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Looking for some of the best things to do in Valencia? Well, you’re in luck, because there are so many attractions in Valencia that are worth checking out!
Valencia is the 3rd largest city in Spain and yet for some reason, guidebooks like Rick Steve’s don’t even mention this city as one of the top places to visit in Spain.
Skipping Valencia out of the guidebooks is like skipping the word ‘Apple’ out of the dictionary. It’s a city bursting with culture, fantastic shopping facilities, world-class museums, and historical landmarks.
It’s also a foodie paradise, and if you’re not sure where to eat in Valencia, don’t worry because we’ve added some great food options to this list, too.
There are enough sights and things to do in Valencia Spain to easily keep a visitor busy for an entire weekend, or more if you want additional beach time. But if you’re not sure what attractions to add to your Valencia itinerary, then keep reading…
- Is Valencia Worth Visiting?
- Where is Valencia
- Best Time to Visit Valencia Spain
- Things to Do in Valencia Spain
- 1. Mercado Central Valencia (The Central Market)
- 2. La Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange)
- 3. Valencia Cathedral
- 4. Turia Gardens Jardín del Turia
- 5. City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias)
- 6. Malvarossa Beach
- 7. Barrio del Carmen
- 8. Ruzafa
- 9. Las Fallas Festival
- 10. Albufera Natural Park
- 11. Gulliver Park
- 12. Plaza del Ayuntamiento
- 13. Central Market of Valencia
- 14. Torres de Serranos
- Places to Eat in Valencia
- Before You Go
Is Valencia Worth Visiting?
Because Valencia was skipped from our guidebooks, I asked myself if it was worth visiting Valencia Spain? Searching Pinterest and other travel blogs it seemed like it was a worthwhile city to visit, which left me perplexed as to why it seems to be overlooked by many.
Because Valencia is smaller than other Spanish cities like Madrid and Barcelona, it’s a lot easier to find quiet spots, and empty streets, and visit popular sights without feeling cramped.
Valencia has a University feel with around 55,000 students, colorful neighborhoods, sandy beaches, and excellent food. It feels more authentic and “lived in” than the neighboring tourist hotspot Barcelona.
This city also seems to be a popular destination for Spaniards. I noticed there were more Spanish people vacationing here than tourists from abroad, which I loved!
Wandering the city, I often felt like I found a hidden gem. And for that reason, it’s absolutely worth visiting.
Want to save money on attractions in Valencia? Check out this tourist card which gives you 35% off Valencia attractions for 7 days. Visit places like the Cathedral and get discounts at the City of Art and Science.
Where is Valencia
First things first, where is Valencia Spain?
Valencia is located on the coast of eastern Spain. It’s below Barcelona and east of Madrid. Its location makes for an easy add-on to Madrid, Barcelona, Ibiza, and/or Mallorca.
It’s about a 4-hour drive from Madrid to Valencia and 3.5 hour’s drive from Barcelona. You can also get direct trains and buses, which makes traveling between these major cities easy.
How to Get to Valencia
Valencia does have its own airport so you could easily fly right into Valencia (though it may not be the cheapest airport to fly into if you’re coming from outside of Europe).
Cab and metro are the two best options to get into the city center. A cab will take about 15-20 minutes and cost around €20. The metro will take around 25 minutes and cost €3.90.
If you’re looking for a cheaper flight or adding additional cities to your itinerary I recommend flying into Madrid or Barcelona.
Madrid has a high-speed train that gets you to Valencia in just over 2 hours. Barcelona to Valencia will take about 4 hours by train.
Valencia is a convenient city to visit if want to hit some Spanish islands later. An easy itinerary for Spain would be Valencia, Ibiza, and Mallorca.
Flights are less than 1 hour to these islands and if you plan ahead you can snag tickets for under $15…yes…that is not a typo.
Getting around Valencia
Once you reach the city center it’s extremely easy to get around.
The core of the city is walkable and compact. Renting a bike is a popular option as Valencia is bike friendly and you can actually bike all the way to the beach via the Turia Gardens.
Like other large European cities, Valencia also has a metro system that is easy to use and cheap to get around. Chances are the only time you’ll really need to use the metro is to and from the airport.
