My first winter holiday in Spain was in Peñiscola, a town in the Provence of Castellón. The picturesque coastal town of Peñiscola is on the Costa del Azahar with many long and cozy beaches. Among its beautiful sights and attractions, Peñiscola has a magnificent castle lying on a rock about 64 meters above the sea.
Itinerary of the winter trip in Spain
It all started with a promotion from the hotel, Peñiscola Plaza Suites. Since Peñiscola is only about two and half hours of driving from Barcelona, we took the hotel offer. Since it was closed to the year-end, and we had used up most of our annual holidays, we could only book a 5-day trip to Peñiscola.
Then, we quickly booked last-minute flight tickets from Frankfurt to Barcelona. The ticket price was low as well. It seemed that hardly anyone makes a winter holiday in Spain. Our rental car for a 5-day duration cost only 23 Euros, plus a 5 Euro voucher. The price even included mandatory insurance.
The last thing was to make up an itinerary for the first winter holiday in Spain:
- 1st Day: Arrival
- 2ed Day: Peñiscola
- 3rd Day: Ebro Delta nature reserve
- 4th Day: Morella, Castellón
- 5th Day: Alcossebre
- 6th Day: Departure
1st Day: Arrival
The flight from Frankfurt to Barcelona took around two hours. After arrival, we went to our car rental company and picked up our car without waiting time.
The drive towards Peniscola was quick. There were no RVs or Caravans from beach holidaymakers on the way. In December, shortly before the Christmas season, everywhere we passed looked deserted.
Upon arrival at our hotel, Peñiscola Plaza Suites, we saw a rather busy scene. And we had to wait for the check in process. Finally, after having waited for a short while, we checked into to a room with a balcony. It was already quite late, so we just looked around the hotel compound. Since the room rate included dinner as well, we went to the dining-room for dinner.
2ed Day: Peñiscola
Peñiscola has a mild winter climate. The temperature during our stay was steady above 10 degrees. It was a sunny day. We visited the castle, strolled around the old town, and walked the long city beach. From the beach, we had a beautiful view of the Peñiscola castle. Being the only family on the beach, we could easily make beautiful photos without being interrupted.
If you want to walk less, you could pay a few Euros to use the Peñiscola hop-on hop-off train.
3rd Day: Ebro Delta nature reserve
Ebro Delta nature reserve is about 83 kilometres from Peñiscola. Being one of the humid areas in Europe, this protected area is home to everything from gardens, orchards, rice fields, migrating and nesting birds, etc. In the coastal area, there are extensive deserted sandy beaches with dunes. The nature reserve area is large. It is impossible to discover in one day. Therefore, Cycling is the best way to get closer to nature.
The winter is a great season for viewing Flamingos on the Ebro delta, and we could see large flocks of these birds in the locations we went. Unfortunately, we did not prepare for bird watching and could only see far away. You can join the Delta de l’Ebre Natural Park tour to explore the largest protected wetland in Catalonia and enjoy bird watching or cycling.
In winter, most local restaurants were closed. We were lucky to have lunch in a local restaurant and had several local rice dishes. Other than us, the guests were all from the local communities.
4th Day: Morella, Castellón
Morella is one of the prettiest villages in Spain. The medieval walled village is about 80 kilometres via N-232 from Peñiscola. As we winded the way up the mountain, the road got narrower. Then, shortly before we reached Morella, we encountered a truck accident. Given the road condition, it would take a while for the rescue team to arrive. So, before more cars arrived, we hurried to turn around and went to Morella through other narrower roads.
Morella is Picturesque and majestic. We walked through the streets that line up the whitewashed houses with rustic terracotta-coloured roofs. One of its main interests is the Morella Town Hall, an architectural heritage, and the other site is the Saint Mary’s Church with two fabulous doors.
The Morella Castle has three levels with gates and towers. We walked along the city wall and enjoyed the view of the surrounding area.
5th Day: Alcossebre
A short walk on the beach of Alcossebre
Alcossebre has a highly developed tourism infrastructure. It has a diverse landscape, with mountains, beaches, and the rocky areas of the coast, pretty similar to the landscape of Cadaques. The beaches of Alcossebre are from small coves to large and fully accessible ones with all equipment and services. The center of Alcossebre has four blue flag beaches. We spent some time on the beach and drove to our next stop, the Serra d’Irta Natural Park.
A short hike in the Serra d’Irta Natural Park
The Serra d’Irta Natural Park has some historical Arab constructions. After a short walk, we saw one such site, the Hermitage of Saint Lucia and Saint Benedict. From there, we could enjoy magnificent views. If you hike around, you will find more attractive constructions, such as the Xivert Castle. As a holiday resort, you can do many activities in the park.
Travel Tips for a winter holiday in Spain
Our first winter holiday in Spain quickly ended. There are pros and cons to having a winter holiday in Spain. There is no crowd of tourists and travel cost is much lower. The climate is mild, and we did not feel chilly. The risk of getting a sunburn is also less. And you can still do many outdoor activities in nature. We think it is better to discover the Ebro Delta nature reserve and the Serra d’Irta Natural Park during the off-season. It would be too hot during the summer holiday there.
The drawback is that many restaurants and shops were closed, or only open a few hours a day. But that did not prevent us from enjoying our winter holiday in Spain, since we booked half-board accommodation. And, where the locals gathered, some restaurants still opened. For beach holidaymakers, to make a winter holiday in Spain would make no sense since the beach facilities were also closed to the public.
If you don’t want to stay on the beach during your entire holiday, then you might hire a car to get around. You can compare rental deals on the car rental platform.
The nearest Airport is not Barcelona but Valencia. From Valencia, it takes about 90 minutes to get to Peñiscola. If you want to use public transportation, check omio.com for the schedules.