What to do in Valencia in Spain + video
Valencia is a lot of fun! This Spanish city basically has everything you need during a citytrip: a nice beach to spend a sunny afternoon, beautiful old buildings on every street corner, modern architecture, a huge park to give your feet some rest, a LOT of restaurants and tapas bars, nice weather all year round and a nice nightlife for those who want to dance until the sun comes up. I stayed a week in Valencia and I’m happy to share my favorite places in this Spanish city!
Fun things to see/do in Valencia in Spain
1. Church of San Nicolás
Of course the Cathedral of Valencia is impressive, but I think the Parròquia San Nicolas (the Church of San Nicolás) made a bigger impression. From the outside it’s not that impressive. In fact, I wouldn’t have seen it if I wasn’t walking with a local through the city. But he insured me that it was worth it to visit. And he was absolutely right. The ceiling is so amazing! The people from Valencia often call it “The Sistine Chapel of Valencia”. TIP: for both the Church of San Nicolás as for the Cathedral you have to pay an entrance fee, except during prayer hours. This means you can enter for free after 5 pm.
Ayuntamiento means town hall in Spanish and the one in Valencia is also worth a visit. There are a lot of security guys in front of the entrance, but you can just pass them and enter the building (for free). The entrance hall is beautiful, but the best room of the building is actually the Sala de Cristal. Make sure you also visit the place where the city council meets and the balcony where you have a view at Plaza del Ayuntamiento.
3. Llotja de la Seda
The former silk exchange is one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve seen in Valencia. From the outside it looks a bit like a castle, but it’s also worth it to go inside. The idyllic courtyard could just be one of the settings for a scene of Game of Thrones. Same for the big hall. The entrance fee is €2 euros (€1 for students). An audio guide is €3 euros. I liked to get a bit more background info about the building and the history, but of course it’s optional. On Sundays you can enter the building for free.
4. Mercat Central
Next to Llotja de la Seda you will find the central market hall, Mercat Central. From tiny olives to gigantic hams: you will find it here. It’s a great place to have a nice and inexpensive lunch. Or just visit the market for the nice atmosphere. Outside you can try churros con chocolate, a typical Spanish snack. The market is open until 3 pm and is free to visit.
5. Most narrow house in Valencia
This building is not much more wider than the door; the building on Plaza Lope de Vega is about one meter wide. It’s near the nice and round Plaza Redonda, in the center of Valencia.
6. Jardín del Turia
City parks are always nice, at least in my opinion. Until the ‘60s the Turia river was flowing through Valencia. But after a big flood that caused a lot of damage and even hundreds of deaths the government decided to change the course of the river. So now, a couple of years later, you can walk in a park where once was a river. It’s a lovely place to give your feet some rest after a long walk! From the center you can walk through Jardín del Turia to la Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias in about 1 hour.
7. Cycling in the park
But if you don’t want to walk through Jardín del Turia, you can always choose to rent a bike! I rented a bike at the River Hostel for €8 euros for 24 hours, but there are several bike rental shops in the center of Valencia. It’s also the perfect way to go to the beach!
8. La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias
You love it or you hate it: the modern architecture of la Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, or the City of Arts and Sciences. On a hot day you really want to dive into the crystal clear water, don’t you? Here you’ll find different kind of buildings, like the famous aquarium L’Oceanogràfic. I have to admit: the entrance fee is expensive. For my ticket I paid €28,50 euros, so if you’re not a big fan of the ocean I think it’s better to spend that money somewhere else. I didn’t visit the science museum Museo de las Ciencias, but it seemed like a fun and interactive museum for both children and older people. Also L’Umbracle is worth a visit: you have a beautiful view over the buildings and it’s most of the time not too crowdy here.
9. Street art in Barrio del Carmen
One of my favorite ares in Valencia was Barrio del Carmen. In the rest of the city centre you will find beautiful buildings, but here you’ll get in touch with the raw edge of the city. What can you expect here? Lots and lots of graffiti and street art. The town has even given permission to some artists to make this area more colorful. You can find a lot of tapas bars and restaurants in this area as well.
Do you still have some energy to dance in the evening? Then El Carmen is the place to be! I really liked the place called Bolseria, because of the nice atmosphere and the music. Because a lot of young Spanish people are unemployed (even if they have really good degrees) a lot of them are going out to dance and get together with friends. So you will never have a bad time, because there’s something to do every evening.
10. Palacio del Marqués de Dos Aguas
The Palacio del Marqués de Dos Aguas really fascinates me. The walls of this building are simply amazing. If you go inside you will get a good impression of how the elite lived in Valencia, centuries ago. Nowadays you will find a ceramics museum in this building.
11. The beach in Valencia
And finally…. the beach in Valencia! I don’t think I have to explain why this is one of my favorite places in Valencia, right? You have a couple of beaches north of the harbor. Las Arenas is the first beach you will visit, and because of that it’s a bit busy sometimes. If you walk or cycle a bit further you will see the beach of Malva Rosa (also called Malvarossa) and the most northern beach is called Patacona. This last one is quite popular among many Valencians.
Nice places to eat/drink in Valencia in Spain
You will find a lot of restaurants and bars in Valencia. The Ruzafa area (south of the city center) has a lot of restaurants where you will pay less for a really good meal than in the center. Keep in mind that a lot of restaurants have siesta in the afternoon and are closed for a couple of hours. In one week I’ve tried food and drinks at many places, so I can’t share them ALL. But here are some of my favorites.
For a glass of white wine I paid less than €2 euros. For a Spanish omelet you’ll pay €3,50 and for some delicious paella you’ll pay around €10 euros. Inside the building there’s not a lot of room to eat, but luckily the sun always shines in Valencia, so you can sit outside. This restaurant is located on Gran Via de les Germaníes.
Here you don’t really have the feeling that you’re in Valencia, because it looks like a old brown café somewhere in northern Europe. With the glasses on the tip of his nose and the long, white beard the owner of Gestalguinos looks somewhat like a wizard from Lord of the Rings. Valencians love this place because of the cheap beers and the chess tables. You can find this adorable pub in Carrer del Poeta Liern. Moreover, it’s nice to speak some Spanish (or go with some locals) because the owner doesn’t really speak English.
3. La Más Bonita
This place is perfect for a smoothie and pie stop! You will find this lovely hot spot on the beach of Patacona ánd in the Ruzafa district (at Carrer de Cadis).
4. Drink Agua de Valencia
Agua de Valencia is a sweet cocktail of cava, vodka, gin and orange juice. This cocktail was invented in Café Madrid de Valencia, in the city center (on Carrer de l’Abadia de Sant Marti). But you can basically drink this cocktail in a lot of bars and restaurants. The drink is a bit touristy and therefore quite expensive at some places. Would you rather drink like the locals? Take a glass of sangria or a Spanish beer like Estrella Galicia.
5. Local tip: eat paella in El Palmar
A Valencian guy told me you don’t eat the best paella in the city, but in the villages around the nature park and lake of Albufera. In the village of El Palmar for example. This gigantic lake is surrounded by rice fields that are the main ingredient of the famous Valencian paella.
Accommodation in Valencia in Spain
I’ve spent one week in Valencia and stayed in two hostels. I highly recommend the River Hostel for backpackers. It’s not only one of the cheapest places in the city, but it’s also clean and there’s a nice atmosphere. If you want to pay a little more to stay even more central you can go to Red Nest Hostel. On the top floor you will find a bar with a pool table and a roof terrace.
Travel movie Valencia in Spain
Have you ever been in Valencia in Spain and do you have more tips? Share them with me and other travelers who want to visit the city!