Valencia is packed with beautiful buildings, wonderful museums, cozy squares, Mediterranean atmosphere and delicious food. Here you will get tips for 15 great experiences in Spain’s third largest city.
1. Art and science in the city of the future
Valencia’s main attraction is undoubtedly the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences) and a must-see in Valencia.
The imposing, futuristic buildings are predominantly the work of architect Santiago Calatravas and a wonderful complex of organic shapes and stylised lines. At gå rundt her er som at være en del af en fremtidsfilm.
The city consists of an experimentarium, a combined concert and opera house, a cinema, Europe’s largest saltwater aquarium, an outdoor art gallery and a covered square where concerts and sports events are held.
The concert and opera house, Palacio de les Artes Reina Sofia and the cinema, l’Hemisfèric were created by Calatravos, who was inspired by the shapes of a war helmet and an eye. The impressive buildings are the main attractions of the complex.
Museu de les Ciènces (eksperimentariet) ligner på ydersiden en række kæmpeknogler og indenfor er der underholdning til flere timer for både børn og voksne.
Outside, you can sail small boats around the complex and test your balancing skills in giant swimming pools on the water.
The aquarium, Oceanogràfic, was created by Felix Candela and consists of several buildings, each dedicated to different aquatic environments. Here are among others. Mediterranean, Antarctic, Red Sea and wetlands.
På stedet arbejder man bl.a. for bevaring af havskildpadder, og du kan se søløveshows og alt fra vandmænd og tusindvis af koralfisk til delfiner og hvalrosser.
Allow plenty of time for your visit. You can easily spend a whole day.
Buy a guided tour to the City of Arts and Sciences and Oceanogràfic here. (Advertising link)
2. The old silk exchange
Valencia’s old silk exchange, La Llotja, is another of the city’s architectural gems.
The magnificent complex was built in the 15th century and served as a centre for the silk trade during the city’s heyday of silk production.
The complex consists of four parts, the Consulado del Mar Room, the Contract Room (with beautiful twisted columns), the Tower, which served as a prison for dishonest merchants and silk thieves, and the central Orange Garden.
In 1996, the complex was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
3. On adventure with Africa’s animals
If you’re bringing children on holiday, visit the modern zoo, Bioparc Valencia. The park was created to conserve wildlife and raise awareness of the importance of them staying in their native ecosystems.
Although the animals live in captivity, Bioparc Valencia goes to great lengths to ensure they are fed a healthy, natural diet and live in as close harmony with their natural environment as possible. Therefore it is not allowed to feed the animals in the park.
Bioparc Valencia has over 100,000 square metres dedicated to the African continent. Here you can visit the Savanna, Madagascar, the equatorial forests and the wetlands. Dyrerne tæller bl.a. elefanter, giraffer, krokodiller, gazeller og pelikaner.
Each area has original vegetation as well as identical local vegetation and reproductions such as large stones and caves.
4. Shop for delicacies at Europe’s biggest food market
The central market of Valencia has stood in the same place for over 1000 years. It was originally a street market until the beautiful structure was built. Gå gennem markedet og kig nærmere på den smukke arkitektur, som er et miks af træ, glasdøre, kupler med mosaikker og blyindfattede ruder, jern og keramik.
The whole place is a bright, airy and lively market with a huge selection of delicious produce. Here you will find everything from the city’s famous oranges, vegetables, fish, spices, rice, cheese and ham. In the market you will also find a few good bars where you can enjoy a tapa.
5. The Holy Grail in the Cathedral
Valencia’s cathedral is beautifully situated between Plaza de la Virgin and Plaza de la Reina, where a Roman temple and mosque once stood.
Inside you’ll find the Holy Grail, the cup from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper. Det eftertragtede klenodie står beskyttet bag glas i et kapel i højre side. In the cathedral you can also see two paintings by Goya and climb to the top of the octagonal bell tower.
