If you are in Valencia and looking for an easy day trip, check out the city of Xativa. Xativa, Spain is home to one of the coolest castles I’ve ever seen and you can head there and back in only half a day.
I lived in Spain and have traveled all over the country, but I had never heard of Xativa. I do love me a good castle, so I wanted to share this with you so you can easily plan your own Xativa day trip from Valencia. If you’re in Valencia, also check out this day trip to Montenejos.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through a link and make a purchase, you’ll be helping to support my travels. Thank you!
Why is Xativa Castle worth a visit?
The castle is unique because of its location on the edge of the mountain overlooking the city of Xativa. The unique narrow saddle shape requires visitors to enter at the lowest point, from which they can see the minor castle snaking up one side and the major castle spreading out over the other side.
This unmatched architecture makes for amazing 360° views and cool photos in an area surrounded by nature.
Furthermore, history buffs will love hearing about Hannibal, the Reconquista, and the infamous Borgia family.
Castell de Xàtiva means Xativa Castle in Valenciano. You may also see it written Castillo de Játiva in Spanish. Nothing like three languages to keep you on your toes! Most things in the castle are written in all three languages but there are a few parts that are not in English.
How to get to Xativa Castle from Valencia
The city of Xativa is 60 kilometers southwest of Valencia. It is more like a large town and is easy to walk around.
Xativa is about an hour’s train ride from the Valencia Nord station in the city of Valencia (remember the whole Comunidad is called Valencia). The route is considered a Cercanías commuter route, so you can just show up for a train and buy tickets from the machine in the train for about 9 euros roundtrip.
Don’t make the mistake I did and buy them the day before, thinking you will save time the next day, because they are only valid for a couple of hours after purchase. Embarrassed experienced traveler, right here!
Depending on the day, trains run from the early morning to late evening, with more trains during the week and one to four trains an hour. Consult the Renfe timetable when planning your day trip to Xativa.
Xativa is in zone 5 on the C2 line. Check the most updated prices here, but as of publication, it was 8,70 Euros (less than $10 U.S.) for a roundtrip ticket.
Some people see Xativa as part of one of the shore excursions when they are visiting Valencia by cruise ship.
If you are coming from a cruise ship and have limited time, or you want to get more bang for your buck, consider seeing Xativa as part of a day tour like this one, that visits Xativa and other mountain villages and should include a bit of a walking tour of the city with your guide.
Or, if you are traveling down the coast, head to Xativa and then get transportation to continue on to Alicante.
Visitors can easily do this trip in a half day, but if you want to see some of the sites in town and have a leisurely lunch, plan for a full day away.
History of Xativa Castle
Ruins from the smaller fortress date back to the Iberians before the common era.
In Roman times, Xativa was an important stop on the Via Augusta road that connected Rome to Hispania (Spain).
Hannibal, the great military general of elephants-crossing-the-Alps fame, plotted his next conquest against the Romans in this castle. It’s said that his wife gave birth to their son in the tower in 218 BCE.
The castle fell to the Moorish Almoravid dynasty during medieval times. In 1244 the Valencian champion Jaume (James) I of Aragon reconquered Xativa and its castle, uniting much of eastern Spain.
Two decades later, Xativa was the seat of the powerful Borgia family that put two popes in Rome. The Borgias were essentially the Medicis of Spain and there are very colorful stories of their escapades.
Read more about the history of Los Borgia on the tourism website.
Later, Xativa Castle served as a prison during various wars and political intrigues and then fell into disarray before being repaired to its current state.
How to See Xativa Castle
If you arrive by train you’ll have a bit of a walk ahead of you. Ok, you’ll have a long walk ahead of you. Although the route to the castle is clearly marked with maroon Castell de Xativa signs, it is all uphill.
Don’t worry though, because halfway there you’ll be above the bustle of the city and into a cooler, forested area below the castle where you will start seeing some impressive views.
Alternatively, there is a bus on Sundays and holidays that takes tourists from Plaça Espanyoleto to the castle and back.
There used to be a Xativa castle tourist train, and there is still talk of getting it running again, but for now, plan for a 45-minute walk or use a rideshare app.
If you have your own car, there is parking on the top of the hill near the entrance to the castle.
It’s best to purchase your tickets online in advance to assure that they don’t sell out. Children under 8 are free and adults are only 6 Euros.
The castle website says you are required to bring an original ID/passport with you, but I was not asked to show mine when I visited.
Your ticket also gets you entrance to the municipal museums in town.
There are free audioguides in English on the Xativa Tourism website that you can listen to during your visit. You’ll also receive a map of the castle with information about each area.
There are restrooms available within the castle, along with a terrace restaurant, La Talaia del Castell, that serves multiple-course meals of traditional Valencian food.
What to See in Xativa
Besides the castle, there are a few other places you should see in Xativa as you walk back to the train station.
- The Plaça del Mercat is a long square with antiquated architecture and makes a good place to get a drink or some food. There is an interesting fountain to see, and if you are lucky enough to come during a holiday the festivities will be here.
- La Collegiata Cathedral, also called La Seu, occupies a prominent place in the city’s history. Statues of the Borgia popes greet visitors, and there are many artifacts belonging to the family in the cathedral’s museum
- The fine arts museum, Casa de L’Ensenyament, has works by Ribera, Goya, and more. Don’t miss the portrait of King Phillip V who ordered the burning of Xativa multiple times in 1707. It is hung upside down in protest.
Be warned that few stores or even restaurants are open during the afternoon siesta or on Sundays in Xativa. If you are planning on having a leisurely Spanish lunch like a local, you may need to make restaurant reservations ahead of time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a Xativa Valencia Metro?
No, the Valencia city metro does not connect to the city of Xativa, but there is a metro stop that is named Xàtiva. You can take the metro to the station within the city of Valencia that is called Xativa. This station is right at the Valencia Nord train station, where you will need to exit and buy a ticket to get on another train to travel to Xativa.
When is Xativa Castle open?
The castle is closed on Mondays, except for the Mondays that are holidays. The hours vary depending on the time of the year.
November-March 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
April 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
May-August 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
September 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
October 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
What are store hours in Xativa?
Most stores open from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm, close for the siesta and open again from 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Many stores are closed Monday morning and Saturday and most are closed on Sunday.
Is the castle wheelchair or stroller accessible?
No, the castle is not accessible for wheelchairs or strollers, as it contains lots of uneven stones and stairs. The road up to the castle entrance, however, is paved and accessible.
Can you drive up to Xativa castle?
Yes, you can drive your own car up to the castle and park in one of the parking spots near the entrance. This option is not available on Sundays or holidays though, as cars are restricted then and there is a tourist bus that leaves from Plaça Espanyoleto.
However, even though it’s possible to drive, tourists are encouraged to walk and enjoy nature, as the city is a bit difficult to drive in.
However you plan your Xativa day trip from Valencia, you are sure to have a great experience!
If you are a fan of great views, see the best Barcelona viewpoints.