Summer is here and, with temperatures soaring, Valencians and visitors alike will be looking out for ways to cool down. A good fan or a refreshing glass of horchata in a shady terrace may help, but there is nothing like a splash in the water. From public swimming pools to golden sand beaches or cool river banks, there are plenty of places to choose from in Valencia.
There is no shortage of beaches in and around Valencia. The city’s own two beaches – Malvarrosa and Cabanyal (better known as Las Arenas) – are obviously the most accessible, just a short bus or metro/tram ride away, and the most popular for that reason. Beyond Las Arenas, the Patacona beach in Alboraya is another good option, maybe a bit quieter. And those who prefer more natural beach landscapes will enjoy the sand dunes of El Saler, part of the Albufera Natural Park, just half an hour south of the city.
You can also take easy day trips from the city to other beach resorts along the Mediterranean coast, both north and south of Valencia. Head north to explore Sagunto with its imposing castle before heading to its port and beach to cool down. And in Benicassim, young revellers from around the world flop on its long sandy beaches in the morning, after partying all night at the FIB International Music Festival (13/16 July this year).
South of Valencia, Cullera is one of the nearest main beach resorts, which was often raided by pirates in the past. You can visit Dragut’s Cave, named after one of the most famous and ferocious buccaneers, as well as the town’s defensive walls and Arab quarter. And in Gandía, you can enjoy the golden crescent of its vast beach and learn about the famous Borgia dynasty, who lived in its Gothic Ducal Palace in the 15th century.
If you don’t want sand in your toes, Valencia offers great piscinas municipales where, for a small charge, you can enjoy supervised swimming in Olympic-sized or smaller swimming pools. At Piscina Parque del Oeste (Calle del Musico Ayllon), for example, there are some water slides and themed evening parties during July. Other options include Polideportivo Benimaclet (Calle Daniel Balaciart), the Piscina Parque de Benicalap (Calle Francisco Morote Greus) or the Supera Ayora (Calle Jeronimo de Monsoriu).
And if chlorinated water is not your thing, try outdoor swimming at some of the natural pools and reservoirs in local rivers like the Turia, Palanciá or Mijares. Locals flock to many of these spots during weekends, bringing their cool boxes for a picnic al fresco, maybe followed by a siesta under the trees…
Following the Turia River inland from Valencia, you can find quiet, natural pools with turquoise waters surrounded by forested hills at Sot de Chera. Not far from here, Chulilla also offers beautiful outdoor swimming areas. If you are feeling active, you can enjoy a two-hour hike from Chulilla along the Guadalaviar River (the name given to the beginning of the Turia river), crossing several hanging bridges, to end with a swim at the Loriguilla reservoir.
North of Valencia, the Palanciá river also provides great settings for outdoor swimming as it cuts its way through the Espadán Mountains. In Navajas, you can swim in the river or shower under the waterfalls at the enclave known as Salto de la Novia (the Bride’s Leap), and learn about the tragic story of the two lovers that fell to their deaths while following and ancient ritual here.
Finally, how about a natural spa? The Arabs chose Montanejos, in the Castellon province, to build their thermal baths making use of the natural hot springs from the Mijares River. You can still swim or simply relax in the warm waters, enjoying the view of surrounding mountains and the murmur of waterfalls.
Whatever you prefer, in Valencia you are never far from a great spot to chill out in the water!