When we moved to Spain one of the things we were most excited about was to visit a lot more of the country. We haven’t done too badly on holidays in the past, we’ve visited Barcelona, Granada, and Costa del Sol as well as various cities on the Costa Blanca such as Alicante and Benidorm, but there are so many more Spanish locations on our list.
For my birthday a few weeks ago we went to Valencia for a couple of days (if you follow me on Instagram you’ll already have seen lots of photos!). Valencia is just over 2 hour’s drive from us, so not far at all. My parents looked after Little H for a bit and we booked a much needed night away.
We left at around 9am after dropping Little H at school and arrived around 11am, so we had most of Friday and Saturday to explore before leaving late Saturday afternoon.
Valencia quickly became one of our favourite cities. there’s something to see around every corner – the architecture is amazing, there are hundreds of fantastic restaurants, and even the bridges are instaworthy like the Puente de las Flores!
There are lots of things to do in Valencia, but if you only have a couple of days here’s where you should go…
Ciutat Vella, Valencia – The Old City
This was our absolute favourite part of Valencia. The old district of the city is full of narrow cobbled streets, amazing Spanish architecture, and fantastic cafés and restaurants.
We walked from our hotel which was around 3km away. There is also the metro which stops at various points around the city – I’d recommend getting as far as the Xàtiva or Colón subway stations and then walking in to appreciate it fully.
As with many places in this part of Spain, the old town in Valencia has a very Arabic feel but you can also see influence from the Romans in the buildings. There are so many different types of buildings that just walking around Valencia is fascinating.
A few things to do in Ciutat Vella include…
Plaza de la Virgen
If you walk down the narrow streets full of shops, bars and cafes you will reach the Plaza de la Virgen, a pretty and busy square with a fountain in the middle and surrounded by tapas bars and cafes. The perfect place to get a drink, some tapas, and do some people watching!
Here you will also find the famous Valencia Cathedral, the pink Real Basilica De Los Desamparados, and the Palace of the Valencian Generalitat.
One of the most famous buildings in Valencia, you have to stop by the stunning cathedral. Located in the Plaza del Virgen you can go inside to see all sorts of treasures including a chalice that is believed to be the real Holy Grail.
There is also a walkway to the Basilica De Los Desamparados next door.
These towers are what’s left of 12 gates that formed the city wall and were built at the end of the 14th century.
For just €2 you can climb the steps to the top of the towers for an amazing panoramic view across the Old City.
The Central Market is one of the oldest markets still in use in Europe and is a must-visit if you are in Valencia.
Inside this beautiful domed building you’ll find rows and rows of stalls with fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood, meat, herbs and spices, cakes, bread and more.
We wanted to buy everything!
Eat & Drink
When in Spain you have to make the most of the tapas and paella, as well as cakes, breads, drinks and much more! There are cafes, restaurants, and bars on every corner in the Old City – you will definitely be spoiled for choice.
We ate and drank quite a lot, but I think we walked most of it off!
Once you have wandered around Ciutat Vella and seen the old part of Valencia, you need to head to the newest part to see the complete opposite side of Valencia.
The City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia
The buildings here are the work of the Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava. The City of Arts and Sciences is a scientific and cultural leisure complex with amazing futuristic buildings and lakes covering around 2kms of the former riverbed of the River Turia.
It’s an amazing place to wander around, take in the architecture, and have a drink in the outdoor cafe. In the summer you can even row a boat around the lakes.
You won’t have time to do everything here if you are only in Valencia for a couple of days, but the buildings include…
Europe’s biggest aquarium which is home to 500 different species including dolphins, whales, sea lions, sharks and penguins.
A digital 3D cinema with a massive 900 metre concave screen, showing several educational documentaries each day.
Príncipe Felipe Science Museum
A hands-on science museum with various interactive exhibitions on science and technology. You can go inside and explore the ground floor without a ticket where there are different temporary exhibitions, shops, and a restaurant.
Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía
This building hosts operas, concerts, and ballet. When there are no performances you can have a look around the building but need to book in advance.
An amazing garden under a domed roof full of palm trees, tropical plants and sculptures. In the summer the garden also opens up as a bar at night.
Once you have done a lot of walking and exploring around Valencia you will no doubt need somewhere to rest for a bit.
Jardínes del Turia – Turia Park, Valencia
This park in the centre of the city spans approx 7km along what used to be the riverbed and there is plenty of space to relax. The park includes grassy areas, running tracks, skateboard parks, fountains, and an amazing children’s play area made to look like Gulliver lying down.
You can sit and watch the world go by for a while here. There are people running, cycling, doing yoga, and having picnics. It’s so peaceful it’s hard to remember you’re in the middle of a big city.
If you want some sea air then head down to the beach for a walk, a paddle and a sunbathe, or for some food and drink.
Platja de Llevante
There are lots of beaches to choose from but this beach is one of the widest we’ve ever seen and has a long promenade flanked by palm trees with lots of bars and restaurants serving tapas, the famous Valencian paella, and cocktails.
There’s also jet skis and boats for hire plus paddle boarding and windsurfing if you have more time. We went at night for dinner and cocktails and found it difficult to choose where to eat!
How to get around Valencia
Even with your best walking shoes on you probably won’t be able to walk everywhere if you want to see as much as possible on your visit to Valencia.
There are various ways to get around apart from the usual taxis.
Rent a bike
Most visitors to Valencia hire a bike and you will find places on every street corner to rent one as well as the official Valenbisi’s.
Prices start at €3 for a few hours and you can also join organised cycling tours if you want someone with local knowledge to show you the sights.
Rent an e-scooter
Electric scooters are really popular in Spain and you can also rent these around Valencia using an app. Average prices seem to be €19 euros for hire of a scooter or again you can join a guided tour.
The metro runs across the city and out to the suburbs of Valencia as well as to the airport. With 138 stations you can pretty much get the metro wherever you want to go in Valencia.
Hopefully, this has given you a lot of inspiration for things to do in Valencia! Have you visited Valencia before? If so, what was your favourite part?