Valencia To Peñíscola Day Trip
Valencia to Peñíscola day trip is probably the most mind-blowing trip that you can take in the region. The impressive vistas, the half moon beaches and the top seafood will not leave you indifferent!
What’s Peñíscola like?
Valencia to Peñíscola day trip is definitely one of my top three summer day trips you can take. This tiny and yet striking town makes for a great backdrop for the most decadent travel photographs.
The Old Town dwells on a rock protruding into the sea, with dramatic rocky cliffs marking the city limits. The charming medieval castle sits on top of the almost perfectly round-shaped rock.
Surrounded by the whitewashed buildings with blue painted details and flower pots, you know you’re in the Mediterranean. The tiny meandering streets full of bars and restaurants and colorful souvenir shops along the streets near the castle make for a fun stroll.
Vibrant porcelain, paintings and all sorts of other bagatelles are displayed on the makeshift stands outside of the old town buildings.
The Castle is amazingly well preserved. It was built on the site of a former Arab alcazaba (palace) at the beginning of the 14th century by Knights Templar, and a century later it was made Benedict XIII’s (commonly known as Papa Luna) headquarters.
His former chamber’s windows face the sea in the eastward direction – only the sea, up to the horizon. It is said that he used to spend hours looking out of this window, hoping to see a ship sent by the Vatican sailing towards the castle to take him to Rome to become the Pope. Which never happened, by the way.
Location: the old town on the top
When to go: Summer opening hours (from the Sunday just before the Holy Week through October 15th) are from 9.30am until 9.30pm. Winter opening hours (October 16th until Saturday before the Holy Week) are from 10.30am until 5.30pm. Frequent guided visits run from June to September (free of charge). Ask for the schedule at the time of the ticket purchase. Closed on holidays (see list here).
The best: Take a free guided tour during the summer months. Check out the torture chamber and a collection of Templar Knights wear. Climb to the highest square within the palace and take in the views of the city and the sea.
When you find yourself in a small Mediterranean coast location with a strong fishing tradition, you must have high expectations for the seafood.
What to eat:
Peñíscola is serious about its seafood, so why not splurge on some of the following dishes:
- baby cuttlefish in its ink (sepionet en su tinta)
- grilled prawns (gambas a la plancha)
- brothy fish stews (suquet de peix or caldereta de peix)
- grilled or stewed octopus with potatoes (pulpo)
- all sorts of clams: tellinas, berberechos, navajas…
If you want to really go local all the way, order the Vinarós prawns (langostino de Vinarós). It’s a species that can only be found in this area of the Castellón province.
El Anfora Restaurant
Replicas of ancient amphorae at El Anfora Restaurant.
Whenever we go to Peñíscola, we always stop by to eat at El Anfora. Its owner, Dani, is a fisherman with 35 years of experience. In fact, besides running his quaint seafood restaurant, where he sells ancient anforae replicas, he also offers fishing trips in his little motor boat.
The salty cuttlefish in its ink at El Anfora
You cannot but notice the level of care and love Dani puts into his work.
Sea anemones fried in batter at El Anfora with coarse sea salt
On this day trip we had:
- baby cuttlefish in its ink – a striking dish because of its color, but so so delicious!
- a sea urchin tortilla – a thin omelette with several pieces of sea urchin here and there.
- fried sea anemones in batter. One of my favorite – when you crack the crispy batter your mouth is filled with the taste of the sea itself! Once harvested, these little creatures do not stay fresh for long, so they are mostly served along the Mediterranean and the Atlantic coast, close to rocky beaches – their habitat.
- octopus stew with potatoes and a side of aoili (Dani showed us the way the fishermen eat this: mash the potatoes with your fork, mix in some aioli and add a piece of octopus on top. A hearty dish which nevertheless works great for the summer).
Needless to say, everything was simply spectacular!
Octopus and potato stew with a side of aoili
What else to do in Peñíscola
1. The Maritime Museum (museo de la mar) is not far from the castle. It’s a small exhibition of anforae, anchors and other antiques found at the bottom of the sea in the area. If you do not want to go in just enjoy the view from its square.
2. Check out the wonderful “shell house”.
3. Relax on the beach. There are two halfmoon beaches within the city limits – they are both sandy and machine cleaned regularly.
The halfmoon beaches of Peñíscola.
4. Check out the port. Various coastal cruises and fishing trips are offered.
5. See the lighthouse. Check out the building from outside. Founded in 1899 the last reconstruction took place in 1970. The lighthouse is functioning but it cannot be visited.
The lighthouse (el faro)
6. Walk on top of the city walls for panoramic views.
7. Relax at a bar with a sound of waves crashing against the rocks – at Samarucs. Try their non-alcoholic mojito!
If you are looking for ideas on how to spend your time, read my post on 125 things to do in Valencia!
How to get there:
Taking Valencia-to-Peñíscola day trip by car is the most convenient. You will reach Peñíscola in an hour and a half.
By public transport:
Trickier option, but doable.
In the summer take a morning (for example 10.05 am) train towards Benicarló-Peñíscola, from Estación del Norte in Valencia (“Estació Nord” in the Valencian language). The trip duration is 1.5-2 hrs depending on the train. The Benicarló-Peñíscola station is just 7 km north of the town of Peñíscola and in summer there are buses that run every hour between the station and the town. The bus trip from Benicarló-Peñíscola train station to the town of Peñíscola is 20 minutes.
After the summer the buses from Benicarló-Peñíscola train station stop, so your best bet is to take atrain to Vinarós – buses from this station run every 30 minutes to Peñíscola.
The last train back to Valencia from both Benicarló-Peñíscola and Vinarós train stations leaves at 9.31pm.
If you would like to explore more beach destinations in Valencia you may enjoy reading this post.
If you have an extra day, take Valencia to Peñíscola day trip! It’s a perfect destination for history and seafood lovers. Learn more about the local gastronomy during my tapas & wine tour, which takes place in the historic district of Eixample in Valencia. It is a full tapas dinner with dessert and various wines, all included in the ticket price!