This beautiful natural park is home to La Albufera, Spain’s largest lake and is an important dune and wetland ecosystem, home to all kinds of unusual species of birds. It also contains huge areas of rice fields that are important to local cuisine, as well as serving as a shelter for all kinds of wildlife.
Here you’ll find La Albufera, a huge freshwater lake separated from the Mediterranean sea by a narrow strip of pine-forested sand dunes, in fact its waters were salted until the 17th century. La Albufera lake makes a very pleasant spot to spend a day out with friends or family escaping the heat of Valencia city centre on a summer’s day. In grey weather, though, the area has less to interest most visitors, so make sure to check the forecast before you set off.
This area is thought to be where Valencian paella originated from; the traditional recipe uses chicken, rabbit, vegetables and snails. There are several speciality restaurants here where you can try paella as well as other classic rice dishes like All i Pebre, made with eels freshly caught from the lake. You’ll find them in the village of El Palmar, sitting right on the lagoon on the lake and a setting for many paintings by Valencian artist Blasco Ibáñez. There’s also the village of El Saler, which has the lagoon on one side and the beach on the other.
Another of the area’s attractions is the famous sunset. Take a boat trip out on the lake, where local fishermen use flat-bottomed boats to bring in their catch, and take in the sight of the red and gold tones reflected in the still water.
Get there from Valencia city centre on bus number 25, run by the municipal transport company EMT. Get off at either the Embarcadero or El Palmar bus stop. Alternatively the bike ride from central Valencia to La Albufera is an enjoyable one, as the area is just ten kilometres from the city.