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While you may not have heard of Montanejos before, you’ve probably heard someone mention the hot springs near Valencia at least once. Located just over an hour away from the coastal city by car, the thermal waters of Montanejos Hot Springs are one of the most popular day trips from Valencia with locals and tourists alike.
But did you know there’s far more to do in Montanejos than simply bathing in the hot springs?
Montanejos is a charming little village, packed with history and surrounded by spectacular natural landscapes. From the calm turquoise waters of the Arenós Reservoir to the plunging canyons and lush forests that can be explored on many hiking trails, Montanejos is the ideal spot to unwind and reconnect with nature for a while.
Where is Montanejos?
Montanejos can be found in Alto Mijares in the province of Castellón. Castellón is part of the larger Region of the Valencian Community. The village sits around 90km north of the city of Valencia, the third-largest city in Spain.
Soak in Montanejos Hot Springs
The Fuente de los Baños, or the Montanejos Hot Springs, are an area along the river Mijares where natural pools have been formed from a fast-flowing spring in the mountains. These pools are known for their crystal-clear waters that maintain a constant temperature of 25°c all year-round.
The waters from the Fuente de los Baños have been considered therapeutic for decades. According to legend, during the 13th century Islamic King Abu Zayd thought the waters in Montanejos were the secret to eternal beauty and youth so built a bathing area for his wives.
And as it turns out, King Abu Zayd wasn’t too wrong about the water. Studies have shown that the hypothermal properties and mineral composition of the springs do have natural medicinal properties. The water can rejuvenate and cleanse hair and skin, aid digestion, and treat cardiovascular and liver disease.
Today, a visit to the hot springs is the most popular thing to do in Montanejos. People of all ages come to spend a few hours bathing in the thermal pools and relaxing in the stunning nature that surrounds them.
Tips for visiting Montanejos Hot Spings:
- Hot doesn’t mean hot. The name hot springs is a little bit decieving. While the water isn’t freezing, it certainly isn’t like the hot bath you’re imagining either. The water temperature is tepid at best and does take a little getting used to. But it’s worth it once you’re in.
- Bring water shoes. Areas of the pools are shallow and the bottoms are rocky so bring some shoes or sandles you can walk in the water with.
- There’s bathrooms and a cafe. The Montanejos Hot Springs have become so popular that the area now has public bathrooms and a small cafe selling drinks and snacks. You can also bring along your own picnic to eat next to the water as many people choose to do.
Relax at Montanejos Spa
If the natural springs aren’t for you, or you end up visiting Montanejos on a particularly cold or rainy day, you can still experience the town’s medicinal waters at the Montanejos Spa.
Balneario Montanejos is a small spa resort in the centre of the village that uses the mineral water from the hot springs of Fuente de Baños in all of its facilities. The spa has thermal baths, whirlpools, steam rooms, and a whole host of therapeutic treatments available. There’s also a lovely relaxation area with amazing panoramic views over the surrounding nature.
A basic session gives you access to the pools, baths, and steam rooms for 2 hours for just €20. Or for €36, you can include a massage treatment. You can book online or at the front desk when you arrive. You do need suitable slippers/flip-flops and a swim cap to enter the spa – but you can buy both of these at reception.
Walk Along the River Mijares
Whether you decide to take a dip in the water or not, a walk along the River Mijares is a must when visiting Montanejos.
There are several great walking and hiking routes around the village. One of the quickest and easiest is the Family Route, or sendero familiar, which takes you on a 5km walk along the River Mijares.
Starting in Montanejos itself, you’ll get to visit sites including the Hot Springs, the Black Cave (below) and a section of the Los Estrechos de Chillapájaros – a deep scenic canyon where many watersports take place. The route is signposted and pretty easy to follow.
Hike the Sendero de Los Estrechos Trail
The 8km circular path takes you from Montanejos and the Mijares riverbed up to the foliage-covered peaks that border Los Estrechos de Chillapájaros.
Along the hike, you’ll get to see amazing panoramic views back over the village, across the scenic gorge below, and out to the surrounding mountains. The route also includes stops at the Black Cave and the El Churro Waterspout (below).
The Sendero de Los Estrechos supposedly takes 2.5 hours to hike, but with numerous breaks and photo stops along the way, we ended up doing it in around 4 hours. Be sure to schedule this in when planning your hike so you don’t get stuck out after dark – like we almost did.
The path can be uneaven and steep at times, with some sheer drops over the cliff edge. It requires a good level of fitness and probably isn’t suitable for very young children.
See the El Chorro Waterspout
One of the furthest points on the Los Estrechos hiking trail is the unusual El Chorro Waterspout, an overflow channel of the Arenós Reservoir that shoots out huge amounts of water at a great speed.
So what’s the big deal about a reservoir outlet?
Well, on a sunny day, the water and steam bursting out from the spout create a vivid rainbow right across the pathway. So don’t forget your camera! But do be prepared to get a little soggy if you get too close.
Even if you’re not walking the Los Estrechos trail, you can still take a short walk down to the waterspout from the road nearby.
Explore the Black Cave
Another of the most important places to visit in Montanejos is the Cueva Negra (Black Cave), one of the largest cavities in the Region of Valéncia and a site of local significance.
