All you need to know Valencia Travel Guide: What to do, see, eat in Valencia, Spain
Updated: Feb 18, 2019
Valencia, the city where the old meets new. Valencia is probably not the first city on your list when you think of Spain. Most would head to the capital, Madrid, or the exciting Barcelona to marvel at Antonio Gaudi's architecture. Even though Valencia is a much smaller city, you can still enjoy the interesting juxtaposition of the ancient gothic architecture within the old historic centre or marvel at the modern architecture at the City of Arts and Sciences.
Before we talk about what to do, let's uncover the pre-trip essentials!
How to get to Valencia, Spain?
Even though Valencia does have its own airport, most people usually stop by either Barcelona or Madrid before taking the train to Valencia. Heading to Valencia by train is our top pick. We took the train to Valencia from Barcelona and have documented it here. If you are visiting from Madrid, you may also be interested in train travels in Spain.
You may also wish to drive down to Valencia if you are intending to stop by other cities on your way. Otherwise, the bus is the other option. Bus travels are the cheapest among the various options and you can get it a one-way trip as low as 5.70 euros on Alsa. They are also pretty quick - you'll reach within four hours and I would say that it is quite competitive in comparison to train travels. However, bus rides can be bumpy and is not as smooth as travelling by train.
How to get around within Valencia?
The old town of Valencia is actually accessible by walking and if you stay within the old town, you'll be able to get to most of the attractions by foot. Within that area, you'll also find numerous restaurants and majority of the shopping area is at Carrer de Colon which is a short walk out.
To go further, you may wish to consider cycling. Valencia is a flat and bicycle friendly city that has a good network of cycle paths that connect the old town to the rest of the city. Besides, cycling allows you to exercise and burn away all the paella you've eaten and you get to cover more ground in a day!
During our trip to Valencia, we've managed to cover both the City of Arts and Sciences plus La Malavarrosa by bike in a day and have documented it in our one-day itinerary in Valencia by bike!
Metros and Trams
Even though the metro network is quite extensive in Valencia, there are some sites that you'll probably need to change to a tram to get to. For instance, to get to the Valencia Bioparc, the nearest metro is still about 800 metres away. Yes, although you can walk, some travellers with young children may need to take the tram to cut down that little bit more of walking.
Hence, getting a T-1 travel card that grants you unlimited travel for 24 hours in Valencia's Zone 1 is necessary. Furthermore, they only costs from 4 euros and up! :)
We always always recommend purchasing the unlimited travel card as you can switch from metro to trams and then to buses if required without having to fret over purchasing a new ticket or fumbling over coins!
Taxis in Spain aren't that exorbitant in Spain (thankfully), so some of you may still wish to grab a cab to get from place to place.
I need my 4G data!
Yes, many of us these days do require high-speed 4G data when we travel. For Singaporeans, you can purchase one of these 4G wifi devices and share them with your travel companions. Book them online and pick up conveniently at the airport, or for other nationalities, you can find your 4G wifi devices for pick up at your respective airports.
Where to stay in Valencia?
It is best to stay within the Old Town when you are in Valencia as most of the attractions are within walking distance. But if you like shopping and want to have your hotel close by so that you can store all your shopping bags, you can stay at Hotel One Shot Colon located on Carrer de Colon. Here, the metro station is also just a few minutes away!
Read more about our stay at Hotel One Shot Colon 46 here!
What to do in Valencia?
Even though Valencia is a small city, there's still loads to do! Depending whether you are a foodie, cultural buff, or an adventurer, there's always something for everyone!
Stroll around the Old Town
1. Get on top of the Serranos Tower
The Old Town of Valencia is marked by the Torres de Serranos or Serranos Towers. It is one of the twelve gates that used to form part of the ancient city wall and was the entrance to Valencia that leads out to the royal road to Barcelona in the past. Today, it is one of the two remaining gates in Valencia.
For just 2 euros, you can also head up to have a magnificent view of the Turia Gardens and the old town of valencia.
Within the old town, you'll find many historical landmarks and delicious restaurants!
