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Castellon Airport Spain-Gateway To Orange Blossom Coast

Castellon Airport Spain First Ryanair Flight Lands 15 Minutes Early – 15.09.2015

Today was the day that the so-called “Ghost Airport of Castellon” has transformed into a living “creature”…The first Ryanair flight came in from London Stansted, approximately 15 minutes before its scheduled arrival of 10.40. There was a crowd waiting to greet the first flight, who appeared to be a combination of ex-pats and Spanish who just wanted to see it happen, after such a long wait, and those who were collecting friends and families, plus officials from the local government, TV teams and journalists.

The Ryanair plane was baptised by the local “bomberos” – firemen, and there was quite a bit of excitement in Arrivals, as the passengers came through. The first couple that entered got an enthusiastic applause, and the man responded with a suitably victorious poise, and an infectious smile! Not long afterwards, a famous person emerged into the Arrivals Hall – Simon Calder, Senior Travel Editor for the Independent, and BBC presenter and contributor.

That’s myself above with Simon Calder! If, by the way, you’re wondering about the statue that is there to meet and greet folks outside the airport, rumour has it that it is of Carlos Fabra himself. The 20-tonne statue and the airport itself were, at least until recently, a symbol of the reckless regional spending in Spain.

Castellon Airport Website Link

Castellon – The Possibilities

In March 2015, a big announcement was made that could affect the lives of many people in Spain’s province of Castellon, as well as people like you, who want to enjoy unspoilt parts of Spain. This is a province that has escaped the madding English speaking crowds up to now …It’s a province full of possibilities…once the authorities don’t allow it to be spoilt, by over development! This article about the Castellon Airport Spain includes my personal destination recommendations (which will grow as time goes on), as well as interviews with some important players here (at the end of the article). By the way, the area also has interesting land and property opportunities, in my opinion.

On the 11th March 2015, it was officially announced that Ryanair will fly to the ‘ghost airport’ of Castellón

I had been waiting for this moment for over a year. There was no guarantee that it would happen, plus there was plenty of speculation and doubt flying around, if the airport would ever receive flights. However the Ryanair announcement of 2 UK routes from Castellon, to London Stansted and Bristol, could be a huge game-changer for this area of Spain.

Important update for travellers – 08.09.2015

The announcement has been made earlier today, that there will be a bus shuttle that will be timed to be there for these Ryanair flights. There will apparently be 2 routes, which are as follows:

Alcossebre-Peñiscola-Benicarlo-Vinaros

Oropesa-Benicàssim-Castellón-Valencia

The service has been organised by agreement between the Castellon Diputation and Autocares Mediterráneo.

About

The City Of Castellon de la Plana

Castellon de la Plana is a city that many English speaking tourists wouldn’t have a great awareness of. It’s not on the Costa del Sol, nor the Costa Blanca, but due to this news it could easily end up being the gateway to Spain’s Orange Blossom Coast (Costa Azahar).

I have included this city in The 38 Most Beautiful Cities In Spain, as it has some fine architecture, its own lovely port area, plenty of culture and history, plus its fair share of fresh, local food offerings. The city has some good festivals (fiestas) that you could consider planning your trip to take in…and absorb this special local culture.

See photos and read more about the city of Castellon de la Plana

City Culture & Seaside Sand Between Your Toes

Depending on the type of holiday you like best, one option could be to stay for a night or two in the city of Castellon de la Plana, and then head off to one of the many lovely beach or interior towns and villages that are within relatively easy reach. Further below I am gradually adding in recommendations, as I write the newest articles, so always feel free to bookmark this page and come back again to see what’s new!

The Province Of Castellon

Travelling around the province, perhaps one of the first things that hits a visitor who is new to the area, is the amazing variety of scenery and possibilities. The coastal area, the Costa Azahar (Orange Blossom Coast) has unspoilt parts where you can see plenty of orange groves, sometimes dotted with other crops, such as olives and artichokes.

