Catalonia-Valencia.com is offering a Free Basket of Spanish Products!
Join now the sweepsteak and claim your chance of winning it!
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.
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.
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.
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:
The service has been organised by agreement between the Castellon Diputation and Autocares Mediterráneo.
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
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!
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.
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 (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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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).
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.
“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