Although it is the 3rd biggest city in Spain, Valencia still belongs to the less frequented spots of the country. I would call this city a hidden gem. It has developed into a vibrant place with an enormous variety of things to do. It’s a perfect city to spend a weekend and explore the different sights, enjoy amazing Spanish food and relish the laid back atmosphere.
Located in the southeast of Spain close to the sea, Valencia wins over its charm, culture and the beautiful city center. Especially in spring or fall, Valencia shows its beauty in all aspects. Here are your spots for a perfect weekend in Valencia.
How to get there?
The most common and easiest way is to catch a flight to Valencia. The metro lines 3 and 5 bring you to the city center in 20 minutes for € 3,90 plus € 1,— for the rechargeable metro card. The taxi cost would be around € 30,—, but be aware that most of the taxi drivers do not speak English.
How to get around?
In the city you can reach most of all major spots within walking distance. Alternatively you can easily use the metro if your feet get tired. The best and most common way however to explore the city is renting a bike. There are several bike rentals in the city center.
Although the city is clearly arranged and you should be able to easily navigate, Valencia played tricks on me. Usually I have quite a good sense of orientation, but somehow I got lost every now and then and could not locate where I was or how to return to the hotel. Even with the map!!
The city center
The heart of the city lies within the first ring road. All the major historic and cultural sights can be found there.
The Mercado Central is one of the sights, the locals from Valencia are very proud of. In the huge art nouveau hall you will be overwhelmed with a lively buzz, an enormous variety of colors and a true feast for the senses. Fresh fruits and vegetables from the region are beautifully arranged, meat and sausage from Spain hang on the hooks right in front of you, delicious cheese from La Mancha and dried ham from Terruel make you want to try everything at once.
A must thing to do in Valencia is to climb a bell tower and have a view on the convoluted streets below. At Plaza de la Reina there is Miguelete, probably the most famous bell tower and the town’s landmark with its 207 steps up the spiral staircase. On the other end of the plaza, a bit hidden and less frequented than Miguelete, there is Santa Catalina. I forgot to count the number of stairs, but you will forget about them immediately when you’ve reached the top and have a moment in silence to enjoy the view.
Valencia has an enormous amount of churches, all with a history. You could spend the whole weekend church hopping if you fancy that.
One of the most beautiful Plazas is Placa de la Virgen with the huge fountain. It’s the meeting place of locals and visitors and the best thing to do is to sit down in one of the cafés and watch the teens practicing their skateboard skills and the people gathering and laughing.
L’Eixample in the southeast of the historic city is an elegant and lively district with beautiful residential buildings, numerous opportunities for shopping and a great variety of nightlife. Mercado de Colón is a popular meeting spot because of its shops, cafés and bars. The architect of the building used to be in contact with Antoni Gaudí and you can clearly see his influence.
Calle Conde Altea and Calle Burriana are famous for its huge offer of gourmet restaurants, bars and cafés for every taste.
Barrio de Ruzafa used to be melting pot with immigrants from China and Africa living together with long-established locals. Today it’s the place to be. The district has been revitalized and the creatives and hipsters have discovered the area for themselves. On Sundays El Patio De Ruzafa transforms to a hipster festival with workshops and live performances.
The district is famous for several vintage and design shops from local artists and designers and you can easily spend hours rummaging around. At night you won’t struggle finding restaurants and cool bars to hang out and have fun.
The City of Arts and Sciences
A city in a city and the new emblem of Valencia since its opening in 1998 is the City of Arts and Sciences in the southeast at the end of the Turia river park. It is a must thing to see and architecture enthusiasts won’t want to leave the place. The stunning complexes accommodate the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, the opera house of Valencia, which is probably the most impressive building surrounded by water. The Ágora, a multi-purpose hall, looks a bit like a bug, but it’s not minor jaw-dropping than the opera house. The Museo de las Ciencias Príncipe Felipe is a huge building with more than 4000 window glasses and an exhibition area of 30.000 m2 with focus on interactive science and technology. The Oceanogràfico is the biggest underwater zoo in Europe with more than 45.000 sea animals.
Take your time and pick your program. Don’t forget to capture the stunning architecture which is even more impactful in the evening when the lights go on.
(Click on the images to enlarge)
A day at the beach
Malvarossa is the beach of Valencia with a wide promenade, several restaurants and many water sport opportunities. The green metro line takes you to Marina Reial Joan Carles I to spend a day or even just a few hours of your perfect weekend at this beautiful beach to relax and escape from the city.