There are also areas, especially around the Marina d’Or, which have been very developed, and will be perfect for families who seek these type of “everything at your fingertips holidays”. As I don’t have young children, I have never had the need to seek these destinations out. I personally prefer towns and villages that ooze character, and that have not given way to too many new developments … and I am happy to say we still have those here! Do be warned however, that the outskirts of some of the coastal towns are deceptive, as not unlike cities such as Dublin, they have industrial parks and buildings on their peripheries.

Nature And Nurture

Both on the coast and heading inland, this province has a superb variety of natural landscapes, including a number of natural parks and its own wetlands. This means that whether you just like taking photos or you love trekking and connecting with nature, Castellon is a wonderful, still relatively undiscovered destination. I love the fact that we can spend time in pure mountain rockpools in the morning, and head down to the beach in the afternoon. Imagine that you could see native mountain goats as you have your morning coffee, and then enjoy birdwatching in the wetlands in the afternoon. It’s a special, privileged area that is perfect for those who wish to relax in the perfect landscapes that only Mother Nature herself can paint!

For those who have an interest, there are a variety of experiential tours on offer that can help you immerse yourself into the nature and culture of the area. As I have lived in Spain since 2003, I have become rather used to eating fresh, local ingredients, so in a way I may take this a little for granted. And this is why I wrote the title of Nature and Nurture for this paragraph – because the more time I spend here in the province of Castellon, the more I feel nurtured by the nature here – both in what I eat and what I see! We are very lucky and bought some land here in 2013, so we’re now growing our own organic vegetables also.

Castellon de la Plana – Getting Your Bearings

Castellon (the full name of the city is Castellon de la Plana) is 74km north of the city of Valencia, and is the capital city of the province of the same name, which in the local lingo is Castelló. Castellon/Castelló is one of the 3 provinces, which make up the Comunidad Valenciana (Valencian Community); the other two are Valencia and Alicante.

If you look at a map, you’ll see that the buzzing city of Barcelona is in the north east of Spain. Move your eyeline down on the same coastline, and you will see Castellon de la Plana (279km south of Barcelona) and after this the city of Valencia, which is 350km south of Barcelona. If you are someone who knows Alicante better than Barcelona, then Castellon is 260km north of Alicante.

The coast from Barcelona down to Valencia is very well connected by trains, which run via Castellon de la Plana, and various other towns en route. Before the flights, which start in mid September 2015, this area has been serviced predominantly by Valencia Airport. Some people also use Reus Airport, which is in the province of Tarragona, in the autonomous community of Catalonia. Others even use Barcelona, as it is such a well served airport, even though the distance can be substantial, depending on where the people are holidaying, or own their holiday home.

Castellon de la Plana-Some Of My Seaside Suggestions

Here are some of the seaside destinations within easy reach of the airport.

Alcossebre-Alcala de Xivert – 23km from Castellon airport

Alcossebre is quite developed and has some lovely residential areas, with mature trees and stylish properties! It is part of the same municipality as Alcala de Xivert, which is a few miles in from it, and is an authentic Spanish town.

See some photos and get more information in our Alcossebre travel guide

Oropesa del Mar – 30km from Castellon airport

Earlier I mentioned Marina d’Or, well this is where you’ll find this resort! However Oropesa del Mar also has an old town and some rather charming streets.

Check out our photos and information in the Oropesa del Mar travel guide.

Beniscassim – 33 km from Castellon airport

Best known for its music festival, the buzzing beach town of Benicassim has plenty more to offer to visitors.

Read about it in the Benicassim Travel Guide

Almassora – 39km from Castellon airport

For now this is a small town, which has a lovely beach about 2 miles or so outside the town centre. For now this is a destination for those who don’t need lots of facilities, so if you want to discover something authentic.

Find out more in the Almassora Travel Guide

Burriana – 46km from the airport

Drenched in artistic, cultural and historic jewels, the town of Burriana is only 13 km from Castellon city, and is beautifully surrounded by fields of orange trees.

