What You Need To Know Before Visiting Valencia
From iconic landmarks to best areas to stay, from how to get around to must-have foods. Here is all you need to know before visiting Valencia. Prepare your trip using insider’s travel tips!
This article was first published on October 9th, 2016 and updated with fresh content on May 1st, 2017.
Fun Facts About Valencia
- Founded over 2000 years ago it is one of the most vibrant and modern Mediterranean cities. It is world famous for its oranges, Las Fallas festival, The City of Arts & Sciences complex and paella.
- Valencia is definitely less touristy (and less expensive!) than Madrid and Barcelona. It’s the 3rd largest city in Spain. Valencia and its surrounding area are literally studded with enticements for the curious!
- When locals refer to the change of the seasons, they use just the words “summer” and “winter”. It’s usually a short-sleeve season from mid-April till mid-November. Winters are mild and the temperature rarely drops below 5 degrees Centigrade.
The gorgeous Turia Park.
- Valencia boasts the largest urban park in Spain. Turia Gardens is the former river-bed and is an amazing space for practising outdoor sports.
- Guess where Europe’s biggest aquarium is?
- Between 15th and 18th centuries Valencia was the world’s silk production capital. More than half of its inhabitants were involved in the industry. Even today the silk tradition persists – in the Fallas festival garments.
How to get to Valencia from Manises Airport?
A taxi pick-up point by the Central Market.
You can take a taxi or go by metro. Both rides are short and inexpensive. Here are some travel tips:
By taxi: you can take one of the taxis on stand-by outside (20 minutes / about 25 EUR) or book a cab via the Cabify app for a more professional service and cleaner vehicles (minimum order is 10 EUR).
By metro: Valencia has an extensive underground network. The trip from the airport to the center of the city if only about 30 minutes and costs 4.80 EUR.
One of the things useful to know before visiting Valencia is that you can save on the transport with the Valencia Tourist Card, Purchasing the card includes a return trip between the airport and the city.
How to move around the city?
The best way to navigate the narrow streets of the Old Town is by walking.
The public transport system in Valencia is very good. There is a large network of buses and the metro sprawls far outside of the urban limits.
You can definitely rely on Google Maps to find the best way of getting to your destination.
It’s highly recommendable to get the above-mentioned Valencia Tourist Card (for 24, 48 and 72 hours). The card includes unlimited use of all public transport within Valencia. In addition, free entry to non-private museums, and, if needed, can be extended for a longer period of time at one of the Tourist Info offices. It also includes discounts at select shops.
Should you prefer biking, that is also easy – with Valenbisi city bike rental system and numerous bike lanes available. You can get your weekly pass at some of the Valenbisi parking stations. First 30 minutes are included with your pass.
Where to stay in Valencia?
Choosing where to stay in Valencia is important, and will depend on the purpose of your visit.
The charming districts of El Carme (Old Town), Ruzafa and Cánovas can be great for easy access to the main sites and restaurants, but be aware that they can get noisy at night. A quiet area to stay within a walking distance to the center is the densely populated residential district of Nou Campanar (to the north of the historic center).
Or you may want to stay near The City of Arts and Sciences. Although that would be quite a long walk to the historic center. Of course, you can take a bus, taxi or bike.
Wherever you choose to stay, make sure to check the walking and riding times on Google Maps. This way you will ensure there is convenient transport to the areas you would like to visit.
Another area to consider is Cabanyal and Canyamelar district. Formerly a fishermen’s village, this quarter is located not far from the beach and has unique colorful art nouveau architecture. Be careful choosing the neighborhood within the quarter though. Some areas are quite run down and may not be ideal for staying. You should also know that these districts are quite far from the Old Town.
A big bar culture – people love eating out in Valencia.
If it’s your first time travelling to Valencia, you are probably wondering what Valencia’s culture is like.
I would describe Valencians in general as a very welcoming and unpretentious people. They love fiesta, as any Spaniard. And they celebrate it with lots of fanfare – within Spain they are most famous for their love for firecrackers, from the innocent and tiny bombetas to hardcore firecraker shows la Mascletà.
Valencian ceramics producton is perhaps the most emblematic local craft.
And, of course, since paella comes from Valencia, locals are proud of their rice dishes.
If you speak Spanish, check out travel blogs about Valencia here.
