Today’s Guest Post is by Or Amir who blogs at My Path In The World. Her mission is to help you make the most of your trips by discovering secret corners, unique experiences, incredible places to eat, less known or underrated destinations and overall hidden gems in this beautiful world of ours. Apart from her blog, Or can also be found on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
Spain is one of Europe’s most visited countries, yet only certain parts of it gain recognition. Although popular destinations like Madrid, Barcelona, and Andalucia are undeniably beautiful, you should add the incredible city of Valencia to your bucket list. The 3rd largest city in Spain is gradually gaining the attention it deserves, but it’s still relatively an underrated gem. So, if you’re not entirely sure what it has to offer, here are eighteen reasons why you should visit Valencia at least once in your life.
1. Less Touristy
Less touristed yet easy to reach, Valencia is becoming more popular, but the majority of people have yet to discover it, which means that it’s rarely overly crowded and full of tourists. Yet, it’s not too offbeat that you can’t get to it or have no information about it. Valencia is well connected with other cities and countries and you can get there by bus, train or flight easily.
2. Perfect for a City Break
Europe has more than enough city break options to offer, but Valencia is where you can experience a lot in a limited amount of time. Ideally, you’ll want more than just a few days to explore the city slowly and thoroughly. However, even if you only have two or three days you can still enjoy this beautiful city.
3. Incredible Weather
Sitting on the Mediterranean Sea, Valencia enjoys excellent weather almost all year round. For a summer vacation, head to Valencia between May and September (when temperatures are 24°C-30°C by day), but try to avoid August as it can be quite hot. If you like milder temperatures, then it will be better to visit the city between October and April (when temperatures are 16°C-22°C by day), but bring a few extra layers if you’re visiting in January.
4. Kind People
It’s pretty difficult not to feel welcome and at home in Spain. Even though most Spaniards don’t speak English or speak very little English, they are some of the kindest (and loudest) people I’ve ever met. Whether it’s someone whose job is to provide service or just someone on the street, they will always try to help you as best as they can (and with a smile on their face).
Spain is often found as expensive, but Valencia specifically is less pricey, compared to popular Spanish destinations. You can find accommodations in Valencia that would fit any budget, and most of the attractions and sights are free of charge or cost very little. I would say food prices are average, but finding cheap eats is not impossible.
Valencia is a very safe city, so it could be an ideal destination for those who travel alone as well. You should, of course, take necessary caution against pickpockets, but other than that, there is no need to be worried while wandering the city.
7. Easy to Get Around
The best way to explore the city is, of course, by foot, but Valencia’s public transportation system is a great help when you want to get to different parts of it. It includes several Metro stations and an extensive bus network that will get you anywhere in the city. Another great way to get around Valencia is by bicycle. About ten bike rental companies in the city offer various hourly or daily rental rates.
8. Captivating History
Valencia is one of Spain’s oldest cities, and it has a mix of Roman, Arab, Jewish, and Christian history. Many of its historical landmarks are well preserved and worth a visit. From Valencia’s Cathedral (that houses the Holy Grail) to its bell tower, and from the old silk exchange to gateways of the ancient city wall, sightseeing in Valencia is full of fascinating discoveries that you do not want to miss.
9. Thriving Culture
Museums, cultural spaces, and performing arts centers, Valencia has it all. Apart from art and history museums, Valencia’s cultural crowning glory has to be The City of Arts and Sciences. This is a massive complex that contains six buildings including a science museum, an IMAX cinema, and Europe’s largest aquarium. Not only is it a cultural complex, but the architecture of this place is breathtaking and precisely what makes it one of Valencia’s most popular attractions.
