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Lying to the south of the city of Valencia, the Albufera freshwater lagoon is one of the most important nature areas in the Land of Valencia. A slim strip of coastline protects it from the sea, and on this strip of land, sand dunes have formed, plus a curious Mediterranean pine forest growing in sandy soil with rich shrubbery. This area is called the Devesa del Saler, a word derived from a kind of pastureland. Three canals (two natural and a third man-made), connect the lagoon and surrounding wetlands with the sea, and each has its own characteristic flora and fauna.
La Albufera is an important stopover point for migratory birds and a nesting area for resident birds. There is an Information Centre for getting better acquainted with the Albufera Lagoon Nature Park, located at Racó de l'Olla (tel. + 34 96 162 7345), on the road to El Palmar.
La Albufera, a corner of nature in which we can find local flora and fauna in its wildest state thanks to the strict protection against human activities. The natural life of the lake coexists in harmony with traces of agricultural, fishing and culinary traditions and unique way of life as represented by the local "barraca" houses.
The centre of this 3000-hectare lake, which is surrounded by the Dehesa del Saler forest and the El Saler, Pinedo and Cullera beaches, is home to the island upon which the fishing village El Palmar is to be found. A boat trip on the lake enables the visitor to observe the manner in which the local people follow fishing traditions established some 750 years ago and the unique configuration of rice fields and agricultural plots divided by canals and linked by small, narrow bridges.
The scarce remaining original "barracas" represent the best example of sustainable architecture. Constructed from adobe and finished with straw roofs, many are lacking electricity and running water. El Palmar is host to the oldest existing “Barraca”, which dates from more than 100 years ago. The village also offers more than 30 restaurants, may of which are run by former fishermen. The visitor will discover that a traditional dish of "all i pebre" or "arroz a banda" represents a true pleasure in any of the local restaurants, especially on a sunny day. The leisurely pace of life in the area, together with the peaceful effect exerted by the sounds of the surrounding nature, are a good excuse for freeing oneself of the stresses of the city and modern life.
Next to this singular world, this oasis dating from another time, we find the lush Mediterranean forest of Dehesa de El Saler, subject to special protection due to the exceptional value of its plant and animal life. A stroll among the pine trees leads us to the natural dunes that extend the length of the El Saler beach, currently protected due to its ecological value. Following a leisurely stroll, the visitor almost has the obligation to enjoy a refreshing dip in this waters of this unique beach.
A visit to this corner of nature is not complete without a trip to the remodelled El Saler Parador, which offers spectacular views over the beach and the Dehesa forest. Located in a privileged setting, the hotel is also equipped with one of Europe’s finest golf courses, offering 18 holes and spectacular views over the dunes and the El Saler natural park.
How to get there
Bus Turistic: Route Albufera
This will drive you to the Albufera National park where you can discover rice fields, and the Albufera Lagoon ecosystems. There is an Albufera boat trip included. The route duration is about 2 hours. The ticket is only valid for one Albufera trip. If you want to stay longer and return later, you need to check with the bus driver.