Nestled amidst the breathtaking mountainscapes of Xorta, Serrella, and Aitana, El Castell de Guadalest or simply Guadalest, is an enchanting village in the province of Alicante, Spain. Known for its unique charm, rich history, and stunning views, this once-hidden gem has become a popular destination for those seeking an authentic Spanish holiday experience.
Location: The Heart of Alicante’s Inland
El Castell de Guadalest is situated approximately 25 kilometres inland from the bustling coast of Costa Blanca. It’s part of the Marina Baixa region, known for its dramatic landscapes and quaint villages. The village itself is perched atop a crag, presenting panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
Reaching the Jewel of Marina Baixa
The journey from Benidorm to Guadalest is relatively straightforward. You can take the CV 70 road, which meanders through scenic landscapes before reaching the village. The journey takes approximately 36 minutes by car.
The fastest route for those travelling from Villajoyosa is via N 332 and CV 70. The journey should take about 38 minutes, depending on traffic conditions.
If you’re starting your journey from Alicante, you can take the A 70, AP 7, and the CV 70. The total journey time is around 1 hour and 10 minutes.
In addition to driving, there are other options available. A daily bus service (bus nr. 16) runs from Benidorm to Guadalest. You could also opt for a guided bus tour, often including visits to other nearby attractions such as the Algar Waterfalls.
For the more adventurous, cycling is a viable option. A designated cycle path runs almost the entire distance from Benidorm to Guadalest, providing cyclists with a safe and scenic route.
Parking in Guadalest
Upon reaching Guadalest, there are three conveniently located car parks. Two of them are along the main road, making them easy to spot. The parking fee is quite reasonable, with a standard rate of 2 euros for cars and 6 euros for campers or caravans.
A Walk Through History
Entering the village is like stepping back in time. The cobblestone streets, ancient walls, and historic buildings all contribute to an atmosphere steeped in history. The village is divided into two distinct areas: El Castillo district, enclosed within the castle’s walls at the crag’s peak, and El Arrabal district, a later addition that stretches along the mountain’s foothills.
The Fortress Walls
The fortress walls, remnants of the village’s Moorish past, are a sight to behold. Despite their age, parts of these walls still stand today, a testament to the craftsmanship of their creators. Towering above the village, they blend seamlessly with the landscape, adding to Guadalest’s unique charm.
Casa de Orduña
Among the many historical buildings, Casa de Orduña stands out. This noble mansion, dating back to the 17th century, is a gateway to the past. From here, you can access the Castillo de La Alcozaiba, an 11th-century Muslim fortress.
Guadalest boasts a surprising number of museums, each with its unique allure. The Museo de Belenes y Casas de Muñecas (Nativity Scene and Dollhouse Museum) and the Museo de Microminiaturas (Museum of Micro-miniatures) are sure to captivate visitors with their unusual displays.
The Museo de Saleros y Pimenteros (Museum of Salt and Pepper Shakers) houses an astounding collection of over 20,000 pieces from around the world. The Museo Coleccion de Vehiculos Historicos (Collection of Historic Vehicles) is a haven for car enthusiasts.
For those interested in local history, the Ethnological Museum and the Medieval Museum provide fascinating insights into Guadalest’s past.
Savouring Local Cuisine
A visit to Guadalest would only be complete with indulging in the local gastronomy. Whether you’re a food lover or just a curious traveller, the delicious local dishes are sure to leave you craving for more.
A Stay to Remember
Guadalest offers a range of accommodation options for those wishing to extend their visit. From cosy bed and breakfasts to luxurious hotels, there’s something to suit every budget. Staying overnight in Guadalest provides the opportunity to experience the village’s tranquil atmosphere, especially when the day-trippers have departed.
Souvenirs to Take Home
Don’t forget to pick up a souvenir or two to remind you of your visit to Guadalest. Local products such as almonds, olive oil, honey, and nispero (loquat) based products make excellent gifts. If you need help choosing, don’t hesitate to ask the friendly local sellers.
Guadalest generally starts its day after 10 am, with shops, restaurants, and most attractions opening their doors around this time. If you’re an early riser wishing to enjoy the village’s beauty in solitude, arriving a bit earlier can provide a unique experience. The tourist information office, located next to one of the car parks, should be your first stop. Here, you can gather all the essential information about Guadalest and its attractions. If you plan to visit the castle, remember that the entry fee (as of 2023) is 4 euros for adults and 2 euros for children. Although the castle itself is partially ruined, the spectacular views from the top make the visit worthwhile.
Exploring Beyond Guadalest
Aside from the village itself, the surrounding area offers plenty of opportunities for exploration. The Guadalest Reservoir, with its turquoise waters, is well worth a visit. Whether you choose to drive around the reservoir or take a leisurely walk along its banks, the views are sure to impress. The nearby mountain passes and valleys offer some of Spain’s most scenic drives and hiking trails for those looking to extend their adventure. The Puerto/Port de Tudons pass, a favourite among cyclists, presents a challenging route with rewarding views.
El Castell de Guadalest is more than just a destination; it’s a journey into Spain’s rich history and culture. From its ancient fortress walls to its vibrant local life, every moment spent here is a treasure waiting to be discovered. With its stunning landscapes, rich history, and unique charm, El Castell de Guadalest is a must-visit for any Spain holiday. Experience a true slice of Spanish life, and create memories that will last a lifetime!