Although the official name is El Castell de Guadalest, almost everyone refers to it by its shortened version: Guadalest. This small and beautiful medieval village is located in the center of one of the most picturesque valleys of the Costa Blanca: The Guadalest Valley.
Surrounded by some of the most emblematic mountains of Alicante, such as the Sierra de Xortà, the Serrella, the Sierra de Bèrnia and the Sierra de Aitana, Guadalest is one of the main tourist attractions of Alicante, due to its proximity to Benidorm and the great beauty of its natural environment.
With a wonderful historical past and declared a Historic-Artistic Site and of Cultural Interest, Guadalest is among the Most Beautiful -and visited- Villages of Spain.
Will you join us to meet him? Stay until the end!
Index of contents
What makes Guadalest special?
A surprising number: with only 180 inhabitants, it has 15 restaurants, 50 stores and 7 museums. According to statistics, it is one of the most visited towns in Spain, with 2,500,000 tourists per year.
Source: Antonio Marco Museum
Guadalest is a village in a village. It is located at the top of a steep rocky crag, defying the void from its strategic position. In the center of the valley, it is surrounded by imposing mountains such as the Sierra de Aitana or the Xortà. Its origin dates back to the Muslim period; it was they who fortified the village and created what today is one of the main attractions of the place: the Castle of San José or Castell de Guadalest. In fact, the town had an important Muslim population until the 17th century, when Philip III decreed the expulsion of the Moors.
Its fortress has undergone multiple changes since then, such as the one caused by the earthquake of 1644, which destroyed part of the construction. Also, during the twentieth century was built the Guadalest Reservoir, bringing more beauty if possible to the valley of agricultural tradition.
“Guadalest appeared to me. Massifs of colored rock like stained glass windows. In two pinnacles of crags of the Aldean features: the bell tower and the cemetery, so crowded up there. It was so beautiful and simple Guadalest that communicated the happiness of purity; a happiness without possession of anything concrete. The moment you feel it, you know it is happening. We will look for it. We will return to Guadalest”.
Gabriel Miró, Tourism and the partridge
Today Guadalest is considered one of the essential visits for all those people who come to know the province of Alicante and, although it is true that it has become a tourist attraction, Guadalest continues to enchant travelers from around the world for its unique beauty and its strategic location at the top of a rocky outcrop.
Known among other things for its museums, this town in Alicante has many other attractions for the visitor. From a delicious gastronomy to a magnificent natural mountainous environment and mild climate, Guadalest offers the traveler the possibility to enjoy the strength of the mountain and to know its historical roots.
Where to park? The CV-755 road separates the modern part of the old town of Guadalest. There you will find the municipal parking, very easy to find. It costs 6€ for 24 hours. We recommend you to get up early if you come in high season, as it is usually very busy.[see in google maps].
Best time: Any time, although in summer it is very hot and more crowded.
Not to be missed: a visit to the Casa Orduña and the Castillo de San José (continue reading).
Guided Tour. If you come on your own and want to soak up the history of Guadalest, do not miss this guided tour.
Complementary plans: visit to Les Fonts d’Algar The Algar’s Fonts, in Callosa d’En Sarrià (18,5 km from Guadalest).
7 Reasons to visit Guadalest
1. The Castle of San José
The Castell de Guadalest or Guadalest Castle, also known as the Castle of San Jose, was an ancient defensive system of the Muslim population. Located at the top of the village of Guadalest, on a large rock, it dominates the views over the valley. At the top of the castle we also find the Via Crucis and cemetery of Guadalest.
Originally from the 11th century, over the years some areas of the castle have disappeared due to its age and successive earthquakes. From here you can also see the remains of the Alcozaiba Castle, of which only a ruined tower remains.
Access to the castle is through the Casa Orduña, which I’ll tell you about below, so read on to find out more…
2. The Orduña House (Municipal Museum)
This stately home was built and inhabited by the important Orduña family, who were in the service of the Marquises. Its origin dates back to the 17th century. Furniture and decoration from the 19th century are preserved in it and exhibitions of the rooms of the house are held.
From the house, there is access to the Castillo de San José, a fortress of Muslim origin dating from the eleventh century.
The entrance fee is 4€ adults and 2€ children.
We can qualify the visit to the Casa Orduña and the Castillo de San José as a must to see in Guadalest.
Best Accommodations in Guadalest
The Guadalest Valley offers some of the best rated accommodations in the province of Alicante, such as Llar de Beniardà, Vivood or Cases Noves, do you want to know them?
