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Visiting Villarreal: By Air?! Yes, now you can!

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Yes, now that Ryanair is flying in to Castellon Airport, if you live in the UK, you can fly in to see a match! Here's all you need to know to plan your Vila-real and Villarreal CF vacation.

this was the first charter Villarreal took from Castellon--the first flight
this was the first charter Villarreal took from Castellon--the first flight
Villarreal CF

Flying to Castellón Airport:

The good news is that this airport, which has been laughed at for years as an 'airport without planes', now has them, and airport operator SNC-Lavalin has put together a nice website and arranged local transport links so it is a convenient option for anyone interested in flying to see Villarreal play.  Of course, the main traffic is expected to be tourists visiting the "Orange Coast"--but Villarreal fans benefit!

Villarreal have been using the Castellón airport for charter flights for some months now, but last month regular commercial flights began from the UK via Ryanair, and so far the company is quite pleased with the response.    So, if you are in the UK, this is a fairly cheap option for coming to visit Vila-real.  You do have a problem though in that the exact dates and times of matches are often not known that much in advance, and of course Ryanair offers their best deals when you book way in advance.  But you can always plan a Thursday to Tuesday trip and be sure of a match somewhere in there.

At the moment there are three flights from London's Stansted Airport to Castellon--they happen Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, departing at 7:15 am and arriving at Castellon at 10:40.

Two flights also arrive from Bristol, on Wednesday and Sunday.  The Wednesday one leaves Bristol at 4:05pm and arrives in Castellon at 7:25 pm.  The Sunday one is an early flight (6:30 from Bristol) arriving Castellon at 9:50am.

In all cases, the same plane turns around half and hour later and heads back to the UK.  Schedules are subject to change, and do change, so your best bet is to go to their website and confirm these times are still valid for when you want to go.

Also be aware that there are a couple of airlines that have indicated they will start flights to Castellon from Eastern and Northern Europe, so check the airport website, http://www.castellon-airport.net/ to see what the current situation is.

Ground transport:

You can hire a car if you are so inclined, or take a taxi.  Or, you can take a bus.  Mediterraneo Holidays has buses that are timed to coincide with the arrival of the flights (remember, since yours is the only plane landing, and it's coming from another EU country, passport formalities and baggage claim should be a breeze).  You have to book these online, though--you cannot do it once there.  Go to http://www.mediterraneoholidays.com/aeropuerto-de-castellon/aeropuerto-de-castellon-buses and book your ticket.  It's 12 euros to get to Castellón.

Train to Vila-real:

The bus lets you off in Castellón, very close to the central train station.  From here, it is about a seven-minute train ride to Vila-real.  The train runs every hour.  The only drawback of Vila-real's train station is the silly overhead walkway you have to use to cross the tracks; if you have much luggage, you'll need to take the elevator up, walk 100 feet or so, and take another elevator down.  The local government has asked that an underground passage be built instead, which would be much safer and easier to use (especially in the rain, as we found out!), but the central government has refused.  So, hoist your bag on your shoulder and do your best....

Hotels:

When Villarreal returned to La Liga in 2013, I remember Sid Lowe exclaiming  "there's only one hotel in Vila-real!" in his podcast.  Well, there are two, but they are in the same building--the Vila-real Palace is the nicer (4 star), and is not terribly expensive.  The other hotel, the Marina Azul, is a two-star and slightly cheaper.   There is also something called La Masia, which is a hostel, that's cheaper yet--but you are going to want to stay at the Palace, because that is where the team stays before home matches.  You might be able to take a selfie of yourself with one of the players in the lobby, and for sure you can watch the team board the team bus for the short trip to El Madrigal.  Well worth the extra euros!

Book the hotel before you go; I like hotels.com, Robin Harris likes booking.com, you may have another site you like.  It's often cheaper doing it this way, you are guaranteed a room, etc.

Also be aware that if you want to pay for it (no idea how much it costs), the hotel does offer transport from the airport.  So if you want to travel in style and avoid the bus/train thing, you could always check on that.

To get to the Vila-real Palace from the train station:  it's a short walk.  Head out of the train station and turn left, go to the third roundabout and turn right--you will see the hotel at that point.  Yes, you can take a taxi, if there is one waiting at the station, but otherwise you may wait forever and one still might not show up (as happened with us!).

It's about a 20 minute walk to El Madrigal from the hotel.  Easiest way to do it is follow the main road (CR-20) past the hotel until it makes a hard left at a roundabout--at that point, you stay straight and in three blocks, El Madrigal will be on your right.

Food:

The two restaurants in the town that are the best known are Cal Dimoni, which is where a lot of the penya dinners happen, and Restaurante El Vasco.  I have only been to the first, and it's outstanding--the main reason to go is for paella, and do remember that the big meal in Spain is (late) lunch and that's when you eat paella, not at dinner!

El Vasco has a more varied menu and is supposed to be quite good.  Note these are both white-tablecloth, special occasion places, so might be more than your budget goes for.  If that's the case, don't worry--there are a lot of bars in town that serve good lunch specials--you can always ask for a recommendation at the hotel.

Dinner--Robin H. recommends a couple of places near the Plaza Mayor, Maison Soria or Restaurant Argentino (also called El Gaucho, apparently?) but, again, ask at the hotel, or just take a look at restaurants on the main streets and see what looks appetizing.  The main restaurant area is more-or- less between the train station and Plaza Mayor, especially more on the north side (Castellón direction).

I'll post another article shortly with information about taking trains to Vila-real, and another about tickets.  In the meantime, if people planning visits have questions, ask us for advice on here.  And if you have feedback on things you recommend--or don't--from your Villarreal trip, let us know as well.  We'll try to keep these articles pinned near the top of the page so you can find them easily.