Walking and biking are preferable as most sights are close together and you’ll get to enjoy the views and people-watching as you go from place to place.
Best Time to Visit Valencia Spain
Valencia has a Mediterranean climate very similar to Barcelona. Weather-wise, it’s decent to visit year-round.
If you’re looking for warm sunny days and fewer crowds, April through May and late September to early November are the best times to visit.
If beach weather is high on your priority list aim for May and October as temperatures range from the high-50s to mid-70s. Keep in mind that fall will have a higher chance of rain and clouds than spring.
Winter is the perfect time of year for tourists looking for low crowds and prices and decent sightseeing weather. Temperatures range from the mid-40s to mid-60s.
Valencia is no different than the rest of Europe in that it gets expensive and crowded in the summer. Avoid June through mid-September if you want to avoid the headache of crowds and expensive hotel rates.
Things to Do in Valencia Spain
Now that you know how to get to Valencia and when to visit, let’s get into the good stuff about what to do in Valencia!
There are enough Valencia attractions to fill a fast-paced 2-day itinerary or a more leisurely 3 or 4-day itinerary. If you want to spend more than a few hours at the beach I definitely recommend staying at least 3 nights.
We have some great advice for you down below on what to do, where to eat, how to get there, and the best time to visit.
1. Mercado Central Valencia (The Central Market)
This busy market is a must, especially for foodies. Wander the stalls filled with colorful fruit juices, vegetables, jamon, and snacks. Try some samples or buy a few items to make a meal out of it.
Stop at Retrogusto Coffeemates for top-quality coffee. Mercado de Colon is another market to mention with more ready-to-eat items vs. produce.
2. La Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange)
Another classic work of stunning architecture is La Lonja de la Seda. It was built in the late 15th-century in a Valencian Gothic style.
It used to be a market and one of Europe’s top trade centers. The name translates to “Silk Exchange”, and was where traders from the East would come to make deals with those in the Mediterranean.
Today, the building is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a celebration of history and culture.
The entrance fee is €2. Pay the extra €3 for the audio guide to learn about the building and a bit about Valencia’s past.
3. Valencia Cathedral
The claim to fame of the Valencia Cathedral, or St Mary’s Cathedral, is that it supposedly houses the Holy Grail (chalice), the cup Jesus drank from at the last supper, which is located in the Holy Chalice Chapel on the inside of the church.
The cathedral is located in Plaza de la Virgen, the main square and a perfect spot to grab a coffee and people watch.
The site of the cathedral has historical significance as it was once the location of an ancient Roman Temple, a mosque, and now the cathedral you see today. The interiors are a mix of Gothic and Baroque styles.
Tickets are €7 and include an audio guide. Once you’re done touring the cathedral head next door to climb the Miguelete bell tower for the best views of the city below. It’s an additional €2 and well worth the cost and the 207-step climb.
4. Turia Gardens Jardín del Turia
Another garden worth visiting in Valencia is the Jardin del Turia in the city center. It’s one of Spain’s largest urban parks and spans nine kilometers across the city.
The river that once flowed through Valencia was diverted to prevent flooding of the city. The riverbed then was converted into a massive park complete with jogging and biking trails.
It’s a huge green space that offers a place for leisure and sports, as well as offering a romantic backdrop for those looking for somewhere quiet to spend with their loved ones.
It connects Cabecera Park and the City of Arts and Sciences, The Ciudad de les Arts y las Ciències, and features 18 historical bridges over the River Turia. The most iconic of those bridges is the San José bridge, which was built in the 17th century, the 16th century Serranos bridge, and 15th century Trinidad bridge.
If you’re looking for attractions in Valencia to visit with the kids, be sure to head to the Cabecera Park side and ride in the swan boats. You’ll find Gulliver Park here, as well as a skate park and football field.
Walking or biking the Turia Gardens is a must because the City of Arts and Sciences is located within the park and if you go all the way down the park and continue following the cycle path you will eventually reach Malvarrosa beach.
