- The third largest city in Spain, with a population of nearly 800,000.
- Located on the Turia River and fronting the Gulf of Valencia, the city’s port is the largest on the Mediterranean.
- The global city counts its historic centre as the largest in the country.
- Nickname: City of the Flowers
- Currency: Euro (EUR).
- Spoken languages: Castellano and English in tourist-fronting businesses.
- Best time to visit: from March to July with the annual Fallas de San José festival kicking off the spring season. Expect warm, Mediterranean weather, plenty of sunshine and vibrant streets.
- Arriving via airport: Valencia Manises Airport (VLC) connects to the city centre with bus line #150 picking up passengers outside the departures area for €1.40 alternately Metro line#3 runs every hour and costs €1.50. Taxis charge €20-25.
WHERE TO STAY
The Historic Centre is the ideal base for those looking to walk around the city and minimize the need for transportation. Beautifully ethereal both in the Spanish daylight and at night, the centre is packed with sights, open-air café terraces and a range of accommodation. Over in Ciutat Arts I Ciencies contemporary design prevails and attracts visitors with its modern amenities and in Eixample it’s all out decadence with Art Nouveau façades and glittering boutiques.
- The metro system runs from 5.30 AM to midnight with single-tickets at €1.50 and returns at €2.90. Buses run from 4.30 AM to 10.30 PM, although a night line is also available from the Town Hall; single tickets cost €1.50 while bundles of 10 rides cost €8.00.
- The Valencia Tourist Card combines free transportation on public vehicles with free or discounted entry at major attractions. The card also comes with a map to the city and an order of tapas with a soft drink at participating outlets. Available for 24-hours at €15, €20 for 48-hours and €25 for 72-hours. Get a 10% discount if you buy online.
- Taxis charge by the meter and by urban zone with a daytime minimum fare of €1.45 for pick-up plus €1.01 for each subsequent kilometre. Night-time prices apply from 22.00-6.00 and supplements may be added for journey from the airport and the maritime station. Dial 902 024 972 or 961 119 977 for English language assistance.
- Drinking age is 18, and last call is 5 AM.
- Barrio del Carmen is packed with hip tapas bars and lounges.
- Benimaclet thrives with the local student population, its bars and nightclubs open all night.
- Malvarrosa is the posh, palm-lined maritime village frequented by the trendy crowd.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- La Catedral de Valencia is the spiritual centre of the city, a hybrid of Gothic, Baroque and Neo-Classical architecture. Visitors can view the Holy Grail one of only two in the world that have passed the authenticity tests posed by historians.
- Torres de Serranos are what remain of the walls that used to envelop the city. Although built for defense, the gates were never used for their purpose but rather became a prison for nobility.
- Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia is Valencia’s cultural centre opened in 2005. It is the tallest opera house in the world, an incredible feat of engineering in the ultra-modern City of Arts and Sciences.
- Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas is a ceramics museum presented in a magnificent fusion of Rococco, Neo-Classical and Oriental style.
- Plaza del Mercado is ideal for a morning stroll in one of Europe’s longest and oldest running markets. Perfect for picking up Valencia’s famously succulent oranges.
- Discover the African fauna at Bioparc Valencia, the 10-hectare zoo that allows the animals to roam the grounds with none of the traditional cages or fences.
- Walk around Paseo Maritimo and take in the waterfront, the long stretches of fine beach and the savor a casual lunch at any of the excellent seafood restaurants.
- Tour Casco Antiguo and bask in the classic atmosphere of narrow, cobble stone streets, colorful courtyards and dramatic architecture.
- The unmissable event of Las Fallas is a 5-day festival held in honour of St. Joseph. Ninots or life-sized puppets depicting satirical scenes are paraded around town until the culmination of La Crema when they are stuffed with fireworks and set afire. Each year a ninot is pardoned and exhibited in the local museum along with other favorites from years before.
- Valencia is the birthplace of the Spanish national dish Paella and there are plenty of excellent traditional restaurants to discover its varieties.
- The classic summer drink is Horchata, a sweet drink made from rice, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon.
- Where to find good cheap eats: Barrio del Carmen and its backstreets offer all sorts of budget menus while El Centro is perfect for take-aways.
- Dangerous areas: Valencia is a safe city for visitors, although caution should always be exercised in public areas.
The Best Valencia Guide Books:
- Rick Steves Best of Spain (covers Valencia and much more)
Recommended trip duration: 3-4 days