CASTELLON is considered by many to be the hidden jewel in the Valencia region.
While Alicante and Valencia are widely hailed as top tourist destinations due to their beaches, nightlife, fiestas, culture and food, the northernmost province rarely gets a mention in international travel articles.
However, for residents and visitors from other parts of Spain, the story is very different – which is probably a major factor behind its charm, as the area remains relatively unspoilt by mass tourism.
Castellon, or Castello in Valenciano, is sandwiched between the provinces of Valencia and Tarragona (Catalunya) along the coast, and Teruel (Aragon) inland. It is split into 135 towns divided into eight districts.
Just like its Valencian and Catalan neighbours, Castellon offers the unrivalled attraction of having both sea and mountains.
The Maestrat, Serra d’Espada, Serra d’Irta and the Penyagolosa (in their original Valenciano names) are the mountain ranges that line the inland, offering spectacular views as well as a full programme of leisure and adventure activities.
Forests, caves, rivers, walking routes, castles, campsites, climbing, fishing and much more await intrepid travellers in areas such as Morella, Tinença de Benifassa, Navajas and others.
But the coast is where Castellon really shines. The area is home to two unique geographical formations, namely the Illes Columbretes and Peñiscola.
The Columbretes are a set of small islands grouped together into a protected nature park. Said by divers to be one of the best-preserved Mediterranean seabeds, and home to countless species of nesting birds – some unique to the islands – the Columbretes are a nature lover’s paradise.
Meanwhile, Peñiscola is a hotspot for beach and history lovers, with its spectacular castle once occupied by Pope Benedict XIII looming over the coast and featuring on the official ‘Most Beautiful Towns in Spain’ list.
Castellon province is also home to Spain’s most famous summer musical, dubbed Glastonbury-on-Sea or Glasto del Sol. Each summer the coastal town of Benicassim hosts the Festival International de Benicassim (FIB), hugely popular with British indie and alternative music fans.
Last year and again this summer, COVID put paid to the FIB as well as its reggae counterpart Rototom Sunsplash and the Arenal Sound electronic music festival in nearby Burriana, but a series of smaller shows by top Spanish acts including Aitana, Raphael, Monica Naranjo and Rozalen has been scheduled throughout July under the name Luce Benicassim, with the full-scale festivals expected to return with a vengeance in 2022.
Oropesa del Mar is most famous for the Marina d’Or holiday resort. Bang on the beach and featuring pools, spas, eight leisure parks, hotels of five, four and three stars, apartments, restaurants, shows and events for all the family, this year Marina d’Or is offering discounts of up to 35% until the middle of July.
Visit marinador.com for more info (available in English).
Other coastal towns such as Alcossebre, Vinaros and Moncofa offer the cheapest holiday apartment lets in the province right on the beach.
The cities themselves are not to be missed either, with countless monuments, museums, exhibitions and items of great historic interest, led by the provincial capital Castellon de la Plana, where an intensive programme of summer events, many free of charge, has been announced for this year.
For more tips and information, visit castellonturismo.com (available in English, French, Italian, Spanish and Valenciano).
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