Living in Valencia means having the original paella valenciana for dinner and spending your weekend in Europe’s largest aquarium. Sounds enviable doesn't it? To give you a head start on exploring your new home and all it has to offer, we’ve made a list of the best things to do in Valencia.
After reading our guide you’ll know where to find:
The best part of it all, you don’t need much of a budget to have a good time here. The cost of living in Valencia is relatively low and most of the museums are free to visit!
As a bonus, find all of our recommendations on this Google Maps list!”
What: Also known as St Mary's Cathedral, the Cathedral of Valencia is one of the most important landmarks of Valencia.
Why go: Situated right in the heart of the old town, the building combines gothic, baroque and Romanesque architectural styles. What makes it all the more unique is its octagon-shaped bell tower El Miguelete that was never fully completed. But thanks to its distinctive shape, this quirky tower rising above the city’s landscape became a symbol of Valencia.
Take a climb up El Miguelete to take in a remarkable view of the city. It will be worth the 206 steps!
They say that the very chalice used during the Last Supper can be found in a chapel of St Mary's Cathedral.”
Entrance: €8 for the cathedral and museum, €2 for bell tower.
What: La Lonja de la Seda, also known as Silk Exchange, is a complex of buildings used for trading silk back in the 15th century.
Why go: This majestic UNESCO site is the finest representation of Valencia’s golden age as it was built to show off the city’s wealth. You can see that as you marvel at the details of the vaulted ceilings, lavishly decorated rooms and twisted marble columns that remind of palm trees.
According to UNESCO, the building ‘illustrates the power of Mediterranean mercantile cities’ and should make your must see in Valencia list!
What: Have you ever seen a park stretching throughout a whole city? In Valencia you will. Jardines del Turia is a 9 km-long park, built on the former riverbed of Turia.
Why go: Following a devastating flood, the city decided to divert the course of the river and build a park on its remnants. Today, Turia Gardens are a lush green area which is home to many important landmarks and attractions of Valencia.
Walking along Jardines del Turia, you can take in the local life while watching cyclists and runners pass by fountains and orange trees. While you stroll through the park, visit the colourful Puenta de las Flores (flower bridge) - one of the 18 bridges crossing the park.
What: Situated right in the Turia Gardens, the City of the Arts and Sciences won’t fail to impress you. It’s probably the most famous piece of architecture in Valencia — and rightfully so!
Why go: The City of the Arts and Sciences is an ensemble of modern structures and futuristic shapes rising from the water. The beautiful complex designed by Santiago Calatrava holds an important cultural value too.
Here you’ll find an IMAX Cinema, planetarium, laserium, interactive museum of science, botanical garden, opera house, and an open-air aquarium. Impressive, isn’t it?
© Submarino Restaurant
What: Enjoy the panoramic view of hundreds of fishes, stingrays and sharks swimming around you while you dine in the Submarino Restaurant of L’Oceanogràfic.
Why go: Be it a romantic date or family weekend, take a whole day to enjoy the richness of sealife. L’Oceanogràfic is the largest complex of its type in Europe where you can witness 45,000 animals from 500 different species. Penguins, sea lions, beluga whales, you name it. They’ve got it all!
Going to Oceanogràfic is a must on its own. But eating there? It’s a whole new dining experience that you’ve got to try!
Make sure to reserve in advance and get a tasting menu.”
What: Spread over the northern side of Turia Gardens, Bioparc is a little slice of Africa found in Valencia.
Why go: Stretching over 100,000 m2, Bioparc is not your usual zoo. Imitating the equatorial forest, Madagascar and savannah, it’s designed to recreate habitats in which different animals coexist with each other, just as they would in nature.
With almost little to no barriers, you can observe animals like lemurs, elephants and giraffes from up close and learn about their behaviour. Need we say any kid would be in awe?
What: The traditional paella valenciana is made with chicken, rabbit, snails, green beans, garrofó beans, slow-cooked sofrito sauce and rice with a crispy crust on the bottom. Visit Restaurante Levante or La Pepica for the best paella in town.
Why go: One of the things Valencia is most known for is its paella. It’s almost a crime not to try the authentic dish in its birthplace!
To make sure you get the authentic paella, don’t eat in touristy places that scream ‘paella’ on the banners, and make sure they serve it in the large iron pan it’s cooked in.
What: What's a better way to experience local life than shopping for fresh products at a city market? One of the biggest and oldest ones is Central Market located in the heart of Valencia.