Travel guide coming soon …

Benicarlo – 48km from Castellon airport

The entrance to Benicarlo is a bit ugly, but inside there’s some nice beaches, a port and an old quarter.

Read more about it in the Benicarlo Travel Guide

Peñiscola – 50 km from the airport

A magical, special place with lots of gorgeous windy streets, a house made of shells, and plenty of great food – try to get to Carmen Guillemot!

More in the Peñiscola Travel Guide

 

Nules – 54 km from Castellon airport

Former Paddy fields melt into a hue of different colours and start to merge into sandy beaches where the Mediterranean says a friendly hello to you!

Travel guide coming soon …

Vinaros – 55km from the airport

When I first arrived to this part of Spain, I lived in Vinaros for a year or so. It’s the capital of the region of the Baix Maestrat, and is therefore an authentic working town all year round. It has some nice beaches, a fine promenade and some good restaurants as well.

Discover more about this beach town in the Vinaros Travel Guide.

Castellon de la Plana-Inland Towns & Villages With Charm and Culture

This section is rather small for now, as I haven’t been to as many inland locations as I would like, so please remember to check back from time to time, as we’ll update it.

Vilafames – 23km from the airport

Heading a little inland you’ll find the lovely village of Vilafames, which is featured in the official list of Spain’s most beautiful villages.  Discover this charming medieval village amongst the vines, almond and olives trees.

Sant Mateu -36km from Castellon airport

The town has been declared to be an object of cultural interest, and it has a lovely main square, plus the old public laundry that I love!

More details in the Sant Mateu Travel Guide.

Culla – 40km from the airport

A beautiful 13th century village, with origins which can be traced back to prehistoric times – Culla is part of Spain’s National Cultural Heritage. Enjoy lovely views from this mountain top village, and admire its old quarter.

Travel guide coming soon…

Traiguera – 52km from the airport

Traiguera is only up the road a bit from where we are, and it’s an authentic, historic town with lots of stone buildings.

You can find out more here in the Traiguera Travel Guide

Ares del Maestre – 56km from Castellon aiport

This pretty village sits at an altitude of around 1000 metres, on a small mountain top, with views to take your breathe away! Check out its 13th century prison and its cave paintings!

Travel guide coming soon…

Morella – 75km from Castellon airport

A magical, medieval town with impressive architecture, culture, history …and wonderful wholesome food! By the way this one also makes the official list of Spain’s prettiest towns!

Check out the photos and information in our Morella Travel Guide

The Potential Of The Area and This News

If you are not based in Spain you may not have heard all that much about the history of this ghost airport up to now. Castellon Airport has been considered to be an important symbol of Spain’s reckless public spending. Although it opened in March 2011, the airport which cost €150 million to build, had not received a single airline passenger. Of course this looks to change and hopefully turn into a really good news story, since this news of the first 2 Ryanair routes. Let’s find out what a few of the important players in this area and the industry have to say about it.

I interviewed the Mayor of Peñiscola, Andrés Martinez, which is officially one of the prettiest towns in Spain – it’s truly a gorgeous destination – you can read more about it in the Peñiscola Travel Guide.

Interview 1: With Mr. Andrés Martinez, Mayor of Peñiscola

Q: How does the Peñiscola Tourist authority feel about the news of Ryanair fly into Castellon airport?

A: We are absolutely convinced that the airport and these new connections with Great Britain will be very useful, to increase the number of travellers from these beautiful islands. We feel very optimistic about the news and look forward to offering new visitors a wonderful experience here.

Q: What kind of impact to believe this will have on the area in general?

A: Now we have 20% foreign tourists. However the airport will change this and we are very excited at the prospect of sharing our cultural heritage, beaches and gastronomy with all of you.

Q: Do you believe that the influx of tourists will be handled differently to the Costa Del Sol?

A: We hope that the way we promote our area to visitors from Great Britain will be good for all of the destinations in the Valencian Community.

Q: Do you have any other comments you would like to add?

