Costa Blanca: Suggested Itinerary

The White Coast

Day 1: Allow a full day for this drive, which includes time for hiking. Begin at the mountain village of Aledo, with panoramic views of peaks and valleys, before following the signs for Bullas. Turn off at the Sierra de Espuña Regional Park. Within the park boundaries the left-hand turn sign-posted pozos de nieve will take you to the snow wells, reached by a path from the small car park at the crook of the road. This is a great place for a hike. Return to the Collado Bermejo and take the opportunity to grab some lunch. Take the sign-posted road for the little hamlet of El Berro, close to the arid wilderness of the Barrancos de Gebas, otherwise known as the “Bad Lands”. There are panoramic views from the Caserío de Gebas on the C3315. The road leads north to Pliego, a sleepy village topped with a ruined tower, and on to Mula, with its fascinating medieval centre and striking ruined castle. Join the locals for an old-fashioned country dinner at the Venta La Magdalena.

Day 2: Start the day with coffee at one of the beachfront bars on the promenade at Águilas then head north out of the town, past the pretty harbour of Calabardine, to Cabo Cope. Climb the 16th-century watchtower, and splash about in the rock pools along the beach. Return toward Águilas, but take the signposted turning for Garrobillo. The road twists along the mountainous fringes of the Natural Park, providing startling glimpses of the sea. It becomes even more dramatic once you reach Garrobillo, when the road narrows further and zigzags furiously toward Humbrías. Continue past vast tomato greenhouses toward Mazarrón. As you approach the town, follow signs for the Gredas de Bolnuevo. The little resort of Bolnuevo is strung out along a fine, sandy beach, where you can have your second swim of the day. Behind it is the extraordinary “Enchanted City”. If you really want to escape the crowds, explore the quiet coves south of town. For dinner, head to the port in Mazarrón for delicious seafood.

Days 3 & 4: This walk is best done on a Thursday, when the market is held. A castle has sat on the lofty promontory above the historic town of Xàtiva since Iberian times. Start your morning – before the sun gets too hot, with the stiff climb up to the castle (sign-posted as “castell”), or take the easy option of the little tourist train which runs from outside the tourist office. After descending, when you reach the main town, continue down Calle las Santas and turn right onto Calle Roca for the Museo de l’Almudí – an excellent collection of archaeological finds and paintings. If you are here on market day, head down to the nearby Plaza del Mercado, where stalls selling everything from fresh produce to pots and pans are set out under ancient arcades. Walk up to the Calle Corretgeria and visit the huge Colegiata de Santa María, still unfinished after more than 400 years. Opposite the basilica is the beautiful Hospital Real, with a dazzling, exquisitely sculpted Gothic façade.

Days 5 & 6: Begin in Orihuela, at the tourist office, housed in a splendid Baroque palace on Calle Francisco Die. Peek into the Gothic church of Santiago before doubling back to the delightful church of Santas Just y Rufina, with its unmistakable bell tower. The Calle Sant Just leads into the Calle Ramón y Cajal, lined with terrace cafés and shops, where the graceful Catedral de San Salvador overlooks a pretty square. Continue west to the vast Colegio de Santo Domingo, topped with a pastel tower seemingly made of icing sugar.

Take the short drive along the A7 motorway to Elx, set in famous palm groves. Explore the Hort del Cura, then head back to the historic heart of the town and the vast blue-domed Basílica de Santa María. Next to the basilica is a 13th-century watchtower, the Torre de Calaforra. You can learn more about the famous Misteri d’Elx, the last surviving medieval mystery play in Europe, at the nearby Museo de la Festa on Carrer Major de la Vila. Finish up with a well-earned drink on the terrace of the Café Paris, overlooking the cathedral.

Day 7: Head back to catch your flight back.