I lived in Valencia for 4 months, because I was doing my internship there so I investigated the city quite deeply and also made all the mistake possible while visiting Valencia. The first mistake was that I thought that it will be possible to survive by only knowing the English language. My second mistake was when I thought that I will learn a couple of words in Spanish and I will be able to at least order some food. In Valencia, people speak Valenciana which sounds more like a mixture of French and Spanish. Valencia is the part of the autonomous community of Catalonia, which has its own language, flag, and even laws. I was quite shocked that during those 4 months I didn’t see any Spanish flag.
Although locals in Valencia are so nice despite the fact that I couldn’t order food in any language which the waitress knew, she just invited me to the kitchen and showed me all the ingredients. After 15 minutes brought me a delicious sandwich. Those things happen when you travel and you let life to surprise you.
Things to see in Valencia, Spain
The most important part of the day – SIESTA
Don’t be shocked that the specific cafe or a shop is not open during the day, here in Valencia locals take siesta seriously. Actually, sometimes they decide to be closed all day or even all week, but don’t be annoyed it’s the part of the experience in Spain. Usually, siesta is and a number of shops shut between 2pm and 6pm. I guess we can’t blame them I believe we all rather be at the beach during hot days of summer than at work.
Wander around the Old Town
Wander around one of the oldest cities in Spain, the city fell under Byzantine and Roman empires, ruled by Christians and Moors and was walled twice. Firstly, by the Muslims in the 10th century and secondly during the 14th century under the regime of King James.
Main points in Valencia’s old town:
- Plaza del Ayuntamiento – the main square of the city.
- Plaza de la Reina – busiest square and the gateway to many attractions
- Valencia’s Cathedral
- Silk market – a UNESCO heritage site
- Plaza de la Virgen and Basilica – one of the oldest squares in the city
- Quart Towers and Serranos – city gate towers which were left from the ancient walled city
Torres de Serranos
These gate towers are left from 1392 and it was one of twelve entries through the original medieval city gates. You will see those gates on every souvenir in Valencia, it is one of the most iconic places there. You can walk up into the towers and check out the city view. Sometimes the entrance is free so check their website before you go.
Plaza del Ayuntamiento
Unique shops, beautiful buildings, and fountains that are the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. The main city square in Valencia, where all the main city events take place, where you find all the luxury and fast fashion shops. Everything is so clean and tidy here without any flaws.
Jardín del Turia (Park in Valencia)
It is hard to get lost in the city because a big park in the old riverbed surrounds Valencia. It is a 1 million square meters garden which is surrounded by ancient walls. It allows pedestrians and cyclists to travel the city without using the main roads. This is the place where all the people meet for a picnic, friends gathering or just to chill with colleagues. Also, the Turia Garden has many paths, athletic tracks, football pitches, fountains and so on. It is the perfect place for running, relaxing or for a quick nap under the palm trees.
It is way quicker to take a bike and go through this park than to take a bus to the city. It is your choice, but it’s quicker, cheaper and also planet friendly.
If you are traveling with kids then you can’t miss Parque Gulliver. It is a huge 70 meters long sculpture of the character – Gulliver with many slides, staircases, and ramps. Take a Valencia Old City Private Walking Tour, this experience will be unforgettable, because you enjoy more the city when you understand it.
Oh, my crazy and lovely Ruzafa! As my flat owner says “Ruzafa is more Africa, it is more free and wild”. If you can choose your accommodation in Ruzafa district, trust me you won’t be disappointed. Also, the location is great, completely near the city center.
Why I love Ruzafa so much? The energy is different here, there are many international shops, bohemian cafes, contemporary restaurants art galleries, graffiti, and artworks. You will feel inspired just by walking there, you’ll see random installations, paintings on every corner.
City of Arts and Sciences
Science city is the city in the city, but not like Christiania in Copenhagen or Užupis in Vilnius. It is just a huge six building futuristic district which has the main cultural, art and science centers like an IMAX Cinema, laserium, planetarium, an interactive museum of science, oceanographic park, opera house. There are so many things to see and to do in the City of Arts and Sciences, you can easily spend half a day or more there and still miss some things. By the way, the oceanographic park has the largest aquarium in Europe and that is worth seeing. Also, check the tickets to opera, sometimes they are quite affordable and it would be an interesting thing to do in Valencia. City of Arts and Sciences is like 40 minutes by bus from the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, so make sure to plan your trip there before.
Buy tickets to Oceanographic or buy Valencia City of Arts Full-Day Combined Tickets.
La Marina de Valencia, beaches in Valencia
La Marina de Valencia is one of the hottest and most popular places in the city. When the weather is nice there are many musicians, sports events, culture and nightlife activities.
Another iconic building in Valencia is in this are and it is the Institute of Modern Art (IVAM). It’s one of the leading places of contemporary and modern art in Spain.
There are beaches near Valencia city center. All of them you can reach within cycling distance, also you can take a bus or train routes.
Well, I believe that Valencia’s Mercat Central is the best eating spot in Valencia, also it is one of the oldest central markets in Europe. You can find there everything from exotic fruits to fish which you never have seen before, from gourmet souvenirs to a huge variety of tapas. Both tourists and locals enjoy visiting the lively market and also it is located in the heart of Valencia. Charge your phone and camera before going there because Mercat Central offers plenty of photogenic views like colorful piles of fruits and veggies, hundreds of bottles of wine or olive oil, hanging meats and many more.
Definitely try Paella
It is a traditional dish in España, which ingredients vary by the region, the base of the meal is rice and other ingredients can be pork, chicken, mussels, fish, vegetables and so on. I highly recommend you to try Paella cooking class, this country is gastronomically very advanced so make sure to live this experience. Check the Paella cooking course.
The ingredients of a true Valencian paella are:
- Of course rice,
- Green beans,
- A variety of lima beans,
- Sometimes snails.
Rabbit and snails sound strange, but it’s really delicious. Also, if you have the opportunity to go to other regions in Spain, try different types of paella, I believe you can find the type of paella for everybody’s taste.
I believe Valencia is more about feeling than about the places which you must see. Try to feel the energy of the city and tranquila tranquila, keep it slow and chill for a while. Don’t forget to take a siesta during your trip and relax under the palm tree.