Torres de Serranos
Plaça dels Furs, s/n, 46003 València, Spain
Tuesdays to Saturdays - 10am to 2pm; 4.30pm to 8.30pm Sunday and public holidays from 10:00 to 15:00 h.
2. Shop at The Central Market of Valencia
The Central Market of Valencia is a restored market and is the oldest one in Europe that is still in use! The exterior of the market is an architectural pearl, with colourful hues at the top of the structure. Inside, the impressive 8,160 square metres structure is the site of 900 stores, selling the freshest Valencian and Spanish food. You'll also be marvelled at the sheer size of the market with high ceilings and huge windows that allow lots of natural light in! The entire market is also very clean with large aisles between each column and rows of food stands.
When you first enter the market, you'll see a Horchata (or Orxata) stand. The Valencia Horchata, unlike those in Mexico and other parts of Latin America, is an non-alcoholic drink made from tiger nuts, sugar, and water. Valencians usually have it as a snack and is drunk alongside with Fartons, a traditional bread that you dip into your creamy drink!
For those who are not fans of the sweet Horchata, we discovered that some horchateria actually do carry horchata with less sugar or even no sugar! We love the drink so much that we had it every day that we were there. Ever since coming back, we tried all the different nut-based drink that we can find in our grocery stores but nothing ever come close! Nope, it doesn't taste like almond milk or macadamia milk!
We tried the Horchata in the Central Market but got a recommendation from our hotel's concierge that the best one in town is not the one in the market. Read on to find out where!
Walking further in, you'll see a saffron stand where you can purchase Saffron, which is an important ingredient for making Valencian paella. Spanish saffron is considered to be one of the best in the world and you may wish to buy a souvenir of just one gram of saffron threads that would cost between 7 to 20 euros, depending on the quality.
Other interesting finds in the market would be looking at the Jamon stands and even seeing stores selling rabbit meat (another important ingredient in Valencian paella!).
The Central Market of Valencia
Plaza Ciudad de Brujas, S/N - 46001 Valencia
Opening hours: Daily (except Sundays), 7am - 3pm
3. Admire the beautiful architecture of the UNESCO World Heritage Valencia Silk Exchange (La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia)
Just a road away from the Central Market is the grandiose building of the La Lonja de la Seda of Valencia, also known as the Valencia Silk Exchange and used to be the centre of commerce in the past. The building is considered a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and for just 2 euros, you can enter this magnificent building and head to the Contract Hall where you'll see beautiful spiral columns.
La Long de La Seda
Carrer de la Llotja, 2, 46001 València, Spain
Opening Hours: Daily, 9.30am - 7pm (Sundays, 9.30am - 3pm)
4. Visit the Valencia Cathedral
The next epic gothic architecture is the Valencia Cathedral. Besides the Valencia Central Market, this is the city's most famous landmark. The cathedral actually has quite an interesting history. It was built on the site of a Roman temple and later became a mosque in the 13th century before becoming a cathedral.
Plaça de l'Almoina, s/n, 46003 València, Spain
5. Admire more of Valencia's historic centre at Plaza de la Virgen
This has got to be the most beautiful sight in historic Valencia with the view of the cathedral and the basilica. This plaza is where most of the city's function takes place!
In summer, you'll see lots of people just hanging around at the plaza, having lunch and basking in the sun.
6. Watch the busy streets at Placa de la Reina
On the other side of the cathedral, you'll find the busy streets and square of Plaza de la Reina. Here's where many of the buses intersect and there are a ton of restaurants and shops surrounding this important plaza.
In the middle of the busy streets, you'll find a peaceful centre where a fountain and small walking path resides which is a great place for a photo opportunity!
Plaça de la Reina
Plaça de la Reina, s/n, 46000 València, Spain
7. Venture out of the historic centre and cycle or walk in the Turia Gardens
Stretching over 9 km, the Turia Gardens is the largest urban park in Spain. It spans over 18 bridges long and brings you through to all the various attractions and museums along either banks.
I really like how the city repurposed the former riverbed of the Turia into this large sprawling space. Here, you'll find lots of fountains, green spaces, orange trees, and sporting facilities. It was a park that was bustling with activity yet still providing that calm and tranquility you'll need in an urban city.
