One hour from: Valencia

Squeeze in a trip to the juicy side of Spain

Visit the land where oranges are the only fruit and go birdwatching, see El Cid's palace and visit a home of the Borgias.

Visit the land where oranges are the only fruit and go birdwatching, see El Cid's palace and visit a home of the Borgias.

La Albufera Nature Reserve

Get back to nature in this sanctuary, which is home to Spain's largest freshwater lake and a huge pine forest. La Albufera is also a twitcher's paradise with plenty of migrating birds to spot. Visit at dusk to see spectacular sunsets over the serene waters, with birds silhouetted in the sky, fishing boats slowly crossing the shimmering lake surface and fish jumping near the shore.

By car: take the V-15 south and follow signs; journey time about 15 mins.

Jativa

This pretty historic town was the birthplace of two Borgia Popes: Calixtus III and Alexander VI. Small and compact, it's perfect for exploring on foot. Top sights include the sprawling hilltop castle with its 30 towers and four fortified gateways, the collegiate church, numerous palaces and some fine 15th-century fountains.

By car: take the N-340 south and look for signs; journey time about 45 mins. By train: frequent service on the C-2 line from the North Railway Station; journey time about 50 mins.

Sagunto

Perched on a hilltop, Sagunto has fantastic views over the Med and the fruit lands that surround Valencia. Crowned with the remains of a castle, Sagunto also boasts a Roman amphitheatre dating from the 1st century AD, which now plays host to theatre and music events. The castle has long stretches of fortified walls from Roman, Moorish and medieval times, along with seven fortified plazas, a Roman forum, temple, columns and friezes. The old Jewish Quarter is a labyrinth of narrow whitewashed lanes and arches.

By car: take the A-7 north and follow signs; journey time about 20 minutes. By train: frequent service on the C-1 line from the North Railway Station; journey time about 50 mins.

Requena

Requena is red wine and cava central and in recent years the vino produced here has gained international acclaim. The bustling old town is awash with medieval mansions, several beautiful gothic churches, the remains of the Arabian walls and the palace of El Cid, a gothic fortress, which is now the local wine museum. Go underground and explore the old town's network of interconnecting caves and cellars, now used to store wine.

By car: take the A-3 west and follow signs; journey time about 50 mins. By train: frequent service on the C-3 line from the North Railway Station; journey time about one hour plus.

La Safor

The stunning valleys of La Safor are sandwiched between the Mediterranean and the mountains and are perfect for hiking or for lazy sightseeing drives. Pay a visit to the ancient town of Gandia where members of the Borgia family used to live and make for the peak of Montduver, which has amazing views over the Gulf of Valencia. On your ascent, stop at Simat de la Valldigna and visit the 14th century Cistercian monastery of Santa Maria de la Valldigna.

By car: take the A-7 south and follow signs; journey time about one hour.

GB Airways (0845 773 3377; www.ba.com) offers return flights from Heathrow from £139. The Melia Plaza Hotel (00 34 96 352 0612; www.sh-hoteles.com) offers a weekend b&b rate of €85 (£55) per double room per night. Europcar (0870 607 5000; www.europcar.com) offers weekend car hire from £91. For further information visit www.landofvalencia.com.

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