Denia, A Hidden Gem Among Gastronomy Destinations in Spain

by Last updated Nov 30, 2022 | Published on Feb 15, 2017Denia, Gastronomy, Living in Spain Series, Spain, Travel, Valencia

We really didn’t mean to discover this hidden gem among gastronomy destinations in Spain. It must have been our ‘inner-foodie’, along with a growing obsession for the Mediterranean Sea, that drew us to charming Denia. Located in the Community of Valencia, this still authentically Spanish beach town is actually designated by UNESCO as a Creative City of Gastronomy, and not just in Spain, but as part of a worldwide network! As if Denia wasn’t already spectacular enough, we’re discovering how culturally rich and innovative it is for gastronomy destinations in Spain. Our recent interview with Floren, Director of their Innovation and Creativity Office, got us so excited (and hungry) we just had to share it with you.

The Designation by UNESCO Creative City Global Network

You’ve probably heard of UNESCO for their world heritage sites, yet many don’t know that they also have other programs. Denia is how we learned last year about UNESCO’s global network of creative cities. Spending time with Denia’s Manager of Innovation and Creativity Office, Mr. Floren Terrades, helped us learn more about their part in the program.

In 2015, Denia was designated by UNESCO as the Creative City of Gastronomy. It doesn’t just stop there though. The designation kicked off a 4-year action plan that now is now being carried out by Denia’s Innovation and Creativity Office. A designation like this provides crucial support for sustainable development of preserving Denia’s cultural heritage as it relates to their gastronomy. It also benefits the local economy, natural environment and Denia’s thriving tourism.

Floren explained further about how Denia was picked. It wasn’t just because you can eat well here, but also because they are carrying out projects related to gastronomy in ways that promote creativity, sustainability and preserving their traditions and the environment.

Above Image – Visit this image at to learn more about the Marina Alta.

One of the main components of this project also includes the entire zone of the Marina Alta, encompassing Denia the city, its coasts, and the beautiful, agriculturally rich inland areas. This is the project known as “Denia & Marina Alta #tastingLife”.

Behind the Scenes as a Gastronomy Destination in Spain

How great is it that Denia has their own designated Innovation and Creativity Office? UNESCO designation or not, every town should have this! We’ve met Floren and his team, yet there’s more faces behind Denia’s gastronomic scene. Did you know that Denia has its own 3 Michelin Stars Chef and Restaurant, Quique Dacosta? Quique grew up in Denia and from what we’ve seen around town is very active in expanding Denia’s gastronomic presence in Spain and worldwide. The culinary community here is thriving and we feel spoiled from the incredible talent and skill of chefs and their quality restaurants. There’s a saying here that in Denia you can go to a different restaurant every day, and still not go to all of them in 1 year.

We remember one of the best stories Floren shared with us that really brought it home. A few months back their program put together a cooking course that highlighted three older women in the small village of Jesus Pobre. They taught a group of local culinary students and chefs how to make their family’s recipe of ‘Arros amb fava pelada‘ (the name in the Valenciana language). Not only were they so proud of their heritage that they were able to pass down, but a deeply-rooted tradition was preserved as part of this region’s cultural heritage. Now chefs here are equipped and inspired to share this dish on their menus and keep it alive for visitors and locals alike.

Above – Click to watch the video of the recipe taught in Valenciana.

The Gastronomy that Denia is Known For

Being in the Valencia region, Denia is of course known for amazing rice dishes. In addition to well-known paella, they have all sorts of amazing rice specialities, from arroz meloso to arroz al horno. There’s also their cocas, the small, pizza-like savory pastries covered with various topping combinations. But what Denia is especially famous for is their seafood. For centuries, and we’re talking way way back to ancient civilizations, Denia has especially been a fishing town.

Above Image – Just another day enjoying a drink with a view of pulpo seco!

One of the most famous local cuisines is ‘pulpo seco’, dried octopus that is hung up and dried a certain way here. The tradition is still carried out and we’ve seen it for ourselves. We’ve come upon it like it’s just an every-day load of laundry hanging out to get sun, which we guess it is for those native here.

Every community has its star though, and in Denia it is the Gamba Roja. This vibrantly colored crustacean happens to be especially tasty and delicious here along the shores of Denia’s Costa Blanca. The deep, ancient waters of the Mediterranean are home to this particular size of gamba roja, or red prawn, and their quality taste of buttery goodness is the stuff a chef’s dreams are made of. In true Spanish style, Denia knows how to do something like this right – they make sure to throw a big party for it every year at the end of February. This year marks the 6th International Denia Red Prawn Creative Cuisine Contest. That’s right – at the time we’re writing this, it’s only weeks away. Stay tuned because of course we’re going to be covering it here at MTT.

