It’s your first time in Valencia and you don’t know much about this city? No problem, we can help you discover the best things to do in Valencia.
1. Eat the famous paella
Valencia is home to the world famous paella and no trip here would be complete without trying one of these oh-so-tasty and famous dishes. Made originally by the peasants of the nearby Albufera lake, paella is traditionally was a hearty mixture of whatever was available: rice, rabbit, eels, frogs legs and snails! The best paellas certainly will be a mix of rabbit and snails as well cooked to perfection in iconic wide paella pans. The best paellas are cooked over a smoldering fire and simmered gently until the rice in contact with the pan becomes sweet and crispy. With so many types of paella to choose from, the gourmet in you is going to be very happy!
2. Visit the Almoina
Next to the Plaza de la Virgin in the center of Valencia is the historic heart of the city. In the 1970’s archeologists unearthed the original Roman buildings that comprised the most important buildings of the time, including the original Roman baths as well as the original roman roads still in use today. The entire excavation, located 5 meters underground was covered and turned into Valencia’s most important historical museum which showcases not only the Roman history of the city, but also the Visigoth and Muslim history as well. This extraordinary museum is open 7 days a week (free on Sundays) as is a fascinating experience for the visitor to get a first-hand look at Valencia’s rich past.
3. Shopping in Mercado Central
Opened in 1917, this glorious covered market is decorated in the Art Deco style of the times and filled to the brim with fresh local delicacies such as Spanish cured ham, olives as well as abundant produce and seafood to make the mouth water. This bustling market serves as the main market for the whole of the historic center and features fresh seafood and lovely enticing baked treats. Visitors will delight in the colors and smells of the Mercado Central, which also serves as a fantastic opportunity for photographers to capture some authentic Valencian life. There are opportunities to sample many of the wares (such as dried cod or sweet turrón, a kind of Spanish fudge). As well there are artisan wines to be bought as well as the chance to sip a coffee (or a sangria) in many of the outdoor cafes that adjoin it. You trip to the Mercado Central will not be forgotten!
4. Drink Horchata
Nothing is more Valencian then enjoying the unusual and unique taste of horchata, a drink made from the chufa or groundnut (sometimes also called a tiger-nut!). This refreshing milk-like beverage is rich in magnesium and served cold. For more than 100 years Valencia has build a great many horchaterias where the best examples of this tasty beverage can be found. Even visiting Kings and Queens have tried horchata. Valencian horchata is different than Mexican horchata (which is made from rice). You should make a visit to Plaza de la Virgin where several Horchaterias are serving this traditional drink.
5. Sip coffee in Plaza de la Virgin
Since the Romans founded the city of Valencia in 138 BC people have been relaxing in the Plaza de la Virgin. Originally the Roman forum acted as the central meeting place in the city, the Plaza has evolved but never ceased being the main focus of Valencian social life. After the Romans it was the Visigoths who built a great church beside it, but soon after the Moors from North Africa conquered and built a huge mosque there. After the reconquista of 1308 AD the plaza transformed into its latest incarnation beside the massive catholic cathedral that was built. In the 1850’s a splendid fountain was added which further enticed people to enjoy the square.
In the present day the Plaza de la Virgin is a colorful center of activity. It is lined with cafes and restaurants for visitors to recline and enjoy a coffee in the sun while sitting with over 2000 years of history!
6. Climb the Miguelete Tower
For only two euros climb the 207 steps of Valencia’s famed bell-tower, Miguelete (built in 1396). Taking in this beautiful city the view from the top of the 52 meter tall tower is a must-see. Just make sure you cover your ears on the hour! It’s a bell-tower after all and the bells of Miguelete have been ringing for over 600 years!
