I already started my short narrative about recent trip to lovely Valencia with a photo stream. Coming up with a sequential story would be one hell of a challenge, because if you come to the city during Fallas festival – it’s quite a big loud mess around which makes planning impossible as you can’t even predict if you will ever be able to take a cab. So, I would rather just give some tips of what to do/see/eat.
Time to come: I would say not in summer. It is obvious that it gets extremely hot in that part of Spain during summer holidays, and on top of that Valencia doesn’t have a huge long beach, so I assume being stuck in stone jungles during enormous heat is not for everyone. The locals also complained about the city being so packed in summer that they themselves chose to leave and come back in autumn. Talking about the weather, middle of March was already enjoyable and totally suitable for sipping a drink outside. I guess March to June, before it gets too hot and pupils get out of schools, and then September to November are perfect for visiting. If you find yourself in Spain in summer only, then you might prefer to get an accommodation somewhere on the seaside and come to Valencia by car or by train to visit, as the city is definitely worth seeing!
Area to stay: here it gets a bit tricky. The thing is, historical center of the city and the beaches area are quite separated. Both are picturesque and offer all different kinds of hotels to chose from. But getting back and forth from promenade with seafood restaurants to the chain of old chaotic streets with neoclassical architecture of the historical sites would require a taxi each time, so better chose from the very beginning what’s more important for you – the view over the sea and fresh breeze or you can do with loud nights and crowds of people but would prefer to be close to all the sightseeing. We stayed in the center, but I like the rhythm of big loud cities. During Fallas especially it might be a good idea though to stay away from never ending explosions and book something on the beach.
Sightseeing: anything! I never say it like that usually preferring to have a plan of what I want to visit for sure, but in Valencia I would just advise to put some comfortable sneakers on and walk as much as you can. It’s very beautiful around. Start from the Cathedral (don’t forget to come inside to witness the Holy Grail!), check out all the little places that cell sweets on the main square, then walk around the Cathedral – there is more to come behind it; turn somewhere randomly and make couple circles – the best way to find most interesting shops, as they don’t have any advertisement whatsoever. One of the main attractions is the Central Market of Valencia, where you can buy anything from fresh fruit cocktails to professionally wrapped jamón leg. Try things, ask about things – there is really a lot that is unlikely to be found in the coolest supermarket. Around the marketplace there are some tapas places that cook whatever is being sold fresh. During Fallas it’s not easy to find free tables in cafes, but shouldn’t be a problem for the rest of the year, as the catering supply in Spain never stays below the demand. And just make sure to make as many turns around the corner as possible – you never know what’s there!
From the very heart of the city walk up to the former riverbed that is now a big park, Jardí del Túria. Nice views from there and the best spots to watch the Fallas fireworks which have absolutely incredible scale!
From there you can walk (we took a cab, though) to a completely different part of the city, Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències. It is a complex of museums and further entertainments that offers a variety of exhibition in modern arts and sciences. But what makes it so special is the architecture. The complex is composed out of huge futuristic constructions that to me personally looked like giant whales. It is very impressive to see it from different angles, and one indeed starts feeling like walking somewhere on Mars.
We also visited the Oceanogràfic of Valencia which is also a famous tourist attraction alongside with the Zoo, which drag not only families with kids but just the flora, fauna and beauty lovers from all over the world. I liked how it’s organized, all species were easy to find, and the path through the Aquarium keeps the visitor entertained throughout the whole way.
There is definitely a lot more that can be put into typical tourist list. Normally I try to search for the alternatives and explore new destinations in a different direction rather than a travel guide would recommend, but I admit that some places aiming to attract mostly tourists are worth seeing, too. That was the case with the Market and Aquarium of Valencia, as well as its beaches and traditional tapas places. One of the popular among visitors due to their location restaurants would be La Murciana, a seafood place with very cosy terrace facing the sea. There are several more places around that area, so that can be your destination if you decide to take a cab to the beach not being sure where to stop the driver.
If you want really good food and don’t mind driving for it a bit, leave the noisy city for one siesta time and visit La Lluna: a restaurant build in an old mill that served us the most perfect variations of foie gras, cheese dishes and traditional Spanish tapas than you can only imagine. Boatella would be another recommendations for the seafood lovers, and Bodega Montaña – for trying more and more tapas.
The sweets are definitely something in Spain in general. Valencia is no exception, and I could eat churros and buñelos whole night walks long. One must-try is also horchata con farton. You can find it pretty much anywhere, but the cult place is Horchatería de Santa Catalina. Don’t be scared of the line at the entrance – it moves really quick, and what you are getting for waiting will blow your mind!
I always leave some tips of where to climb for the best views over the area. This time it was so bright and flaming everywhere in the city due to the festival, that we didn’t really need more of a view. However, following the tradition and relying on other bloggers’ tips, those are the terraces that looked the most appealing to me: l’Umbracle, 270 grados & Mi Cub on top of Mercado de Colón – another must-see.
What else? Shopping. Spain is very rich with that, anyone who has ever been there knows. Uterqüe and the other Inditex brands are cheaper and presented in a much greater variety here than anywhere else, as well as all the other national Spanish brands which I always find interesting. Walk along Carrer de Don Juan de Austria and the nearby smaller streets to see some small boutiques, and if you want something authentic – I loved Wakanda and Madamme Bugalu shops. But, basically, wherever you go in the city center, I doubt that you will leave with no pleasant shopping items 😉
Take couple days to visit Valencia whenever get a chance. You won’t regret! I am already planning to be back in summer, so you will hear something else from there soon again!