Lisa Owen

With more than 300 days of sunshine each year, sandy stretches of beaches as far as the eye can see, and beautiful architecture at every turn, there’s a lot to love about the Spanish city of Valencia.

It may be one of Spain’s best kept secrets. Even though it’s Spain’s third largest city, it’s easy to find your own little piece of Valencia and discover its charms.

Valencia is perfect for walking or cycling to see the beautiful buildings and plazas, admire the street art, sample appetising tapas, relax in the sun beside the city’s fountains, or chill out by the Mediterranean Sea.

Best time to visit Valencia

Valencia is a year round destination due to the Mediterranean climate. Summers are sunny and clear and while winter mornings may be a little chilly, it warms up quickly and more often than not, you’ll get clear blue skies.

If you want to tick the La Tomatina Festival off your bucket list, Valencia is the ideal location to base yourself. The tomato throwing festival is held each year on the last Wednesday of August in the nearby town of Bunol.

Valencia is also a popular pilgrimage for another festival, Las Fallas. This festival is held from March 15-19 each year and originates from the pagan celebration of farewelling winter and welcoming in the spring.

It’s said the festival stems from a practice of carpenters and others artisans in Valencia of using candles perched on planks of wood called ‘parots’ to see by during the wintertime. Eventually this practice evolved and the parots were dressed in clothing to represent a well-known person in the community. When spring came, the craftspeople would take the parots outdoors and burn them to celebrate the end of winter.

Top Things To Do In Valencia

Valencia has a number of historical buildings spread across the city, as well as plazas populated with pretty fountains, orange orchards, and palm trees.

Highlights include the restored Quart and Serranos city gates and the Valencia Cathedral.

All the main sights are within walking distance and you can orientate yourself by the main plazas -  Plaza de la Virgen, Plaza de la Reina and Plaza del Ayuntamiento.

Plaza de la Reina is near a number of key sights including the 13th century Valencia Cathedral, which stands on the site of an old mosque.

For a panoramic view of the city, climb the 207 steps of the Cathedral’s Miguelet Bell Tower for £2.

Part of Valencia’s old city walls still remain and can be seen by visiting the Torres de Serranos and Torres de Quart. Both towers are open to the public for £2 each and offer commanding views of the city.

You can reach the local beach Playa La Malvarossa by bike. Spend some time strolling down the palm tree lined promenade Paseo Marítimo, and stop for a bite to eat or a drink at the many bars and restaurants spread along the long stretch of the beach.

Due to the length of the beach, it’s easy to find a spot all to yourself to pull out your beach towel, but bring a hat and sunscreen as there’s no shade.

If you’re looking for something more off the beaten path, head to Valencia’s wild beaches in the Albufera Nature Park. These beaches are located south of the port and the best way to reach them is by bike.

There are plenty of bike rental options in the old town starting from €5 (£4.35 GBP). Shop around for the best deal. You can hire bikes for a half or full day.

Another place to get on your bike is the Turia Gardens. There was once a river in Valencia, but due to regular flooding, the river was diverted and the riverbed is a now a beautiful 5.5mile linear park.

Join the locals and enjoy the sunshine in the park among the trees, water features, sculptures and bridges. By walking or cycling through the park you can reach the Bioparc Zoo in the west or the distinctive City of Arts and Sciences complex in the east.

Where to Eat & Drink in Valencia

If you’re hungry or want to pick up some fresh fruit or pastries, make sure you head along to the Mercat Central de Valencia – the central market. It’s considered one of Europe’s oldest markets, with a market existing at this location since 1839. It’s open 7am to 3pm Monday to Saturday.

There’s easy grab and go options such as fresh juices, fruit, empanadas and sweet treats, and if you have kitchen facilities where you’re staying, you can pick up fresh seafood and meats. There’s also everything you need to make your own tapas, such as cured hams.

There’s also a stall selling the traditional Valencia drink called horchata. It’s a milk like drink made with ground tiger nuts (similar to almonds), water and sugar. It is typically served with fartons – a type of sugary pastry.

There’s also many food options in the historical centre. You’re spoilt for choice for coffee shops, tapas bars and paella restaurants, so shop around for the best prices.

Paella originated in Valencia, and the traditional version is served with rabbit, chicken, snails and vegetables. Team your paella with a glass or two of Agua of Valencia - a refreshing mix of orange juice, gin, vodka and champagne.

Getting Around Valencia

Valencia offers a modern and efficient metro system. Ticket machines are located inside each station and you can put the instructions into English.

You can also get to and from the airport on the metro for a flat fee of €4.90 ((£4.28 GBP) one way.

How Much Time Do You Need in Valencia

You need at least two days to explore the best of Valencia, but three days is recommended.

Explore the Old and New Town districts on your first day. Many hostels offer tip-based walking tours.

On the second day, hire a bike and cruise through the Turia Gardens and down to the beach.

Your third day should be dedicated to sampling the food offered in Valencia while exploring the Old Town in more detail. Start with breakfast at the central market.

For lunch, you can’t go past paella – and then tapas with Spanish wine or Agua de Valencia for dinner.

Getting to and from Valencia

Valencia is well connected to other Spanish cities. You can catch a high-speed train to Madrid in less than two hours. Trains and buses also connect Valencia with other beautiful Spanish cities such as Malaga, Granada and Alicante.

Valencia also has an airport with regular connections across Europe. Budget airlines include Ryanair and Transavia.

BlaBlaCar is a carpooling service and is also a popular option to get around Spain.

With the tips in this handy guide, you’re sure to enjoy the sights and tastes of Valencia. You may even end up staying longer than you planned!

 

Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 60 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors. Instagram: @thelittleadventurer. Facebook: The Little Adventurer Australia.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the Policy Documents available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.

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