5. City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias)
If you’re interested in visiting museums in Valencia, then the City of Arts and Sciences is the one to visit. This modern and futuristic complex is one of the most iconic and popular things to do in Valencia Spain.
It’s most famous for its architecture, which was designed by architect Santiago Calatrava. The City of Arts and Sciences is actually several different museums and attractions.
Inside, you’ll find a science museum, a planetarium and IMAX cinema, as well as the aquarium and a performing arts venue Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía).
It’s not just a museum, but a city celebrating the arts and history of Valencia. It’s a massive complex and definitely somewhere worth exploring during your trip to Valencia.
The most impressive of these is the Oceanografic, the largest aquarium in Europe. The aquarium is also home to a variety of sea animals, such as beluga whales, tiger sharks, penguins, walruses, dolphins, and sea lions.
Even if you don’t want to enter any of the museums or buildings, it’s still a worthy sight to walk around and see the architecture.
6. Malvarossa Beach
The easiest beach to reach in Valencia is Malvarossa Beach as you can get here by bike.
Relax in the sun, walk or ride down the palm tree lined promenade, and order some paella for lunch before you head back to the city center.
Did you know paella was invented in Valencia?
7. Barrio del Carmen
This neighborhood is located in the Ciutat Vella, or Old Town.
Wander the cobblestoned streets and gaze at the Serrano and Quart towers (all that’s left of the medieval wall that surrounded the city), walk past quaint squares, and pick a few tapas bars for dinner later.
Walking around this historic quarter was one of my favorite things to do in Valencia.
Where Barrio del Carmen is charming and historic, the Ruzafa neighborhood is hipster and artsy.
Check out the Ruzafa market, visit a few art galleries, take a break at a cute café, and shop some of the trendy boutiques. This area has a local vibe and is the perfect spot to not feel like a tourist.
9. Las Fallas Festival
Las Fallas Festival is a must-see event in Valencia if you’re visiting in March. The festival celebrates the arrival of Spring, and officially spans for five days from the 15th-19th March. The festival is famous for its papier-mâché statues (fallas) which adorn the streets throughout the festival, and are then burnt on the last day La Cremà.
It’s also famous for Mascletà, a massive pyrotechnic spectacle of firecrackers and fireworks displays. You will find fireworks and firecrackers are set off for pretty much most of March, even outside these dates.
It began in the middle ages when carpenters used to burn pieces of wood that used to hold up their lights during winter. As time moved on, they added old clothes and rags which turned into bonfires and artistic puppet displays (ninots).
The event has been added to UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage of humanity list and is a must-see thing to see in Valencia this time of year.
10. Albufera Natural Park
Located just 10km outside the city center is this stunning place of natural beauty. The park is Spain’s largest lagoon, and is famous for its sunsets, as well as being a place to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy boat rides.
The park is surrounded by rice fields and woodlands, and has six signposted walking routes through the reserve. If you’re looking carefully, you may see waterfowl swimming in the vegetation.
11. Gulliver Park
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Valencia with kids, then be sure to take a trip over to Gulliver Park. Inspired by the book, Gulliver’s Travels, the fun, and quirky park allows children to climb and play on a massive play structure of the character Gulliver, which is made of climbing frames and slides.
In the book, Gulliver washed ashore on an island of tiny 6-inch people. While we’re not a fan of playparks (as you can see them everywhere), Gullivers Park allows children to use their imagination and creativity.
As they climb and slide around the park, children can pretend to be one of the Lilliput inhabitants as they play on this iconic Valencia monument!
12. Plaza del Ayuntamiento
If you enjoy seeing stunning and historic architecture, then be sure to swing by the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. The square is lined with stunning buildings that were built during Valencia’s golden age.
In the center, there is an ornate fountain that is often surrounded by flower stalls. You’ll find cafes and bars nestled on the sides of the square, and down the side streets are many boutique stores and restaurants.
It’s the perfect place to sit and enjoy an espresso while soaking up the stunning Spanish architecture and watching the world go by.
13. Central Market of Valencia
If you’re thinking of trying some of the local produce, then be sure to head over to the central market of Valencia. It was built in 1928 and took 14 years to build. The market is a huge 86,000 square feet and covers two floors.