Why go: Get lost among the countless stalls filled with locally-sourced produce and Spanish delicacies, and gaze at all the fascinating colours saturating the huge 1920s Art Nouveau-style building. While you’re at it, cop the ingredients for that dish you’ve been planning to cook for so long. At the Central Market, you can find anything, no matter how exotic.
For an even more local experience, visit one of the smaller markets in your neighbourhood such as Mercat de Russafa or Mercat Municipal del Cabanyal.”
© Sofie Lambrou
What: Talking about markets, this one deserves a special spot. If you’re looking for a fun activity in Valencia, the chance is you can find something for your taste and wallet at the Mercado de Tapineria, only 4 minutes away from the Central Market.
Why go: This is a go-to place for shopping antiques, vintage clothes and independent brands. Every week the venue offers something new; from a concept store one week to a photography expo the week after. The street food offering changes regularly too!
Among other things, this cultural hub is where many exhibitions, live music and workshops take place. So many locals simply come here to hang out and people-watch while nibbling tapas.
© Centre del Carme Cultura Contemporània
Valencia is home to many exciting museums. Some of our highlights include:
The Gonzalez Martí National Museum of Ceramics and Sumptuary Arts: a collection of ceramics and other donated art pieces housed in a 15th-century palace.
Museum of Fine Arts of València: the second largest art gallery in Spain, housing works from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Here you’ll find paintings of the likes of Francisco Ribalta and Velasquez, a whole room dedicated to Joaquín Sorolla and an idyllic court garden where you can rest after your visit. The entrance is free.
Centre del Carme Cultura Contemporània: a cultural centre for contemporary art, hosting all kinds of events from temporary exhibitions and live music events to wine tasting and activities for kids – all free of charge.
L’Iber Museo de Los Soldaditos de Plomo: the world’s biggest museum of historical miniatures, displaying the scenes of major battles and other historical moments.
Bomba Gens: a major centre for contemporary art housed in a former factory. Next to rotating the works from its permanent collection, they host temporary exhibitions and a wide educational program, mostly free of charge. While it's easy to get lost wandering through the endless corridors, mediaeval cellar and a civil war anti-aircraft shelter, don’t forget to visit the lush garden outside.
Valencia Institute of Modern Art (IVAM): Spain’s very first museum for modern art built in 1989. Besides its permanent collection housing works of artists such as Yves Klein and Marcel Duchamp, the museum showcases temporary exhibitions, often with large-scale immersive installations and sculptures. The entrance is free.
Without doubt, one of the best things to do in Valencia is joining the local festivities.
The city will surprise you with a major event for pretty much any calendar month. But if you ask us, the absolute must is Las Fallas Valencia. Throughout these 5 days, Valencia is filled with all-day-long parties, fireworks, giant puppets, and parades.
After midnight, most of the major fiestas move to the Valencia’s vibrant clubs and bars where you can party until sunrise.”
Have you ticked all the Valencian attractions off your list? Time to walk off the beaten path and explore some unusual things to do in Valencia. Luckily, this city is packed with hidden gems!
© Flat Magazine
What: The architecture of Casa Judia simply looks surreal. A prime example of the Valencian Art Deco, the Jewish house is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.
Why go: Among the ordinary-looking apartments on Carrer de Castelló 20, the colourful façade of the Jewish house is impossible to miss. Mixing elements of oriental, Arabic, Egyptian, Hindu and Hebrew styles, this building was commissioned by a Spanish man with Jewish origins and served as a meeting place for the Jewish community of Valencia.
What: Heladeria Llinares on Pça. de la Reina, 6 is a famous artisan ice cream parlour serving some of the finest ice creams in town.
Why go: If you’re looking for something unusual to do in Valencia, try the unconventional flavours such as gazpacho, black pudding or anchovies in vinegar! It might not tickle your taste buds, but surely is a unique experience!
© Paula G. Furió
What: If you’re fond of architecture, Espai Verd might be one of the most exciting Valencian places to visit. This concrete oasis on the outskirts of Valencia is a fine example of modern utopia found in cooperative living.
Why go: Located in Valencia’s oldest neighbourhood, Benimaclet, Espai Verd combines britalist elements with lush vegetation spilling out over the exterior. The haphazardly-distributed homes over 15 floors make a unique backdrop for a photoshoot!
With these 14 best things to do in Valencia, you’ll feel like a local in no time!
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