If the only Spanish city you have ever visited is Barcelona or Madrid, you will find Valencia gives each of them more than a good run for its money. The capital of the province and of the autonomous Comunitat Valenciana, Spain's third largest city has something for everybody. It is a vibrant, stylish and quintessentially Spanish place with an unrivalled nightlife and some of the most spectacular fiestas anywhere in the world.
Wander the maze of lanes that comprise the Barrio del Carmen and admire the architecture of the grand palacios spanning the last four centuries, stopping once in a while at one of the countless terraces for a glass of something. Wonder at the vast array of produce on sale in the Mercado Central, arguably Spain's finest covered market and the largest in Europe.
Go shopping on Calle de Cristobal Colon till your plastic melts - in addition to five branches of El Corte Inglés, Valencia boasts a fabulous choice of boutiques and independent stores. Stroll to the Plaza de la Reina to take in the cathedral, but make sure you've read up on your Holy Grail legends beforehand….., then climb the tower for the most spectacular views across the city to the Mediterranean.
If you're limited for time, try the open-top tourist bus (every half hour from the Plaza de la Reina), which will give you a great feel for the city and introduce you to all the major sights. Perhaps most importantly it will take you to the Jardín de Turia.
In the 1950s the Valencianos grew tired of the repeated flooding of their river and diverted its course to the south, leaving the old Turia riverbed to be converted into a park which now virtually surrounds the city. The most spectacular development here is also the most recent. The Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, (City of Arts and Sciences), at the eastern end of the park, boasts some of the most spectacular 21st Century architecture in Europe, the work of world renowned Valencia born architect Santiago Calatrava. With its stunning Palau de les Arts, science museum and Hemisfèric eye-shaped cinema, all surrounded by a network of shimmering lakes and bridges, the complex is a truly outstanding affirmation of Valencian style. If you also take in the adjacent Parc Oceanográfico, an underwater city home to dolphins, killer whales and much more besides, you can easily spend a whole day here.
Just ensure you remember to make time for a siesta, as Valencia is without doubt one of Europe's great party cities and you'll need all the stamina you can muster to make it through the night. Many of the better restaurants don't open for dinner much before 10 o'clock and at weekends the myriad bars and clubs are thronged well into the early hours and beyond. The Fallas de San José in March is Valencia's most famous fiesta; a carnival of fireworks and bonfires to rival any on the planet. But there are pyrotechnical extravaganzas throughout the year including the annual International Fireworks Festival in October which coincides with Valencian National Day, whilst the City's Cabalgata de Reyes on 5 January each year is one of Spain's most impressive Three Kings parades.
Xàtiva stands on a site that was first settled by Neanderthal man some 30,000 years ago. Today Xàtiva is a delightful mixture of contrasting architectural styles and has an ambience that will almost certainly lead you to spend more time here than you intended. The ancient town nestles at the foot of the Serra del Castell, atop of which sits the imposing castle itself, a monolithic fortress with parts dating from Roman times through to the 19th Century. From the ramparts the far-reaching views over the surrounding hills and valleys are breathtaking.
Medieval Xàtiva was home to the Borja family, two of whom, Alfonso and Rodrigo – father of the infamous Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia – went on to become Pope. The Church has played a vital part in Xàtiva's history ever since, nowhere better reflected than in the stunning Colegiata Vasilica. Known as "La Seo", the basilica is a lovely example of renaissance ecclesiastical work. Scattered throughout the winding, cobbled lanes of the old town you will come across a host of grand palacios, pretty chapels and churches all interspersed with the innumerable fountains which give the town its nick-name "ciudad de las mil fuentes".
At the foot of the old town Xàtiva's central paseo runs from the bullring to the Plaça del Españaleto. A wide avenue shaded by ranks of mature plane trees and lined with cafés, bars and gardens, it is the perfect place to while away an hour or two.
Take the Simat road from Rafelguaraf and you will find yourself winding through lush, tree-clad mountains and valleys towards the Mediterranean. In just over half an hour you'll reach the beautiful sandy beaches at Platja de Tavernes which seem to stretch into infinity both north towards Cullera and south to Gandía and beyond.
The town of Gandía, a couple of kilometres inland from its beach, is well worth a visit. With charming traffic-free shopping streets and the magnificent Palacio Ducal de los Borjas, it's easy to spend a pleasant few hours here.
Valencia may not be awash with golf courses in the same way as the southern Costa Blanca, but the quality of those within easy reach of Casa Sibarita is outstanding. The new La Galiana near Alzira is just 20 minutes away, Oliva Nova and El Saler (ranked one of the best in Europe) are each a 45 minute drive, whilst those of El Bosque and Escorpión can be reached in under an hour.
There are opportunities aplenty throughout the area for aspiring anglers. For both sea and freshwater fishing, try heading north to Cullera. The province's principle sea fishing port is surrounded by freshwater lagoons at the mouth of the Rio Xúquer. Alternatively, a short drive south from Rafelguaraf will bring you to Benigànim at the edge of the Embalsa de Bellus, a reservoir fed by a network of streams and rivers.
La Ribera Alta is perfect country for horse riding and there is a selection of stables within easy reach of the hotel.
Walking and Cycling
A twenty minute stroll through the orange groves that surround the village will take you to the edge of the valley and the foot of the pine-clad hills which surround it. From here, you are in a trekker's paradise.
Bicycles are available for hire in nearby Xàtiva and should you choose to venture further afield, you can take your bike on the Cercanía trains, outside peak times.
To find Casa Sibarita, we recommend using the following links:
Alicante Airport to Casa Sibarita - https://goo.gl/maps/JWpM6XPK3Kw
Valencia Airport to Casa Sibarita - https://goo.gl/maps/VCoYUjdQpg22
Rafelguaraf is connected to Xàtiva by bus Monday to Friday (except August) and, from the neighbouring village stations at L'Enova and La Pobla Llarga, by a twice hourly Cercanía train service to Valencia (35 mins.) and Xàtiva (10 mins.) From Xàtiva mainline trains run direct to Alicante (1 hour), Murcia (2½ hours), Madrid (3 hours), Barcelona (5 hours) and many other cities across Spain.
There is a taxi rank directly opposite Xàtiva station, with the 15 minute journey to Rafelguaraf costing approximately €15. If you prefer, we can organise a local taxi to collect you from Valencia airport.