It has lots of stalls that mainly sell food and local produce. Be sure to check it out and grab some produce for a picnic. Even if you’re not looking to buy, it’s a great place to see for its beauty.
14. Torres de Serranos
For incredible views of Valencia, climb up to Torres de Serranos, the ancient gate of old town Valencia. The gate has many names; from Serrans Gate, Serranos Gate, Serrans Towers, or Serranos Towers, Torres de Quart – whichever name you give it, you can’t deny this ancient monument is impressive.
It’s one of twelve gates that once formed the ancient city wall of the city of Valencia (also known as the Christian Wall) and was built during the 14th century.
The gate has a gothic Valencian style and it has been lovingly restored by sculptor José Aixá between 1893 and 1914. The stones were also cleaned in 2000 which is why it looks like a brand-new building.
Be sure to turn around and admire the views from up here.
Places to Eat in Valencia
We promised foodie fans that we would include some top food attractions in Valencia on this list and we weren’t lying! Whether you’re looking to try some delicious seafood or one of Spain’s most iconic dishes (paella), these places won’t disappoint.
Here are our favorite places to eat in Valencia.
Horchateria Santa Catalina
You can’t visit Valencia and not partake in the traditional snack. A glass of cold horchata milk (made from tiger nuts and mixed with sugar) paired with fartons, a narrow pastry topped with powdered sugar.
Horchata is a bit too sweet for my liking, but this is a Valencian tradition and worth a try. Horchateria Santa Catalina is the oldest and most popular spot serving horchata and fartons. It’s also right in the city center and close to many of the Valencia attractions listed above.
A perfect café for a quick bite or coffee. The salads are particularly good along with the breakfast plates and pastries. Trencat is centrally located by Mercado Central Valencia.
Another solid café option located within the old town is Federal. This is a great choice for coffee, breakfast plates, toasts, sandwiches, and cakes. It’s laptop friendly, has WiFi, and plenty of table space.
Escalones de la Lonja
Escalones de la Lonja is a traditional Spanish tapas joint filled with tourists and locals. Fun atmosphere and good prices.
Pintxo i Trago
Pintxos are small toasts topped with a variety of ingredients. If you want a casual experience, go straight to the bar filled with toasts and grab a plate. You pick whichever toasts you want and keep the toothpick. That’s how the servers know what to charge you. Each pintxo is €1.80.
You could easily make an entire meal out of trying several pintxos. Upstairs is an actual sit-down restaurant. I prefer downstairs as it’s a bit livelier.
Flor de Valencia
Another specialty in Valencia is paella – it was invented here. Traditionally, paella is made with white rice, chicken and rabbit, with white beans, snails, saffron and rosemary – but you can find many different flavors here.
If you go to La Malvarrosa beach you will find the boardwalk lined with paella restaurants. Just walk along, check out the menus and decide which one appeals to you.
If you want the best paella in Valencia head to Flor de Valencia. It’s located about 25 minutes on foot from the old town or 10 minutes by bike. You can also get there by metro or cab.
Try this Michelin star restaurant for a special evening and outstanding cuisine. You can choose from several tasting menus ranging from €85 to €125.
Véneta food & Gelato Italiano
Hands down the best gelato in Valencia and located right next to the Valencia cathedral.
Dulce de Leche Boutique
Located in the Ruzafa neighborhood, Dulce de Leche is the perfect stop for an Instagrammable coffee and cake break.
I hope this travel guide helps in planning your trip to Valencia.
Before You Go
So there you have it, those are the top things to do in Valencia and best places to eat. Now you almost have everything you need to plan the perfect trip to Valencia.
All you need now is your accommodation. We highly recommend you browse through Booking.com, which has over 1400 hotels, vacation rentals and hostels to choose from. You can also browse the list below for Valencia accommodation options.
You should also make sure you have travel insurance. Valencia is very safe, but you can never guarantee what will happen on the road. Give yourself some peace of mind and get yourself some travel insurance before you go.
Now you know the best things to do in Valencia, where to eat, how to get around, and everything in-between. I have a feeling this city is going to continue to gain popularity so now is the time to go!