A: Yes, I would like to thank you for your interest and the work you’re doing to develop and promote out destination to English speaking countries.

For those who don’t know it, I would like to tell them that Peñiscola is a very magical seaside town, in the middle of the Mediterranean Spanish coast, a town of fishermen and a Middle Ages heritage town, that is painted in light blue and white. It’s waiting for your visit!

Interview 2: With A Local Tourism & Aviation Professional

Q: What do you think of the news, that has been announced today about Ryanair commencing to fly from Castellon airport in September 2015?

A: It is something understandable given the fact that the airport was finished in 2011. For regional airports, sometimes Ryanair is the most feasible option as it has a strong capacity for developing routes that any other airline can’t. On the other hand, it can be a barrier to attract other airlines due to the aggressive fares and capacity for adding routes and frequencies other airlines think it twice before entering into competition in a regional airport where Ryanair already operates

Q: How much do you feel it could affect the tourist industry of the province of Castellon?

A: Obviously, there is an opportunity here for the province of Castellon as they will have it easier now to attract tourists from UK. But there must be a demand and a good tourism offer to catch visitors.

Q: How has the tourist industry around Reus and the Costa Dorada been affected by Ryanair?

A: It has been the opportunity to hoteliers to diversify and to be less depending on the tour operator. And also, it helped to get tourists to those accommodations which the big tour operators don’t work with, such as small hotels, rural accommodation, camp sites, etc, most of them out of the massive tourism spots like Salou. This doesn’t mean that the majority of the Ryanair passengers has these tourism spots as their final destination.

Q: What is your opinion about the effect of Ryanair on Girona – how did it change the area – and also of course they entered in 2002 but later during the crisis cut the flights by around 50% (as per this New York Times article)?

A: It has given an incredible boost to the tourism of the city of Girona and has helped to diversify their incoming markets into the Costa Brava. Although around 60% of passengers flying into Girona with Ryanair had Barcelona as a final destination, thanks to those flights they had the opportunity to hold some of these passengers. Obviously, without the Barcelona attraction power they would have never had this growth and so many routes but still they got profit of the flights.

It is false that Ryanair cut flights in Girona due to the crisis. Back in 2009, Ryanair would not fly to major airports due to the high operating cost on major airports but then they realized that the costs at Madrid and Barcelona where not much higher than regional airports like Girona. This is something that didn’t happen in other major airports where costs can double or triple the cost. Madrid and Barcelona where the 2 major airports that Ryanair start flying (after Dublin of course, where the airline is based).

 

Girona Tourism Authority Comment

With Ryanair, Girona had more then double the number of rooms than before, so this meant new hotels, tourist apartments and B&Bs. The name of Girona became an international destination in the world and the tourism has been increased since Ryanair.

Unfortunately, when Ryanair decided to fly from Barcelona in 2010, this was not very good for the tourism industry of Girona, but that said the city has grown up since 2002 with a lot of festivals and activities, which positions Girona as one of the 9 best city breaks destinations in Europe.

To see a great number of reasons why you should consider visiting Girona, check out this page on Girona Tourism News. 

Pauline Barnes, one of of loyal Facebook fans, who owns property in the province of Castellon made this comment on Facebook:

“Well on the one hand, it’s great for us to fly from but on the other hand, I hope the extra tourism doesn’t spoil this pretty area – mostly national park. There are a few towns along the coast that were in a mad building frenzy when the euro crashed in 2008 – Oropesa was one – so hopefully it will be good for them.”

The region has huge potential, once it retains its character. It is an area rich in beauty and variety. If you haven’t been yet, do consider planning a holiday here – it has something for everyone!

Special thanks to:

The three interviewees for taking part and giving me their valued opinions and knowledge, and to our Facebook fan, Pauline for her comment.

Laura Hidalgo Jordan, Director of Communications at Peñiscola Tourist Authority and Town Council – for all of her help in co-ordinating

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30 Responses to Castellon Airport Spain-Gateway To Orange Blossom Coast

  1. Paula McInerney March 23, 2015 at 9:16 am #

    Wow, I am of 2 minds on this one. Fabulous post is a given, but does it need to be discovered? Will they be able to maintain and retain its character? Tourism can be so beneficial to an area but … Still, you have done an amazing job.

