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Located on the East coast of Spain, Valencia is the third-largest city in sunny Spain. This means there are more than enough things to do in Valencia to make the journey worthwhile. Although Barcelona and Madrid are both the go-to cities in Spain, Valencia excels in culture and has produced some jaw-dropping buildings throughout the centuries.
Another bonus is that temperatures rarely drop into single figures (celsius), meaning the cold Winters are short, and the warm Summers are long. This makes Valencia a perfect city to wander and take in all it has to offer.
My family and I took a now rare family holiday to the coast of Spain. We travelled in February and were welcomed with blue skies. A rarity when you live in Scotland.
The following list outlines my favourite experiences in Valencia.
Things To Do In Valencia
Turia Gardens is one of the largest urban parks in Spain. The park is 9km long and is located in the old riverbed of the river Turia which flows through Valencia. The river was modified in 1986 to stop the city from constantly flooding. At this time, the park, which now snakes through the city, was born.
Turia Gardens is now a stunning modern park. This is a place where runners, cyclists and nature lovers combine. There are many romantic spots around the park. The park also contains mini-golf, an abundance of greenery, and many of Valencia’s exciting attractions (City of Arts and Sciences, Bioparc, Gulliver Park).
Many other attractions in Valencia are located just minutes away from the park, at either side of the riverbed.
City of Arts and Sciences
The City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias) is like stepping into the future. It is a cultural and architectural complex for Valencia.
Similar to Gulliver Park below, the complex is also located in the Turia Gardens, towards the coast. The campus is home to an IMAX cinema, a science museum, an open-air garden, an oceanographic aquarium, and an opera house/arts centre.
The area was originally budgeted at €3,000,000. However, it has cost nearly three times than the initial construction cost.
Although we did not actually enter any of these attractions, we did spend a long time admiring the design work that has went into such an incredible building.
In contrast to the entirely modern complex of the City of Arts and Sciences, lies the Valencia Cathedral in the heart of Valencia. Located next to a bustling square, Plaza de la Virgen, the Cathedral itself is an impressive structure.
Initial work on the current building began in the 13th century. Valencia Cathedral consists of multiple architecture styles, including Baroque and Romanesque, but is a primarily Gothic-style building.
It has also been claimed that the Holy Grail is housed inside the Cathedral.
Whether you are religious or not, it is worth making a trip to the Cathedral during your trip to Valencia. Entry is around €7.00 but comes with a free audio guide that gives you the chance to learn more about the history of the Cathedral, as you admire the interior. You can also climb the steps to enjoy the panoramic views from the Miguelete tower.
Santos Juanes Church
Sticking with the religion theme, Santos Juanes church is one of the oldest churches in Valencia. The Santos Juanes church was actually built on top of an old Mosque. It was originally constructed in a Gothic style around the mid-13th century. However, due to major fires, the church had to undergo reconstruction and is now an exuberant Baroque style which completed at the start of the 18th century.
Located within the Turia Gardens, this attraction is a perfect way to keep the kids entertained during a city break. It is effectively a 70 meter long Gulliver from the famous story, Gulliver Travels, written by Jonathan Swift.
The giant’s hair and clothing are actually stairs, slides and climbing frames for kids to roam free.
It is free to enter this playground The opening hours vary depending on the time of year (check out when to go on their website).
Visit the Mestalla
As a keen football fan, this was another highlight of my trip. Growing up I always remember hearing the Mestalla mentioned on the TV when watching Valencia FC take on the giants of Barcelona and Real Madrid. I could not pass up the opportunity to visit this stadium, and it did not disappoint, with Valencia also picking up a 2-1 win over Real Sociedad. The 55,000 seater stadium has an intimidating East Stand, decorated with Valencia’s iconic black bat.
Tickets for a game are reasonable and can be easily purchased via the official website.
The Nou Mestalla began construction to replace this stadium but was halted due to financial issues. So, who knows how much longer you will be able to visit this classic stadium.
The Central Market in Valencia is one of the main works of the Valencian Art Nouveau. Upon entering the market, the first thing you notice is the sheer size of the market hall itself. It is no surprise that it is the largest market with fresh produce in Europe. The market has around 1,000 stalls with selections of fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese, spices, nuts, and seafood to name a few.
If you are only visiting Valencia and don’t want to buy any fresh produce, you can stop at the Central Bar. This is the Central Market’s traditional bar where you can eat tapas, assorted dishes and sandwiches within the local market atmosphere.
A visit to the Central Market is something you can’t miss during your stay in Valencia. It’s the perfect introduction to the local culture that any trip requires.
Try Traditional Valencian Paella
A traditional Valencian Paella’s main ingredients are rabbit, chicken and green beans. I was lucky enough to sample this a couple of times during our trip and both times it was delightful.
After travelling to Japan, I am very much open to trying new foods, but I had never tried rabbit until this trip. I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised by it, and would thoroughly recommend it in Valencia instead of the more common seafood paella.
There are a number of beaches in Valencia. La Malvarrosa beach is the closest of these to the centre of the city. If you want something a little more peaceful, head further out of the city along the beautiful coastline. La Devesa Beach is surrounded by natural beauty and only a short journey away. What better way to pass time, than with a beer and a nice, big paella dish.