7. Ride bikes in the Turia Park
The Turia del Rio is a unique park in the world that was created through the transformation of the old Turia riverbed after it was diverted upstream in 1958. After continued flooding, the city decided to turn the old riverbed into a park for the benefit of the people and the change has been a huge success. What exists now is 8 kilometers of multi-use parkland which serves as a lively and diverse facility for citizens and visitors alike. It contains running trails, football pitches, cafes, playgrounds, fountains, bike paths as well as seasonal festivals. Along the Turia Park is the famous Ciudad de Artes and Sciencias, the Oceanographic and the Bioparc as well as numerous other smaller museums and galleries. The whole park is is adorned with exotic trees and flowering shrubbery as well as reflecting pools and historic bridges. One never knows what wonders will be seen there. Bike rental is available throughout the city, and no better activity could be found than spending a few hours exploring in El Rio!
8. Watch the dolphin show at the Oceanographic
Europe’s largest aquarium awaits with a huge dolphinarium, glass tunnels, frolicking walrus’s and schools of sharks! Opened in 2003, L’oceanographic has been enthralling visitors with its vast tanks filled with exotic fish and sea-mammals. There is even a famous submarine restaurant with an aquarium view of one of the largest tanks. This hugely popular attraction is bound to be a highlight of your trip to Valencia.
9. See a Valencia FC football game
Valencia FC is one of the most storied and entertaining clubs in the world. Having won La Liga several times as well as numerous other cups, Valencians love their football club and show their passion every game in their famous stadium Mestalla, the oldest in Spain (capacity 55,000). The mood inside and around the stadium is boisterous but very welcoming and friendly. What is not to be missed is the pregame fiesta that occurs 2 hours before the game in front of the stadium to cheer the arrival of the home team and jeer at the visiting squad. No alcohol is permitted inside during the games so experts know to have a few frosty ones on the street and discuss the team’s chances while getting a little buzz. Tickets for matches can often be bought for as little as 5 euros!
10. Visit La Lonja de la Seda
Valencia is blessed with not one but two UNESCO heritage designations, the first is Las Fallas, the huge festival which occurs every March, but the other is La Lonja de la Seda, the medieval silk market constructed during Valencia’s golden age in the 1500s. La Lonja de la Seda earned its reputation as being the world’s finest example of secular Gothic architecture, meaning although it was built during Europe’s very Christian influenced medieval times, it isn’t a Christian building. The silk market’s incredible twisted columns supporting its gabled roof is a wonder of construction. The building has stood at the center of Valencian commerce for more 500 years and is a must-see for any visit to Valencia. Of special interest are the erotic and grotesque carvings hidden around the beautiful central hall.
11. Party in El Carmen
The ancient city of Valencia has been partying for more than 2000 years, and the focus of that party has been the neighborhood of El Carmen since the Moorish conquerors first lay down the original plans for that part of the city over a millennia ago. El Carmen comes alive at night with innumerable bars, dance-clubs, specialty restaurants and vintage shopping perfect to entertain and delight. The winding streets and festive atmosphere transport you away from your everyday life. Although it can be very much an international party zone, it is also very safe and welcoming, with criminal incidences being almost unheard of. El Carmen is waiting every weekend for a fiesta you’ll love!
12. Get some tan on the beach
You’ve come all this way from freezing cold northern Europe and what you really want is some sun! Valencia enjoys over 300 days of sunshine every year and its 10 km long beach beckons with white sand and clear Mediterranean waters. Easily accessible by public transport, Valencia’s beaches are always a beautiful and popular spot to relax or play an impromptu game of beach volleyball. In the summer months there are always sunbathers enjoying a mojito on the beach from one of the many chiringuitos (beach bars). Along the boardwalk are a great selection of restaurants to choose from. The beach awaits!
13. Visit the Botanical Gardens
Incredibly, Valencia’s Botanical Gardens were begin as a small holding which taught basic agriculture in 1567 and achieved its present size in 1802. The gardens house a phenomenal array of succulent plants, exotic trees, cactus and flowering shrubs. There are numerous tropical greenhouses onsite which are sure to delight the visitor. Anytime of the year there is always something which will surprise and educate. To walk among-st the well-manicured gardens is to achieve a tranquility and pleasure hard to find in the hustle and bustle of this busy world.