Denia's Gastronomy Designation Being Put Into Action

Above Image – The spread from one of our summer grill-outs!

We’ve been living in Denia for almost 1 year now and right away we noticed flyers and information around town about this ‘Creative City of Gastronomy’ designation. There was the #tastingLife on the tourism building near the castle, gastronomy and cultural events promoted, and we discovered more on the town’s tourism site: We were seeing the project’s initiatives in every-day life around Denia.

Getting to meet with Floren helped us realize how far-reaching the project is. He explained that the initiative is responsible for what is now being done to further the growing of the Moscatel grapes for a local sweet white wine that is known in this region, restoring land that was previously harmed by chemical pesticides, and on a global scale, visiting with other cities in the creative city network. For example, a few months ago they attended a market festival in one of the towns in France and took 300 kilos of fresh food and produce from Denia. There’s nothing like food for bringing people together for the exchange of ideas and learning!

A Little More About Denia

The city of Denia is located in the Alicante province, within the Community of Valencia. It’s location is fantastic and one of the reasons why we chose it as our home-base for living in Spain. Approximately a 1-hour drive south of Valencia and a 1-hour drive north of the city of Alicante, Denia has a great balance between large city and tiny village, with plenty going on and a year-round population so that even in winter it doesn’t become a ghost town. It’s also centrally located to the even more iconic hubs of Spain, Madrid and Barcelona. Oh, and let’s not forget the Balearic Islands– Denia is now one of the main ports for the Balearia Ferry system which gets you to and from the well-known Mediterranean islands of Ibiza and Formentera. 

*A huge thank you to our fellow Denia-expat friends the MacKenzies, for providing us correction on the distances from Denia to Valencia and Alicante – the information is more accurate now. 

Among Spaniards from Madrid (Madrileños), Denia’s beaches are a favorite destination. Many of them who visit regularly have second homes here and come more than once a year. Yet the rest of Denia’s growing tourism and foreign community also comes from neighboring European countries, Germany being the largest and after that the UK, France and various others. It’s a fantastically diverse international population and community, all the while maintaining its Spanish culture.

Our favorite things about Denia are its gorgeous surroundings of both sea and mountains, the incredible kindness and warmth of the people here, and its maintained Spanish culture. Its inland areas, known as the Marina Alta, are a verdant and stunning natural landscape that is rich in agriculture and ancient history. We love this array of natural beauty here, with both sandy and rocky beaches and the rolling hills and mountain ranges that meet the sea here. It truly is like a Garden of Eden, with everything growing from rice and grains to almonds and cherries, lemons and even more varieties of citrus and fruits and vegetables. If you stick something in the ground here, it will most likely grow!

These aspects combined with the cultural heritage of the amazing people here, has given birth to great gastronomy that is now being carried on with innovation and creativity. We’re excited to see such an amazing culinary heritage and culture being preserved and shared with the world. As creatives who love food and traveling, we feel even more at home here in Denia than when we first arrived. It’s far surpassing our greatest expectations and has welcomed us with open arms.

Keep your sights on Denia. In the coming years it is only going to grow in popularity, both as a place to visit in Spain and as a great place to live abroad. Either way, you know that here in Denia, you’ll be able to feed your stomach and your heart and get a great new taste of life.

Written by Amalia & Eric

Written by Amalia & Eric

Founders & Producers of Move to Traveling

We’re Amalia and Eric – a traveling couple who are living a traveling lifestyle. Do you love to travel? Perfect! Come along…


  1. Mery Lo

    Hi Amalia and Eric, I have really loved reading your blog post! I used to go to Denia a lot when I was married. We had a flat across from Crtl. de las marina. I would like to connect up with British or English speaking painters, artists, singers, authors groups in Denia. And would appreciate any info on the matter.
    Have a wonderful time travelling, loving your life style! And thank you so much for the blog!

    • Amalia and Eric

      Hi Mery,

      It’s great having you on our blog and thank you for kind comment. There are some great groups through which you can connect with fellow English speakers who are into the interests that you mentioned. We feel that Denia has a lot of creative people and appreciates the arts. The best place to start would be the Denia Connect community group on Facebook. There is one for business as well but you’ll want to join the community group. There you can post your questions and get a lot of suggestions back that will be current information on the latest going on.

      We also know that now that August is over, the local groups and events will start back up again for locals and people living here year-round or in the winter months so there’ll be more information available now.

