Emma

Emma

Co-editor Emma is LWT's resident history lover and fact nerd. She loves travelling overland - especially by train. Her trips tend to be planned around good food and a little bit of adventure.
Emma

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I’ve been to Spain a few times now and I’ve loved each and every trip – each has shown a completely different side to this fascinating country that offers so much more than I first thought. There’s city break perfection in Málaga, winter sports in the Catalonian Pyrenees and the lush landscapes of ‘green’ Spain in Cantabria.

This time around, I met up with some of fellow bloggers from the Bristol Bloggers and Influencers group to check out Castellón – not an area that is hugely well known by British tourists at present, I expect this will change as Ryanair have recently launched direct flights to Castellon airport from both Bristol and Stansted.

Castellon turned out to be an area full of culture, history, good food, green hills and sandy beaches. Our tour was a short taster of everything the region has to offer, so here are some of my favourite parts, letting you see why I think you definitely should consider Castellón for your next trip to Spain.

Peniscola old town and castle

Peniscola old town

If you’re a history fan like me, you’ll love Peñiscola’s old town. Entering through one of the three gates that pierce the defensive walls, it’s a pleasant walk through the 27 streets and 527 buildings that make up the old town. Joined to the mainland by only a narrow strip of land (giving Peñiscola, which means ‘almost island’ its name) the town’s numerous freshwater springs made it strategically important throughout Spanish history.

The buildings are beautiful – many of them are striking white with their doorways and windows painted a vibrant contrasting colour. Wrought iron balconies are covered in intricate tilework with the attention to detail even extending to the underside. Many of the buildings now contain shops selling knick knacks and trinkets, or cosy cafés and restaurants, the majority of which have stunning views over the sea. The perfect place to take a break, relax and enjoy a drink ­– a local artisanal vermouth perhaps?

Penicola Old Town shop

We wandered up the steep cobbled streets, past the Maritime Museum and the famous Casa de les Pextines: a house decorated in shells by a local artist, to the beautiful octagonal lighthouse and castle at the top of the hill.

Peñiscola castle is one of the most visited castles in Spain – built by the Templars in the 13th century and home to Pope Benedict XIII in the 18th century, its military purpose means an unadorned exterior, but the castle’s story is fascinating and the presentation of this is excellent. And if you have the energy, it’s worth climbing the narrow staircase right to the top of the battlement for amazing views across the town and beyond.

Peniscola Castle

 

View from Peniscola Castle

Morella

Morella from road

I wish we’d had a little more time in Morella! This beautiful town in the mountains had an entirely different atmosphere to the coast. Morella is regarded as one of the most beautiful towns in Spain. This ancient walled city with its castle perched right at top is mostly car free – you’re allowed to come in to drop off people at hotels etc but other than that, cars are left in large car parks outside of the main centre. The narrow streets are filled with artisanal shops selling lots of local produce including honey, chocolate, cured meats, cheeses and vermouth.

Morella cobbled streets

 

Artisinal products in Castellon

Its position, perched on the hillside, means there are beautiful views across the landscape as you stand at the top of the staircases that make up the steepest of the streets.

View from Morella

The mountain climate means Morella can be a lot cooler than the coastal towns so the main shopping streets are covered in arcades – we were very glad of these when we visited as it meant we could still enjoy a drink outside whilst a summer thunderstorm poured down around us.

Morella arcades and shops

Sightseeing highlights of Morella include the castle, an aqueduct, St Mary’s Church, St Francis’ convent and a dinosaur museum. I also really liked the entrance to the town hall where the original 14th century building is juxtaposed with a modern extension – it’s really cleverly done and well worth a quick peek through the door.

The villas of Benicàssim

Benicàssim is perhaps best known for its sandy beaches and for being home to the famous FIB festival, but take a walk down the promenade at Playa Almadrava and you’ll come across another reason that the town should be on your must-visit list – the Ruta de las Villas.  All along the beach front there’s an eclectic collection of private houses built between 1880 and the 1940s. Each is unique and they all have a story to tell.

During the Spanish Civil War, many of them were commandeered by the Republic and converted into a hospital, with each building used as a different department. There was even a reporter’s house where famous writers like Ernest Hemmingway and Dorothy Parker stayed when reporting on hostilities.

Benicassim villas promenade

The well-to-do end of the promenade was locally known as ‘heaven’ whilst the other end, next to the Voramar hotel was known as hell due to all of the parties that took place there.  The Voramar Hotel, right at the end of the beach, is where Bridget Bardot was famously photographed wearing one of the first ever bikinis. Today some of the villas have unfortunately fallen into disrepair but the local authority have taken on two of them to restore for public use – including creating a new home for the beach’s lending library.

