Albufera de Valencia: 3 perspectives of the rice fields

Albufera is an urban oasis surrounded by rice fields and forest. Visit it is the way to understand the origin of Valencian gastronomy including the very well-known Paella.

Vela Latina in Port de Silla, Albufera de Valencia, Spain
Vela Latina in Port de Silla, Albufera de Valencia, Spain

It is only from 10 km to 30 km from the city but to arrive there means pure nature, dreamy sunsets, botanic treks, boat trips and calmness disconnection overall.

Albufera cómo llegar

Albufera is more interesting cultur-wise or because of its natural spots rather than the beauty of the villages around. According to our opinion there are three interesting areas to approach to the rice fields and to enjoy the lake views, the tiny ports for boats and the canals. Those three areas are different in terms of what they can offer to the visitor.

We will recommend a starting point to approach to the lake according to the interest of the visitor: natural surroundings and real rice fields for cropping, culture and some history and gastronomy.

Virgin nature and rice fields

Sounds like a contradiction but it’s not. The lake has kept its own nature of canes, sweet water near the sea and mud all around. Since the rice cropping needs a lot of water to make it possible the local population took the advantage of it to build the canals and bring the water to the fields that surround the natural lake. Out of it a lot of different amazing bird colonies have come to life there, being fed by the rice and insects of the zone.

According to our opinion the best way to reach these environment is by the western part of the lagoon. We can recommend to go from Silla or from El Romaní. Local fishermen and field workers move around the narrow dirty roads with their vehicles that the visitor can use to approach the lake in a short drive of less than 15 minutes. On the way you could go to Silla Port which is a small canal parking, where you can admire the small local boats. Some of them they are still traditional and use Vela Latina, a kind of similar shape sail like the roman ships used. Besides this natural environment, there is not much to do there. There aren´t bars or restaurants so it’s not a bad idea to carry with your own stuff to eat or drink.

Culture and history

The Eastern part of the lagoon is the best part to understand the specific culture developed around the rice crops. El Saler on the north east is probably the most prepared town to show to the visitor. El Saler as a town is not beautiful itself. It seems to be completely renewed and widened during the sixties with many working class buildings that nowadays look undated and decadent.

Along the main road that reaches the town you can find plenty of nice restaurants to enjoy local food for breakfast or lunch or rather going for some drinks. There are some few historical buildings, like “La casa de la demanà” from XVIIIth century and some old “barracas” (traditional whithe cottage houses”, still standing. El Saler has its own port too behind the villages where you can spot again some traditional boats. From the port is possible to organize boat excursions on the lake.

Besides that the local authorities have prepared a couple of walking itineraries to enjoy the local nature and history. They are really lame to be honest since there are not many historical things that still remain. There are some pictures of ancient times around that can show how El Saler was in the past so you can imagine and compare to how it looks like currently now. If you don’t have plenty of time you can skip those itineraries but following their 600 meters long to the coast has the reward of arriving to a quite nice beach with good “chiringuitos” (beach bars) where to relax a bit.

Gastronomy   

The South East is the main point for gastronomy in all Albufera. That means to go  to El Palmar or to one of the restaurants nearby. There you can enjoy the lagoon on a traditional boat with local guides from one of the decks and even eat paella on board. There are some canals in El Palmar and some “barracas” but for what it is famous is the local food.

There are a lot of restaurants to eat different paella types and local dishes. In season is difficult to park in town but we can assure to you that is really worth in terms of the quality of the food there. The quality is high in all of them and many have fixed menus at very good value for money. The main dishes there are obviously rice and I would recommend any kind of paella or arroz caldoso but don’t forget the lake products like eels and “all i pebre” stews.

How to get there?

Bus

From Valencia Vity Center bus lines 24 and 25 of the EMT city buses can bring you there. Line 24 goes to El Palmar and line 25 to El Perellonet from the center of Valencia, in less than an hour and for only € 1.50 each way.

Another way to enjoy the trip to the Albufera Natural Park is on the Albufera Bus Turístic. On this bus, you will enjoy a complete visit to the Albufera Natural Park, discovering the ecosystems of the rice fields. This visit also includes a boat trip.

Car

From Valencia City on the V-15 highway that connects directly with the CV-500 regional road. Also through A-3 highway connecting with the V-30 highway, direction Port, until taking the exit indicated by El Saler CV-500. (Northern sector).

Train

From Valencia you can access the municipalities in the interior of the Albufera: Alfafar, Sedaví, Catarroja, Massanassa, Silla, El Romaní, Sollana, Sueca or Cullera. In all of them there is a train station. But from all those towns is better to bring a bicycle as the distances you have to travel from each of the stations to the wetland are quite long.

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