As the weather gets warmer, off-the-beaten-track adventures meet stylish al fresco dining in Valencia, with a season of captivating events guaranteed to help you beat the rising heat. From cultural weekends to kilometre-zero produce, here are some unmissable activities to add to your diary.
Visit Spain’s largest maze in Peñiscola
The picturesque coastal town, famous for its Knights Templar castle overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean waters, Peñiscola has long been an idyllic escape for Valencians seeking to escape the sultry city heat. And with Spain’s largest maze added to the must-see list as the balmy days arrive, there’s even more reason to hit the road.
Ready to work on your problem-solving skills? Recently opened, this immense labyrinth consists of some 4,000 plants in an enclosure of seven square kilometres and enjoys a route of more than three kilometres.
With the Ligustrum Japonica plants promising to reach 10 metres in height, this gargantuan maze will be the third-largest of its kind in Europe. Open every weekend throughout May and June and every day from July 1, tickets cost €4 for children and €7.5 for adults, or €6 for groups of six or more.
Hit Valencia’s newest food markets
As the agricultural lands of Valencia city’s huerta vegetable gardens turn from tilled terracotta to emerald hues, it’s not just restaurants celebrating the latest seasonal produce. The city is putting this kilometre-zero produce front and centre for home cooks with a slew of new markets offering the fruits of the huerta from 9am until 2pm weekly.
The first to open was the market in student-friendly Benimaclet, returning every Saturday to offer the vivid colours of carrots, spinach, oranges, artichokes, and even local honey. On calle Martínez Ferrando, near the city’s main artery of Calle Colón and just in front of the Mercado de Colon, locals can find these fresh delights on sale every Tuesday.
Also on Tuesdays, another market brings its vibrant produce to the hungry inhabitants of traditional neighbourhood Malilla, while in Castellar-Oliveral, a Saturday market offers another chance for those working during the week.
Stroll the brightly coloured stalls at your choice of food market, rub shoulders with the locals and do your bit to support the incredible huertas that are such a unique part of the Valencian lifestyle.
Dine on Martín Barasategui’s menu at Marina Beach Club
With its pool, hammocks, outdoor club and mesmerising sea views, Marina Beach Club may be best known for its party scene, but it does a good line in fresh cuisine served for lunch and dinner, too. The menu is set to get a glittering upgrade from May 1, with Basque chef Martín Berasategui touching down to take this beachfront haven to the next level.
The culinary legend has 12 Michelin stars and more than 20 books to his name and combines his upbringing in San Sebastián’s kitchens with French culinary training in his menus. Playing with the fresh produce and rich ingredients that put Spain on the gastronomical map, Berastegui describes his recipes as a blend of past, present and future, and his cuisine as ‘very close to my land…but open to the world.’
The world’s fifth most accoladed Michelin chef, Berastegui will return to Valencia each season to design Marina Beach Club’s upcoming menu, highlighting the rice dishes and seafood of the coast alongside the seasonal products of Valencia’s gorgeous gardens.
DON’T MISS: A fascinating homage to Warhol, Banksy and Murakami, Benicassim’s POP art exhibition will be open until May 31 in the elegant Villa Elisa.
DATE FOR THE DIARY: Valencia’s most-awaited musical event returns with the Big Sound Festival, June 29 to July 1. There are still tickets available, but not for long…
TOP TIP/DID YOU KNOW: In 1459, a group of jokers led a donkey to the top of Valencia Cathedral’s Gothic El Miguelete bell tower. It was thought to be an act by the devil himself.
Sarah Gordon relocated to Valencia city from London, where she was the online Travel Editor for the Mail and Commercial Travel Editor for the Telegraph. She is now Editor at Valencia.Style a travel resource for the best experiences in the Valencian Community