Every Thursday at noon, at the back of the cathedral, you can see Valencia’s water council, the Tribunal del Agua, which meets to settle disputes over irrigation channels in the area. The thousand-year-old tradition draws plenty of tourists, so arrive early if you want a good view.
6. The gateway to Valencia
Torres de Quart was one of the most important of the two city gates to Valencia in the Middle Ages. The towers were built in the 15th century and have served several purposes over the years.
In 1562 they were a large spice shop, and in the 18th century they were used as a prison for prostituted women.
I 1808 brugte Valencias borgerne tårnene til at tvinge Napoleon og hans tropper tilbage. You can still see the bullet holes from the fight for Spanish independence.
Torres de Quart
Plaza de Santa Úrsula (show on map)
7. Visit the round square
Lace, silk ribbons, sewing thread, lace, ceramics and souvenirs are sold in the small wooden stalls in the peculiar round square, Plaza Redonda, also known as Clot.
The circular square with three-storey houses and a fountain in the middle was built in the 1800s, and at that time it was mainly used for selling fish and meat in the small stalls.
The covered steel structure is a recent addition, when the city government wanted to give the square a facelift and ensure that vendors could stand out of the rain. It is debatable whether the modernisation has made the square more beautiful. On the ground floor of the buildings you will find several bars where you can have a tapas and a beer.
Plaza Redonda (show on map)
Save money on your experiences in Valencia
If you like to see as much as possible on your city break, I recommend the Valencia tourist card (promotional link). Kortet giver dig adgang til gratis transport (også til og fra lufthavnen), gratis adgang til offentlige museer og op til 25% rabat på lokale ture og rabat i udvalgte butikker og på restauranter.
You can buy Valencia tourist cards that last for 24, 48 or 72 hours. You can buy the map online or at the Valencia Tourist Office.
8. Look at the decorations at the train station
Stations are always interesting because so many different people come here, but Valencia’s train station is particularly interesting because of its architecture and beautiful decorations. If you arrive by train, this station is your first encounter with the city.
The Estació del Nord was built in the Modernista style at the beginning of the 20th century. Den cremefarvede facade prydes af motiver, der er karakteristiske for Valencia, bl.a. de symbolske appelsiner.
In the waiting room, the old wooden ticket windows are still in use and it is adorned with fine ceiling and wall decorations. If you have to wait for the train, you can do so on benches that wrap around beautiful mosaic columns.
Estació del Nord
Carrer de Xàtiva 24 (show on map)
9. Cycling along the promenades
Valencia has eight kilometres of white sandy beaches that are both family-friendly and far from crowded like the beaches in Barcelona.
Hire a bike from one of the city’s many rental shops – for example, on the beach near the fishing quarter of El Cabanyal (Las Arenas), and take a ride along the seafront. Along the way you can stop and look at the many elaborate sandcastles that the locals build here.
When you get back, jump in the waves. The beach at El Cabanyal (Llevant) has sun loungers for hire, disabled access, medical assistance, lifeguards, toilets and outdoor showers.
Playa de Llevant (show on map)
10. Eating gourmet rice dishes
Valencia is known for its rice dishes, and paella in particular. If you want to taste gourmet rice dishes while enjoying them with beautiful views, book a table at the 5-star Hotel Balneario Las Arenas restaurant, Brasserie Sorolla.
Located on Las Arenas Beach, the restaurant’s terrace overlooks the promenade and the sea.
Brasserie Sorolla’s menu offers delicious classic dishes with a modern twist. It’s a must to try rice dishes such as paella or dishes with black rice, seafood and fish here.
Chef José María Baldo heads the kitchen and has built up a really good reputation, so book well in advance.
If you have enough money on your credit card, book an overnight stay in one of the hotel’s suites and wake up to the most beautiful sea views.
11. See house facades in the fishing district
The narrow streets of El Cabanyal are adorned with brightly coloured tiles in a variety of patterns. Walking the streets of the neighbourhood is like visiting a living museum.
