Situated as it is at the northern end of the Costa Blanca near the town of Gandía, Villa Florencia is ideally situated for visits to Valencia City (either by car or train), but of course also for trips south along the Costa Blanca itself, with all the often hidden pleasures that this region has to offer.
One such place that is a real delight is the village of Guadalest, only a short distance inland from the well-known resort of Benidorm. However, a place more different than Benidorm with all its theme parks, bars and clubs would be hard to imagine. We decided to take the scenic route to Guadalest, so set off down the A7 motorway that follows the Costa Blanca coastline but took the exit at Altea and then headed inland over the mountains and through some truly fantastic scenery. We stopped off at several points along the way for photo opportunities of the surrounding countryside, as well as the large tracts of land we saw that are now used for the under-cover cultivation of nisperos – or loquats.
Guadalest itself is a truly lovely village, although probably very crowded with tourists in the peak season. However, at this time of year – a beautiful November day – it was perfect. All the facilities of the town were open and available to the visitors, but without the summer crowds! You can leave your car in the parking area just off the main through road, and if you wish you can call in to the tourist office there to obtain any information you may want to make your visit more enjoyable. Nearly every town along the Costa Blanca has at least one such office, and they are always happy to supply you with local maps, guides, etc. From there, you can cross the road and approach the old part of the town with its picturesque squares and streets, and work your way up to the castle area itself, although not very much remains intact of the original construction. Viewing points over the countryside around the town give you an idea of what an excellently placed fortress this must have been, and the views over the lake – used as a reservoir – are stunning. The works involved with this reservoir have been undertaken in order to maintain a reliable water supply for this stretch of the Costa Blanca, having to cope with the huge influx of summer tourists to the likes of Benidorm, Altea, Calpe, and all the other resorts along the coast.
Guadalest has not only its castle, souvenir shops and stunning views to entice the visitor – there is also an amazing array of museums of different types to entertain and intrigue you. If you want to see anything from instruments of torture to contemporary art, (normally) large things in tiny miniature to classic vehicles, or even a museum of salt and pepper shakers, then Guadalest and its immediate surrounding area is the place to come. Totally intriguing! And after all that, there is a wide choice of places to eat and have a drink – and not all at outrageous tourist prices. This is a place where – although it is one of the Costa Blanca’s main tourist attractions – you can still have a really satisfying “Menu del Día” lunch for less than €8.00 per person…..depending on your choice of eatery, of course! We found one such place right opposite the car park, so after enjoying a great value meal in the sunshine, we were able to get to the car easily and start heading home. This time, however, we headed towards Benidorm on a less mountainous road than we followed in the morning, and very quickly arrived at the motorway access point, just one junction south of where we had left the motorway on our way to Guadalest. From there, it was only about a quick and easy 40 minute drive back to Villa Florencia. Certainly a great day out!