Roaming around mountains and vineyards in rural Alicante

A fabulous way to find out more about Alicante’s traditions, history, culture and cuisine is to take a trip around its rural villages.

During your tour through the winding valleys and mountain roads, you will be rewarded with amazing views of the countryside including rocky mountains and terraced vineyards.

Blossom in spring in the Jalon Valley

Step back in time in rural Alicante

Each small town seems to have its own impressive church and traditional Spanish square where the old men sit putting the world to rights.

Many will also still have a traditional butchers, who makes his own sausages, and a bakers with bread and pastries cooked in a wood-burning oven.

These towns will still keep traditional hours with shops closing at midday for a long lunch before opening again late afternoon. You can wander around the streets in the middle of the afternoon without seeing or hearing a soul.

Vall de Gallinera, Alicante

There are many beautiful country havens to explore which are just 30 minutes to an hour by car from the beach resorts of Denia or Javea.

You can take a round trip or pick a couple of places to explore more fully.

They range from sleepy mountain towns through to areas which are famous for cultivating rice, cherries, wine and olive oil.

Many younger people have left these villages to find work in the major Spanish cities or tourist resorts. However, rural tourism is now making a mark as people let out their traditional stone homes to holidaymakers such as cyclists, walkers or those seeking a peaceful retreat.

Each has its own character and charm, which makes you feel as though you are hundreds of kilometres – or even hundreds of years – away from the busier Costa Blanca holiday resorts.

Historic Pego and its paddy fields

Pego marshes

The Valencia region is home to the iconic paella, which comes in many varieties depending on what is available. The Pego-Oliva marshes on the edge of Pego town produce much of the special Bomba rice used in paellas and other traditional rice dishes. 

The natural park is home to wildlife such as rare fish, reptiles and birds. 

Pego old town has a traditional Spanish feel with a pretty main square, parish church and an 18th century nobleman’s home which is now a cultural centre.

For more information on rice growing in Pego

Moorish history in Adsubia

Forna Castle, Alicante

Adsubia, also known as L’Atzuvia, is an old Moorish village with a very Spanish feel to it. Just 3kms from Pego, Adsubia is found amid the orange groves.

It’s worth visiting for the little Plaza del Ayuntamiento (town hall square) where there is a simple fountain where you can get cool spring water from the nearby mountains. There is also a traditional bakers in the square so you can try some local, quality produce.

A couple of kilometres further along this road you will see Forna Castle built by the Moors to watch out for enemy Christian soldiers. Forna village has a few restaurants serving Alicante regional cuisine plus another spring water fountain.

For more information on Adsubia's history and Forna Castle

Cherry picking in Vall de Gallinera

Vall de Gallinera, Alicante

Now you really will feel as though you have stepped back in time as you go deep into the Vall de Gallinera with its spectacular scenery made up of eight little villages surrounded by valleys and mountains.

This area is famous for its top-quality cherries so best times to visit are in Spring when the blossom is out or in June for the harvest and cherry festival. 

For more information on cherries and the Vall de Gallinera

Tradition reigns in Benimeli

Mountain views from Benimeli, Alicante

At the foot of the Sierra de Segaria mountain is the little town of Benimeli, founded by the Moors. When they were expelled, many Mallorcan islanders settled there, bringing their traditions and cuisine such as cured meats and sausages.

Life centres around the Plaza Mayor square with its bars, church with bell tower, and grocery store. Around the corner is a traditional bakers where local folk can take their leg of lamb or stew to be slowly cooked in the wood-fired oven.

For more information on Benimeli and Alicante's rural retreats

Exploring caves in Benidoleig

Views across from Benidoleig caves

Benidoleig sits on the slopes of the Girona Valley with far-reaching views over the orchards. It’s well-known for its Calaveras cave or cave of skulls, dating back about 100,000 years with an impressive array of stalagmites and stalactites. Interesting shapes in the rocks have been likened to Sophia Loren’s impressive bust and even a map of Spain.

For more information on Benidoleig and Alicante's rural retreats

Paradise in Parcent

Traditional square in Parcent, Jalon Valley, Alicante

Spanish author Gabriel Miro said the rural town of Parcent was ‘a paradise between the mountains’ and little has changed since he lived there.  

In the centre of the village is the parish church with a very unusual bell tower. By the river, you can visit a typical communal washing area where women gathered to wash the laundry.

For more information on Parcent and the Jalon Valley

Unusual architecture in Alcalali

Alcalali church, Jalon Valley, Alicante

Unusual architecture also features in Alcalali with its 16th century tower housing the raisin museum and a lookout point over the valley. There’s a lovely arch leading into the Plaza del Ayuntamiento (town hall square) where the tower and parish church are found.

For more information on Alcalali and the Jalon Valley

Tasting wines in Jalon

Vineyards in Jalon Valley, Alicante

Jalon is a traditional Spanish town in the heart of wine-making country. All around are views of the mountains and orange groves. You can pick up wine at unbelievably low prices in the bodegas.

The streets around the church and main square come to life for the weekday  market. On Saturdays the car park by the riverbed is filled with antiques and curiosities for the flea market.

Bodega Xalo is definitely worth visiting to pick up wine, cava, olive oil, honey and raisins. Opposite the shop are fruit sellers where you can buy bags full of oranges, lemons and grapefruits for next to nothing.

For more information about Jalon and Alicante's wine industry

Cycling around the Jalon Valley

Well in Lliber, Jalon Valley

A favourite spot for cyclists and hikers is the Jalon Valley with beautiful climbs to the mountains with views over the valleys filled with fruit trees and vineyards.

Small towns with picturesque churches and traditional Spanish squares are dotted around the Jalon Valley where the pace of life is slower than that experienced in the coastal resorts.

For more information about the Jalon Valley and cycling in Alicante

Country views from Lliber

Lliber in the Jalon Valley, Alicante

Lliber is another pretty,rural town, near Jalon, with countryside views. In the centre is the parish church with beautiful wood carvings and the Stations of the Cross on the outside walls. Walking around you will see traditional town houses with large wooden doors and impressive brass door knockers.

For more information about the Jalon Valley