Castellón de la Plana

Castellon architecture

The region’s capital, Castellón de la Plana, is a vibrant small city full of great architecture and is the perfect place to do a spot of shopping while you visit the area. The wide streets and numerous squares give an open feel, so it’s pleasant to walk around even when it’s busy. The historical highlight has to be El Fadrí – the single man. This is a 16th century watch tower built to protect the city from pirates. Next door sits the city’s 20th century cathedral, built after the original was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War.

I also loved the Central Market where all of the fresh fish, meat and produce from the area is sold.

The beaches

I couldn’t write an article about the highlights of Castellón without mentioning the beaches. There’s a beach for every taste. In Peñiscola, the focus is definitely family-friendly.

Pensicola Beach

The 8km long North Beach and the smaller south beach are both jammed-packed with children, parents, grandchildren, aunts and uncles, all enjoying their holidays on sandy beaches that are perfect for sandcastles and parasols. On the south beach, the sea is shallow for a long way, meaning there’s plenty of room for little ones to paddle around safely.

Benicassim beach at sunset
Benicassim beach at sunset

In Benicàssim, there’s an entirely different vibe. Playa Almadrava felt a lot more laid back. The beaches are still full of people enjoying a game of volleyball or relaxing under a parasol, but there are also lots of restaurants, cafés and hotels along the promenade. There are loads of facilities including showers and even a library, and the sand was spotlessly clean. We were lucky enough to visit late in the day and the sun setting as we walked along the beach, which was the perfect way to end our visit to Castellón.

Pin for later

Highlights of Castellon pin

 


I was a guest of Turismo de Castellón for this trip but all opinions are my own.

 

Oregon Girl Around the World

21 thoughts on “Highlights of Castellon, Spain

  1. You have some beautiful photos of the area, Emma. It was such a lovely trip that I can’t decide my favourite part! I just wished we had more time everywhere. The food was amazing especially, and the beautiful beaches were almost too perfect for words. I will have to go back for sure.

    1. Thanks, Mellissa. It was easy to take nice photos in such a pretty place! Let me know if you do back – I’ll come too 😉

  2. I echo your wish to have had longer in Morella – in fact I wish we’d had longer in all the places but it was a great taste of what the region can offer.

    1. Yes, it was really great to see what all of the different areas were like – so much more than just the beaches (but they are lovely beaches!)

  3. You’ve given a real flavour of Castellón and your photos are beautiful Emma! I think a lot of Brits will be discovering the region with the new direct flights from Bristol and Stansted.

    1. Thank you Jane! Yes, I think that more people will definitely be heading there once the secret of this beautiful area gets out!

  4. Another great Spanish discovery – for me anyway! I don’t know this area at all and it looks absolutely charming. I love finding those lesser known, more out of the way places and this looks like somewhere I’d really enjoy spending more time in. Thanks so much for sharing this on #FarawayFiles

  5. Your post has reminded about summer days in the south of Catalonia and the Castellon region. Morella and Peñíscola are definitely a must-see. Agree with the weather issue: I remember that in the morning / midday we were in Peñíscola and it was very hot but in the afternoon we reached Morella under a storm. Thanks for sharing in #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    1. Haha same here – we had a roasting hot day in Peñiscola and then the rain started as we headed into the mountains to Morella. It was great to be in the clear mountain air after the heat of the coast though!

  6. I love Spain too and would love to explore it more. Castellon looks like a beautiful area. I love the mix of the city and the beach. It’s so nice that there are direct flights there now, that really makes it so much easier to get to. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    1. Hi Anissa! Yes, the direct flight is great – it’s only a couple of hours long so it’s a great option for a short break to get some Spanish sun!

  7. very nice post! I’m from Spain and I’ve never been to Castellón (shame on me 😉 ). If you like history, you should also visit Toledo or Granada. Two of my favourite cities in Spain

    1. I would definitely love to visit Granada but have never looked into Toledo – I’ll definitely will now though – thanks for the tip!

  8. Wow, really gorgeous. I’ve spent very little time in Spain but each time I go I wish I could stay forever. Would love to spend time in a small old town like this so I could contrast it with my experience in Madrid. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  9. I seriously want to spend a month in Spain, minimum, one day! This beautiful town has just been added to the list!! I love that view over the bay! Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!

  10. I love Spain so much! Any excuse to go. I really do believe there’s something just right for everyone there. I don’t know much about Castellón but based on the pretty towns, fresh produce and lovely looking beaches it’s a no brainer for me. I’m sure I’d love it there!

  11. Gorgeous! Yet another perfectly beautiful Spanish city we’ve never heard of, but now want to visit. Those beaches – wow! But the whole town looks like the sort of place we love exploring. Thanks for putting it Castellon on our radar, and sharing with #TheWeeklyPostcard!

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