What to see in Spain

Valencia

Tourist attractions Valencia

On Spain’s sunkissed Costa del Azahar, Valencia is a vibrant city with miles of golden sand beaches on the Mediterranean Sea. A trip to Valencia strikes the perfect balance between a cultural adventure and a laid-back beach break. Famously the home of paella, Valencia also stands out for its annual Fallas celebrations and its innovative City of Arts & Sciences, home to eye-catching space-age architecture.

A romantic atmosphere prevails in the old town, with its centuries-old buildings and narrow cobblestone streets, a delight to enjoy at any time of the year. The third-largest city in Spain, Valencia’s origins date back to Roman times. Sat on the River Turia, a tour of Valencia will also reveal historic Moorish influences whilst it’s also interesting to note that the city has acted as the Spanish capital on more than one occasion. 

If you travel to Valencia you’re sure to notice the distinctive feel of each of the city’s neighbourhoods. From the beach-vibes of Malvarossa to the historic heart of El Carme and the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Russafa, Valencia is a delight to explore. Furthermore, it’s easy to get around thanks to the Valencia metro system and the popular city bicycle system, Valenbisi. 

Things to see in Valencia

Exploring the old town, relaxing in the city’s plazas and spending a warm afternoon at the beach are just some of the best things to do in Valencia. A trip to this Spanish city would also be incomplete without paying a visit to the incredible City of Arts & Sciences. Situated at the end of the Turia Park, this architectural ensemble consists of six buildings and a handful of surrounding structures, the first of which was inaugurated in 1998. Set around bright blue artificial lakes, the City of Arts & Sciences includes an IMAX Cinema, a science museum, an opera house, an open-air art gallery and garden as well as an Oceanographic park. This part of the city is a cultural centre and frequently hosts events throughout the year.

In contrast to the futuristic feel of the City of Arts & Sciences, in the heart of the old town, you’ll find the historic Cathedral–Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia, one of the best things to see in Valencia. Dating back to 1238, the cathedral was built upon the site of an earlier Visigothic cathedral which had been turned into a mosque under the Moors. This fascinating history can be uncovered within the existing architecture of the Cathedral, but this religious building is most famous as being the home of the Holy Grail! Housed inside one of the chapels, visitors can see what is believed to be the Holy Grail, from which Christ himself served wine during the Last Supper. Valencia Cathedral is also home to an impressive altarpiece, and a circular chapel filled with priceless relics. 

Step outside of the Cathedral and you’ll find yourself in the beautiful Plaza de la Virgen, once the site of the old Roman Forum. One of the main meeting points in the city, there are numerous cafe terraces surrounding the plaza where you can enjoy an evening drink and watch the street performers. Sights to see here include the beautiful Turia Fountain, topped by a sculpture of Neptune, the Nuestra Señora de Los Desamparados Church and the Gothic Palau de la Generalitat government building. 

Undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Valencia is to take a stroll through the expansive Turia Gardens, a public park which runs for more than 7 kilometres from the north of the city all the way to the City of Arts & Sciences. The park is the result of the devastating flooding of the Turia River in 1957. Following this disaster, the Turia River was rerouted, leaving an empty riverbed that has since been transformed into the city’s largest and most popular park. There are a number of different sections and sporting facilities within the park such as an athletics track, football and baseball fields, a skatepark, a huge children’s play area and a concert hall. Locals spend their evenings practising sports or relaxing in the Turia Gardens and it’s the perfect place for an afternoon stroll as it connects many of the city’s most important neighbourhoods.

Finally, to begin to understand the immense culinary heritage of Valencia, be sure to visit the historic Mercat Central, a fine example of Valencian Art Nouveau architecture and one of the largest covered markets in Europe. Inside, you can discover an array of fresh produce and appreciate the intricate design of the domed roof. A must-see to get a taste of local life and to sample all kinds of traditional Valencian produce, such as juicy Valencian oranges and paella.

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