    • Jackie De Burca March 23, 2015 at 9:19 am #

      Thanks Paula. You mirror my thoughts precisely. While I want to help promote the area, I don’t want to do so to its detriment. Thanks for the lovely compliments. 🙂

  2. Kathryn Burtington March 23, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    Definitely a two edged sword but hopefully it will be handled well, bringing tourists and prosperity to the area without bringing to many crowds and ruining the authentic charm and character.

    • Jackie De Burca March 23, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

      Yes indeed Kathryn, that is what we hope …otherwise, it doesn’t bear thinking about.

  3. anna parker March 23, 2015 at 5:46 pm #

    This is a gorgeous little city – I really hope that the fact that it is Ryanair doesn’t alter the charm. Always a risk when a new route opens up, but it looks like a beautiful part of the country to open up

    • Jackie De Burca March 24, 2015 at 10:32 am #

      It is Anna, indeed. Yes this is the big question, we are hopeful that the authorities will have analysed the downside of some of what has been done on the other costas.

  4. Paul (@luxury__travel) March 25, 2015 at 12:49 am #

    Is this the same airport that was featured on Top Gear? Seems odd that such a large airport (I think I’m right in thinking that they could in theory land the Airbus A380 there?) should be such a financial failure. What was it that went so badly wrong? Presumably the financial crisis had a significant part to play…?

    • Jackie De Burca March 27, 2015 at 3:27 pm #

      Hi Paul,
      I really don’t know what was the airport featured on Top Gear, but….the Castellon Airport cannot have a A380 airplane because the runway is only 2.7KM long.

      Maybe it was the Ciudad Real. That is also closed and has a 4KM track that is enough for a A380?

      Thanks
      Jackie

  5. Karen March 28, 2015 at 8:55 am #

    What a great description of the area and yes I agree lets hope it doesnt change the places or bring in too many crowds if you know what i mean.

    • Jackie De Burca March 30, 2015 at 11:52 am #

      Thanks Karen, really glad you like the description of the area 🙂 Yes it will be so important to get the balance right between more tourism but not harming the feel of the area.

  6. Judy Detwiler May 17, 2015 at 11:30 am #

    Thank you for this wonderful information, Jackie! Living in the US, I was unaware of the airport situation, and hope to purchase a property (to rent, then retire) on the beautiful Costa del Azahar. What “authentic” villages would you recommend that have a year-round “life” of activity? Thanks!

    • Jackie De Burca May 19, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

      Hi Judy,
      Firstly thanks so much for your lovely compliment. 🙂 I will email you about this, as I have a couple of questions to ask you.
      Thanks
      Jackie

  7. Sandeep Kumar August 11, 2015 at 9:45 am #

    Definitely a two edged sword but hopefully it will be handled well, bringing tourists and prosperity to the area without bringing to many crowds and ruining the authentic charm and character.

    • Jackie De Burca August 11, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

      Absolutely Sandeep, that would be the ideal situation.

    • Frederick de Souza January 2, 2017 at 5:33 pm #

      Hi Judy, Just found this wonderful site. Good to see you did your research and now have your lovely holiday home in Cervera del Maestre.

      • Jackie De Burca January 3, 2017 at 9:47 am #

        I’m delighted also to see Judy chose her holiday home in Cervera del Maestre. Congratulations Judy. 🙂

  8. ian October 27, 2015 at 11:46 am #

    Hi,I hope the authorities do as good a job as you in promoting Castellon and not spoiling the reason why people will come and discover,holiday and maybe stay in the area.Please do not follow the antics of the other costas.We will be over in Feb to see as much as we can of Castellon.Keep up the good work.