If you're still wondering why the Turia isn't here any longer, it is because the city diverted and altered the course of the Turia river to prevent constant floods from happening in the city. This was done after the devastating flood on 14 October 1957 and the gardens was inaugurated in 1986.
when old meets new...
Explore the City of Arts and Sciences
Another important part of Valencia is the contemporary-looking City of Arts and Sciences. The City of Arts and Sciences (Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències) is a collection of museums, entertainment hubs, and architectural wonder in the city of Valencia. It is the most important and magnificent tourist destination and one of the 12 Treasures of Spain!
How to get to the City of Arts and Sciences?
The thing about the City of Arts and Sciences, ironically is that it is pretty inaccessible by metro. Given that it is such a popular attraction, one would probably wonder why... Nonetheless, it is still possible to get here via public transportation!
From the historic city centre, you can take bus 95 from Tetuan and alight at Centro Comercial El Saler. From there, it is just a 3-minute walk to the City of Arts and Sciences.
Otherwise, another good way is to ride a bicycle via the Turia Gardens!
8. Palau de la Música de València
Technically not yet part of the City of Arts and Sciences, the Palau de la Música de València is located close to those bunch of buildings and is a venue where orchestra performances, concerts, and other cultural performances take place. Even if you don't head in, just admiring the architecture and the fountain outside from the Turia is amazing!
Palau de la Música de València
Passeig de l'Albereda, 30, 46023 València, Spain
9. Get educated at the Science Museum (Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe)
The Science Museum is humongous and there's so much to learn and explore. Best for those #travellingwithkids, you'll get to participate in a multitude of hands-on interactive exhibits. From dinosaurs to learning about space, there's everything for the young and the old.
Since the various attractions at the City of Arts and Sciences aren't that cheap, if you are looking to experience everything, purchase the combined tickets. It is much cheaper that way and you can even come back on another day to complete whatever that you didn't manage to in the first day.
We bought the combined tickets and actually managed to complete everything in a day!
Science Museum (Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe)
Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias, Av Profesor López Piñero, 7, 46013 Valencia, Spain
Opening Hours: Mondays to Thursdays, 10am - 6pm; Fridays to Sundays, 10am - 7pm.
10. Watch an IMAX show at the Hemisferic
Before entering any of the other attractions in the City of Arts and Sciences, be sure to first check out the IMAX movie timings. Enter into the dome and watch the movie come to life!
Av. del Professor López Piñero, 3, 46013 València, Spain
11. Stroll along the Umbracle
The best pictures are taken while strolling along the Umbracle, the outdoor sculpture gardens. Dedicate an entire day to the City of Arts and Sciences and head to the Umbracle twice, once in the day and once at night to see the city come to life under the dazzling lights! :)
Av. del Professor López Piñero, 5, 46013 València, Spain
Opening Hours: Daily, 8am to 12am
12. Visit the State-Of-The-Art Oceanographic
The Oceanographic is one of the most spectacular aquarium that we've ever been to. In fact, it is more than just an aquarium, but a zoo and aquarium combined! We liked the idea of fusing multiple attractions into one just like the Ocean Park in Hong Kong where an aquarium is fused together with a theme park.
Don't be deterred by the prices but head on inside as it is definitely well-worth all your euros!
Besides sea creatures, the oceanographic also showcases birds, with an aviary that gets you close to all the colourful tropical birds. The most outstanding one was actually the dolphin show that you absolutely cannot miss. Having watch several dolphin shows in aquariums and zoos abroad, I wasn't really expecting much. But in Valencia, wow, we were really blown away as the dolphins were so active, jumping almost every few minutes!
It is definitely not difficult to snap a picture of the dolphins in mid-air. And there was a total of six dolphins performing when we were there and it was indeed spectacular to see all of them jumping up in the air at the same time, almost as though they were dancing acrobats!
Ciutat de les Arts i de les Ciències, Carrer d'Eduardo Primo Yúfera, 1B, 46013 Valencia, Spain
Opening Hours: Daily, 10 am to 6pm