Valencia might be the third largest city in Spain, but it still remains somewhat of an underdog. However more airline companies are flying to Valencia, so the city is gradually becoming increasingly popular among tourists. With only 800,000 citizens, the city is significantly quieter than Barcelona or Madrid. But don’t let that put you off – Valencia definitely belongs on your Spanish bucket list. It’s known for being the City of the Arts and Sciences – and just like other Spanish cities, you’ll find one astonishing building next to another. In Valencia, you can easily combine buzzing nightlife with long chill days at the beach. And most importantly of all, paella was invented here! Here’s a complete Valencia travel guide to help you plan your visit.
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How to move around in Valencia
Getting to Valencia from Zaventem takes around 2h15. You can then take a taxi from Valencia airport into the city. This is the most convenient way into the center, and the 15 minute ride will cost you around 20 euros.
Alternatively, you can hop on the metro. There’s a stop and ride from Valencia Airport into the center, which costs around 3.90€. Make sure you check in advance which stop is closest to your hotel!
The bus is the cheapest option – you can buy a ticket from the driver for 1.45€. To get the bus from the airport, head to line 150 and you’ll find a stop near the taxi stand and parking garages. A bus leaves every half hour (but not at all on Sundays and holidays!) and stops in the center at Paseo de la Pechina, Avenida del Cid, Barón de Carcer and Angel Guimerá.
The best way to move around in Valencia is on foot. However, renting a bike is definitely worth it, as the city is super bike-friendly with many well-maintained bicycle paths. Valencia is a flat city, ideal for cycling. The most reasenable prices for renting a bike in Valencia can be found at Passion Bike.
Where to stay in Valencia
The advantage of a small city is that you can easily explore it in two days, so you don’t need to take any extra holidays off work. Another good thing – hotels in Valencia are not too expensive. If you’re looking for accommodation for your stay in Valencia, here are a few of my particular favourites:
Hotel Vincci Palace
Hotel Vincci Palace is located in the middle of the city center, close to all the city’s highlights. An overnight stay here will cost you around 70 euros / night. Book your room here.
Las Arenas Balneario Resort
Are you looking for a hotel near the beach? Las Arenas Balneario Resort is definitely for you. The hotel has a lovely swimming pool and plenty of rooms with a sea view. An overnight stay here will cost you 200 euros / night. Book your room here.
If you prefer to stay a little closer to the center (but still want to enjoy the luxury of a swimming pool), Vincci Mercat is the perfect choice. An overnight stay here costs around 150 euros / night. Book your room here.
Top things to do in Valencia
There are so many wonderful and interesting things to do during a stay in Valencia. To ensure you make the most of your time there, I’ve put together a list of the top things to do in Valencia:
- Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciéncies – The white futuristic buildings of the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències (the City of Arts and Sciences) are truly iconic. Santiago Calatrava, born in Valencia in 1951, is the world-known architect behind these constructions. You can encounter them in various places throughout the city.
- Jardín del Túria – The most famous park in Valencia. This green vein of almost 10 kilometers runs through the city center, and was previously the mouth of the River Turia. The Valencians use the park for sports and recreations. The shade under the trees is wonderful to chill out on a warm day. It’s also a super popular place for children’s parties and picnics.
- Oceanogràfic Valencia – Make sure you pay a visit to the largest aquarium in Europe! Entrance tickets are 31.30 euros per person.
- Torres de Serranos – The towers were built as a defense for one of the most used entrances of old Valencia, and they’re a wonderful example of Gothic architecture.
- Mercado Central Valencia – There’s one in absolutely every Spanish city: the mercado. This (covered) market hall is a typical Spanish concept, and a place where locals go for their daily shopping. The most beautiful and famous mercado in the city is the perfect spot to socialize and enjoy a café con leche or a vino.
- Enjoy the best view of Valencia from the Micalet – During your stay, you absolutely must visit the most characteristic tower in Valencia. Climb the 207 steps of the spiral staircase to the terrace of the bell tower, and an impressive 360º view of the city will reward you.
- La Lonja de la Seda – The Silk Exchange is one of the many iconic buildings throughout the city. It’s one of the most famous monuments of Gothicism that Europe has to offer!
- Cathedral of Valencia – The place where the holy grail of Valencia stands.
- National Museum of Art and Decorative Arts ‘González Martí’ – A museum filled with ceramics, textiles and decorative art pieces.
- Agua de Valencia – Try the ultimate cocktail in Valencia. It’s name seems pretty harmless: Agua de Valencia or ‘water of Valencia’ … but it is anything but water. It’s a cocktail with fresh orange juice, cava, vodka, gin, sometimes an orange liqueur and some sugar. Delicious.
- El Carmen – The nicest neighborhood in Valencia. It is located in the middle of the historical center and is the neighborhood of students and artists. Discover plenty of street art, made by artists known in Valencia. It’s a great place to eat, as there are also lots of cozy tapas restaurants and bars in this area.
- Las Fallas Valencia – The largest and most spectacular street party in Europe. It all started in the 18th century, with carpenters burning their old things in honor of their patron saint San José. The party starts on the last Sunday of February with La Crida. This is the transfer of the key from the city to the Fallera Mayor (the queen of the festivals) at the ancient Torres de Serranos. From the beginning of March until the 19th, there is a deafening firework display at the town hall every afternoon.
Eat delicious food in Valencia – the best restaurants and markets
When it comes to food in Spain, I’m sure paella is one of the first things you think of. Valencia is actually the birthplace of paella – so if you visit this city, you simply cannot leave without having eaten this typical rice dish.
But where is best to sample this world-famous local dish? Below is a list of wonderful restaurants in Valencia that I think are definitely worth a visit:
- La Pepica – Paella has been served here since 1898. You won’t be disappointed!
- Mood Food
- Central Bar – Situated in the Mercado Central
- Bouet – Visit here for something different, with an Asian touch
- Marina Beach Club Valencia – Head here for a drink, a bite to eat or just a dance overlooking the sea
- Restaurante Al Tun Tun
- Restaurante Sierra de Aitana
- Mercabanyal in El Cabanyal – The food hotspot of Valencia. It’s a small food hall that has a splendid terrace with a sea view.
Best beaches in Valencia
No Valencia travel guide would be complete with mentioning the beaches. A few minutes from the center you will find Las Arenas beach, with its breathtaking Paseo Marítimo, where you can enjoy an authentic Valencian paella.
Make sure you also pay a visit to the vast La Malvarrosa beach. You’ll find the recently restored Casa-Museo de Vicente Blasco Ibáñez – which takes you back in time to when local writers wandered around Valencia.
Got some time to spare during your stay? Take the ferry to Ibiza! It takes around 4.5 hours to get to the beautiful island. Here you can find more info regarding travel times and ticket prices.
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