This small village some 50 kilometres (31 miles) from Valencia is a must-visit for the street art fans who come to Valencia to see its famous graffiti murals. The tiny village, home to just over 300 people, managed to save itself from becoming yet another of Spain’s “ghost town” villages by inviting international street artists to use its beige and grey walls as canvases, transforming itself into the street art capital of Spain. Despite this, few visitors to Valencia even know it exists.
If you want to explore the green, hilly landscape inland, one great spot to visit is this medieval town which sits atop a small hill, crowned by a castle and surrounded by medieval walls. It packs a lot of sights into its small space, but you won’t find many tourists here. After exploring the castle and historic streets, adventurous visitors can seek out the stunningly well-preserved ancient cave paintings at María La Vella, a World Heritage Site. Get there by car in two hours, or take a bus or train from Valencia.
If you’re visiting the region in August, you won’t want to miss the town of Ontinyent and its famous, colourful Festival of the Moors and Christians, held here every single year since the 13th century. But as well as its medieval traditions the town is loved for its incredible beauty, with narrow, winding streets, decorative ceramics, the incredible Church of Saint Mary and stately 18th century mansions looking out over the river.
A tiny blink-and-you’ll-miss-it village in the mountains north of Valencia, many hiking trails pass through Tirig. That being said, its incredible cave paintings are mostly unknown. Seek out the small Museo de la Valltorta, some distance from the village itself, where you can find a local guide to show you the caves and their artworks. Despite the museum being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cave paintings are for some reason not advertised. Tirig has no accommodation, so you’ll need to stay in nearby San Mateu.
This town is so close to Valencia city centre that it can be reached by metro, but it has a distinctly different atmosphere. It’s worth a visit, especially if you’re heading to the beaches in that direction, mainly for its beautiful countryside views and many excellent horchaterias: small cafes serving up the local drink horchata.
It’s not well known, but this small town in the Sierra de Mariola mountains is proof that some of the most beautiful parts of Valencia are nowhere near the sea. With its cool (or cooler, at least) mountain air, pretty churches and Moorish architecture, the historic centre is the perfect place for a walk.
Most people who go to Requena head straight for the famous vineyards in the surrounding countryside and, while they’re not to be missed, we recommend taking the time to visit the town of Requena itself. The historic old town is full of Roman and Moorish architecture, Gothic churches and, of course, wine bars.