The huge cave is of particular interest due to the many archaeological remains discovered inside. Several excavations in the 1900s found ashes from ancient bonfires (the black colour of the cave is believed to be from soot from the fires), stone tools, and pottery dating back to the Neolithic period. The cave’s findings are evidence of settlements in Montanejos over 12,000 years ago.
Visiting the Black Cave requires a slight uphill detour from the marked hiking route. Keep an eye out for signposts so you don’t accidentally miss it.
Ride the Tourist Train
The Montanejos Tourist Train (Turistic Train Montanejos) is a fun and easy way to see more of the village and surrounding area without needing to put on your hiking boots.
The small tourist train starts in the village and makes its way above the River Mijares, with several stops at viewpoints overlooking the Los Estrechos de Chillapájaros and the Arenós Reservoir, before making its way back.
The train runs hourly throughout the mornings and evenings each day. During off-peak seasons the train runs only on weekends. The round journey lasts 45 minutes and costs just €3 per person.
Marvel at the Arenós Reservoir
The Arenós Reservoir is a large man-made lake in Puebla de Arenoso and Montanejos. The reservoir stores fresh water for much of the surrounding region and features a large dam to retain the floodwaters of the River Mijares.
The mountainous backdrop of the serene lake makes it the perfect spot to stop for some photos, or simply to sit and relax while taking in the scenery. During the summer months, you may also see people fishing or kayaking in the lake.
The best place to view the reservoir is from the dam which can be reached by car or on the tourist train.
Step Inside Iglesia De Santiago Apóstol
Although much of Montanejos’ allure lies in the nature that engulfs it, there are also some interesting places to visit in the village itself.
Iglesia De Santiago Apóstol is a beautiful church dating back to the 1700s and is dedicated to the town’s patron saint, Santiago Apóstol. The most impressive part of the church is the frescos of the four gospels – Mark, Luke, John and Matthew – by Luis Antonio Planes.
Visit the Tourist Information Centre in Villa Purificación
Montanejos Tourist Information Centre is not only worth visiting for its small display on the history of the town, but the centre is also located inside a grand historic villa.
Villa Purificación dates back to the early 1900s when it was built as the summer home of a bourgeois family who wanted to be close to the waters of the Fuente de Baño.
Made up of two buildings connected by a central garden, the striking yellow villa was designed in a late eclecticism and art deco style that makes it stand out from most of the other buildings in the village. The villa’s large wrap-around terrace also boasts fantastic views out across the River Mijares.
The tourist info centre is open daily from 10am-2pm, as well as 5pm-7pm on weekends.
Enjoy the Food at San Jamie 35
Being a small village, there aren’t a huge number of restaurants in Montanejos. Fortunately for me, this meant I got to try most of them during my few days in the village and hunt out my favourite… which had to be San Jamie 35.
The small local restaurant and pizzeria is located right in the centre of the village and serves a simple menu of traditional Spanish tapas and croquetas, as well as several artisanal pizzas and an extensive wine menu. The croquetas were definitely some of the best I’ve eaten in all of Spain, while the local cheese board is also a must-try.
Plus, the tables on the lower floor next to the wine cellar are ideal for a romantic evening.
Sip Cocktails with a View at Refugio
Another of the best restaurants and bars in Montanejos is Refugio, a hillside restaurant sitting on the outskirts of the village and connected to a hostel of the same name.
The charming restaurant is accessible by a steep set of stairs and has a large outdoor terrace with fantastic views out over the village and river below.
The menu consists of international dishes based on local, seasonal ingredients. You can expect everything from Spanish tapas to Arabic falafel wraps to Italian pasta and homemade pizza. There’s also a great cocktail menu for enjoying a drink with a view during the hot summer months.
How to get from Valencia to Montanejos
The easiest way to reach Montanejos from Valencia is by hiring a car and driving yourself. The drive from Valencia to Montanejos takes around 1hr15m on average. Visiting by car gives you as much time and freedom as you want to explore the village and surrounding region. Unfortunately, Montanejos is difficult to reach by public transport.
How long do you need in Montanejos?
I’d personally recommend spending at least a couple of days in Montanejos if you can. This will give you time to really enjoy the hot springs and spa, as well as head out to explore some of the local hiking routes.
How to visit Montanejos on a day trip from Valencia
If you’re only visiting Montanejos on a day trip from Valencia, your best option is to take an organized tour. Day trips usually include return transport, time at the hot springs, lunch in the village, and a visit to several of the area’s best viewpoints.
There are also some other great day tours from Valencia which include Montanejos Hot Springs, plus waterfalls and other stops in the region.
Where to stay in Montanejos
Apartamentos Campuebla – Spacious apartments with private balconies and fantastic views of the mountains and the river, just a few minutes walk from the thermal baths and spa. We booked an apartment here last minute on a whim, but it turned out to be a great little spot to base ourselves during our trip to Montanejos. The apartment complex also has its own private car park.
El Refugio – Rustic cabins and hostel rooms located in the middle of nature, surrounded by pine trees and built on top of a rocky crag, just a few minutes walk from the village of Montanejos.
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