We recently enjoyed a wonderful short break in the picture postcard town of Peñiscola, at the northern end of the Comunidad Valenciana in the province of Castellón. It’s a place we’d driven past many times and for the past six years have been planning to visit. We finally made it! One thing is for sure, we’ll be back, as a couple of nights was nowhere near enough. A rich mixture of sunshine, sand, history and culture awaits your visit.
Let’s start with the castle which dominates the skyline. By day or by night it provides a breathtaking backdrop to the town, but it’s not just a pretty sight. Walk up to its ancient walls and be prepared to step back in time. For just €5 you can explore every nook and cranny of this relic from the times of the Knights Templar. The ticket also includes access to the nearby Artillery Gardens. Information is available in English, and there’s even an app providing a free audio tour as you walk around if you want. Both sites have stunning waterside locations and you’ll need to allow a few hours to make the most of your visit.
Next comes the beach and the promenade. Golden sands stretch for several kilometres from the town to its northern outskirts. A well paved promenade runs along its full length allowing visitors to stroll along the seafront and pop into one of the many cafes and bars as temptation overpowers will! There’s even a small nature reserve which has been developed in recent years with informative signs telling you about the plants you can see.
Head back to the old town and lose yourself in history. Unfortunately the Maritime Museum is closed at the moment but there’s plenty more to occupy the senses. Keep a special eye out for Papa Luna, also known as Pope Benedict XIII, the Spanish Antipope. Wind your way through the narrow streets and buy a souvenir or two whilst you are here. There’s so much to choose from. Don’t forget to take home some locally produced Badum beer just in case you don’t get a chance to sample any during your visit.
Film and TV buffs will not be disappointed either. Follow the Film Trail around the old town and you may well recognise a few places. You may have seen El Cid (1961) or be more of a Game of Thrones fan; both had scenes filmed in Peñiscola.
Younger visitors are not left out either. A series of signposts marks the pirate trail. This tells the story of the area through the eyes of a pirate and a local knight.
We just found the whole town to be a magical place. Of course, food and lodgings are important too when it comes to having a wonderful experience. We stayed at the RH Don Carlos which was very comfortable and centrally located. We highly recommend it. Our favourite place to hang out for a drink was Tasca La Bellota who plied us with red wine and introduced us to a whole new range of flamenco fusion music to chill out to! Head over to Youtube and have a listen!! Sadly their cold meat platters were just too big to contemplate ordering but they looked amazing. Dinner at Restaurante Amaika was incredible and such good value that we went there both nights. You can read my review here. They do speak English and even have an English menu printed if you ask for one. If you want to practise your Spanish though, make sure you are one of the last customers and the staff are more than happy to join you for a long chat.
Visiting Peñiscola out of season meant it was fairly quiet. In the summer the streets would be busier for sure, but you would also be able to make the most of the beach and the sea. Sea kayaking is a popular activity and we’d love to go back to have a go at that. We will return for sure. Will we see you there?