This article about Montanejos was originally published in 2017. It was updated and republished in September 2021.
The third largest city in the country, Valencia is a bustling hub of paella, sandy beaches, thriving nightlife and majestic architecture.
However, few people visiting Valencia are aware of a place called Montanejos, a serene paradise in the larger Region of Valencia where you can find hot springs, waterfalls, mountains, hiking trails and more.
A haven of tranquillity with stunning views to boot, Montanejos is one of those hidden gems that, once experienced, will stay with you forever.
I was eager to explore the nature surrounding Valencia, and so when family-owned tour company Valtournative invited me on a full-day Montanejos tour, I couldn’t say no.
Here’s how it went.
Exploring Montanejos – Thermal Springs, Bull’s Tails & Waterfalls in Valencia
Who are Valtournative?
Before we get into it, I want to give a quick shout out to the company I visited Montanejos with – Valtournative.
I am passionate about supporting small, locally-owned businesses, and with the last couple of years wreaking havoc on the travel industry, it is more important now than ever to spend your money where it counts.
Valtournative are a small, family-owned company who are passionate about enabling people to connect with the ‘real Valencia.’
The guides at Valtournative do not simply walk around the city of Valencia pointing out the main tourist attractions – they take travellers off the beaten path around Valencia to craggy mountains and medieval villages, Moorish caves and small family wineries.
They have various Valencia tours available, all designed to give travellers some of the best day trips from Valencia and provide them with an authentic Spanish experience, whether that involves learning how to make traditional Valencian paella or learning about ancient architecture.
If, after reading this post, you decide to book an organised tour to Montanejos, I highly, highly recommend doing so with Valtournative.
I will not receive a single cent in commission if you do. I just really love this company.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, it’s time to get into my adventures in Montanejos.
First Stop: Navajas Village and Bridal Veil Waterfall
First stop on our tour was a municipality called Navajas, about a 40 minute drive from Valencia.
However, unlike some tours, where you spend all day sitting with your headphones in staring out of the window, our guide Daniel made the journey fly by with his stories and fun facts about our surroundings.
He regaled us with tales about everything from the old walls that used to surround the city of Valencia, to various customs, traditions and legends unique to the surrounding villages.
For example, we learnt that if you’ve been very bad in Spain, one way to be forgiven by God is to crawl up a hill with a cross on your back at Easter time.
If you’ve only been a little bit bad then you’re permitted to walk up the hill, but you’ve still got to carry something heavy!
For every single thing we drove past, Daniel had something interesting to tell us.
Each village seemed to have a unique legend or tradition, and we learned all about everything from how to make the best olive oil to the inside scoop behind the most famous Spanish festivals, including the La Tomatina tomato festival and the controversial Running of the Bulls (please, please don’t partake in this one!).
Before we knew it, we’d reached the village of Navajas and one of the most famous waterfalls in Spain – the Salto de la Novia waterfall, which literally translates to ‘Jump of the Bride.’
With a population of just 712, Navajas is a tiny village with a few claims to fame – not only is Bridal Veil waterfall located just outside, but the village is also full of fountains spouting medicinal mineral water, as well as a famous Elm tree that was planted way back in 1636 and appears in the Guinness World Records!
However, we weren’t there to see an old tree.
We were there to visit Bridal Veil waterfall and learn the sad legend behind its name…
The legend of the Bridal Veil Waterfall
Bridal Veil waterfall is a 30 metre sharp drop down into the Palancia River and is easily reached via a short walk through the forest, close to the parking lot.
Legend has it that many years ago, couples that were engaged to be married must undergo a bizarre ritual of sorts.
The bride-to-be should jump across the Palancia River from the rock race at the top of the waterfall. It was said that this would prove their love and commitment to their future groom, and a successful jump was said to ensure a long, happy and fertile marriage.
Unfortunately, for one couple, their story did not get a happy ending.
The bride-to-be lost her footing and plunged down into the river, getting caught in a whirlpool and disappearing behind the crashing waterfall.
Without hesitation, her fiancé jumped in try and save her, but he sadly became a victim of the waterfall too, and their bodies were swept away, never to be seen again.
It is said that sometimes, in the light of the moon, the river glows as white as a wedding dress and the couple’s laughter and giggles can be heard from behind the waterfall, which is said to be shedding tears for their loss.
Something that is a little strange is that Navajas and the Bridal Veils Waterfall has since become a really popular spot for wedding photoshoots!
While the photographs must undeniably look fantastic, it seems like a bad omen to take your wedding photos at a sight supposedly haunted by a couple that drowned!
Montanejos Hot Springs
Next stop on our Valencia tour was the Fuente de los Baños, or the Montanejos Hot Springs.
The Montanejos Hot Springs, or thermal baths, are in the province of Castellon, a mountainous area with an abundance of waterfalls and canyons at an altitude of 418m.
Montanejos itself has been inhabited since the Neolithic times (that’s the Stone Age, to you and me!), and around the 13th century, it was an Islamic settlement.
It was during this time that King Zayd Abu-Zayd ordered the Montanejos Hot Springs to be built, as he believed that the secret to eternal beauty and health was in the medicinal properties of the water. The thermal baths were originally for him and the women of his harem to enjoy.
In other words, he wanted his favourite women to stay hot forever – men really are all the same!
However, Abu-Zayd wasn’t totally wrong with his beliefs about the water in Montanejos.
The well-documented healing properties of the mineral water are a big draw for tourists and locals alike, causing thousands of people to flock to Montanejos every year to reap some of its benefits – not only is the water great for the hair and skin, but it is also said to help aid digestion and even treat cardiovascular and liver disease!
However, I should warn you that if you plan on visiting Montanejos Hot Springs, you shouldn’t expect them to be – well – hot.
