Peñíscola Travel Guide
Peñiscola, a seaside resort located on the Costa del Azahar between Tarragona in the north and Valencia in the south, joined the association of the Most Beautiful Villages of Spain in 2013.
Set 64 metres above the Mediterranean, the old town with its narrow streets lined with white houses has retained all the charm of its medieval past.
The village, one of the most frequented by tourists visiting the Valencian Community, lies on a rocky peninsula that was originally separated from the land by a dune cordon. Before the construction of the marina, this dune cordon disappeared under water for a week a year and transformed the area into an island.
Peñiscola itself is dominated by the historical complex of ancient fortifications and the Templar castle in which Pope Benedict XIII found refuge at the very beginning of the 15th century.
Peñiscola’s rich heritage also includes the parish church of Santa María and the hermitages of the Mother of God and Sant Antoni.
To the north and south of the peninsula lie the vast beaches of the Costa del Azahar.
Visits to Peñiscola
A weekly market animates the old town on Monday morning in front of the Palais des Congrès. There is everything, food of course with fruits, vegetables and local products, but also clothes, crafts and many other curiosities. A craft market also allows to discover jewels, clothes, decorative objects, minerals…
Peñiscola also organises a medieval market which takes place at the end of the year. On this occasion, period stalls are recreated at the foot of the castle where this market, like no other, attracts a large public.
In addition, the municipality hosts two festivals during the summer:
Peñiscola International Jazz Festival
Several concerts, during the month of July, at the Palais des Congrès of the city.
Teatro Clásico Festival
This classical theatre festival takes place every year in summer (July), in the Plaza de Armas of Peñiscola Castle.
Guided evening or family visits are also offered to the public…
In the city, both in the old medieval quarter and on the seafront, Peñiscola’s nightlife is animated all year round by a wide variety of establishments: cafés, terraces, restaurants, cafés, pubs, bodegas, discos…
Fortress built by the Knights Templar between 1294 and 1307, on the site of an ancient Muslim alcazar, el Castillo is nestled on the highest part of the rocky peak that dominates Peñiscola and the Mediterranean.
The sites of visit are constituted by the Castle itself and the Artillery Park, which surrounds the fortress on the maritime side.
As these two sites are not connected, access to the castle is via the entrance on Via Castillo, where the ticket office is also located, that of the Artillery Park via Via Santos Mártires.
Having attracted many artists and craftsmen, Benedict XIII had the castle transformed into a papal palace. It will have a large library whose remains are kept at the Vatican Library and at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris.
Benedict XIII, Pope Luna
The walls of the fortress also housed Benedict XIII, better known as Pope Luna, during the Western Great Schism (14th and 15th centuries). He died there in 1423 after 19 years of resistance in Rome.
Of his real name Pedro Martínez de Luna, Pope Luna, as he was often called, was an Aragonese cardinal who became Pope of Avignon under the name of Benedict XIII. Considered antipope from the Catholic point of view, he was elected by the Avignon cardinals as successor to Clement VII who was then seated in Avignon and for whom he had taken sides during the Great Schism.
Open: 10:30 am to 5:30 pm from mid-October to Easter, 9:30 am to 9:30 pm the rest of the year.
Admission: 5 €, reduced rate: 3,50 €.
This botanical garden is located below the fortress. Sprinkled with olive trees, palm trees, its staircase design, in addition to a pleasant walk, offers panoramic views of both the castle and Peñiscola Bay at its feet.
Composed of the flora of the Sierra de Irta, we also see kermes oaks, geraniums, lavender, flying over Audouin’s gulls and crested cormorants.
Classified as a property of local interest of the Valencian Community, the lighthouse is managed by the port authority of Castellón de la Plana.
It is located under the Pedro Martinez de Luna castle. Put into service in 1899, it has an octagonal tower 11 metres high. Inhabited, unfortunately the inside of the lighthouse cannot be visited.
Church of Santa María
Calle D Jj Fulladosa 1D.
Originally built in the 12th century in a Gothic style then transformed into a more baroque style in the 17th century, the bell tower was erected in 1862.
This bell tower of square plan is 17.50 meters high and comprises three bodies, that of the bells ends in a terrace provided with a balustrade.
Museu de la Mar
Calle Principe, 1.
Located in the old town, the Peñiscola Maritime Museum tells through photos, old engravings, drawings, audiovisual supports and explanatory panels what was once maritime life. Three aquariums exhibit local varieties from the sea world.
Opening hours: every day from 10 am to 2 pm then from 4 pm to 8 pm.
The cave of Bufador
Calle Principe, 21.
This geological curiosity located to the south of the old city, near the sea, consists of a tunnel sinking into the rocky peak on which the city sits.
Above, at the entrance of this cave, the sound of the waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the wind that blows in.
The beaches of Peñiscola
Open on the warm waters of the Mediterranean, about fifteen beaches and coves stretch along the coast of this seaside resort located on the Costa del Azahar. Among these:
The northern beach
Playa Norte, with Pope Luna’s castle as the setting, is the closest to the old town. With five kilometres in length, this is the main beach of Peñiscola.
Labelled by various Spanish tourist offices, you can practice sea kayaking, jet-skiing, water skiing and sailing. Access walkways, infrastructures for people with reduced mobility, surveillance…
Located on the edge of Irta Park, 8 km from the village of Peñiscola, the beach owes its name to the local philanthropist, Jaume Sanz. He worked as a stonemason at the court of Tsar Alexander II in the nineteenth century and having made his fortune, he participated in the creation of the first schools of the village.
It was the house he built for his sick daughter on that beach that eventually gave him the name. The dunes bordering the beach have an interesting flora with unusual plants such as sea euphorbia or sea lily.
The south beach
Adjacent to the fishing port, it is easily accessible and very well equipped. Family beach, it is lined with restaurants with menus offering local gastronomy.
Sierra d’Irta Natural Park
The Sierra Irta Park extends over 7744 hectares of land and 2448 hectares of sea to the west and south of Peñiscola. The municipalities of Alcalá de Xivert and Santa Magdelena de Pulpis also provide access to the park.
The peak of Campanelles, 543 metres, is the highest peak of these mountains descending steeply towards the sea to form cliffs, ledges and coves bordered by reefs over a distance of ten kilometres.
7 kilometres south of Peñiscola, between Barranc del Volante and Pebret beach, the tower of Badum sits on a 97 metre high rocky peak. This circular watchtower was erected in the 16th century, but it is not clear whether it was for the benefit of Xivert Castle or Peñiscola Fortress.
Dwarf palm trees, kermes oaks, lentisk trees, Miera junipers and Irta geraniums are plants representative of the endemic flora of the Irta park.
Apart from the watchtowers, Ebrí, Badum, the park territory is made up of several interesting sites such as the castles of Alcalá de Xivert and Santa Magdalena de Pupis, both of which belonged to the order of the Temple, or the remains of a 7th century B.C. Iberian settlement.
Location and transport
Peñiscola is 80 km northeast of Castellón de la Plana, 150 km northeast of Valencia and 135 km southwest of Tarragona.
Peñiscola is located on the AP-7 motorway (exit 43). The nearest Renfe railway station is Benicarlo-Peñiscola, 7 km from the city centre. Buses provide shuttles between the station and Peñiscola.