The charming village of Guadalest is a beautiful place to visit with spectacular views over surrounding countryside, the lake and the mountains.
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One of the most picturesque must-see places to visit when holidaying in Benidorm or the Alicante area has to be Guadalest.
It’s a charming village with spectacular views over surrounding countryside, the lake and mountains.
Guadalest was not a place we had heard of, but a friend suggested we visit – so thank you, Paul. It was a lovely day discovering this beautiful village. We have since read that it is the most visited village in the whole of Spain – and we can certainly understand why.
We drove to Guadalest in our motorhome along the twisting mountain road that climbs ever upwards with stunning views of the mountains and passing through the tiny villages and hamlets.
Parking was easy at one of the lower car parks which had plenty of space. But then it was a Monday which is always a quieter day, and we were visiting out of season. The cost was a very reasonable 2 euros for the day. It’s always advisable to try and arrive before 11 am too, as we did, to avoid any parking problems.
From the car park, you see the newer part of Guadalest, but intriguingly the old village and castle are accessed through a tunnel carved from the rock. When you reach the other end it’s like stepping back in time as you enter the hidden village.
The architecture and streets maintain the medieval spirit and are what has helped this town get onto the list (in 2015) of the most beautiful cities in Spain.
From the viewpoint, on the square, we looked down to the breathtaking views of the lake and valley. The water is an amazing turquoise colour. This reservoir supplies drinking water to Benidorm and the surrounding areas. When there are forest fires nearby, the fire brigade water planes skim over the reservoir to scoop up water to put the flames out!
You can walk down and take a solar-powered boat ride around the lake. The boat only operates between April and September. There are two departures – at 1 pm and 3 pm, and it takes 50 minutes. Unfortunately, the boat was not running the day we visited as it was a Monday.
Many people walk across the dam at the top end and (in the summer months) sit around the edge with a picnic. The walk around the lake is very scenic.
As you look up from the viewpoint, you can see the well-preserved castle which dominates and overlooks the valley.
This place seems to have a little for everyone in its narrow streets. There are craft and souvenir shops, restaurants, bars with cosy terraces, views a castle & chapel, walking and eight unique museums to wander around.
Located 600 metres above sea level in the mountains it can be quite chilly so make sure you take a jacket and comfortable flat shoes for walking on the cobbles and climbing the steps. If you have a baby, it might be an idea to use a sling rather than a pushchair as there are many steps.
The interesting or should I say strange museums have a small entrance fee of just 3-4 euros each.
- The Micro-Gigantic Museum is one of the most fascinating, as it displays giant sculptures, as well as miniature ones that fit on a pinhead and you need a magnifying glass to see!
- The Antonio Marco Dolls Houses Museum houses a collection of incredibly detailed dolls houses created by Antonio Marco, who made each one with incredible detail.
- The Orduna House Museum is the home of the Orduna family who was once guardians of the castle. It’s truly magnificent, and the library is one of the most impressive rooms featuring many fascinating books.
- The Torture Museum exhibits instruments used for torture and executions including an impaling device and one designed for decapitation. – Not a museum I particularly wanted to see.
- The Salt and Pepper Museum has over 20,000 salt and pepper shakers on display.
- The Ethological Museum exhibits tools people used along with clothing and an insight into their homes.
- The Vehicles Museum features over a hundred motorbikes, cars and other useful machines such as typewriters.
- The Museum of Cats has hundreds of pottery and porcelain figures of cats
Many artists have taken root in Guadalest, attracted by its spectacular landscapes, which has inspired them.
One of the best things about this beautiful town is that it doesn’t have to take all day to visit if you are not interested in the museums or surrounding walks or boat ride. You could get around it in just a couple of hours.
El Castell de Guadalest
The castle is the highest point of Guadalest and, from there, you have 360-degree views which are incredible: to the valley and the reservoir on one side; and the Mediterranean sea on the other.
Jaime I conquered it from the Muslims during the reign of Pedro IV (Pere IV) the castle was fortified. However, the earthquakes which took place in the Middle age and the war of Succession destroyed the castle. Some canvas on the walls of the castle, the cistern and the Tribute Tower are all that remains now.
The Castle and the whitewashed bell tower of ‘Penon de la Alcala’ are two of the must-see monuments here.
Gastronomy in Guadalest
As it was a bit colder (although sunny the day we visited Guadalest we tried the olleta de blat a traditional regional stew based on chickpeas, carrots and chopped wheat. There is a meat version olleta de la Vall de Guadalest which is pork meat, bacon, white beans, swiss chard, turnip, onions and rice. The cornballs oven-baked rice, stuffed chilli or the rabbit with garlic are also essential in the gastronomy of Guadalest
Getting to Guadalest
Hiring a car is the best way to reach Guadalest (unless you have your own or a motorhome) that way you can take in the magnificent scenery in your own time. They are so cheap to hire in Benidorm.
The interesting journey commences with the picturesque scenery of the Altea village. The roads then wind up alongside the Mountain of Sierra de Aitana past the towns of Xorta and Polop right on the Guadalest Valley.
Guadalest is located on the CV-70, 25 km from Altea.
There are fantastic connections with some of the main towns of the Costa Blanca, 20 km away from Benidorm, 22 from Altea and 30 from Calpe and an hours drive from Alicante.
Bus from Benidorm
The No. 16 bus goes from the Plaza Triangular every day (but only once a day). The bus starts in La Cala Finestrat at 9.45am, reaching the top of the Ave Mediterraneo at 10.05 am, and the Rincon de Loix at 10.10 am. The journey time from the triangle is a little over an hour. The return bus departs at 1.20 pm giving you approximately 2 hours in Guadalest which is enough time to look around although not really to go into any of the museums. The cost for a single journey is 3.75 euros.
For those who can’t hire a car and don’t want the hassle of bus schedules you can get a taxi from Benidorm for a reasonable price.