If you are looking for an alternative to the traditional Spanish beach resorts, Barcelona or Spain, then you should check out Valencia. It has everything you need for a wonderful city break – and a lot more besides. After 20 years of development, Valencia is enjoying something of a renaissance when it comes to tourism, and it has that perfect mix of incredible architecture old and new, and an incredible array of fantastic shops, great nightlife, and sandy, golden beaches.
Travel to Valencia
Flyers arrive at Valencia Manises airport, and if you jump in a taxi Valencia city centre is about a 5-10 minute ride away. It’s worth buying a Valencia Tourist Card at the airport tourism office if you intend to use much public transport, which includes bus and metro travel. If you’re travelling by train, the city’s station is a stone’s throw away from the centre. Once you are in the town, the old town and shopping areas are a pleasant walk away, although you will save a fair amount of time by getting a taxi from Valencia centre or hopping on a bus.
Where to stay
Valencia has a massive array of accommodation types, from five-star hotels through to cute little B&Bs and apartments. Check out the Barracart Apartments for something truly unique. It’s a set of seven incredibly stylish rooms., and rates are exceptionally reasonable – especially if you travel in the off-season. Another excellent place for bargain hunters is the Hospes Palau de la Mar. It’s a small, five-star hotel which you’ll find close to the boutique areas of Sorni and Cirilo Amaros, and overlooks the Turia Gardens. Finally, if you would like to stay near the incredible Valencian beaches, check out the Hotel Balandret. It’s exceptional value, and although a small boutique hotel, it is right on the sand and leads out the crystal clear waters of the beach.
What to see
The reality about Valencia is that it would take you a shorter amount of time to discuss what you shouldn’t see – it really is that interesting. There is a vast array of attractions that take in cutting-edge architecture all the way through to bustling, super cool nightclubs. To really explore the city, you would need a week or two at least, but there are certainly some highlights that are ‘must-sees’ of you are popping over for a weekend city break. The City of Arts and Sciences building is a sight to see – even if you don’t go inside. It’s a beautiful museum that looks like no other building on earth. The Turia Gardens are also a must-see location, Here, you will find wonderful scenery, and you can explore by foot, bike, or even skateboard! There is the Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque Valencia Cathedral which is home to paintings by the legendary Goya, and for lovers of shopping, the Central Market is a dazzling feast for the eyes. Top Tip – make sure you get a freshly squeezed Valencia orange juice from the bar. Ultimately, however, the best way to see Valencia is just to take a walk around, and lap up the multitude of different architectural styles – it’s all available without spending a bean.
What to eat
Valencia is famed for its wonderful eateries and excellent street foods. Paella is high on the menu, of course, but there is so much difference that you could eat it every other day and still have a lot of variation. It’s also famous for its seafood. The fish is as fresh as you can possibly get, having come from the Valencian shorelines, and there is fantastic shellfish to be enjoyed, too. Regarding restaurants, there is a huge amount of choice. Ricard Camarena has an eatery in the highly trendy Ruzafa neighbourhood, and although on the expensive side, it’s well worth a visit. If you are looking for food near the beach, head to the Bodega Casa Montana, which offers classic Spanish fare using artisan ingredients – make sure you book as it gets incredibly popular.
When to go
The climate in Valencia is reasonable throughout winter, and it never gets very cold, even in January and February. However, it can get excessively hot at the height of summer, so if you don’t like temperatures of 40 degrees plus, it might be best to go early or late season instead. That said, the beach is only a few minutes away from the bustling town centre, so you are never too far from a cooling dip in the ocean.
Valencia is an incredible place to visit, at any time of year. Offering good value, bags of culture, and exceptional nightlife, it is one of Spain’s best destinations.