Daniel told us that the water is usually around 25 degrees, but unfortunately we’d picked a really cold day – there had been a torrential downpour less than 24 hours before, and the rain water that had mixed in with the spring water had lowered the temperature to around 22 degrees.
This doesn’t sound too cold, but it really was, and we were all especially grateful that Daniel had provided us with some wet suits to help keep the warmth in!
However, even 25 degree water is not super hot, and while you won’t freeze to death, you certainly won’t feel as though you’re relaxing in a nice warm bath!
After adjusting to the cold, we spent quite a while in the water, swimming and skimming stones, and some of the boys even tried their hand at cliff jumping, which Daniel made sure to capture on his GoPro.
This was one of the aspects of the tour that I really liked – Daniel was constantly playing the part of a paparazzo by snapping candid pictures of us all day, which he then later sent us a link to!
Sampling some traditional Valencian food
After we’d tired of Montanejos Hot Springs, it was time for lunch, and I was excited – I’d been dying to sample some traditional Valencian cuisine, and what a better introduction than a tiny, no frills restaurant in a mountain village in Montanejos?
Daniel proceeded to order an absolutely fantastic meal for us.
We ate the Spanish way, ordering a handful of dishes and sharing them between ourselves. When everything arrived, we had quite the banquet!
The food itself differed slightly from typical Valencian cuisine, which has lots of grilled seafood and rice dishes, and was real Spanish mountain food, hearty and rich.
We feasted on pork cheeks, bull’s tail (which was divine), creamy goat’s cheese, juicy steak, calamari with lemon, spicy patatas bravas, thick crusty bread and a hearty soup full of beans and meat and blood sausage called Fabada Asturiana.
We ate until we were stuffed, washing down our meals with cold beers and jugs of Sangria, and I have to admit, it was probably my favourite part of the day!
Unfortunately lunch was not included in the price of the tour, but the bill only came to 13 EUR per person, which wasn’t bad at all.
I only wish I had a picture to present you with, but I was too busy stuffing my face, so enjoy some of the incredible views around Montanejos instead:
Continuing our Montanejos tour – Pantano de Arenoso
With our trousers bursting at the seams, we piled back onto the bus and listened to more of Daniel’s stories about ‘millennial trees’ (olive trees which are over 2000 years old!), bull racing and Valencian oranges as we made our way to the next stop on our Montanejos tour – a reservoir called Pantano de Arenoso.
Also known as the Montanejos Dam, its purpose is to retain the floodwaters of the River Mijares, but regardless of its function, it is a beautiful place to visit.
It seemed as though each stop just got more and more beautiful, and the water was so still and peaceful, I could have stayed here for hours enjoying the stunning views and tranquil atmosphere. It is also said that the old town of Campos de Arenoso lies underneath its waters!
El Chorro Waterspout
Our last and final stop on our Montanejos tour was El Chorro Waterspout, and I honestly can’t think of how to describe it other than to say that it was very strange but very cool.
The way that I later described it to my mum was that it was ‘a tiny crack in a cliff face where water just poofs out,’ and, well, it’s not inaccurate.
I’m honestly still at a loss as to how to describe the waterspout so I’ll just leave you with some pictures…
My Montanejos Tour – Final Thoughts
I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the wonders of Montanejos with Daniel.
The cost of this particular tour with Valtournative is 79 EUR, which might seem a bit expensive at first, but considering that you’re getting your own personal chauffeur and tour guide for the day, I think it’s well worth it.
Daniel, who is also the owner of Valtournative, genuinely cares about his guests and has an incredible amount of information to offer about Valencia and the surrounding areas. The tour really wouldn’t have been the same without him there to tell us all about the places we were seeing and the legends behind them, and even when we were in the car for 45 minute stretches, Daniel kept us all upbeat and engaged. When he wasn’t sharing fascinating facts with us, he was asking us questions about ourselves and ensuring that the conversation was always flowing between everyone.
We saw and learnt so much on our Montanejos tour, and I came away truly awestruck and inspired by the sights that I saw. I think that this tour is probably one of the best day trips from Valencia that there is, and I can honestly recommend it to anybody who wants to experience the ‘real’ Spain, and see things that most tourists will never get the chance to.
My only criticism of this tour is that it ran late – super late.
We were supposed to arrive back in Valencia at 5pm, but we actually got back to the city at 7:40pm. Now, on the one hand, this is great – almost 3 hours of bonus time!
However, I was supposed to attend a food tour that evening which I had to cancel due to our late arrival, and if I’d been paying for the tour, I would have likely lost my money. As it stands, the food tour was a gifted experience and so I wasn’t out of pocket, but it definitely isn’t a good look professionally to cancel at the last minute!
All in all though, I really enjoyed my experience with Valtournative, and I definitely recommend them if you’re interested in exploring Montanejos and the Valencian countryside.
You can visit Valtournative’s website here.
Visiting Valencia? Here are some helpful resources.
If you’re planning a trip to Valencia, then I strongly recommend buying travel insurance. I NEVER travel without insurance, and I’ve seen too many others get landed with huge medical bills as a result of not having had insurance, that it’s something I’ll never neglect to buy. My recommendation for great travel insurance is World Nomads.
If you are travelling around Europe by bus, my go-to for bus travel is always FlixBus. I have used them in almost every country I’ve travelled to and they have never let me down (plus, Wi-Fi onboard!).
To find the best hotels in Valencia, use Hotellook.
If hostels are more your jam, you can’t go wrong with Hostelworld.
If you want to rent a car in Valencia then I really recommend Qeeq. If you use this link, you can get $100 off your first hire and FREE Covid-19 protection!
that’s about all from me but if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments below!
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