      We hope that helps and that you enjoy Denia once again!

  2. Bob Able

    What a lovely article! I have a place in Denia (a holiday home which we visit as often as we can) and I love it so much I wrote a book about it!
    ‘Spain Tomorrow’ is a lighthearted memoir and is available as an ebook (for just £2.99) and a paperback from the Amazon Bookstore.
    Bob Able.

    • Amalia and Eric

      Hi Bob. Thank you so much for enjoying our article. That is wonderful that you have a holiday home here as well and that you wrote a book about it! Thank you for sharing about it with us here. I’m sure some of the readers who read the comments and come across that will greatly appreciate the book recommendation.

      We hope that you continue to enjoy our blog and perhaps one day we’ll run into you here in lovely Denia.

      Take care!

  3. Heather Anderson

    Hi Amalia and Eric, Thank you for all your great information about Denia. Currently I live in Washington State, USA, beautiful in the summer but nasty and rainy in the winter. After a few years of coaxing from my son, I have decided to move to a place sunny and warmer all year long. Reason #1 cost of living, reason #2 making friends and #3 medical insurance will be very important to me. I am 75 and adventurous, love history and museums and am excited to learn a new language. Living on the water, as I do now, or very near the water with a view would be another of MY 7 reasons to move anywhere. As I read your blog I thought Denia could fit well for me, maybe even all year round. I’d like to keep my budget at about $2500 a month. After reading this what are your thoughts? Would a visit to check out Denia be more than worth it? Heather

    • Amalia and Eric

      Hi Heather! Thanks for enjoying our blog and for your great questions. That’s great that you’re considering Denia and we think that it can be a great fit that meets the desires that you have. We would mention that the winters can be cold, but mainly because of the humidity and being right on the sea. Most importantly, though, the winter’s are still very sunny and Denia has a micro-climate of sorts because of the mountain Montgo here and being right on the sea. So it would still be an improvement weather wise to the winters in Washington state.

      Secondly, a budget of $2500/month is great for a wonderful quality of life here. You probably would rarely spend up to that much each month for the basic necessities and it would still cover spending money to go out to eat or travel within Spain or even Europe. And yes, making a visit out here is always recommended so that you can get a feel for the place itself.

      Let us know if you end up coming for a visit and we’d be happy to meet. Sorry to not answer to your comment sooner, but we took a break over the holidays. Let us know of any questions and we hope to see you here on our blog often. Happy Holidays!

  4. Colette Cortez

    I have loved reading your blog post! Our family of five is planning the big move from Oahu, Hawaii (I’m originally South African and my husband is from Dallas, we lived in the Caribbean for many years but have lived in Hawaii for the past 17 years) to Spain in the next 1.5 years, probably next October (2020). We have two 10 year olds and a 12 year old so am trying my hardest to research some good spots for our family to relocate and call home. My husband and I will come this October for a recon trip to visit a few spots. I was just wondering what you thought of the schooling system out in Denia, or if you had heard from friends? I don’t know if I should be looking at places closer to Alicante or Valenica, or even down near Malaga?I LOVE the feel of what you have described Denia as having, it sounds absolutely magical in so many ways. I do see they have one international school called Lady Elizabeth but not sure if that is too far of a drive? We thought about putting them in the local public Spanish schools, but my daughter will be 13 and the boys 12 at that point so not sure if it’ll be too hard of an adjustment…Although if you have heard of a particularly good local school in Denia, we have totally considered ripping the band aid off, so to say, and throwing them in head first to learn the language fast. Would greatly appreciate any advice you may have to share! Thank you, so much!

    • Amalia and Eric

      Hi Colette, We’re so glad that you’ve enjoyed our post and blog. You’ve got great questions and it’s exciting to hear about your plans. Our friends who have children here in Denia seem very happy with the school system and the town is very family-focused. I’m going to reply directly to you soon to discuss more. And yes, Denia truly is as magical as it sounds. We continue to love it so much here and appreciate seeing the great advancements and improvements as the town grows but still retains its charm. We look forward to talking more and would love to meet when you come for a visit. Thank you!

  5. Eric

    What an adventure!

    • Amalia and Eric

      With you, always!

  6. Eulanda

    Now we know the second reason why we love Denia so much (you guys are the first)! Reading this makes us realise how much more of your city we still have yet to experience! A return trip must be planned!

    • Amalia and Eric

      So glad to hear that! Thrilled that you like the article and look forward to your next visit – next time we’ll know even more about our Spanish home-base and it will really be a gastronomical adventure. We’ll be so full all the time!


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