by Janis / 2 comments - Orginally published:27th February 2024

An UNESCO oasis in the sunshine

The Palmeral of Elche in southeast Spain is within the region of Valencia and is an incredible sight to behold. Strolling beneath the magnificent canopy of date palm fronds truly feels like you’re in a unique and rare oasis.

We stumbled upon this unusual marvel in Elche when we were researching our Spanish road trip. Our journey began in Bilbao, from where we embarked on a circular road trip of Spain. We’d just spent a few days visiting Pamplona, Zaragoza and Teruel and were heading further south to the beautiful city of Murcia.

For us, our road trips are as much about the journey between locations as they are about the final destination. We usually aim to stick to the back roads when travelling and we research where we can stop along the way.

To our delight, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ‘Palmeral of Elche’, jumped out; it would have been rude not to stop.

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Where is Elche?

How to get to Elche

- By Air
Start creating your own Spanish adventure by exploring the southeast of Spain. The closest airport to Elche is Alicante, with Murcia airport just a little further south.

Search for your flights in one easy place with Over 400 airlines are scanned for your favoured routes and chosen dates.

Where to stay in nearby Murcia

Sercotel Amistad Murcia

The hotel Sercotel Amistad Murcia is very centrally located, just a 5-minute walk to the historic Old Town and many of the significant sights of Murcia.

The rooms are very comfortable and clean. We chose to stroll out each morning for breakfast as we enjoy eating in local cafés. Sercotel Amistad Murcia has an underground car park; a daily charge is applied.

Alternatively, pop your dates in the search box and discover further options for all budgets.

The Palmeral of Elche

Where it began
The Palmeral, or the Palm Grove of Elche, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000, and it is easy to understand why it is extraordinary.
A panoramic view of a Elche’s skyline from Elche’s municipal park. Lush green trees and bushes line the foreground, with a walking path winding through the park.
Municipal Park, Elche

These magnificent trees had been grown in Elche since around the fifth century BC, during Iberian times. However, the cultivation of date palms to the extent which can be admired today was introduced to the city of Elche when the Moors arrived from North Africa towards the end of the 10th-century.

Elche became an Islamic city, and evidence of the stunning Moorish architecture can be admired throughout the city.

A photo of a pedestrian bridge in an art nouveau style crossing the River Vinalopó in Elche. Trees line the banks of the river, and buildings can be seen in the background.
Park by the River Vinalopó

The Palmeral of Elche was formally laid out, and an extensive irrigation and canal system was constructed to allow the date palms to be cultivated in vast numbers, turning this often-arid land into a true oasis.

In the 13th -century, Christian rulers conquered Elche and expanded the canal system even further.

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The towering date palms

A grove of 200,000 trees
The Palm Grove of Elche comprises the National Artistic Garden, Palm Grove Museum, Route of El Palmeral, and the Municipal Park. The Palmeral of Elche is one of the largest in the world and the only palm grove in Europe with North African origins.
A large, colorful mural of the Arab acequias painted on the side of a building in Elche’s Municipal Park. The mural depicts several palm trees with tall, slender trunks and green fronds swaying in the breeze. The sky in the mural is a bright blue, and there are fluffy white clouds.
Mural of the Arab acequias
The main concentration of palm trees is in the Municipal Park, which lies to the east of the narrow meandering River Vinalopó. This park covers six hectares (20,000 square metres) and is home to the orchards of Colomer Garden, Molí del Real Watermill, and Hort de Baix, an open-air theatre.
A small duck pond with clear water in Elche’s Municipal Park. Tall palm trees with green fronds surround the pond.
Bird Pond in the Palm Tree Grove
Incredibly, the main Palmeral of Elche contains 97 orchards and 70,000 date palms; it is almost like a forest within a city. However, the palm tree plantations extend further out of the centre and comprise another 130,000 palms.

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Ambling through the Municipal Park

It’s all about exploring
We strolled into Elche’s Municipal Park from the northeast and immediately wandered into an orchard of date palm trees. The Fuente de la Glorieta is just here, a huge ochre-coloured water fountain shaped into mini palms.
A photo of the modernist Fuente de la Glorieta fountain surrounded by palm trees. The fountain is located in Elche, Spain, which is known for its palm groves.
Fuente de la Glorieta
The ‘La Palmera de la Fuente’, the living Fountain Palm Tree, is taking pride in place opposite the water fountain. This grand example with eight branches was planted in its present location in 2013. Its impressive size is currently around four metres in diameter and seven metres tall. A metal frame is required to provide support to ensure it keeps its incredible poise.
A group of tall palm trees, La Palmera de la Fuente, with green fronds swaying in a gentle breeze. There are benches scattered throughout Elche’s Municipal Park, providing the shade of the trees.
 ‘La Palmera de la Fuente’
A close-up of 'La Palmera de la Fuente' in Elche’s Municipal Park, with the separate tranks braced with iron supports.
The supports of La Palmera de la Fuente
Gary and I are in no way palm tree experts or novices come to that; however, you have to admire the sheer scale of the towering palm trees and their elegance.

Tempted to?

Discover more of historic Spain and tour its picturesque countryside in the north, or head south to explore the Sierra Nevada National Park just south of Granada.

You can do it all on a road trip; Rental Cars searches multiple well-known car hire brands and discovers the deals that suit you the best.

Exploring the parasol of palms

Pergolas, pavilions and “El Huevo”
Ambling through the park was so peaceful it’s hard to comprehend how many date palms surround you; it’s such an amazing sight to see.
A tall palm tree in Elche’s Municipal Park with a bunch of brown dates hanging from its fronds. The tree is growing in with green grass and other trees in the background.
Palm Groves in Elche
Elche’s Municipal Park with several palm trees, bougainvillea flowers, and lantana flowers. The palm trees have tall, brown trunks and green fronds. The bougainvillea flowers are purple and pink, and the lantana flowers are orange and yellow. The sky is blue and there are a few white clouds.
Towering palm trees in Elche
We wend our way amongst the profusion of palm trees and discovered some beautiful sights along the way. Nestled amidst the grand palms is the white-domed visitor centre nicknamed “El Huevo” or the egg. A charming long, narrow ceramic tiled water feature is stretched out at its feet.
A photo of a large fountain surrounded by palm trees, with a Moorish-style domed building at the end. The fountain is located in Elche’s Municipal Park with a clear blue sky in the background.
Visitor centre in Elche Municipal Park
Just nearby the visitor centre is an ornate pavilion and a lovely glazed tiled water fountain and flower garden. The vibrant colours of the planting add an adorable contrast against the lush, verdant palms. Keep a lookout for the many sculptures and unusual features dotted around the park.
A photo of Elche’s Municipal Park with a tiled water fountain in a moorish style in the center. The fountain has multiple tiers and shoots water into the air. Lush green plants and flowers surround the fountain.
Pavilion in Municipal Park
Unfortunately, at present due to climate change, pests, and disease, the Palmeral is under threat. UNESCO is monitoring the Palm groves along with the Valencian regional government.

Tourist Information

If you’re planning to explore Spain, ensure you check out the Visit Spain official tourism website. It is overflowing with helpful information covering every region of this beautiful country from north, south, east, and west.

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  1. I Have visited the Palm trees grove twice once by my self and once with my mother and father. My mother purchased a small box of dates from one of the stalls in the grove they tasted very nice. I took several photos while there on of my mother and father standing underneath the Imperial palm tree.
    Very enjoyable visit.

    1. Author

      Ah fantastic, great memories.

      We didn’t see anyone selling dates, otherwise I think we would have bought some too. It was a lovely place to visit a true oasis.

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