Some time ago I wanted to write this post to share with you one of my favorite places in Valencia, the Natural Park of la Devesa – Albufera and the picturesque village of El Palmar. I happen to know this place very well as my maternal grandparents were from there. Believe me, even if I am very familiar with all these landscapes, their rice fields, its fauna, its small paths, I never get accustomed to the beauty of this impressive place… are you ready?
As a curiosity, before we start our journey, it is interesting to know that the Natural Park of la Devesa – Albufera (Albufera, from Arabic البحيرة to el-buheira, “small sea”) , was declared Lagoon by the Generalitat Valenciana on July 23, 1986. It’s Lake, lagoon, is the largest in Spain and is located just 10 minutes south of the city of Valencia.
How to get there?
You can arrive with your own car on the national road CV-500. To make the route that I propose today you should firstly take the roundabout after de El Saler firefighters Park to the left, towards the apartments.
Another option for this trip is with the EMT 25 bus line. With this new line of urban transport, getting there has several advantages, on the one hand, the price of a normal ticket €1´50 and that you can carry with you your folding bikes. It has also stops in all the places that I am going to propose in this post.
Finally, also can go straight on bicycles from the city, but be sure to be in good shape and have good kit for your bike. A beautiful route can be long for someone who is not accustomed to cycling.
What route would you like to propose?
Although these routes can be done separately, if you only have a day, they can all be done together as I propose in this post, enjoying more of the essence of the natural park… let’s get started!
- Route / Stage 1 – Estany del Pujol
My recommendation is to start with a nice walk parallel to the beach of El Saler by its zone of «restinga», which is the natural barrier of sand dunes and pine forest that runs through this part of the coast from North to South. Surrounded by pine trees and vegetation typically Mediterranean go parallel to a wood road, between cane roads, that takes us to a small bridge, this road of wood will be where we pick up on our return.
On the other side of the bridge you will find the «Estany del Pujol» which in itself already deserves this visit. Birds nested in nooks and crannies, high dunes that separate us from the nearby beach… a quiet and green place where we forget that we are that close to the big city.
At this point we can either surround the Lake and continue walking along the path that climbs from the right of the bridge in direction to the floodgates… both walks are a delight for the senses.
Once this short tour has finished, we will come back in the same direction we have taken, but instead of returning by the way of pines, I propose to go back along the path of wood that are right in front of the bridge…
We return to take the car (or bus!) and we get on route again in the direction of El Palmar.
- Route / Stage 2 – Viewpoint (lookout) at the Gola de Pujol
From this point, located next to the gates that separate the sea of la Albufera. As you enter you will be surprised by the beautiful panoramic view of the Lake which, depending on the time and day will change your light, your reflexes, the wildlife that sit quiet on the «estacots» or bats that slumber so the networks that are immersed in the Lake to fish eel…
Returning to Valencia, at the end of the day, you can make again a stop at this point in the visit and see its famous sunsets from here.
- Route / Stage 3 – Center of interpretation of the Racó de l´Olla
Upon entering the turn-off to El Palmar, on the left, you will find this place with its Tower – viewpoint from which to observe birds and the Lake from above.
I recommend that you book in good time for this stop, if not you will probably regret it. It is worth enjoying a leisurely walk through the Center of Interpretation «Racó de l´Olla» in the small paths, which go into the reserve, where the diversity of the vegetation of the Park is a surprise; the point is well represented in bird watching… really great! It is important to keep in mind; they close at 14:00h.
- Route / Stage 4 – Fishermen Community of El Palmar
Next stop, El Palmar… If you have not arrived too late, you can enter into their Fishermen Community, founded in 1250, to see where the locals buy and sell eels and lagoon fish, caught by hand with their typical networks… highly recommended, it is a very curious place to visit.
- Route / Stage 5– A boat trip
To conclude the visit, I propose that you take a trip on a typical boat of the Albufera Lake, the «albuferencs». Enjoy this landscape from the «lluent» or central part of the lagoon is something that you have to do, unless the weather prevents it, of course.
Navigating between channels will surprise you; see silhouettes of the buildings in the nearby town of Valencia, while the old barracks (typical houses of El Palmar) sit on the edge of the Lake, making us forget the passage of time.
Dates to keep in mind
- Every year, August 4, within the program of its Patron Saint, the residents of El Palmar, make a pilgrimage with the Cristo de la Salud and depart with their boats at sunset to the «lluent» and there to pray for the health of their inhabitants and for the Lake continue to give them fruits…
Finally, all together sing the anthem to the Cristo de la Salud in the center of the Lake and back to the port of El Palmar. The local band from the village brightens up the journey while neighbors, in their boats, have a typical picnic «coca cristina» or «coca of raisins and nuts» (typical cakes from Valencia) in a very festive family atmosphere… super exciting… personally, when I can, I can´t miss it!
- Also annually, Lateen Sailing competitions are organized on the Lake. You need to pay attention to the race calendar. In my opinion, this is a once in a lifetime event, totally recommended, it is well worth it.
Where to eat?
If there is one thing in the Palmar area that there a lot of, that is restaurants, any option is usually good, although my favorite restaurant «La Sequiota»... it is located next to the pier and its extensive menu with all the Valencian dishes you won’t be disappointed. There rice is irresistible and their covers, for example, the «all i pebre» (typical stew with eel, potatoes and chilli), their «arròs in fesols i naps» in winter and at any time of the year, the rest is of course their delicious paellas. Finally, when you go, do not forget to ask to taste their homemade desserts, «rice liquor» accompanying the coffee… you´ve been told!
Before we head off, I recommend that you have a good walk in the surrounding area that you may have perhaps missed by the roads that surround the village, between their rice fields, its canals, its houses of farmers… Try to immerse yourself in the authentic incredibly beautiful environment that has even inspired the valencian writer, Blasco Ibáñez for many of his novels.
And there it is, my post on the Natural Park of la Devesa – Albufera and El Palmar, I hope that you liked it and it encouraged you to visit this magical area, so close to Valencia that always offers new places to discover… see you in my next post! 😉
Post Translated by Mark Grimes