Discover Spain’s Costa del Azahar via 3 Places
Spain’s Costa del Azahar (sigh)… Ah, yes – just the name has you tasting oranges and feeling warmer. Well, at least it should once you learn what it means and where it is. Most likely, you’ve heard of the Costa Blanca and the Costa del Sol. Maybe even the Costa Brava. The Costa del Azahar though is a little less known. So we’re going to introduce you to three varying places in this area that we currently call Spanish home-base. We’ve experienced first-hand that these places are an incredible way to visit the Mediterranean Coast of Spain, and may even be the place to live abroad that is ‘just right’ for you.
Spain’s Costa del Azahar | What it Means & Other Facts
Costa del Azahar means Orange Blossom Coast, and no wonder…it’s the area of oranges. All along the coasts here are orange groves. The coast extends from Vinaròs to Almenara. A delicious and healthy fact is that they produce great honey from here too. It’s called Miel del Azahar, or Orange Blossom Honey. Delicious stuff!
Spain’s Costa del Azahar | The Big City
Valencia is one of Spain’s autonomous communities and, you guessed it, their capital is the city of Valencia. It’s ideally located right on the Mediterranean and smack-dab in the middle of the Costa del Azahar, so you get to experience the best of both worlds – a gorgeous, vibrant city and fun, relaxing beaches. The location is also ideally situated, with major train lines, out of two stations (the Estacio Nord or Joaquin Sorolla), that get you to Madrid in just about 2 hours or up to Barcelona in only 3 hours. Another pleasant train ride of between 2 – 3 hours is to the city of Zaragoza. And of course, don’t forget that Valencia has its own international airport from which you can fly to all sorts of other European and international destinations. The shorter regional trains (Cercanias), run from the Estacio Nord in the center to all the wonderful surrounding towns, pueblos and communities.
We were originally drawn to Valencia because we heard that it was just the right size of a city – not as big as its siblings Madrid and Barcelona, but big enough to enjoy the vibrant energies of a culturally rich metropolitan city. This also meant that costs of living were more affordable as well, yet with a high quality of life, as we find it to be throughout most of Spain. Being from Denver, it felt like a good fit for us and it continues to be true.
The city’s center has a magnificent historic district and there are various neighborhoods that are experiencing creative growth in the arts and small business. While living there for several months the summer of 2015, we enjoyed how the city is clean and well-kept. There’s great street art, good food, rich culture and endless museums and community centers for the arts. Housing is also relatively inexpensive and the public transportation system is great. To top it all off, the weather is glorious, with a majority of days of sunshine and mild Mediterranean temperatures even in the middle of winter.
Spain’s Costa del Azahar | The Spanish Pueblo
For the winter, we found an amazing home right on the beach in the tiny pueblo of Xeraco and its Playa (beach). Something common among the pueblos of this region is that they have the main village set inland, back a little from the sea, and then their beach area is right on the water. Xeraco’s pueblo and beach area are separated by the Rio Vaca and orange groves. Good to keep in mind because it’s about a 45 minute walk from one to the other. A pretty walk though, with a view of the gorgeous mountains inland, bright-colored orange groves, and tall green grasses along the river with various species of birds and wildlife. It’s very beautiful and peaceful.
The pueblo is the second to the last stop on the C-1 train line that leaves frequently from Valencia’s Estacion Norte. It’s a 50-minute train ride that leaves and arrives from the Xeraco pueblo every 30 minutes on weekdays and every hour on weekends. The train is relatively affordable, at just under 5 Euros per person each way. Something important to keep in mind, is that this area also has the language of Valencian, so on a map and street signs in this area, everything has two names – one in Castilian (the Spanish Language) and the Valencian name. For example, Xeraco is the Valencian name, but in Castilian it is spelled Jaraco.
Getting around between the main village of Xeraco and its beach area is still very pleasant, even without a vehicle, like in our case. It’s a great area to ride bicycles, walk, and there’s a lot of locals here with beautiful horses. The entire area, also known as La Safor, is full of castles, nature parks, monasteries and even mountain caves to explore. There’s always something new to see and experience.
Spain’s Costa del Azahar | The Town in the Middle
Then there’s Gandia. It’s not a big city like Valencia and it’s not too small of a village, like Xeraco. We guess you can say that ‘it’s just right’. Gandia is the last stop on the C-1 train from Valencia’s Estacion Norte, so it’s well connected to the bigger city. Its beach is long and deep, with views of the mountains inland and to either end of the coast. There’s a beautiful marina full of sailboats and yachts. Restaurants and little shops, that are more so open in the summer season, line the pretty boulevard that borders the beach.
The layout is similar to other towns of this area, with a beach area right on the sea and then the historic town-center located more inland. A river separates Gandia’s two areas, which is also a beautiful place to walk and ride bikes, or enjoy a local cafe. There’s a lot of beautiful parks and nature areas and the Gandia International University, which is part of the University of Valencia, that is quite close to the beach.
Gandia also has a second train route from the C-1 line that goes down to the beach. This line does not run as often in the off-season, or winter (only certain days and once or twice on those days). But in the summer it runs more often. The main train station, in the town-center, is also where the bus station is and from here you can get inexpensive buses that go to all sorts of areas further down the coast or inland. The town has a large shopping area, the Carrefour, with many other boutique shops and conveniences right within the city center. Historically, Gandia is known for the Borgia family, who included the Dukes of Gandia. The family’s historic palace is a wonderful museum to tour now and their main basilica is another beautiful building to enjoy.
Spain’s Costa del Azahar | You Don’t Have to Go Far
Visiting these three different places is a great way to experience different aspects of the Mediterranean Coast in this part of Spain. There’s Valencia for the vibrant energy of a larger, historical city, the tiny pueblo of Xeraco and Xeraco Playa for quiet tranquility and authentic Spanish beach life, and Gandia, with a little bit of both and a great place for those wanting a marina and lesser-known historical sites to visit.
It’s convenient for traveling in the area that is serviced by the C-1 train line that is out of Valencia’s Estacion Norte. The quality of life is wonderful and the cost of visiting and living is very affordable and less expensive than other areas of Spain and Europe. Yet what one enjoys and gets to experience is just as much beauty and value as other similar places to visit.
What about you…
Have you been to this area?Is there a question you want to ask us about this area? We’d love to hear about your experience and thoughts. Please ask or share below by leaving a comment!
Written by Amalia & Eric
Founders & Producers of Move to Traveling