What’s local cuisine like in Valencia?
Valencian paella I prepared on a Sunday for friends and family.
Rice. It is a crime to be in Valencia and not to try its rice!
Luckily the choice of rice dishes is huge. There are classic dishes (paella valenciana, arròs a banda, arròs negre…) and contemporary versions of them.
Fans of all things local will not leave Valencia without trying an excellent paella valenciana!
Tapas. What you need to know about tapas before visiting Spain is that tapas is not just the size of the portion – it is frankly a way of life in Spain.
Have fun tasting numerous tapas, hopping from one bar to another (that’s what we do on my delicious food tours).
Buñuelos de bacalao is one of the popular tapas in Valencia.
Seafood. Being a Mediterranean city, it goes without saying that there is some great seafood to be had in Valencia! Various types of squid, Denia prawns, local mussels clòtxinas… Stop by at the Central Market’s seafood section (except Sundays and Mondays) to get blown away by the choice.
Valencian breakfast. Many tourists wonder if locals have a boring breakfast of croissants and orange juice.
That is not the case. Discover the universe of the traditional Valencian breakfast that locals enjoy starting at 10.00am and you will not regret it! Look for the word almuerzo.
Where to eat in Valencia?
Seafood section at the Central Market.
It’s not hard to find delicious food in Valencia with a little research.
Stay away from food photo displays – a clear sign of a restaurant targeting foreigners. To eat authentic local food, go to places where locals go.
Try typical tapas in simple places. For example, there are still traditional tapas bars in front of the Central Market – next to the Silk Exchange building.
From Monday till Friday at Spanish lunch time (1.30pm – 3.00pm) you can get a good deal called menú del día at most restaurants. You get to choose a starter, a main dish and a drink and dessert from a set menu.
Which important events are held in Valencia?
One of the hundreds of Fallas compositions on display, before they get burnt.
The most vibrant and deafening festival called Fallas takes place in Valencia in March.
Another world famous Valencian event is La Tomatina – a yearly tomato battle that happens in August.
Benicassim music festival attracts prominent musicians.
Sports events such as MotoGP take place in Valencia’s Cheste racetrack.
What are Valencia architecture & main sights like?
The City of Arts & Sciences – vшew from the inside of the Opera House.
Valencia is rich in landmarks, romantic places, beautiful architecture, cultural corners and its Old Town is amazing!
The main sights include the world-famous City of Arts and Sciences complex, the unique 15th century Silk Exchange building and Europe’s biggest fresh produce market.
What are Valencia’s best museums?
Ceramics museum’s gorgeous building that used to belong to Marquise de Dos Aguas.
If you love learning about local culture through museums, Valencia does not disappoint – from world-class to quirky little museums.
You should know before visiting Valencia that it’s a big artisan ceramics producer. Visit the Ceramics museum located next to the main theater.
If you have time, definitely visit the little town of Manises (you can easily get there by metro) to see wonderful pieces of ceramic tile work on many buildings.
Some of the other top museums are: IVAM Modern Art Museum (considered on of the top modern art museums in Spain), Ethnology Museum (an excellent insight into the local culture), Fine Arts Museum (holds works by Goya, Velazquez), Almoina (Roman Valentia foundations), Fallas Guild Museum.
Which beaches to visit in Valencia?
The region’s beaches are actually one of the reasons to visit Valencia. No need to go as far as Ibiza looking for turquoise water!
Ambolo beach near Javea.
Malvarrosa beach is a long and wide strip of sand located within the city and is also the most crowded in the summer as it’s the easiest to access.
There is Patacona beach which is just north of Malvarrosa and is also crowded in the summer.
El Saler is a sandy beach within a 15 minute ride – it is a protected area surrounded by wild vegetation.
If you are looking for crystal clear water you will have to go away from Valencia. To the north, for example is the beach just north of Port de Sagunt (40 minute ride). The nearby Moncofar beach has unusual milky water due to the pebble sediment.
There are some beautiful secluded beaches north of Alcossebre and amazing rocky and pebble beaches in the Alicante province: Ambolo, La Granadella in Javea and Les Rotes in Denia.
You’re all set! With these travel tips you know everything you needed to know before visiting Valencia! And if you are looking for fun things to do, perhaps you would be interested to join my top-rated food tours?