Valencia is a beautiful Spanish city located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. A four hour bus ride south of Barcelona, and three hours east of Madrid, Valencia is a perfect place to stop for a few days while traveling through Spain. It is a city in transition- centuries of rich history starting to blend with a strong push into modernity. The third-largest city in Spain, Valencia has a style and flavor unique to those of Barcelona and Madrid- chilled out and relaaaaaaaaxed....
- Wander through Barri del Carme (Ciutat Vella)- the Old City Center is the traditional heart of Valencia- narrow alleys, winding streets, and tiny squares hidden among the buildings. Visit the unique cathedral, the City Hall, and other historic buildings interspersed with cool little cafes and restaurants.
- Visit the City of Arts and Sciences- An alien-like landscape of futuristic buildings, the City of Arts and Sciences is Valencia’s modernist claim-to-fame. There’s an IMAX theater, an aquarium, a science museum, a planetarium, and an arts museum. There are also a few cafes and restaurants, and at least one late-night club. You can book a guided tour, or just wander through the grounds on your own. If you have time, try to visit during the day and the night- the lights at night are pretty spectacular.
- Eat paella- The famous Spanish dish originated in Valencia, and the locals take it SERIOUSLY. And why shouldn’t they? It’s soooooo good... Take a course to learn how to prepare it yourself, or just ask for a local’s favorite paella restaurant. Whatever you do, don’t miss the chance to gorge yourself on the delicious rice, saffron, and seafood goodness.
- Hit the beach- While the beach in Valencia isn’t as convenient as that in Barcelona, it is definitely still worth visiting. Sprawling sand reaches out to the blue Mediterranean, with heaps of cool cafes and beach-side lounges lining the waterfront. Join a volleyball game, hire a surfboard, soak up the sun in the sand- it’s up to you. FYI- it’s a pretty good hike from the city center- splitting a cab/taking the bus is probably the best way to get there.
- Shop the Central Market- A sprawling market packed with stalls of anything and everything, just walking through the market is an experience. Fresh seafood and produce, graphic meat counters, candy and nut stands, food stalls and coffee bars- the Central Market has it all.
- Relive history at the Torres de Quart and Torres de Serranos- These massive towers and gates were once part of the wall that surrounded and protected the city. While the Torres de Serranos have now been restored, you can still see the pockmarks of Napoleon’s cannonballs in the Torres de Quart. Climb the towers for a good view of the surrounding city.
- Get lit at the Fallas Festival- Every March, Valencia gears up for the legendary Fallas Festival- a crazy city-wide party that involves fireworks, lots of drinking, and giant hand-made monuments being burnt to the ground. Sound like fun? It is. The sculptures all go up in flames on the same night, with the epic finale culminating in a MASSIVE dance party in the streets. If you’re into festivals, this is a MUST. Obviously, book accommodation EARLY, and expect rates to be significantly higher than other times of the year.
- Take a day trip to the Hot Springs- The Hot Springs are located about 90 km north of the city, and are an easy day trip out of Valencia. There are several tour groups that run trips daily, or you can plan it yourself using public transportation. Ask at your accommodation for different options, and take a break for some deep relaxation at these beautiful springs.
- PARTY- Valencia is definitely more laid back than Madrid and Barcelona, but the locals still know how to party. The action starts late, with bars and clubs pumping through the night. Grab a late dinner of paella, wash it down with some local sangria, and get ready for an EPIC night out in Valencia. Good times (and the sunrise) await...