Valencia is a city I have heard so much about and would love to visit, but I, unfortunately, haven’t had the chance yet, even though it wasn’t far from where I lived in Spain! The following is a guest post from Bernard, who lives in the city, and has shared his top tips for one day in Valencia.
Valencia is a large city on the Spanish coast attracting tourists and travellers looking for sunny weather, beaches, and cultural attractions.
The beautiful historical center of Valencia still fits perfectly well with more modern buildings. Medieval castles and towers blend with contemporary architecture and art deco buildings, where you will find many shops, restaurants, and cafes.
By visiting Valencia, you will be able to discover the Spanish life and culture in their most real sense. It’s a large city with many activities and where life is not only oriented towards tourism, as is often the case for seaside cities on the Mediterranean coast. Valencia is therefore not just a holiday destination, but a great place to live.
Many people do not realize how amazing the city is and what it has to offer. For example, did you know that this city has its own subway? Or, did you know that it has the largest city center urban park of Europe?
Top Things to Do and See in Valencia
Explore the city centre on a free walking tour
The city is like an open-air museum where culture and history represent the perfect mix for tourists. Most of the tourist attractions are located in the city center within walkable distance. The best way to get to know its history in a short period of time is to do a free walking tour of Valencia. For 2 hours, you’ll have a perfect overview of the city centre and what the rest of the city has to offer. GuruWalk is a platform connecting travellers and free tour guides around the world.
Walking through the streets of the city center of Valencia is a real pleasure. You’ll discover beautiful green squares, typical from Spanish cities, and nice buildings.
Some of the most amazing squares of Valencia are the Queen Square (Plaza de la Reina), the Plaza de la Virgen and also the Plaza Redonda, which is very interesting due to its particular circular design. This square is next to the Plaza Lope de Vega, where you can try to spot a building that is said to be the narrowest in Europe!
Other interesting buildings such as the Cathedral, the Lonja or the Central Market are definitely worth the visit.
Strolling through the Turia Gardens
Years ago, a wide and powerful river cut the city in two. It was the Turia River, which came from the surrounding high mountains and traveled through the city until it ended in the sea. However, in the 1950s, after a big storm, the river overflowed until reaching 2 meters high causing a lot of damage in the city.
A plan was therefore put in place to change the river direction outside the city, creating a magnificent park in the city center.
The park can be seen by walking or biking. It’s divided into several parts with many sports facilities, including football and baseball fields.
It is also possible to observe a wide variety of plants and trees in the Turia gardens and you will find the Botanical Garden very close to it, as well as the famous Royal Gardens, which are close to the metro stop Alameda.
Have an amazing Paella and a glass of horchata de chufa
Paella is the local specialty in Valencia. However, quality can vary from one restaurant to another. To have a good paella, try to find restaurants where there are mainly Spaniards. It is always a good sign!
The city center with its Plaza de la Reina is a pleasant place to have a drink. However, if you would like to lunch or have dinner, I highly recommend you to move away from the city center because you are likely to pay the tourist price for average food quality.
If you would rather have a break and enjoy a fresh drink and snack, try the typical Valencian drink: horchata de chufa! While drinking it, don’t forget to eat some fartons, typical snack that always goes with Horchata. A very good and typical place to drink it is at the Horchateria Santa Catalina in the city center.
Have a modern architectural experience
If you are in Valencia, you can’t miss a visit to the City of Arts and Sciences located near the beach at the end of the Turia Gardens. The modern architecture of the buildings give you the impression of being on another planet!
In the late 90s, the large sidereal construction took shape and the first installation of the project finally opened in April 1998.
The City of Arts and Sciences contains six distinct areas or buildings.
The first is the Hemisfèric which is eye-shaped and which is, among others, a 3D projection room and the largest in Spain. When you arrive at the cinema, you will receive 3D glasses that have built-in speakers, programmed in your own language. So no matter where you’re from, you can sit back and enjoy the movie.
Then there is the Science Museum of Prince Felipe, which looks like a dinosaur skeleton and is very interactive. It is very educational and offers many activities for children.
After that, there’s the Umbracle, a garden with indigenous species of the Valencian Community that transforms itself into a club during the weekend. Then there’s the Oceanografic, the largest oceanographic aquarium in Europe. The next building is the Reina Sofia Arts Palace which includes 4 large rooms dedicated to music and shows.
Finally, there is the Agora which is a covered place where concerts and sports events are held each year in Valencia.
Whichever option you prefer, the City of Arts and Sciences is a highly recommended visit!
Enjoy the beaches of Valencia
Many would say that holidays in a sunny destination are not complete without a day at the beach! In Valencia, you will not be disappointed. It’s is the perfect spot in summer when the heat is too heavy to visit the city. Valencia has beautiful beaches typical of the Mediterranean coast of Spain.
Beaches near Valencia are wide and long, with soft and clean sand. The most popular beach is certainly Playa de Malvarrosa, which begins at the port area and is composed of several beaches like Playa de las Arenas and Playa Cabanyal, then Patacona.
Further away you will find other beaches such as Playa de Pinedo and Playa El Saler, the latter also having a golf course nearby. In the northern part of the city, there is the Playa Port Saplaya and also, a little further, the Roman area of Playa Sagunto.
If you only have one day in Valencia, there’s still plenty that you can see and do! Orientate yourself with a walking tour, break for lunch and spend the rest of your day doing one or two of the other things to do in Valencia. Of course, you could spend plenty more time in Valencia, and I’d highly recommend that you do!
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