What is the first place that comes to your mind when you read Cherry Blossom? I bet it is Japan. Millions of people travel to Japan every year to see the bloom. But what if I tell you there is a hidden valley in Spain where you can find a sea of white blossom in spring?
Valle del Jerte is located in Extremadura in the South-west of Spain and bordering Portugal. Backed by the snowcapped Gredos mountains, this is where Spain’s biggest cherry harvest originates. The best time to visit the valley is in spring when over 2 million trees bloom, painting the entire countryside white. The mountains look as if they are covered in snow. The flowering starts near the end of March, and the beginning of April. The trees stay in full bloom for 10 days, and after that they start shedding flowers, which is known as the Petal Rain.
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You can also attend different festivals and events held in the region to celebrate the blossoming of the cherry trees, or cerezos as they are known in Spanish. The Fiesta del Cerezo en Flor or the Cherry Blossom festival runs from 27th March to 4th April. You can take part in various activities like open-air celebrations, tasting sessions, musical performances, guided tours of the Cherry Museum which are held in the villages.
The best way to go around the area is on foot or bicycle. The fragrant blossoms just go on and on, and the villages dotting this spectacular landscape are just as charming. Get a taste of the local culture and get to know how people lived in the past by visiting one of the traditional houses in Caceres. El Torno is the viewing point where you will find famous statues of naked men curiously looking out over the valley.
Apart from cherry blossom, you can explore the region of Extremadura. There are wonderful wildlife and natural reserves, and medieval villages. The area is full of surprises and is truly a hidden gem of Spain.
How to reach Extremadura:
By Air: There is no international airport in the region. Badajoz (BJZ) is the only domestic airport with flights operating from and to Madrid and Barcelona.
By Train: There is a morning and an afternoon train from Puerta de Atocha train station in Madrid that stops in Caceres, Merida and Badajoz.
By Bus: There are several bus services to reach the city of Caceres, such as Avanza Bus. They run special offers for those interested in coming to the festival from Madrid, Lisbon, Badajoz, Merida and back.
By Car: If budget allows, rent a car at Madrid Airport with companies such as Europcar, Sixt or Auto Europe, and drive to and around the region avoiding the hassle of bus and train timetables.