The Ultimate Travel Guide to Valencia, Spain
Valencia, the city of art and science and, yes, the most typical of Spanish dishes, paella, is located on the southeastern coast of Spain. It’s also the most important port on the western Mediterranean and a stop for many cruise liners.
Divided by the romantic river Turia and dominated by an imposing gothic cathedral as well as the sleek buildings of the City of Art and Science, Valencia is a great combination of historical monuments and futuristic design. Add to this a colorful festival, excellent food and ‘one of a kind’ museums and you’ll never run out of things to do and see.
In this Valencia Travel Guide blog, we listed helpful DIY Valencia, Spain travel tips and advice on how to get around, recommended activities, places to eat, accommodation, tour packages and more.
Best time to visit
Valencia’s’ Mediterranean climate allows for hot summers and mild winters. The best times to visit are from spring to fall because then it’s warm enough to go on a boat trip along the river Turia, something you definitely want to enjoy.
How to get there
Valencia has an international airport which serves many airlines. The best way to get into town is by Metro or bus, no taxi needed as the metro has many stops. If you come from other parts of Spain or Europe by train you’ll arrive at Estacion del Norte which is just steps away from the city center.
With the exception of the City of Art and Science, Valencia’s most interesting sites are closely grouped together in the city center which means that they are easily explored on foot. There are also many pedestrian areas so you don’t need to worry about traffic.
Otherwise, the metro is your best bet in addition to several bus lines.
Places to stay
Being a popular tourist destination as well as an important center for commerce means that Valencia has many hotels for all budgets.
Ayre Hotel Astoria Palace
I like to stay in the 4star Ayre Hotel Astoria Palace in Plaza Rodrigo Botet 5.
The modern and quite luxurious hotel is located just 500m from Estacion del Norte. You’ll find all the amenities of a hotel this category and have an excellent view over the city from the 9th-floor breakfast room. Everything you want to see in Valencia is just within walking distance.
B&B Hi Valencia Boutique
For the lower budget, there is the cozy B&B Hi Valencia Boutique, a2star hotel in Plaza Alfonso El Magnanimo. Rooms are simple but comfortable, most with en-suite bathroom. The hotel is just 600 m from the cathedral and close to a metro station. Breakfast is in a nearby cafeteria and bicycle hire is available if you want.
You can never go wrong with a Vincci Hotel and the Vincci Palace in Valencia is no exception. Located in La Paz 42, this 4star hotel is close to the cathedral and a bus stop is right at the door. Rooms are elegant, a buffet breakfast is included in the price, free wifi throughout and all other amenities you expect from a Vincci hotel.
Best places to eat
Valencia is of course all about paella but you may be surprised to learn that there is a thriving and very popular Chinatown with authentic Chinese food, just behind the Estacion del Norte. Local specialties also include tapas and horchata, a delicious almond shake great for summer.
Let’s start with a little lesson in paella. The most typical Spanish dish is made from a variety of ingredients, from shellfish and seafood to chicken and rabbit. Plus vegetables and, of course, always rice colored with saffron. It takes a long time to cook, so be prepared to wait.
Combine paella with a sea view in the restaurant L’Estimat in Passeig de Neptun 16 near the port.
All kinds a paella are on the menu together with the typical mussels only found in this region of Spain. Make a reservation.
For a greater variety of Valenciana cuisine, make you way to Taperia Hispania Cortes Valencianas in Avd. Corts Valecianes 26.
Tapas, paellas, wine and much more for reasonable prices.
Venture into Chinatown, more precisely to the restaurant Min Dou in Carrer de Pelai.
Excellent Chinese dishes, kid-friendly restaurant and stuff that speak no English and very bad Spanish! Never mind, just point, enjoy the atmosphere and an unexpected exotic experience in a Spanish city.
Things to do and see
The river Turia once flew through Valencia, but after a devastating flood in the 1960s, it was diverted around the city. The obsolete river bed, however, was put to good use and transformed into a 9km long stretch of gardens, parks, recreation facilities, bike and pedestrian paths, a football stadium and ending at the City of Art and Science.
If you can, dedicate at least half a day to walking the ex-river bed and then visiting the most important parts of the City of Science. It’s huge. The most iconic buildings are L’Hemispere, the dome of the Imax cinema complex and the structure of the Museum of Science. There is an oceanographic park and an opera too, all connected by walkways with gardens and plants in between.
If you have arrived in Valencia by train you are already in a work of art. Estacion del Note is a great example of art nouveau architecture with walls and pillars covered in the typical Valencia ceramic tiles as well as murals showing scenes of county life, orange harvest, and traditional clothes.
Valencia’s cathedral, best seen from a boat trip on the river Turia, was built between the 13th and 15th century with baroque and renaissance elements on the façade. To admire a World Heritage Site, make your way to the Lonja, the medieval silk exchange market when the silk industry was thriving in Valencia.
Who can resist a market? Visit one of Europe’s biggest Art Nouveau covered markets, the colorful Mercat Central. Stroll along stall after stall of delicious produce and sample or have a snack in any of the many bars inside the market.
One of my favorite museums to visit in Valencia is actually a palace. The Rococo palace of Marqueses de Dos Aguas in Calle Poeta Querol 2, is a masterpiece of architecture from the outside. Inside the museum houses a beautiful collection of carriages and on the upper floors one of the biggest collections of Valencia ceramics. Tiles, vase, clocks, and figurines in the hundreds! To give you an idea: I have visited 5 times already and will be happy to return.
Valencia’s most popular festival is the ‘fallas’, a parade of papier mache figures, mounted on floats, fireworks, firecrackers, dancing and drinking for several days which takes place each year in March. The festival ends with a huge bonfire, burning the dolls, called ninots, but some are pardoned and can be seen in the Museum of Fallas, if you happen to visit outside the festival.
Currency, language etc
The currency is the EURO. The official languages are Spanish, and Valencian, a language resembling but not identical with Catalan. English is widely spoken so you’ll have no problems.
WiFi is very good throughout the city and of course, in all the hotels and most restaurants.
Best places to shop
If you visit the ceramic museum, you are in Calle Poeta Querol and at the heart of the best designer shops. One after the other, from Gucci to Chanel line the street on both sides.
If you are after a shopping mall, there is Aqua in Avda. Pius XII, with shops and restaurants.
Otherwise, go to the Spanish stand by El Corte Ingles or just walk along Calle Colon and you’ll find anything you need.
Bear in mind the Spanish closing hours. Apart from major department stores and shopping malls, smaller shops keep the siesta which means they are closed between 2pm and 5pm but open in the evening until 9 or later.
You may know the song ‘Valencia’ praising the city? You’ll be tempted to join in, once you have seen the place for yourselves.
Valencia Travel and Tour Packages
Find Hotels in Valencia, Spain according to your budget via Agoda.
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