Delicious drives in Spain:

Belle Epoque by the beach & delicious food with amazing views

by Jackie De Burca - 15 May 2017

I teamed up with Hertz to explore some stunning routes that are off the typical tourist trail here in Spain. These special experiences capture the essence of the gastronomy of the areas featured, all embraced by spectacular surroundings. Breathtaking views, fun adventures and delicious foodie offerings were thoroughly enjoyed on this roadtrip. The Opel Mokka 4x4 we hired was perfect for a smooth drive across some challening terrain.

Belle Epoque by the beach in Benicassim

Having picked up our car in Valencia, we headed straight for Benicassim on Spain's Orange Blossom Coast. Although best known for its music festivals, Benicassim has beautiful beaches, great food and famous Belle Epoque villas, which overlook the beach. Known as the Biarritz of the Levante, Benicassim is also home to Carmelitano, which is one of the oldest distilleries in Spain. Head there to meet the Barefoot Caremelites, who have been making their Carmelitano liqueur since 1896. It's a delicious liqueur that deserves to be tasted.

Then drive to Voramar Beach, which is where you can explore the Villa Route. These Belle Epoque villas were designed in the late 19th to early 20th century, by some of the top architects of their day, who were employed by rich Valencian families.

To date, 51 villas have been catalogued, and the route has two distinct faces. One is the Celestical Court, which is the group of villas known for their tranquility and the other is the collection of properties known as the Hell Route. As you can guess by the name, these splendid villas were renowned for their scandalous parties in the Roaring Twenties. The route is filled with beautiful architecture and all of it overlooking a lovely Mediterranean beach.

Awe-inspiring views & delicious food

To understand the Barefoot Carmelites a little better, we drove in our trusty 4x4 up into the Desierto de las Palmas (Desert of the Palms), where they constructed their monastery in 1697. It is said that they were deeply moved by the scenery and solitude. You don't need to be religious to do this part of the route, and as we climbed the hills, we saw some awe-inspiring views - you can see why the Carmelites were moved by it. The original monastery was destroyed in an earthquake, but you can see the ruins.

However you need to continue up to the top, where you'll find a good restaurant with incredible views, back down over the landscape. The Desierto de las Palmas restaurant has been serving good food since 1967. We were lucky to get one of the best tables, right at the window. I chose the imaginative, delicious salad which had a selection of leaves, prawns, crabstick, pineapple, raisins and apple, with a very tasty dressing. I followed this with one of my favourite dishes – Gambas Pil Pil (Prawns in a slightly spicy garlic oil). Between the breathtaking views and great food, all of my senses were satiated before it was time to get back on the road again.

And here was my planned route:

Stop one: Valencia – Hertz Valencia Airport

Stop two: Benicassim - Carmelitano

Stop three: Voramar Beach - Villa Route

Stop four: Desierto de las Palmas - Desierto de las Palmas restaurant

Stop five: Delta de l’Ebre - Delta de l'Ebre Natural Park

Stop six: Font de Sant Pere - Font de Sant Pere restaurant

Stop seven: Morella – Morella historic town

Stop eight: Vilafamés - Mayo Garcia Vineyard

Stop nine: Peñiscola – Peñiscola Old Town

Latest Articles