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Looking for tips on things to do in Valencia? 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.
Valencia is the 3rd largest city in Spain and yet some guidebooks like Rick Steve’s don’t even mention this city as one of the places to visit in Spain.
For this reason, I asked myself is it 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.
It took me four trips to Spain to add this city to my itinerary and I’m so glad I did.
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 neighboring tourist hotspot Barcelona.
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.
Because Valencia is smaller than other Spanish cities like Madrid and Barcelona, it’s a lot easier to find quiet spots, empty streets, and visit popular sights without feeling crammed.
This city also seems to be a popular destination for Spaniards. I noticed there were more Spanish people that seemed to be here for a visit than tourists from abroad, which I loved!
Wandering the city, I often felt like I found a hidden gem.
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.
See also: Madrid Itinerary and Things to do in Barcelona
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 on additional cities to your itinerary I recommend flying into Madrid or Barcelona.
Madrid has a highspeed 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 is 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 less 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 high 50’s to mid 70’s. Keep in mind that fall will have a higher chance for 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 40’s to mid 60’s.
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 on 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.
Must See Valencia Attractions
Mercado Central Valencia
This busy market is a must, especially for foodies. Wander the stalls at 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.
If you’re food market fan and headed to Madrid see my post on the TOP 5 Madrid Food Markets.
Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange)
Lonja de la Seda is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important symbols of Valencia’s wealthy past, much of which was built from the trade of silk.
Entrance is €2. Pay the extra €3 for the audio guide to learn about the building and a bit about Valencia’s past.
The claim to fame of the Valencia Cathedral is that it supposedly houses the Holy Grail, the cup Jesus drank from at the last supper.
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.
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.
What makes this park unique are the 18 bridges along the park.
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 continuing following the cycle path you will eventually reach Malvarrosa beach.
City of Arts and Sciences
This modern and futuristic complex is one of the most iconic and popular things to do in Valencia Spain.
The City of Arts and Sciences, aka Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, is actually several different museums and attractions.
The most impressive of these is the Oceanografic, the largest aquarium in Europe. 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 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?
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.
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 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.
Restaurants in Valencia
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 which ever 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.
If you go to 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 by foot from 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.
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!