The natural lagoon of the Albufera extends to the south of Valencia, separated from the Mediterranean Sea by a narrow strip of sand. It's the largest natural lake in Spain, and supports a diverse ecosystem of birds, fish and plant life. With its abundance of rice fields, paella restaurants, and traditional houses called barracas, the Albufera has become an important piece of Valencia's cultural identity.
Today, the town of Manises is best known as the location of Valencia's airport, but that hasn't always been the case. For centuries, the name Manises had been synonymous with "ceramics." We spent a day in the town, learning about the industry which has long fueled its economy.
Burjassot is just to the north of Valencia, close enough to be connected via tram. The town's defining symbol is its Patio of Silos, where Valencia's grain was stored for centuries, and which was later used as a refuge during the Spanish Civil War. We showed up for a tour, shortly after the historic silos had been opened to the public for the first time.
One of the most rewarding excursions you can make from Valencia is to Xàtiva, which is about an hour south by train. We spent two days exploring the town's quiet streets, checking out its historic buildings and monuments, and hiking into the surrounding hills. But first, we climbed up to the castle which dominates the city from on high.