    • Jackie De Burca October 27, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

      Thanks Ian 🙂 I am 200% with you on not following the antics of the other costas, well said! I hope you really enjoy your trip in Castellon, and always feel free to let me know if you have a question. Jackie

  9. alison abbott November 9, 2015 at 1:49 am #

    Jackie-You always do such an amazingly complete job of coverage. One of my most vivid travel memories is the scent of orange blossoms that used to fill the air when I would travel to Florida to visit my grandparents. Although the groves have been replaced by condos, I would happily visit anywhere that is called the gateway to the orange blossom coast. You have demonstrated so much that it has to offer. And how wonderful that you own property there-lucky you!

    • Jackie De Burca November 9, 2015 at 11:09 am #

      Hi Alison,
      What a lovely comment, thank you ♥ It is a beautiful aroma indeed, but even though it’s called the Orange Blossom Coast, we have an abundance of olive, almond and carob groves. I know someone like you will appreciate the gorgeous ice pink almond blossoms 🙂 Another of my favourite times of the year here, it is heavenly.
      Un abrazo (hug)
      Jackie

  10. Fran March 6, 2016 at 11:08 am #

    Hi
    Just thinking of booking this flight in May 16 …. Just checking that the bus will be running to Benicassim this year? Can anyone help?

    • Jackie De Burca March 8, 2016 at 12:38 pm #

      Hi Fran,
      Are you sure it is the 16th May for the flight? If you could double check, as I am not sure where you are flying from, but from both Stansted & Bristol there are no flights on the 16th. Once you confirm, I will do my best to help.
      Thanks
      Jackie

      • Rhian Jones April 9, 2016 at 10:41 am #

        We are flying to Castellon airport in June, staying in San Mateu and looking forward to exploring the area following a number of your recommendations. The two car hire companies at the airport have very expensive, virtually compulsory “extras” so I was wondering if you knew of a local decent car hire company in Alcossebre or anywhere on the shuttle bus routes?
        Thank you.

        • Jackie De Burca April 11, 2016 at 1:02 pm #

          Hi Rhian,
          Would love to hear how your trip goes afterwards. Rental car companies, I have to be honest and say that I am not a huge expert as yet. We did have one instance where we had to rent, and did so in Vinaros with http://www.davima.net/en/

          We found it to be a positive experience, with rates that we felt were about normal for the area. The only thing that my partner, who organised the booking reminded me about, is that the insurance offerings weren’t as extensive as some of the International car rental companies.

          Have a great trip
          Jackie

  11. Paul April 30, 2016 at 6:09 pm #

    Hi,
    My daughter is flying in to Castellon on June 7th, to go to Alcossebre.
    You mention a shuttle bus, but I can’t find any other references too it.
    Do you have a link to information or a phone number to find out more?

    Great website, very informative 🙂

    Thanks
    Paul

  12. Frederick de Souza January 2, 2017 at 5:45 pm #

    Just found your wonderful site. You describe the area perfectly! Having built a villa in the country near the village of Cervera del Maestre and lived in the area since 2003, we hope the airport will have a positive impact on the area. Attracting the traveller and settler who appreciates the benefits of this costa over the other more popular costas.

    • Jackie De Burca January 3, 2017 at 9:46 am #

      Hi Frederick, I am delighted with your comment, thank you. You’ve been in the area far longer than us, so it means an awful lot to me that you feel that I’ve described the area perfectly. 🙂 Good for you for getting here back in 2003. It’s great to be in contact with you, Warm regards, Jackie

  13. Lizzie March 26, 2017 at 6:46 am #

    I have just booked flights here in May to stay for 3 nights for my myself and my husbands 20th wedding anniversary ,, any recommendations for where to stay,, we just like to explore a little mostly relax and have an evening meal with good wine . Thanks in advance

    • Jackie De Burca April 5, 2017 at 3:03 pm #

      Hi Lizzie, where exactly are you planning to go? Romantic for me would be Peñiscola check that out to begin. Then comment back to me and we can go from there. 🙂 Happy holidays to you and hope to hear back from you, Jackie 🙂

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