3. The Medieval Old Town
If anything characterizes El Castell de Guadalest is its medieval atmosphere. Its cobbled streets, the Muslim castle and other small details that make up the village make Guadalest a magical village.
Don’t miss out:
The Portal de Sant Josep. A tunnel drilled in the rock is the only entrance to the ancient citadel. Just before, a photographer will take a picture that we can later materialize in an object for the memory.
The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption. Of Baroque style, it dates from the 18th century and is attributed to José Sierra. Next to the Casa de los Orduña.
The Plaza de San Gregorio, from where we can enjoy the views of the valley and the turquoise water reservoir.
Ethnological Museum. Free admission, it represents a typical house of the 18th century.
Dungeons. Under the town hall there are dungeons dating back to the 12th century, which can be accessed free of charge.
4. The Natural Environment
Known as “The Emerald Jewel”, the Guadalest Reservoir is a beautiful blue-green marsh where the Guadalest River ends.
If you come by car, this is a visit we recommend you to make. You can access by car to the dam of the Guadalest Reservoir and from there make the circular hiking route around the reservoir, or just walk through this wonderful environment surrounded by mountains. You’ll think you’re not in Alicante!
This beautiful reservoir offers the possibility of making a low to medium difficulty hiking route of low to medium difficulty consisting of going around the sheet of water, a path during which you will find abundant vegetation and wonderful views of the mountains and the Castell de Guadalest.
5. Gastronomy and Local Products
One of the star dishes of Alicante cuisine is olleta de blat or olla de trigo, a stew prepared with wheat, vegetables, spices and different types of pork. A very strong recipe designed to reconstitute the travelers and inhabitants of the village.
Likewise, Guadalest also offers the traveler the “minxos”, typical vegetable pies. The rabbit with aioli and the “pilotes de dacsa”, a dish made of stewed corn and meat balls.
Local products include extra virgin olive oil and wines. Our mouths are watering.
My favorite restaurants in the area are Mesón Ca Rafel (Benimantell) and Restaurante El Trestellador, a bit rustic but with unbeatable views (you will need a car to get there as it is in the middle of the mountains).
6. Museums of Guadalest
For some random reason, and as a result of the great tourist attraction of the town, museums of various kinds have proliferated in Guadalest over the years.
Bethlehem and Dolls’ Houses Museum
I have a special affection for this museum, since its creator, Antonio Marco, was my grandmother’s nephew (may they both rest in peace). Antonio was passionate about craftsmanship and miniatures, and this museum reflects his life’s work. The museum was inaugurated in 1992, when Antonio moved to Guadalest from Requena.
- 5€ Adults
- 4€ Pensioners
- 3,50€ Groups
- 3€ Children over 5 years old
More information on the official website.
Other Museums in Guadalest
- Ethnological Museum
- Medieval Historical Museum
- Museum of Historic Vehicles ( between Callosa and Guadalest).
- Microminiatures Museum
- Microgiant Museum
- Salt and Pepper Shakers Museum
7. Guadalest Festivities
At the beginning of May the festivities are held in honor of San Gregorio, patron saint of the town.
In June we can enjoy the Romantic Night, an event shared by the 59 most beautiful villages in Spain, of which Guadalest is part.
In mid-August, the most important festivities take place in honor of the Virgen de la Asunción.
The pilgrimage to Gines (pedanía) is a popular festival held annually in late September and early October in which the inhabitants of Guadalest come together to walk the road to Gines, an uninhabited area of the region. After the tour, and once in the town center, a mass is celebrated and then gives way to food and fun, open to any visitor who wishes to register.
Video about Guadalest
In the following video you can discover some of the highlights of this beautiful town in the Marina Baixa region.
In short, we can say that Guadalest is one of those villages in Spain that hides a great beauty: mild temperatures, mountains and history come together to give rise to a quiet environment and rich in landscapes; an inland alternative that never leaves you indifferent.
Every year many travelers and tourists come to the province of Alicante to enjoy its pleasant temperatures, magnificent beaches and delicious gastronomy. However, the coast is not the only one that offers beautiful places to marvel at during your stay in Alicante. The beautiful inland villages of Alicante offer indispensable locations that any visitor (or local) should know.
What to see near Guadalest
Complete guide to ALTEA: places to visit, beaches, routes, gastronomy and the best plans to do in one of the most charming towns on the Costa Blanca.