When we planned our Spain itinerary for our summer vacation, I was surprised by how little information there was online, in English, about visiting Spanish wine country and beaches. When we traveled to Spain, we wanted to mix our time between wine tasting in the Utiel-Requena region and relaxing on the beach in the Costa Blanca. We had a great time in Spain, but there were definitely some things it would have been nice to know in advance.
I hope that this itinerary can help you plan 9 awesome days in Spain, and that by reading about our trip, you’ll become even more excited about your own travels!
Day 1: Fly in Valencia, Spain, and Drive to Utiel-Requena D.O. Region
Check into the Hotel La Villa. Relax and enjoy a glass of wine!
Explore the city on foot. The town’s narrow streets are full of amazing photo opportunities, and there’s a castle in the town, too!
Read more: 10 Beautiful Photos of Requena, Spain
Enjoy trips to local Bodegas (but be sure to schedule your tastings in advance!). The hotel helped set us up with a tour and tasting at nearby Bodegas Pago de Tharsys.
Day 2: Utiel-Requena D.O. Region
Continue to enjoy the region’s fantastic wines, but be absolutely sure you schedule any tours or tastings well in advance of your trip. Spanish Bodegas don’t operate like California wineries do: they’re not necessarily open every day, and they’re usually not open to walk-in visitors.
Be sure to check out the Cuevas de la Villa, immediately next door to the Hotel la Villa. The cuevas, or caves, are a cool way to learn more about how wine was made in the region hundreds of years ago. The caves are man-made, and inside you can see stone wine storage vessels that stand more than six feet high!
Day 3: Leave Requena to Drive to Almansa
Drive from Requena to the Almansa area and check into the Hotel Rural Castillo in Biar, Spain (see Google Maps images of the beautiful location and hotel here).
It’s not the fanciest of hotels, but the price is right and the views are pretty amazing. We enjoyed a fantastic dinner from the deck, and our daughter had a great time playing on the playground while we enjoyed a glass of wine and the pretty views from the back side of the hotel. The hotel also has a relaxed little pool area, but the hotel is otherwise no-frills. Our dinner on the back patio (with the playground for Small Shaw) was definitely the highlight of our stay at Hotel Rural Castillo.
A note for techno-travelers: If WiFi is important to you, this might not be the best hotel choice. WiFi worked alright in the lobby, but barely worked at all in our room.
While you’re in the Almansa area, you should try to visit the Bodegas Francisco Gomez and the Castle of Villena. Here’s a little more about each spot:
Bodegas Francisco Gomez
A visit to the Bodegas Francisco Gomez will mean a winery tour and tasting of epic proportions. This particular Bodegas is big and really well-developed. Employees spoke English well, and we were able to book a tour with them in advance via email. The tour was fantastastic, but it was topped by the wine tasting, which included a few wines, olive oils, and a spread of breads and meats that left us very full and happy.
The Castle of Villena
The Castle of Villena is pretty awesome to see, but if you don’t make plans in advance, you may be stuck (like we did) seeing it from the outside, only. English language information about the castle isn’t very easy to find online, so until we arrived there we weren’t sure exactly how tours worked or what time they were offered.
Unfortunately for us, we weren’t able to make a tour work with our travel schedule. Fortunately for you, I picked up an English language brochure while were were there, and I wrote an entire blog post sharing lots of details with you about the castle, its history, and how to take a castle tour!
Tours of the castle are free and are offered from Tuesday through Friday at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., and at 12:30 p.m.
On Saturdays, Sundays, and Banking Holidays, castle tours are offered at 11:00 a.m. and at 12:00 and 1:00 p.m.
Each tour lasts around an hour, and no more than 50 guests are taken on the same tour. The views from the Tower of Homage (the tallest tower in the castle) over the Vinalopó Valley are supposed to be pretty incredible, if you have the chance to check them out.
Read more: How to Plan a Visit to The Castle of Villena
Day4: Leave Almansa to Drive to Javea
Enjoy breakfast at the Hotel Rural Castillo before making a little road trip to an amazing natural water park, the Fuentas de Algar Waterfalls!
Read more: 5 Tips for Your First Trip to Spain
The drive is a pretty one that will take about 1.5 hours to complete. Make sure you have an exact address for the waterfalls before you start driving, since they’re a little outside of the nearest town.
Fuentas de Algar is, simply put, amazing. I wrote an entire post about the time we spent there, so if you’re even halfway interested in visiting them, hop on over to read that post here.
Be sure to read the full post about Fuentas de Algar here.
If we’d realized just how cool the park was, we’d have stayed overnight in the area so that we could have spent more time in the water that day. We had reservations for our next hotel well in advance though, so after a few hours of playing in the water, we grabbed lunch and hit the road for Xabia (or Javea), Spain.
Day 5 & 6: Javea, Spain
Wake up and enjoy the breakfast buffet at the Aparthotel Pinasol in Javea.
Once we arrived in Javea, it was time to chill out. We’d had tentative plans to explore some neat sites in the area, including the architectural landmark La Muralla Roja and the nature park Penon de Ifach, but instead we enjoyed our hotel’s pools, the local beach, and some relaxing down time as a family.
The beach we visited is called Arenal Beach (or Playa de Arenal). Parking and beach access are free, and there are plenty of shops and restaurants on the boardwalk and in the surrounding (i.e. walkable from the beach) area. The beach was nice, offering handicap/stroller access, umbrellas, and other conveniences.
Read more: 5 Things to Know About Arenal Beach, Spain
Days 7 & 8: Leave Javea to Drive North to Denia
Get in one last Aparthotel Pinasol breakfast before making the short (but scenic) drive North to Denia for the Running of the Bulls Into the Sea! If you’re looking for a little extra action in your vacation, take a hike at the Parc Natural del Montgo after checking out of the hotel and en route to Denia.
Visit the Castle of Denia
You can’t visit Denia and not make a trek up into its castle ruins. Like most castles, the one in Denia sits on top of a high hilltop with views over the surrounding areas. You can see mountains, city, and ocean all from the top of the castle ruins. It’s pretty beautiful! The admisssion fee was reasonable, and we were able to wander and explore as much as we liked. At the top of the ruins was also a small cafe with coffee, beer, ice cream, and light snacks. Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the Castle of Denia:
Attend the Running of the Bulls Into the Sea (Bous a la Mar) Festival
The other must-do in Denia, Spain is the Bous a la Mar Festival (The Running of the Bulls Into the Sea). The festival takes place in the summer, and it’s really something to see! Hundreds of amateur bullfighters (mostly wearing swim suits and tennis shoes) gather in a dirt ring immediately beside the sea. Wooden bleachers are built up high on three sides of the “ring”, and on the fourth side, spectators float on inflatable rafts or small boats in the harbor.
One at a time, angry bulls are released into the “ring,” where the amateur bullfighters try to provoke the bulls into jumping off of the dock and into the sea. Someday, I hope to write a detailed post about the Bous a la Mar festival, but for now, these pictures will have to suffice:
Day 9: Fly Home from Valencia, Spain
On your last morning in Spain, leave Denia to drive back to the Valencia airport. Return your rental car and spend your flight home enjoying the amazing vacation pictures on your camera. And if you’re lucky, you’ll layover beneath a canopy of trees inside the peaceful, Madrid Airport on your way home.
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