The neighbourhood was formerly inhabited by fishermen who decorated the facades of their shack-like houses themselves. Gaudí and other modernista architects inspired the fishermen of the 1900s, who copied and interpreted the popular mosaic patterns of the time, inspired by the colours of the sea. However, fishermen could not afford quality tiles. That is why the decoration was called poor man’s modernista. Later, businessmen and wealthier people also came to the neighbourhood, so there are also fine examples of old shops and multi-storey houses.
Many of the old houses in the neighbourhood have been demolished, but around 500 remain, which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Today, it’s one of the hippest neighbourhoods in the city, with artists and young chefs moving into the charming historic buildings and opening galleries, restaurants and cafés.
El Cabanyal (show on map)
12. Look at modern art
IVAM Institut Valencià d’Art Modern is the main institution for modern art in Valencia.
The museum has two permanent exhibitions and various temporary ones. The permanent exhibitions include works by two great Spanish artists, the sculptor Julio González and the impressionist artist Ignacio Pinazo.
In addition to exhibitions, IVAM also has an extensive art library with 47,000 documents. IVAM also organises conferences and arts and cultural events such as poetry readings, concerts and film screenings. Several of the events are free.
In the basement you can study parts of the old wall from the Middle Ages, which was discovered during the construction of the museum. It also has a cosy café.
13. Luxury villa for cats
The El Carmen neighbourhood is home to a peculiar house where the city’s stray cats can shelter for the night. It’s so strange that it obviously has to be included in a guide to Valencia. Rumor has it that an elderly woman who used to own the house left it to the neighborhood feral cats.
Local artists have decorated the 50 cm high house in traditional Valencian style. The door is adorned with a commemorative plaque, and to the left of the door there is even a small courtyard with a fountain.
Carrer del Museu 11 (show on map)
14. Street art in El Carmen
Valencia’s El Carmen district is home to plenty of galleries, small artisan shops, pavement cafés and bars. Here you’ll also find street art in abundance, adding extra charm to the artistic neighbourhood.
The majority of the works are created by local artists such as Hyuro, and Escif (called the Spanish Banksy). Escif’s works often have a political message.
Painting on city walls is not allowed in Valencia, but locals see it as a positive contribution to the city. The art is often painted over at night, so if you come back to Valencia after a short time, you can expect the street art to be completely changed.
Start the tour at Plaza del Tossal and the nearby streets, where the concentration of street art is greatest. Don’t forget to go into the small alleys and look up and down. The works are hidden in the most curious places.
Plaza del Tossal (show on map)
15. Shopping in the high street
Bags, hats, chairs, slippers and bread baskets are stacked from floor to ceiling in the basket shops that fill most of the legendary Calle de las Cestas.
What’s available in straw and wicker, you’ll find here. Many of the items might be a little too difficult to fit into your suitcase, but it’s fun just to go and look at the huge selection.
In the old craftsmen’s street, where you used to see the craftsmen assembling the baskets, you can also find a lot of things in wood and cork. The street was named after these craftsmen who settled in the 1940s and 1950s.
Carrer del Músic Peydró (show on map)
If you’d like to learn how to make an authentic paella yourself, find out how you can join a paella workshop in a beautiful country house in the rice fields, outside Valencia.
The journey to Valencia
There are direct flights to Valencia from Copenhagen. Check flights and prices here.
Where to stay in Valencia
During my stay in Valencia, I stayed in two different holiday apartments in different neighbourhoods. Both apartments were super nice, so I can recommend you to take a closer look at them.
One is called El 16 Ruzafa and is located in Valencia’s hipster district, Ruzafa, which is a great neighbourhood with lots of local atmosphere and cafes and restaurants. The apartment is an urban studio and you can read more about it and check prices here.
Flat Friends Soho Suites is close to the Central Market and all the sights of the Old Town. The apartments are modern, bright and stylish, and can accommodate from 2 to 8 people. Read more about the apartments and check prices here .