Best known for its sandy beaches and legendary music festival, the town of Benicassim, on Spain’s Costa Azahar (Orange Blossom Coast), is a surprisingly stylish place packed with many reasons to visit. Here’s our round up of ten of the best things to see and do.
Hit the beach
The main attraction. Benicassim and the surrounding area is lined with endless arcs of golden sand. Many of the beaches here are blue flag, including two of the most popular: Playa Almadraba and the well-kept Playa Voramar, backed by a promenade and several stunning villas.
The Villa Route
Benicassim is sometimes called the “Valencian Biarritz” and if you look behind you while sunbathing on Playa Voramar, you’ll understand why. At the turn of the last century many wealthy local families employed the best architects around, each trying to build a more opulent villa than the next. The result is more than 50 incredible properties featuring a variety of architectural styles and brimming with history. Explore them on the Villa Route. The section locally known as “Hell” features villas known for their scandalous parties back in the roaring twenties, where you can easily imagine scenes straight out of The Great Gatsby.
The Desert of the Palms
Nature lovers will want to go and soak up the tranquility at this protected natural park. The Desierto de las Palmas (Desert of the Palms) on Benicassim’s doorstep is full of awe-inspiring natural beauty as well as the ruined Carmelite monastery and Montornés Castle. It also offers spectacular views over the surrounding countryside and out towards the Mediterranean.
Sitting atop a high peak in the Sierra del Desierto de las Palmas, this 10th century Arab fortress has a long and colourful history. It was abandoned in the 17th century but the structure and surroundings are stunning, as are the views. Follow the scenic and well-signposted trail to reach it.
The Columbretes Islands
In summer you can spend a day on the volcanic Columbretes Islands, a picturesque nature reserve covering about five nautical miles. It’s the perfect place for photographers, nature lovers and scuba divers.
Go sailing or windsurfing
If you want to get out on the water there are plenty of opportunities here. Try the sailing school at picturesque Els Terrers Beach, where you can try your hand at sailing, windsurfing or kayaking, or choose from one of many shops offering rentals along the beachfront.
Walk the old railway line
One easy and scenic walking or cycling option is along the old railway line that ran between Barcelona and Valencia. Running 5.5km (3.42 miles) each way, go to Oropesa’s promenade and then turn around for the walk back to Benicassim.
Taste local liqueurs
The Carmelite monks have been distilling and selling herbal liquers here since 1896. Visit their distillery in the town of Benicassim, where you can enjoy a late afternoon tasting and tour for just a few euros.
Celebrate San Juan
The night of San Juan in late June marks the beginning of summer. It’s celebrated throughout Spain, but as it’s a festival that takes place on the beaches, Benicassim is a great place to be. Bonfires are lit on the beaches, and those who can jump the flames can have their wishes for the year ahead granted. People picnic, swim, eat and party, many staying until dawn.
Festival International Benicassim
The famous music festival, FIB (Festival International Benicassim), has given the town international fame and it would be rude not to mention it. It’s been running since 1995, with crowds coming to enjoy days of live music and partying on the beach.