10. Exquisite Food and Drinks
All around Spain you’ll find restaurants serving paella, one of the country’s most famous dishes. Well, the truth is the Valencian Community region is its birthplace, so this is where you’ll find the most authentic and delicious paella. Valencia also has something to offer for those who have a sweet tooth. Fartons, a sweet bread glazed with sugar, and buñuelos, donuts that are eaten typically with hot chocolate (and served merely during Valencia’s most famous festival, Las Fallas) should be a good enough reason for you to visit Valencia. In case that’s not enough, Valencia offers some unique drinks as well. While cocktail lovers can enjoy Agua de Valencia, a drink made of cava or champagne, orange juice, vodka, and gin, others can enjoy a glass of horchata, a sweet non-alcoholic drink made of tiger nuts. Apart from the traditional food and drinks, Valencia’s flourishing gastronomic scene offers trendy cafes, tapas bars, and bistros that every foodie must try.
11. Relaxing Beaches
Everybody loves (and needs) spending some time at the beach, and Valencia could be an excellent choice for a summer vacation. Its beaches are relatively undeveloped, which means that even during high-season they don’t get too overcrowded. You can also find more secluded beaches on the outskirts of the city, only a short bus drive away. Sounds dreamy, right?
12. Beautiful Neighborhoods
Whenever I come to a new city, I always like exploring its different neighborhoods, and Valencia was no exception. For starters, Valencia’s old town is one of the city’s most gorgeous areas. It consists of several small neighborhoods that form together a fascinating maze of streets and alleys you’ll be happy to get lost in. Another traditional area of Valencia is El Cabanyal, the undeniably lovely old fishermen’s quarter. If you also want to explore a trendier side of Valencia, head to Ruzafa, the city’s hipster and buzzing neighborhood.
13. Mesmerizing Street Art
Exploring local street art is becoming a popular tourist attraction all over the world, and you do not want to miss out on Valencia’s thriving street art scene. From small painted figures to complete murals, you can find most of Valencia’s street art in one of the old town neighborhoods, El Carmen.
14. Buzzing Nightlife
Each area of the city has its rhythm and vibe, but Valencia’s nightlife scene has something to offer for everyone. From nightclubs to live jazz music to tiny bars in the narrowest streets, you’ll find the option that suits you most.
15. You can Learn Spanish while Traveling
Several language schools offer diverse types of Spanish learning programs for all levels, so you can attend a Spanish course even when you have less than one week in Valencia. The classes only take a few hours a day, and there’s enough time to explore the city as well. This is an excellent way to spice up your visit to Valencia, meet people from around the world, and learn or improve your Spanish in a fun and interactive way.
16. Cool Day Trips
As much as the city itself is remarkable, the day trips you can take from Valencia are pretty amazing too. To start with, Parque Natural de la Albufera, the exact birthplace of paella, is only 20-minute bus drive away from Valencia. There you can take a boat ride on Spain’s largest lake, see some rice fields, and feast on delicious paella. If you want to indulge yourself in some local wine, head to Requena, and if you’re an old castles lover, you can visit Sagunto, Xativa, Morella or Peñiscola.
17. Las Fallas Festival
If you’re really not yet convinced Valencia should be on your bucket list, let me then introduce you to the most incredible Spanish festival, Las Fallas. It takes place each year on March 15th-19th, welcoming the spring and celebrating Saint Joseph’s Day. During the festival, you’ll find food stalls, illuminated streets, fireworks, parades, and huge, beautiful papier-mâché figurines scattered all over the city. On the last evening, the locals burn the figurines like in older times when people had to burn the leftover wood from winter. This might be the only time of the year when Valencia is super crowded, but it is absolutely worth it. If you’re looking for an unusual experience and you love feeling like a kid in a candy store, this alone should be a good enough reason for you to visit Valencia.
18. Because there’s No other Place like it!
The Mediterranean vibe, the mix between traditional and modern, and the general majestic atmosphere make it impossible not to fall in love with Valencia, and sometimes you don’t need any other reason to visit a city but the way it makes you feel.
After reading this, I hope you can understand why Valencia should be your next Spanish city break, but try not to spread the word too much so that it can remain a little bit undiscovered and keep its magic!