Seven reasons you must visit Valencia

Pack your weekend bag for the underrated Spanish city that’s got it all.

The city of Valencia, just across from Ibiza on Spain’s Balearic coast, doesn’t get the same attention as the big hitters Barcelona and Madrid, but with awesome sights, great food and bargain flights from the UK it makes the perfect weekend break. Here are seven reasons you’ll want to visit Valencia.

1. Valencia’s gorgeous weather

With at least 8 hours of sunshine all year round and an average temperature that rarely dips below 10°C, even in the winter months, the weather in Valencia will rarely interrupt your sightseeing plans. During our visit in October the weather was in the mid-20s and sunny.

2. Festivals

The people of Valencia and the surrounding Valencian region love to party and you’ll be in for a treat if you can time your visit to coincide with one of their festivals. The most famous are Las Fallas in March and La Tomatina in August but there are other celebrations throughout the year. We visited during the Día de la Comunidad Valenciana (Day of the Valencian Community) – which actually lasts two days!

The morning parade on 9 October – Día de la Comunidad Valenciana
The evening parade is even more flamoyant

3. The City of Arts and Sciences

This is Valencia’s knockout attraction, the one you’ve seen all over Pinterest and it absolutely lives up to the hype. In this collection of ultra-futuristic buildings, walkways, gardens and shallow blue pools you’ll find an arts centre, theatre, IMAX cinema, aquarium, cafes and a science museum, but it’s the architecture that really steals the show.

The City of Arts and Sciences

4. The historic centre

As well as having architecture straight out of Star Trek, Valencia also has a gorgeous and evocative old town. Walk across medieval bridges, through the old city gates and down winding alleyways to the gorgeous 13th century cathedral.

The narrow medieval streets behind the Torres de Serranos
Early evening on the 16th century Puente del Mar

The narrow streets are full of bars and restaurants, many of which specialise in…

5. The food

Valencia is the home of paella and you can sample it all over town. Since I’m vegetarian I opted for another local speciality – a sweet, cool tiger nut milk called Horchata, served with sugared dough fingers (fartons) which you dip into the Horchata. You’ll find foodie heaven at the markets, particularly Mercat Central de València where you can stock up for a picnic in the Turia gardens, and at the beautiful Mercat de Colón which now houses two floors of cafés and restaurants.

Drinking horchata and trying fartons at Horchateria Daniel
Inside the Mercado Central

6. The Turia gardens

This 9 kilometre-long urban park which snakes through the city used to be the course of the River Turia. After a devastating flood in the 1950s the river was diverted and a debate started about what to do with the old riverbed. Thankfully ideas to turn it into a bypass were shelved and today it’s a beautiful green area which obviously well-loved by Valencians. The gardens are crossed by 18 bridges, including two which date back to the 16th century.

The Palau de la Música fronts on to the Turia Gardens
The City of Arts and Sciences sits at the eastern end of the Turia Gardens

7. The Russafa neighbourhood

Every good city break needs a visit to the “hipster” neighbourhood, and luckily Valencia can offer one of those as well. Just south of the main Estacio del Nord, a grid of streets between Carrer de Cuba and the lovely pastel-coloured Mercat de Russafa is home to shops, bars and restaurants with a slightly alternative feel to those you’ll find in the historic centre. Just don’t do what we did and visit during siesta time!

What would you like to see in Valencia?


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