There are a number of good day-trips to be made from Valencia, including a visit to the monastery at El Puig or a meal at some of the region’s very best paella restaurants at El Palmar, El Perelló or El Perellonet.
La Albufera, just 12km south from Valencia, is a vast lagoon separated from the sea by a sandbank and surrounded by rice fields. Being one of the largest bodies of fresh water in Spain, it constitutes an important wetland, and attracts tens of thousands of migratory birds – a throng composed of 250 species, of which ninety breed here regularly. In the Middle Ages, it was ten times its present size but the surrounding paddies have gradually reduced it. After growing contamination by industrial waste, domestic sewage and insecticide, the area was turned into a natural park. Whether you’re into birdwatching or not, the lagoon area makes a relaxing change from the city.
It’s possible to “hop on, hop off” the Valencia Bus Turístic and tuck into a lunch of paella, or eels with all i pebre (piquant sauce), in the lakeside village of El Palmar, which is packed with restaurants. On August 4, El Palmar celebrates its fiesta; the image of Christ on the Cross is taken out onto the lake in a procession of boats to the illuent, or centre, of the lake, where hymns are sung. Another 2km farther along the road to El Perelló is the tiny village of El Perellonet, where you can also sample some of the best paella in Spain.