Ultimate city guide: Valencia

Jenessa Williams

In need of some affordable sun? Try something new with a visit to Valencia

The third-largest city in Spain, this unsung hero offers heat, elegant architecture and exceptional cuisine without the expat overpopulation that you see in other cities.

 

Stay

Valencia has a subtropical Mediterranean climate, and proximity to water is essential to stay cool. The One Shot Mercat offers the best of both worlds, with a pool atop it’s roof, and a location that is only a short walk away from many parks and fountains, as well at the central shopping district. 

Rooms are fitted with air conditioning, rainfall showers and sound-proof windows, ensuring a peaceful, comfortable nights sleep no matter the heat of the evening. Onsite restaurant Karak is a great place to unwind, infusing the local fresh cuisine with an oriental twist to create something quite elegant indeed.

For those who prefer a little autonomy, Barracart Apartments are a great option for self-catering, located in the charming rural beachfront area full of Art Nouveau townhouses and colourful tiles. Hire a bike for a short ride into the city and enjoy the tranquillity—this area is wonderfully quiet in spring. 

 

Eat

The official home of paella, there is no excuse not to indulge in seafood when in Valencia. Locals recommend that the best paella should include rabbit, green beans, seafood and saffron, and should always be served at lunchtime when the catch is freshest. 

La Pepica has been open for over a century and according to legend, was a favourite haunt of Ernest Hemingway’s. Wash your plateful down with a Horchata, a traditional cool drink made from tiger nuts, sugar and crushed ice. 

For finer dining, Gastrobar Mercatbar holds three Michelin stars, and for very good reason. Celebrated for it’s comparatively low prices, menus change regularly, but include plenty of tapas-style treats such as fish with potato foam, yoghurt and fig ice cream and kimchi, pistachio and pork bao buns.

 

See

Food remains a central part of Valencia’s tourism, but even those unfussed by eating will marvel at The Central Market. One of the oldest functional markets in Europe, it’s location in the heart of Valencia’s historical centre makes sense when you consider it’s beautiful stained glass and iron vaulted beams, shedding sunlight on the venue’s near 900 stands. 

Cool down with a glass of freshly Valencian orange juice or fruit salad, and stock up on all kinds of exotic jarred produce, teas and alcohols to take home. Plenty of stalls hand out samples and are more than happy to work with language barriers—although it’s a great opportunity to practice your Spanish!

If you’d prefer to stay outdoors, Turia Gardens is a dried-out riverbed-turned-green-space, with hire bikes, sports facilities and romantic rose beds to enjoy. Follow its path to the coastline of La Malvarrosa which splits into various beaches around the port area, with long stretches of clean sand on which to recline in relative peace and quiet. 

 

Learn

Whether you’re travelling with children or not, The City of Arts and Sciences plays a very important role in Valencia, known as one of the 12 Treasures of Spain. 

Located at the end of Turia Gardens, it is quite the feat of engineering, home to a planetarium, science museum, oceanographic park, opera house and countless interesting sculptures and structures. Each building charges it’s own separate admission, but there is plenty to enjoy just from walking around the area. 

For those who wish to gain a little more insight into the history of those omnipresent, colourful tiles, the National Ceramic Museum is housed in a palace that dates back to the 15th century, collecting all manner of important artefacts right through to the present day. Local history is well represented, but there is also an abundance of Roman, Greek and Arab items to behold, as well as contemporary works from Picasso, amongst many others.