is home to one of Spain’s most famous dishs, the paella.
Moving inland, Xátiva is quiet, picturesque place with some interesting sights and with a lovely place to stay, at the Hostería Mont Sant.