Your Ultimate Travel Guide Through Valencia
Valencia is Spain’s third largest city, and a lot less touristic than Madrid and Barcelona. But with its beautiful old buildings, the laid-back beach, the delicious food and all the cultural sites, Valencia is the perfect city for a city trip! In this blog, I will take you through the magnificent city that is Valencia.
Ciutat de les Artes I les Ciències
Possibly the most well-known site in Valencia is Ciutat de les Artes i les Ciències. Wandering through this modern environment full of art and science is like being in another world. Ciutat de les Artes i les Ciències is located in the Turia Park. It has 6 main buildings; the Hemisfèric IMAX Cinema, the Umbracle landscaped area, the Museu de les Ciències, the Palau de les Arts opera house, the Ágora concert space and Oceanogràfic, which is the largest aquarium in Europe.
If you enjoy the beauty of botany, be sure to visit the University of Valencia’s Botanical Garden. This beautiful botanical garden has existed for more than two centuries, and has over three thousand species of trees and plants from all over the world. For example, there are magnificent cacti and desert flora, but also many types of palm trees and more tropical plants.
Las Fallas festival
If you are in Valencia during the first half of March, you are in for a cultural treat! This is when ‘Las Fallas’ takes place, an old Valencian tradition of carpenters, in which they celebrated the arrival of spring by burning the pieces of wood (parots) they used to raise lanterns for the winter lights outside their workshops on the evening of 19 March. From there, Las Fallas has become a great tradition, in which large wooden dolls and statues (ninots) are made, which, as traditionally, are burned on the evening of 19 March. The whole city of Valencia is decorated in Fallas lights from March 1 to 19, every day at 14:00 there is a ‘Mascletà’ (firework display) at the Plaza de Ayuntamiento and women dress up as ‘Falleras’ in traditional clothing. There are also street parties throughout Valencia. On 18 March, the ‘Nit del Foc’ takes place, a fireworks show that is the only one of its kind in the world.
The Turia Park
On the outskirts of Valencia there used to be a river, called the Turia river. But because it caused problems with flooding, it was decided to divert the river. Then the question arose, what are we going to do with the drained river bed? It was thought to make a huge highway here. Fortunately, they chose to make a 10 kilometer long park. The park is really a place where people come together. There are many sports clubs, a 5 km running track, places with sports equipment, picnic tables, playgrounds, dog walking areas and restaurants for a drink or lunch. The Ciutat de les Artes i les Ciéncies is also located in the Turia Park. For a quiet afternoon, a walk through this beautiful park is a must!
Mercado Central (and others)
If you are in Valencia, a visit to the famous Mercado Central cannot be missed! At this market you will find the freshest and most delicious foods. But besides food, it is also a beautiful building! The Art Nouveau building was built in 1928, and is decorated with beautiful ceramics from the region called ‘azulejos’. However, the Mercado Central is not the only fun market in Valencia! Almost every district has its own ‘Mercado’. For a less touristy yet unique experience, check out Mercado Colón, Mercado de Ruzafa or Mercado de Jesús.
La Lonja de Seda
La Lonja de Seda is a beautiful, 15th century, gothic building, right across from Mercado Central. This building was built for the Silk Exchange, where the famous Valencian silk was traded. This is a beautiful building to admire both inside and out. There is also a film playing inside, illustrating how things used to be. Or you can take the 144 steps up to the tower, and enjoy a wonderful view of the city!
Cathedral de Valencia
The Cathedral of Valencia (or Catedral del Santo Cáliz) is a must see during your visit to the city! The beautiful grand building was built in the 13th century and is unique of its kind in Spain, as it contains several art styles. Inside, the cathedral is beautiful. It is also believed that the real Holy Chalice is kept here. This would have been used by Jesus during the Holy Eucharist. It is absolutely worthwhile to go up El Miguelete, or the Miguelete tower. This is the highest building in the old town of Valencia, and offers an unreal view of the whole city!
Albufera National Park
For a day out of town, take bus 24 or bus 25 to the Albufera Natural Park! The bus ride only costs €1.50, and it will take you to a beautiful scenery. The nature reserve offers the most beautiful hiking trails. You can go for a boat trip on the lake, walk through the dunes, enjoy the sea or eat the best paella in Spain in the villages El Palmar and El Saler! Tip: sit by the lake during sunset. It truly is the most magnificent view to watch a sunset.
Just above the city of Valencia, there is a small village called Port Saplaya. This village is more than worth it if you want to exchange the busy city life for a calm and exotic vibe! The many fishing boats and brightly coloured houses make it feel like you’re in another world! Stroll through the pretty streets along the waterfront, enjoy the beautiful views and have a drink at one of the charming terraces.