The increasing popularity of Valencia has triggered my desire to visit this city. You can imagine how excited I was in planning this trip. As this city is still waiting for many more people to explore as holiday destination, it really felt like I was at the point of discovering a hidden treasure. The city revealed its history, beauty and hospitality to me. The attempt to capture this multi-faceted city in words has resulted in a travel guide that contains a bit of everything. From food to cultural activities and from bike tours to lovely neighbourhoods. They are the highlights of my three days stay in Valencia and can serve as checklist for you when exploring around in the third-largest city of Spain for the first time. They also perfectly serve as suggestions for your next time around in Valencia.
MUST EAT & DRINK
Although Paella is known as a typical national dish of Spain, it actually has its roots in Valencia. So this rice dish is a must-eat when you are in this city. As this was originally a Valencian specialty, you cannot actually go wrong at any of the restaurants here. The signature Paella is named Paella Valenciana and contains rice, chicken, rabbit and white beans.
Pintxo is the “little brother” of tapas. Pintxo was introduced to serve as a smaller alternative to tapas. It is a bite that is almost always served on a piece of white bread and assembled together with a cocktail stick. A lovely restaurant where you can enjoy this is Sagardi. At the bar you can choose from a large variety of Pintxos. In Pinxtos bars it is common to pay for the number of cocktail sticks after you finished eating. So do not throw the toothpicks away but keep them on your table.
Ice cream at Gelateria La Romana
Although ice cream is not originally from Spain or Valencia, I highly recommend an ice cream break at Gelateria La Romana. The ice cream you come across here have unique flavours and are all vegan. You can taste the different flavours before you decide which one(s) to pick. The best is that you can choose to enjoy your ice cream inside the shop as there are a lot of comfortable seats.
Agua di Valencia
When in Valencia, you cannot leave this city without giving its signature drink Agua di Valencia a try. Made from cava, orange juice, vodka and gin, it is a variation on the white wine sangria. It is just the perfect go-to drink when chilling out on the terrace.
This is one of the biggest indoor markets of Europe which holds a total of 959 stalls. The building alone makes it worthwhile to visit. It is a unique composition of iron, glass and ceramics. The highest point of the building is 30 metres and on the roof there is a statue of a green parrot. You can find a variety of products here, from seafood to local delicacies and from jewellery to clothing. Keep in mind that the market is closed for siesta.
Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias
It is a complex of six futuristic buildings which houses important pieces of science and art. It consists of an opera hall, a marine park, a scientific museum, a cinema, a greenhouse and an exhibition center. All these different parts are bound together by lakes and greenery, which add a finishing touch to the whole futuristic style.
Torres de Serranos & Torres de Quart
Until the 19th century Valencia has been surrounded by city walls. The only parts that have remained intact are the two city gates named Torres de Serranos and Torres de Quart. The former also belongs to Europe’s largest Goth city gateways. Do not miss the chance to climb these towers to get a good impression of their construction styles.
Literally translated from Spanish this means town hall square. It owes its name to the municipal building that is situated on this square. Here you also find other administrative buildings and a beautiful fountain that lights up in the dark. Not only is this Valencia’s main square in the historical centre, it is for many also the starting point from which to kick-off their exploratory trip in this city. From here you can begin with either discovering the vibrant narrow lanes of the old town or taking a shopping session at the adjoining shopping streets.
Mercado de Colón
Mercado de Colón is far from being a standard market hall. The building only is noteworthy. It is richly decorated with stones, ornaments and mosaic patterns. As you look closely at these patterns, you will recognise different kinds of fruits and vegetables, plants and even a cow head. This reflects the products that had ever been sold here. Now this hall has turned into a modern shopping mall where you can find a lot of boutiques, restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops.
Catedral de Valéncia
This cathedral incorporates various architectural styles, including Baroque, Neo-Classical and Gothic. It is remarkable that each of the three portals was designed in a different style. During a visit to the cathedral, I highly recommend to climb the bell tower of La Miguelete for an amazing view over Valencia.
Plaza de la Virgen
As this square is home to three special buildings, it always attracts a lot of visitors and local people. The three attractions are Basílica de la Virgen de los Desamparados, Palacio de la Generalidad and the above-mentioned Catedral de Valéncia. They are surrounded by a history-telling fountain. The statue of the man symbolizes river Túria, whereas the eight woman stand for irrigation ditches flowing from the river. In addition, Plaza de la Virgen is encompassed by terraces from which a lot of people enjoy the beautiful view.
Cycling to the beach
The best about Valencia is that it enables you to combine a cultural trip with a beach holiday. The distance between the center and the beachside is just perfect for you to rent a bicycle and just go by bike. On the way to the beach you will encounter parts of Valencia which you would not have explored otherwise. The 35-minutes cycle trip has brought me to the closest beach to the city, La Malvarrosa, which was divided into three parts. To avoid the crowd, I have chosen to go to Patacona beach. Once there, I did not want to miss out on the lunch experience at this beach’s most famous restaurant: La Más Bonita. This hotspot can be recognised by its white walls and cobalt window frames.
Take a walk in Jardine del Túria
This 9 kilometre-long park was previously a river, named Túria. This river was diverted to protect the city from floodings which occurred frequently. Now you can walk, cycle and have a picnic at the place the river used to flow through. At the end of the park, at the side of the beach, you can even find several museums and a disco.
Admire the street art in El Carmen
The neighbourhood of El Carmen is famous for its beautiful murals. What is better than wandering around as you get inspired by unique street art? This is especially a great thing to do during siesta time when most shops and restaurants are closed.
Shopping in L’Eixample
In no other district in Valencia you find Art Nouveau architecture than in L’Eixample. This neighbourhood is ideal for an afternoon of shopping. If you are looking for the trendiest shops, boutiques and art galleries, this is the place to be.
Whether it will be your first time or your nth-time visiting Valencia, I hope this guide can be of great help to you. Most importantly, try to enjoy it to the utmost! Any additional tips you have for traveling around Valencia are more than welcome. I’d love to read them in the comments below.
Until next time!