Visiting the castle, wandering through the streets of the old town and sitting down for a drink overlooking the Mediterranean are the top things to do in Peñiscola in 1 day.
Peñiscola is one of the true jewels of Spain, still unknown at international scale if we compare it with other destinations in the country. But this village has managed, without much effort, to be chosen as one of the most beautiful towns in Spain.
Its beauty lies in the imposing walled old town, which is 60 meters above the shore of the Mediterranean sea and where stands out the fortification inhabited by Benedict XIII, the so-called Papa Luna.
It’s a traditional and national tourist destination in summer due to its extensive beach and the coves that are within walking distance. Below, we detail what to see in Peñiscola in 1 day, so you do not miss anything.
Where to stay in Peníscola
There are many places to stay in Peñiscola spread between the old town and the wide seafront of the Nord beach. Our recommendations for staying in Peñiscola are the following:
- Knysna: right in the old town of Peñiscola, it is a charming hotel that maintains its old architecture but with modern furniture in the rooms.
- Muva Beach: located next to the beach and a few meters from the walls of the old town. The rooms have a terrace overlooking the sea. It has a great restaurant.
- Hotel RH Portocristo: modern, elegant, in first line of beach and with views to the castle. Spacious and comfortable rooms, outdoor swimming pool and gym.
Need more options? Check these hotels in Peñiscola.
Map: things to do in Peñiscola in 1 day
1) Castle of Pope Luna
The main attraction of Peñiscola is the original fortification of the late 13th and early 14th century, built by the Templars under the order of King James II of Aragon.
Benedict XIII, known as Pope Luna and the antipope is the main character in this story. He named Peñiscola as papal see in the midst of the so-called Western Schism, a deep division in the church where two bishops proclaimed themselves the highest ecclesiastical authority.
Pope Luna inhabited the castle from 1411 until his death, becoming the main figure of the fortification, and dictating bulls, treaties and wills from the outbuildings.
Touring the castle of Peñiscola you will see ancient Templars vestiges such as the hallway, the Artillery Park, the Gothic hall for receptions and audiences, and the House of Water. The last one is where Benedict XIII treasured his books on medicine and astrology and the church.
The rooms of the old castle recreate through videos, objects, and furniture how people lived during the time of the Templars and Pope Luna. It is really very well explained.
Finally, we must mention the views from the different terraces of the castle, where you can see the immensity of the Mediterranean. Obviously, among the best things to do in Peñiscola.
✏️ Entrance fee to Peñiscola castle: 5 euros and includes the Artillery park. There are guided tours and audio guides that you can download from the app.
2) Artillery Park, a must-see if you visit Peñiscola
The Artillery Park was built after the castle, during the 16th century and under the reign of Charles I and Philip II. It is today a large green courtyard to relax by the sea in the old town of Peñiscola, but which formerly served as a military redoubt with pits, ramps and tunnels, batteries and even a powder magazine.
3) Other places to visit in the old town of Peñiscola
The entrance to the old town of Peñíscola can be made through the Portal Fosc (from the 16th century), the closest to the north beach, or through the Porta de Sant Pere (from the 15th century), next to the port. Both were the ancient entrances to the walled enclosure.
👌 If you want to follow the route with the indications of the Peñiscola tourism app, you have to start the route at the Porta de Sant Pere and end it at the Portal Fosc.
Once you cross the Porta de Sant Pere, time seems to go back several centuries, and you will walk uphill through narrow cobbled streets and perfectly restored medieval buildings.
Top things to do in Peñiscola in 1 day within its historical center:
- Find the Bufador, a large hole located at the bottom between the rocks and with the sound of the waves of the sea shows its melody.
- Visit the Museu de la Mar, with free access: it’s ideal to go with children. It has aquariums, model ships, anchors, and an explanation of the marine fauna and the art of fishing in the area.
- Take a photo with the Casa de las Petxines (or House of Shells): it’s another of the things to do in Peñiscola in 1 day. Its name is due to the fact that the entire facade of the house is covered with seashells, which gives it a special charm, ideal for Instagram photos.
- Peñiscola lighthouse, originally from the late 19th century and from where the sea views are fantastic.
