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Best Places to Visit In Valencia, Spain

Over the years, I've been asked many times why I love Valencia so much. I always give the same answer - it felts like the perfect city to me! To both of us! And I guess it was love at first sight. 

The City of Arts and Sciences

Valencia changed a lot in the last decade. It became a modern city, with pleasant people, perfect climate, outstanding cuisine and green spaces. With just under a million residents, Valencia is neither big, not small, and that's precisely why for a city girl like me, it feels like the perfect place. Plus it has a smart urban architecture that makes all its attractions easily accessible by foot. 

Valencia can be seen in one day or in one year. It all depends on who does the seeing. Truth is, five years after my first visit and countless trips later, I'm still discovering something new every now and then. And a thousand scenarios of how to spend the perfect day in Valencia cross my mind. But I will try not to overwhelm you and give you just a few suggestions. For a more extensive list of attractions, see 30 things to do in Valencia.

The city center


Take a walk through the city center to discover its architectural gems. From the amazing Art Nouveau train station and the Bullring, to the Town Hall Square and further down to the Cathedral, it's a mere ten minutes walk. But once you remove your eyes from the ground and start mindfully exploring the buildings, you will be drawn inside churches and museums and you will soon realize your feet have a mind of their own and you are now lost on side streets in front of a beautiful fountain or an incredibly ornate building. 

Not to be missed are the Palace of the Marquez de Dos Aguas (incredible facade and rich interiors), Mercado de Colon, the Dragon House, the Botanical Gardens hosting a colony of adorable kitty cats, the Central Market with food for both the stomach and soul, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of La Lonja, Serranos and Quarts Towers, Plaza Redonda for souvenirs, and near the Turia Gardens, the Benlliure House-Museum. 

The center of Valencia is packed with churches, most of them decorated in the Baroque style. On the outside they don't look much, but on the inside they are a world of discovery. The Cathedral, on the other hand, it's outstanding on the outside and it's well worth walking around it at least once. Inside you can see the Holly Grail. They say it's the authentic one, though I'm not convinced. But if what you are looking for in a worship place is a bit of peace and quiet with yourself, there's no better place to go than the Church of Santa Catalina. You will understand why the moment you step inside. 

The city center has a bundle of restaurants and coffee shops too. For lunch or dinner I love to go to Neco Mediterranean Buffet. It's an all you can eat kind of place that actually looks like a proper restaurant. It's very popular with the locals and it serves a myriad of healthy Mediterranean dishes for just under €10 per person. For evening drinks, there's no other place like the old Barrio del Carmen. And for mid-afternoon snacks, a stop at one of the many pinchos (or montaditos) tapas bars between the Town Hall and the Cathedral is a must.

And since you are in Valencia, please don't forget to eat some paella Valenciana (the world-famous rice dish was born in the lagoon nearby) and drink horchata de Alboraya.

The Museum of Fine Arts from Turia Gardens


Turia Gardens


One of the best itineraries Valencia has to offer are the spectacular Turia Gardens. Some of the city’s greatest cultural attractions are placed along them, and both activity-seekers and culture-seekers are guaranteed to find something to enjoy here.

Turia Gardens stretch for about 8km, crossing the city from the City of Arts and Sciences to Bioparc, the new state-of-the-art zoo from Valencia. They are also the largest urban gardens in Spain. Half a century ago, this was a river. But after a devastating flood, the river was diverted out of the city and the empty riverbed is now a thriving garden.

Valencia is an incredibly health conscious city, and aside from the beautiful promenades of flowers, parks, ponds, fountains and bridges, the Turia Gardens have tons of sport facilities.

Between the main attraction along the Turia Gardens are the Fallero Museum (worth visiting if you are not here during Las Fallas Festival), the Gulliver Park for the little ones, the beautiful looking modern Concert Hall, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Royal Gardens, the Benlliure House-Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art. And next to Bioparc there is Cabecera Park with its lake, my favorite picnic spot in Valencia.

The City of Arts and Sciences


The world-famous City of Arts and Sciences is one of my favourite places to visit in Valencia. Described as a city within a city, this is one of the most imaginative millennium projects and a truly mind-blowing futuristic complex made out of white tiles and surrounded by blue waters. It was designed by the famous architect Santiago Calatrava who was born near Valencia and therefore gave this city the best his imagination could come up with. The complex has six buildings - Oceanographic, Hemesferic, Principe Felipe Science Museum, Reina Sofia Concert Hall, Umbracle and Agora and walking among them can be extremely pleasant. However, out of all buildings, Oceanographic is my favorite. During the summer months they organize some not-to-be-missed dolphin shows.

Lemurs at Bioparc Valencia

Bioparc


A visit to Bioparc is an educational one not only for the kids but for the adults as well. I love spending time here, taking pictures of the animals and observing their behavior. Bioparc is Africa in 100,000 square meters. Rivers, waterfalls, rocky pinnacles, and walkways surrounded by green vegetation compose the 3 ecosystems at Bioparc - Madagascar, African Savanna and Equatorial Africa. This is the most humane zoo I've ever been to. My favorite animals are the cute lemurs, playful elephants and the funny meerkats. I could look at them forever. There are no fences separating the habitats, only natural borders, like streams of water, and it is really interesting to see the giraffes and the lions so close together and so peaceful.

18 comments:

  1. Now I have some great ideas for next week when we go! Thanks so much!
    Eva Hamori

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  2. Lovely city and an informative post. Thank you for sharing this.

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    1. Hope it helps! Valencia is really close to my heart.

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  3. How could you go to Valencia and not have paella? Valencia sounds like a wonderful place. Thanks for all the recommendations.

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    1. Nope, you can't come to Valencia and not have paella, or horchata! And maybe some agua de Valencia too! :P

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  4. Valencia has never really hit on my travel radar, but perhaps it should...

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    1. It definitely should! It's an amazing city, trust me!

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  5. Great post! I'm heading to Valencia next month, so this couldn't have come at a better time. The Holy Grail, eh?

    Can you suggest any good places for paella? (I'm sure everyone asks you that when they go to Valencia!). Also, that photo of the lemurs is sooo cute.

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    1. The lemurs are super extra mega cute. They are a joy every time I visit Bioparc.

      Paella... well if you have time and don't mind a side trip bonus, I really recommend you go have lunch someday in Albufera - it's the birth place of paella and the best paella I've ever had was there.

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  6. Wonderful post! We're headed to Valencia in April and we'll be staying about 2 months, so you've shared some great things to check out while we're there.

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    1. Sounds great! I'm sure you'll love Valencia :) Let us know if you need any more tips ;)

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  7. NIce article - I was in Valencia 10 years ago and loved it. Though my favourite touristy thing to do was visiting the Mestalla Football Stadium! Jonny

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  8. Great post! I am planning to visit Valencia in the spring and this post has added must-sees to my list.

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  9. I absolutely love Valencia. I have moved here about 4 months ago and this city has everything you need to live comfortably! The paella is indeed delicious, just make sure not to have it in a guiri place, go where all the spanish people go! Loved reading this post about this amazing city!

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  10. I loved Valencia. After Madrid and Barcelona, I didn't think there will be another big city in Spain that'll make me love it so much! I was deeply impressed...
    This is my take on it:
    http://www.escapehunter.com/escapes/spain/main-valencia-010413.php

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