Only 10 kilometres from Valencia you will find the Albufera Natural Park, a Mediterranean ecosystem with unspoilt dune beaches, forests, rice fields and a huge lake where you can enjoy boat trips.
This is where paella was invented and where you can try other culinary delights made with local products. The park is home to the largest lake in Spain and one of the most important wetland areas in the Iberian Peninsula. It is a place of great ecological interest with a rich variety of wildlife. Its waters have been traditionally worked by fishermen and rice growers, supplying ingredients and inspiration for many of the regions most succulent dishes.
Albufera is actually an ancient marine gulf (in Arabic albuḥáyra means the little sea) evolved into a freshwater lake. The traditional boats, with their Latin-triangular sails and their hangers – the sticks that stick in the bottom of the lake like those of the Venetian gondoliers – are no longer the only ones that cross the lake, but there are still fishermen who use them. Those of the traditional fishing and of the boats with Latin sail are traditions that would be sad to lose and that they have tried to protect declaring them well of cultural interest in 2016. Today, tourist boat trips are almost all done with motor boats, although at certain points they are turned off to enjoy the tranquility of the nature.
To sample the best of the local gastronomy, go to the village of El Palmar, an excellent place to try classic dishes such as Paella, Arroz a Banda, or All i Pebre made with eels freshly caught from the lake. After the meal, there is nothing more relaxing than a boat trip on the Albufera lake contemplating the red and amber tones of the setting sun dancing across the water.
Cover image via Youtube