The lion’s share of Spain’s oranges come from Valencia, KLM’s new destination, having started on 23 April. Let’s go on an excursion to the orange capital, picking oranges in the juicy orchards and relaxing with an orange massage.
Spain is Europe’s largest orange producer
Valencia is the capital of the Costa del Azahar. The “Orange Blossom Coast” owes its name to the sharp, sweet smell of citrus that hangs in the spring air. Spain is Europe’s largest orange producer and two thirds of those orange vitamin bombs come from the region around Valencia. The millions of orange trees are green the year round, clothed in delicate white blossoms in spring and bright orange in the autumn when each tree groans under the burden of some 500 oranges.
Oranges grow on the streets of Valencia. (photo: Emilio Erazo-Fischer)
[tweet text=”Café Madrid is the birthplace of Agua de Valencia: cava, vodka, gin and orange juice.”]
There’s no getting away from oranges in Valencia. Oranges grow on the streets in Valencia, but they’re only there for decoration. Regardless of how juicy these street oranges appear to be, they’re inedible. To find the good ones, you need to go to the Mercado Central, a beautiful art nouveau showpiece of elegant cast iron, stained glass and ceramic decorations. Almost a thousand market stalls are housed here and the oranges are piled high in vast numbers.
The extent to which Valencia’s economy has for centuries relied on oranges is clear to see by a visit to the majestic Estación del Norte, one of Europe’s most stunning train stations. The azulejos (glazed tiles) and decoration on the façade and in the station hall tell the story of the Valencia orange. Café Madrid in the Old City is the birthplace of the famous drink, Agua de Valencia. It’s a strong cocktail made from cava, vodka, gin and fresh-squeezed orange juice.
Orange capital Burriana
To find the real spectacle you have to leave the city and head into the region that bears the same name. An hour’s drive along the coast is Burriana, the beating heart of orange country. The small town of 30,000 souls is surrounded by citrus orchards as far as the eye can see. Everyone is involved in oranges. The loveliest, largest and roundest are for export to other European countries. They keep the smallest, sweetest and juiciest for themselves. They eat them, squeeze them for juice or turn them into liqueurs, marmalade, tea and sweet deserts.
The orange blossom is used for perfumes, honey, salads and bride’s bouquets. Once upon a time, the only orange museum in the world stood here, complete with an extensive collection of old orange crates, nostalgic advertising posters and decorated tissue paper, which had been used to wrap oranges. Right now, the museum is shut and the local council is deliberating about how to reopen it.
Orange orchard near Burriana (photo: Jean-Baptiste Bodane)
[tweet text=”This is where they put the myth – that oranges are dyed – to rest.”]
La Ruta de la Naranja
No matter. Burriana is still the ideal base for an orange excursion. The local tourist office offers guided tours in the harvest season, from October to mid-May. It includes a visit to an orange factory, with an explanation of how the oranges are sorted according to ripeness, colour and shape. And you get the definitive truth about the myth that oranges come green from the trees and are dyed orange. You visit an orchard and get a crash course in orange picking. Finally there is the tasting, of course. Spring is also a good time to visit Burriana. The trees are in blossom in April and May and the entire Orange Blossom Coast smells of orange blossom.
If you would rather be independent in your tour of the oranges, the provincial tourist board has marked out a route, the Ruta de la Naranja, from Burriana through the orange orchards to Almenara. A folder with a map, addresses and opening times is available here. (In Spanish.)
Agua de Valencia is a cocktail of cava, vodka, gin and orange juice.
An orange massage
Once you return to your hotel in Valencia, the citrus atmosphere continues to surround you – at least if you’re clever enough to book a room at the city’s most stylish palace, the Palau de la Mar. The subtle, tart perfume of orange blossom floats through the designer hotel’s lobby. Out on the patio, surrounded by citrus trees, you can sip on your Agua de Valencia and – certainly at breakfast – you can be sure to enjoy fresh-squeezed orange juice.
In any case, be sure to make an appointment at the spa, where you can find a luxurious orange massage on the menu. Oranges are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. So, not only are they healthy on the inside; they also hydrate your skin, they stimulate your blood circulation and they invigorate your whole body. And, very simply, an orange massage is just wonderfully relaxing. And one extra perk: On the flight back home, you’ll continue to smell like a sweet Valencia orange blossom.
Inspired to discover the orangeness of Spain yourself? Book a flight to Valencia here.
The Bodyna Spa has an orange massage on the menu.
- Valencia is KLM’s fourth non-stop destination in Spain. The daily flights use a Boeing 737. The weekend flights – which started on 23 April, and the daily flights, which started on 16 May – use a Boeing 737.
- Mercado Central, Monday to Saturday, 07 am -3:00 pm, Plaza Ciudad de Brujas, Valencia,
- Estación del Norte, Calle de Alicante, Valencia
- Café Madrid, Monday to Friday, 7 pm-2:00 am Friday to Saturday:7:00 pm- 3:30 pm, closed Sunday, Calle de la Abadía San Martín 10, Valencia
- Museo de la Naranja (Orange Museum), temporarily closed, Calle Mayor 10, Burriana
- Burriana Tourist Office in the Town Hall, Plaza Mayor 1, Burriana Turismo
- Orange tour: Horta Viva, Plaza de la Constitución, Moncofa
- Bodyna Spa, Orange massage: EUR 98, Palau de la Mar, Avinguda de Navarro Reverter 14, Valencia
Two thirds of all Spanish oranges come from the Valencia region (photo: Robert Deere)
About the blogger: Sander Groen is an award-winning travel journalist with 14 years experience. He has circumnavigated the globe 15 times, visited 70 countries and produced hundreds of travel stories for Dutch and international newspapers and magazines. He is also a teacher at the School of Travel Journalism, curator of the Travel channel of digital news platform Blendle and editor-in-chief of De Reisjournalist, a platform for high-quality travel journalism. Follow him at sandergroen.nl
This article was written in cooperation with the School voor Reisjournalistiek