If you are looking for a great Spanish destination, look no further: Valencia has it all.
Valencia is a great holiday destination whether you are looking for a weekend getaway abroad or for a city worth visiting as part as a European and/or Spanish tour.
Let me try to convince you to visit Valencia with this straight forward yet honest list of things Valencia has for you: an international airport, well served roads & trains, heritage, architecture, history, a port, a very long beach, gastronomy and good weather! Well, to me, that would be enough to start planning my next escape but, do you want to learn more about Valencia?
I am from Spain myself, from the countryside of Tarragona, a lovely region on the North-East of Spain, in Catalonia and I used to think no city could come close to Barcelona. That was before I went back to Valencia this year. To my surprise, Valencia has dramatically changed in the last two decades to become a very attractive, tourists-friendly and modern city.
I have listed the top reasons why I loved Valencia so much and that, from a real Spanish perspective:
1. The historic center of Valencia is a destination by itself
Indeed, you could spend a week discovering and enjoying the many architectural and historic remains of Valencia. Due to Valencia’s rich past and complex History, architecture amateurs will find themselves in paradise: all styles and centuries come together for the biggest pleasure of your camera eye from early XII century cathedrals to Catalan modernist art and all the Mediterranean architectural styles in between. What I love the most about Valencia is that everything is accessible by foot (or rental bike) so you won’t have to take public transport all day long. Just get lost in the pedestrian streets and get ready to find a picture perfect monument almost around every corner. Un, dos, tres … Instagram #bestcityever !
2. Valencia is the best –or worst- option for Shopping addicts
Spain, a country of artists and fashion designers! Spain, without a doubt, is one of the best shopping destinations along with London and Paris. We all know brands like Zara, Mango, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Pull & bear and many more high street Spanish created brands. We are also aware that Spanish people like to look trendy and, somehow, we also know shopping is pretty fun and affordable! So make sure you schedule some free time while in Valencia as shopping options are just madness over there.
Valencia hosts, at least, 5 Corte Inglés: the equivalent of our London’s Selfridges where you can shop across up to 8 floors featuring fashion, makeup, electrics, shoes, food delicatessen and rest in their restaurant! I literally fainted of exhaustion in a Corte Ingles after 9 hours of frenetic and empty-stomach shopping. However, I had an excuse: my New Year party was coming along some irresistible promotions!
I would recommend you to combine shopping with tourism because the shopping streets are in the city centre: shops, monuments, tapas, beer, shops.. keep this rhythm to experience the valencian weekend lifestyle.
3. Valencia: the home town to the paella
This is a fact. However, in Spain, although this is an accepted statement there are neighbour areas that still disputing the historic origin of the paella. Indeed, in Spain we have different type of traditional rice cooked dishes that, to non-Spanish people, would all look like a paella. You can find the paella valenciana, arroz caldoso, arroz a banda etc etc. But when Spanish think Valencia, they think paella: and the best! So, make sure you enjoy a delicious home-made paella while in Valencia.
There are plenty of traditional restaurants in the city centre but try to avoid the obvious touristy places right by the main square and tend to find family-run bars within the narrow streets. As it was very sunny, I decided to head to the front beach and combine a paella valenciana, sangria, bread and olive oil with sea-views!
4. Valencia: a beach destination
Valencia’s airport is strategically located so international visitors can reach numerous beach resorts like Gandia, Castellón, Benicássim, Benidorm etc. Despite the proximity of well renowned beach resorts, I would chose Valencia beach for the weekend. The long (very long) beach of Valencia is a really good option if you are short In time. It is beautiful, easy to reach, clean and very well maintained. It is right by the new port, however it doesn’t feel like a build beach front. The views are also great with mountains on the background. Of course, this won’t be like going to a secret cove in Menorca but it is still a very good and spacious beach. Note that the front-beach hotels are pretty good as well. Although you can find budget hotels, Valencia has developed a great market for medium to high end luxury accommodation. One tip, If you are travelling with friends or family you might want to rent a cool apartment rather than separate expensive hotel rooms. I personally use this website here as they have a wide selection of modern flats to rent at a very good price! But shut! keep it to yourself…
A cocktail by the rooftop’s pool, por favor?
5. Go green: The Turia Park
You have plenty of options to recharge your batteries and breathe some fresh (and warm) air while visiting Valencia. Option one, you don’t want to rent a car or leave the city: head to the city’s park, amazing. The park is impressive and certainly plays a major part in valenciano’s lifestyle. It is also one of the greatest touristy attraction and, in a minor scale, it could be compared to Hyde Park in NYC (I said, in a minor scale).
The park is 9km long and, in fact, corresponds to the dried Turia river bed. After the great floods of 1957, Valencia decided to deviate the river and they transformed this river bed into a massive green space. Nowadays, the Turia park features cycling and running routes, sports facilities, flower gardens, art, exhibitions, cafés and so much more.
Option 2: head to the Natural parc of L’Albufera. Rice fields, canals, birds, sunsets… This natural park is worth visiting in order to discover the best of the region’s natural beauty. Find additional information here.
6. The Museo de las Artes y Ciencias
This strange looking museum doesn’t need any introduction, it has been Valencia’s international image for years now. Some people compare it to Sydney’s Opera house but, the smarter ones know this large museum is house to the biggest aquarium in Europe. In fact, this is not one museum but house to 6 exhibitions. I would definitely recommend to visit one of the most surprising science and art museums in the world! You won’t be disappointed.
7. The weather!