- Three churches to visit in the old town of Peñiscola: the parish church of Santa Maria with its beautiful tower, the church of the Ermitana, next to the castle, and the hermitage of Santa Ana, in the lower part of the old town.
- Stroll around Calle Mayor: The main street of the old town, which starts at the Museum of the Sea and ends at the Portal Fosc. In this narrow cobbled street, you will see the medieval houses where people still live. Many have been converted into shops, hotels, and restaurants.
- Plaza Santa María: you will find it before leaving the old town through the Portal Fosc. It’s accessed through a gate, and you can climb and walk along the walls to see the beach.
👀 In the old town of Peñiscola were filmed some scenes of Game of Thrones and other national movies like Chiringuito de Pepe. There are explanatory posters in the filming locations telling which scene were filmed.
4) Port, beaches, and coves of Peñiscola
Peñiscola is not only its beautiful old town. The sea has its protagonism reflected in the beaches and the port. So let’s see the things to do in Peñiscola in summer:
- The Port of Peñíscola is located on the south side of the old town near a small sandy beach. In the Lonja Market you can see the fishing boats arrive and the negotiation of fresh fish.
- The North Beach is the favorite of tourists. It is so long that it reaches the next town, Benicarló. From the tourist sign of Peñiscola are the best views towards the great rock where the old town with the castle and the walls are settled.
- The Coves of Peñiscola are worth a visit if you are going to be in the city for at least two days. Located mostly within the natural park Sierra de Irta, these are small beaches with little crowds and surrounded by lots of nature. Normally to get there you have to drive along dirt roads within the park. Among more than 15 coves, the most beautiful are Cala Puerto Negro, Cala del Moro (overlooking Peñiscola), Playa del Ruso and Cala Argilaga.
Peñiscola with kids: the pirate route
There is a pirate route for children to visit the old town of Peñiscola in a fun way. It can be downloaded to your cell phone via QR code indicated on the access signs.
The castle, the “bufador” and the Museum of the Sea are also very interesting to do in Peñiscola with kids.
On both the north and south beaches there are children’s playgrounds on the sand such as a pirate ship and a pine tree to climb.
If you want to take a short tour of the city there is a tourist train that runs along the promenade and some urbanizations.
Finally, and for older children, the natural park of the Sierra de Irta is ideal for hiking or visiting coves.
Things to do around Peñíscola
There are many excursions that can be done near Peñiscola:
- Day trip to Morella, one of the most beautiful villages in Spain.
- Excursion to the Ebro Delta and a boat trip.
- Excursion to small villages of Castellón like Cervera del Maestre and Traiguera.
- Tour to the caves of San José, located in Vall de Uxó and named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Useful information to visit Peñiscola
Getting to Peñiscola
- From Madrid or Valencia by car: the best way to get to Peñiscola is by the AP7 towards Catalonia. Take the exit to CV141 and after bordering the natural park Sierra de Irta, you will lead to Peñíscola.
- From Barcelona or Catalonia by car: you should also take the AP7 towards Castellón and exit at the same CV141 road down to Peñíscola.
- Flying to Peñíscola: the nearest airport is Castellón, about 50 kilometers away.
- Getting to Peñíscola by train: the nearest station is not in the city, but in Benicarló, located less than 10 kilometers from Peñíscola. There are regional trains to Valencia and Barcelona.
🚊 Buy here your train tickets to travel in Europe.
- By bus: Peñíscola is connected to the main cities of Spain such as Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia. In summer, the frequency of the service increases due to the large number of tourists.
Where to eat in Peñiscola
In the old town you will find El chiringuito de Pepe, here you have to try its famous “croquetón” and rice dishes, and El Peñon with a magnificent decoration inside, stone walls and seafood-oriented. On the promenade of the extensive Nord beach, El Pescador Ermitaño is ideal for tapas, seafood, and paellas.
Near the castle, there are many bars to sit and relax with the sea views. For us, one of the best is Al Masset, with tables on the ramparts and fantastic views of the Mediterranean.
Discounts and useful resources to save on your trip
- Cheap flights with Skyscanner
- Rent a car with Auto Europe
- Interrail Pass
- Eurail Pass
- Train Tickets with OMIO
- Bus tickets with OMIO
- Ferry tickets with OMIO
- Asia tickets with 12Go
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