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Exploring Valencia: Spain’s Vibrant Gem

Are you planning a trip to Spain and need help deciding which city to add to your itinerary? Valencia should undoubtedly be on your list.

Valencia, the country’s third-largest city, is renowned for its beauty, rich gastronomic scene, and bold architectural designs.
What makes it unique is the harmonious coexistence of medieval and modern elements, adding extra charm to its top tourist spots.

During our four-day stay, visiting friends who live and adore the city, we explored Valencia thoroughly. However, if your schedule is tight, I recommend at least a two-day visit to discover the historic centre’s main attractions and the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias.

Additionally, the town boasts beautiful beaches that, although a bit farther from the centre, are easily accessible by tube or bus and are definitely worth adding to your itinerary.

Tourist Attractions

The Ciutat Vella – Historic Center is a labyrinth of cobblestone alleys transporting you to past eras with Gothic, Baroque, and Neoclassical buildings.

Plaza de L’ Ajuntament, hosts the imposing City Hall and the stunning Palácio de Comunicaciones, showcasing Valencia’s historic architecture.

Palácio de Comunicaciones City Hall Valencia

Valencia Cathedral, or “La Seu,” blends Gothic, Baroque, and Romanesque styles. Its intricate exterior hides religious art and historical relics within. Adjacent, the Micalet Bell Tower, rising 70 meters, offers panoramic city views, however, I didn’t visit it.

Plaza de La Reina, is a square is surrounded by various historical buildings and quaint streets teeming with shops, restaurants, and cafes, ideal for a stroll. It is also home to the Cathedral and the Bell Tower.

Lonja de la Seda is a beautiful Gothic-style building recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Formerly a silk market narrating the city’s trading history during its golden age, it is located opposite the Central Market.

Plaza de La Virgen is a magnificent square with its Neptune fountain and falleras (Fallas festival queens).
The court also hosts the Basilica of Our Lady of the Forsaken, renowned for its ceiling paintings in the style of Italian Baroque churches.

Plaza de La Virgen, Valencia
Plaza de La Virgen

Plaza Redonda, this circular-shaped square dates back to the 19th century and is known for its distinctive architecture and vibrant atmosphere and it is filled with local craft stalls.

Barrio del Carmen is a bohemian district offering numerous cafes, bars, restaurants, and vibrant graffiti-laden walls.

Torres de Serranos, remnants of Valencia’s history from the 14th century, one of the 12 gates of the city’s ancient wall.

Torres de Serranos, Valencia

Mercat Central is one of Europe’s largest markets, boasting incredible architecture and a diverse array of local products, including cheeses, the famous jamón, wines, olive oils, and more. Open Monday to Saturday from 7:30 AM to 3 PM, a must-visit place.

Mercat Central Valencia
Mercat Central

Mercat Colón (or Mercat de Colom) is one of the most unique places in Valencia, it’s a collection of nice cafes and restaurants with a couple of food stalls.

Mercat Colón, Valencia
Mercat Colón

Estación Del Norte, known for its stunning interior architecture, unfortunately, it was under renovation during my visit.

Plaza de Toros is a venue for bullfights, usually open during events only, adjacent to Estación Del Norte.

Plaza de Toros, Valencia

Jardí del Túria, once the riverbed of the Turia River, it has now transformed into a spectacular 9-kilometer linear park, offering recreational spaces, walking trails, cycling paths, and gardens.

Ciudad de Las Artes y La Ciencia: Opened in 1998, this world-renowned cultural and architectural complex boasts futuristic structures and impressive facilities. The outdoor area is open and free to the public, featuring Hemisfèric, the Science Museum, Palau de les Arts, Umbracle, L’Àgora, and L’Oceanogràfic (Europe’s largest aquarium). Tip: go during the day for the museums, but also go in the evening to see the incredible lights.

Ciudad de Las Artes y La Ciencia, Valencia

Beaches

Valencia has enchanting beaches along its coast, offering a relaxing escape and a lively atmosphere for residents and visitors alike. From urban beaches like Malvarrosa and Las Arenas to the quieter Patacona, they feature numerous restaurants, bars, and cafés along their promenades.

Alboraia Beach, Valencia

They also have the famous Chiringuitos, which are beachfront stalls offering drinks, typical food, snacks, music, entertainment, and beach amenities. They operate during the summer season, roughly from mid-June to late September.

Getting Around Valencia

Because we stayed with our friends and they had a car, we used it for longer distances.
However, Valencia’s public transport, including metro and bus lines, is well-connected and user-friendly. For frequent travellers, the SUMA card, offering ten journeys on buses or metro, is a cost-effective option.

If you are staying in the city centre (like we did), most tourist attractions are easily accessible on foot, a delightful way to explore. See hotels in Valencia here.

Day Trip Recommendations

Baños de Montanejos
Cuevas de San Jose
Parque Natural de l’Albufera – Port the Catarroja
Port Saplaya, often referred to as “Little Venice,” is a charming seaside town near Valencia, renowned for its picturesque canals and colourful buildings reminiscent of the Italian city.

Port Saplaya, Spain
Port Saplaya

Restaurant Recommendations

I adore Spanish cuisine, and Valencia didn’t disappoint. Here are some restaurants I visited and loved:

ALENAR Bodega Mediterranea: Simply the best for tapas with unique twist and was my favourite one. See more here.
Casa Carmela: Known for its traditional paella, a must-try. See more here.

How to get to Valencia?

By plane
Valencia Airport, about 10 km from the city centre, offers various transport options to hotels via bus, metro, taxi, or car.

By train
Valencia connects excellently to major Spanish cities. Joaquin Sorolla Station receives trains from Madrid, Barcelona, and several others, with online ticket purchasing available.

By bus
Valencia Bus Station is approximately 2 km from the centre. Buses run directly from Madrid (4 to 6 hours) and Barcelona (4-hour journey). It’s an economical option but takes longer.

Estación Del Norte, Valencia
Estación Del Norte

As you can see, Valencia strikes a balance between rich history and modernity, offering a diverse experience. Its beaches are an invitation to relax and enjoy delicious local cuisine.

Need more information about the city? Feel free to contact me, and remember to share this post to help others discover this incredible city.

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