The influence of the Mediterranean has left a lasting mark in Castellón and that mark can be seen in all aspects of cultural and recreational life in the province. This is an especially welcoming place for families, with many opportunities because of the variety of its offer: the coastal municipalities alternate with the peaceful mountain villages combined with the rich landscape of the inland areas.
Nature and sports tourism, beaches in the summer, visits to the inland villages, cultural tours… Castellón is a gift to those who visit the province, and if you travel with children, you will discover its full potential through the countless activities available.
The natural environment of Castellón is an excellent starting point for our trip. We are in the second most mountainous province of Spain, which is the reason for our changing and, therefore, stimulating nature. Here we will find the natural parks of Tinença de Benifassà, Penyagolosa, Sierra de Espadán, Sierra del Desierto de las Palmas, Parque Natural del Prat de Cabanas-Torreblanca, Parque Natural de la Sierra de Irta, Parque Natural de las Islas Columbretes and Sierra Calderona, as well as other scenery of great interest such as the natural monument that shapes the Camino de Els Pelegrins de Les Useres and the many areas declared nature sites of natural interest.It’s an excellent opportunity to teach our children the value of nature, something they learn in school, but do not truly appreciate until they experience it first-hand. In this task, we have help from interpretation and information centers which we will find in the nature parks and in many of the protected areas. We recommend visiting the centers, because we will learn of all the many opportunities that, otherwise, we might miss.
Some of the secrets to discover are extraordinary spaces where nature is especially lush, with oak, pine and cork oak forests, as well as amazing wildlife. If we are lucky we might be able to see a Hispanic goat, common in several municipalities, and looking up to the sky we can see, without much difficulty, the flight of the majestic vultures or the quick action of the kestrels, hawks and eagles.
Now let’s look downwards to enter into another discovery. We are talking about the caves Grutas de Sant Josep, in the village Vall d’Uixó, with the longest visitable underground river in Europe that leads us to another activity that both children and adults will enjoy: an exciting ride in comfortable boats to see a part of this hidden nature.There are many more secrets to discover, and fun excursions are the best way to do it. Castellón has a trail network of almost 1000 km in length and we can choose the trails according to our circumstances. There are long trails crossing the province from north to south, but there are also easy, short trails marked with PR and the local trails (SL). These last ones are the best for families with children.
There is a lot to choose from in this area, but a recommendation will give you an idea of what to expect. Penyagolosa is an excellent choice, a very popular spot for hikers and mountaineers, with its wild forests and scenery. Its unique location and altitude give rise to a unique and diverse space, where you can find micro-reserves, holm oaks and pine forests and flora associated with the many springs.
The most interesting here is the network of small trails crossing the region and offering spectacular landscapes. Taking these trails does not require a lot of time and you can get to know other municipalities. Some of the trails follow the path of one of the many pilgrimages which end or have a rest here in Penyagolosa.
Very active ideas
In the 14th century sanctuary of Sant Joan de Penyagolosa and its inn, we find a recreational area, where we can learn the history of this significant Valencian cultural heritage. Also interesting is the rural heritage with farmhouses and buildings made of stone without mortar which are scattered over the countryside and the monuments of Villahermosa, Vistabella or Chodos.
Since we’re talking about routes, we also have to talk about an activity which is especially enjoyed with the whole family. This is taking a bicycle ride with our children, following different trails adapted for this activity. The greenways Vía Verde de Ojos Negros in Alto Palencia and Vía Verde del Mar in Oropesa-Benicàssim are perfect for discovering the best landscapes of the province, both because of their safety and available services.
If our children are older and we like a little more adventure then we can rent mountain bikes. The BTT centers located in Navajas (Alto Palencia) and in Morella (Els Ports) offer signposted routes and services for cyclists of all levels. The routes range from easy trails for the whole family to difficult trails that are physically and technically demanding.
The charm of the inland
Visiting the inland of Castellón we can enjoy lovely little villages. In these villages you can enjoy strolling through the streets, since they are peaceful and safe, due to very little traffic, and discover the monumentality of the churches and the ancient palaces with their characteristic rich and popular architecture.
In the inland areas we find another reason to enjoy spending time with our children. Undoubtedly, they will love it, because we are talking about the Saltapins adventure park, which has all sorts of attractions. It is located in a forest of the town Morella and includes trails of ziplines, suspension bridges, gangplanks…Companies from the inland offer their services to ensure absolutely safe canyoning, canoe rides, via ferratas… There are more than enough options to enjoy nature and adventures.
Surely we’ll have some time for culture. In this case we suggest visiting the Cultural Park Parque de la Valltorta, where you can see cave paintings with World Heritage status. Thanks to the information centre and museum, we will learn many things about the history of the original inhabitants of this land. In addition, our children will have some extra fun due to the activities organized for them. The museum also offers guided tours to several sites with cave paintings. Admission to the museum and the visit are free.
Surprise on the coast
Don’t worry, we won’t forget the beaches, which can be enjoyed in the summer and any other season, thanks to the mild climate. The quality of the coast is endorsed by the many blue flag beaches, which are a guarantee for high quality services: Access for the disabled, restroom facilities, playgrounds in both the sand and in the water, specialized monitors and even a library at the beach, where you can read for free and where the kids are offered entertainment and activities.
Even at night we can enjoy the beach. We can watch a movie sitting in the sand and, depending on the holiday calendar, we can attend festivals of Havana music, folk music or enjoy fireworks displays. If our stay coincides with the night Noche de San Juan, then we will have the opportunity to live the authentic Mediterranean with outdoor dining, bonfires, parades…Not just the sand gives us great moments. The neat promenades are an excellent place for short walks, bike rides or skating.
The marinas are also an environment that is more than appropriate for family tourism. There you’ll find many water activities, perfect for the little ones: beginner swimming, introduction to sailing or canoeing…
If they are not so small, we can give them, and us, why not, their first experience in the world of diving. The marine reserve of the Islas Columbretes is a wonderful place to practice this exciting sport, because of the clean waters and the interesting seabed.To complete our tour of the coast, there is nothing better than a boat tour along the Castellón coastline. An excursion on one of the boats called golondrinas offers unrivaled views of the castle Castillo del Papa Luna in Peñiscola and is an unforgettable experience.
In some of the coastal and inland municipalities of Castellón, families can also enjoy several water parks complete with all services.
More information at: www.turismodecastellon.com