14. Visit the museum of Archeology and Prehistory
Tucked away on a side-street in the neighborhood of El Carmen is the giant Museum of Archeology and Prehistory which showcases humanities rise in the world from Paleolithic times to the present. It’s fascinating galleries are filled with artifacts dating over 30,000 years ago and chronicles the many epochs of history which have shaped the Valencian basin (and by reflection, the world!). The museum captures the rise of technology and the influences of the various cultures which have ruled throughout the millennia, from the Greek, Roman, Arab and Visigoth periods right up to the present day. The variety and creativity of the many displays will make your trip worthwhile. Grab a coffee in the beautiful tropical courtyard and take in the history!
15. See the Elephants at the Bioparc
One of the highlights of Valencia is our innovative Bioparc that recreates the habitats of the different animals we have here. See our elephants, tigers, lions and gorillas as well as monkeys and other exotic creatures. Visiting the Bioparc is a guaranteed great day for young and old alike. It is located at the north end of the Turia river-park and can easily be combined with a bike-ride or walk through the river. Beautiful Valencia awaits!
16. Visiting the City of Arts and Sciences
In 1996 the city of Valencia completed their awe-inspiring City of Arts and Sciences which was meant to put Valencia on the architectural world map. It features futuristic buildings with sweeping organic designs and vast reflecting pools to truly transport the visitor into a other world. The ‘Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias’ was featured in the science-fiction movie Tomorrow-land. Visitors can enjoy the Science Museum, and Omnimax 3D cinema, Opera House, indoor/outdoor nightclub and the Oceanographic, Europe’s largest aquarium. Located in the Turia river-park, the complex is perfect to visit by bicycle where all the views and monuments can be explored and photographed! The City of Arts and Sciences is one of the jewels of Valencia and was voted one of the top 10 things to see in all of Spain. A visit here is not to be missed.
17. Explore the Cultural Center of El Carmen
Housed in an impressive 13th century cloister the Cultural center of El Carmen is a hidden gem that will make a lasting memory. The magnificent courtyards and ancient galleries are filled with constantly rotating artworks and historical displays. There are always surprises waiting to be discovered here. Located in the center of the old neighborhood of El Carmen, just to take in the winding streets and bohemian feeling is to be transported through time.
18. Take a Segway tour of the old center
Valencia has one of the largest medieval centers in the world. Navigating and exploring the dizzying and atmospheric streets can be very confusing for the visitor, but this challenge is made much easier with a Segway tour! Take the hassle out of walking and climb aboard your very own Segway to experience the best of the historic heart of the city. This is the best way to explore the many gorgeous squares and hidden churches that are waiting to be discovered. Segway tour guides know the best routes and provide the background info to bring the streets to life. Whether you are with a group or flying solo a Segway tour is a surefire way to make your trip to Valencia something to remember!
19. Learn to dance Flamenco
Feel the passion of the oh-so-Spanish dance at your very own private dance class. One of the must-do activities in Valencia is to throw yourself into the spirit of Flamenco and learn the secrets of this exotic dance style. Dance academies with classes geared towards tourists are common here and it’s assured even the most uncoordinated will be able to pick up a few moves and tricks. Be transformed by the rich Flamenco guitar music and maybe even clack some castinetes for that authentic experience! Take some pictures of the event. Your Instagram account will never be the same.
20. Take a boat ride in the Albufera ( one of the best things to do in Valencia )
Situated just 5 km outside Valencia is the Albufera, an ancient lake that is reputedly where the paella first originated. Located just next to the Mediterranean, this area features a variety of wildlife that can best be enjoyed by taking a little boat ride on a traditional ‘barco’ to see nature and enjoy a tremendous sunset. Afterwards cap the day off with a paella as it was meant to be enjoyed, served with locally caught eels! The Valencians have been plying the waters of the Albufera for more than 2000 years, and now it’s your turn.
Make your trip to Valencia special. See you soon!