Rice delights in the region of Valencia

What could be better than a sun-soaked getaway to the region of Valencia? Maybe one that's paired with a nature escape at the picturesque Albufera Natural Park and a culinary pilgrimage to the birthplace of paella. It’s time to go with the grain.

The grain in Spain…
Rice has huge significance in the country’s culinary culture. The humble ingredient first arrived in Spain in the 8th century and has since grown to be a staple of many dishes, with a number of grain varieties developing over time. In Valencia, traditional cuisine centres on rice grown locally in the Albufera Natural Park region. So deeply rooted in Valencian agricultural tradition is the rice crop that it has shaped the way of life here for generations. Let Valencia transport you to the core of its culinary culture.


Perfect paella in El Palmar
The grain type – bomba – used in one of Spain’s most famous dishes, paella, thrives in the low-lying wetlands of Valencia. Cooked over open fire in a specific pan with saffron and paprika, paella is the go-to dish for celebrating – and it is said that El Palmar was the birthplace of this bold, flavour-forward dish. Away from the bustling city, the small village of El Palmar is located a few km south of Valencia, in the heart of Albufera National Park. Here, flooded rice paddies supply the pantry of Valencia.

With provenance at the fore, El Palmar offers a unique experience to taste the dish made with the famed rice in its place of origin. And why not start the experience by going straight to the source and tour the atmospheric rice fields – either on boat or by foot? After, there are more than 30 first-rate restaurants in El Palmar to savour the deep flavours of this most-loved dish. But paella is just the starting point. Other regional rice dishes take centre stage here too. From arròs amb fesols i naps (a traditional stew) to arròs a banda (a popular seafood dish), as well as seafood such as llobarro (seabass) straight from the harbour, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to gastronomic excellence.

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Biodiversity in Albufera Natural Park
With its expansive freshwater lagoon and abundance of birdlife, Albufera Natural Park is an outdoor paradise spreading out over 21 hectares. Roughly 20km south of the city and lying directly adjacent to the Mediterranean coast, the wetlands of Albufera Natural Park connect lagoon and sea through a tangled map of canals and gullies. The park is a place of rich biodiversity: here, more than 350 migrating bird species make their nests, as well as being home to a wide variety of waterfowl, fish and endemic flora species. Naturally, birdwatching opportunities are of the highest order, as is the experience of being surrounded by outstanding natural beauty and gaining insight into age-old rice cultivation methods –the 223sq km of fertile rice fields around the lagoon are not only a sight to behold, but this humble rice crop is integral to the landscape, people and culinary culture of the region. The traditional farming system, which involves controlled flooding and specific agricultural techniques, plays a crucial role in conserving the Albufera ecosystem. With this level of biodiversity, a focus on sustainability is essential and The Albufera Natural Park is committed to promoting responsible tourism, with education and conversation about the unique ecosystem at the top of the agenda. Tag-team with a local guide to get up close and personal to the thousands of fleeting birds, and finish the experience with a sunset cruise across the wetlands.


Springtime sun

Basking in the warming glows of the spring sunshine, now is an ideal time to visit. Enjoy the extraordinary natural vistas, unmatched culinary heritage and welcoming local people. Valencia airport is directly connected to several cities in the UK, with a flight time of just under three hours.

For more information on wine tourism in the Region of Valencia, including inspiration to help you plan your trip, head over to experienciascv.es/en/home

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