11 Places You Have To Visit On A First Time Trip To Valencia
With jaw-dropping places galore, even seasoned travellers can experience a slight discomfort with sightseeing decisions in Valencia. Here are my picks of the most amazing must-see places to explore on a first time trip to the “city of sweet oranges”.
1. Turia River Park
Deal with the physical side effects of travelling by taking a relaxing stroll, a light jog or a picnic in this beautiful landscape.
To me this park is one of the most underrated things about Valencia, and I would definitely recommend to visit it on your first time trip.
Turia is the name of the flood-prone river that was re-routed into a new, far-off bed, several decades ago. Now you see why Turia park is the largest urban green space in the whole of Spain.
The best time to visit Jardines de Turia in summer is in the morning – before the hot Valencian sun reduces to ashes any desire to leave the abundant air-conditioned spaces!
2. The City of Arts & Sciences
You cannot leave Valencia without paying a visita to this surreal (and controversial among locals) complex. Summer queues can be quite long, so to nip right to the front, buy your ticket online.
Oceanografic is the largest part of complex, perched among fields across the bridge. It is a massive aquarium and is the biggest one in Europe. So if you are fascinated with all things undersea, make sure to budget in 3-4 hours for a complete tour of the excellent installations.
3. The Cathedral
Sandwiched between the under-mentioned L’Almoina and Plaza de la Vírgen, the randomly-shaped Cathedral of Valencia is another highlight not to be missed!
What to look out for: the three completely different architectural door styles. The Baroque one is the current entrance. Also, the Holy Chalice rests in the right wing, if you would like to sneak a peek. And there is a newly opened hidden museum inside.
Take on a challenge to climb the 206 steps of the Micalet tower, to be rewarded by bird-eye views over the city.
There were plans to expand the Cathedral, which would inevitably plonk the added space on top of the underground Roman city of Valentia Edetanorum. Actually, the Roman city saw light again thanks to the Cathedral expansion project!
Welcome to L’Almoina – the 2nd century BC foundation of Valencia. Plan for a 1.5 hour visit.
5. Plaza de la Vírgen
Perhaps, this postcard-worthy square is my favorite urban outdoor space in Valencia.
Take a seat at one of the cafeterias facing the pink Basilica, if only to take in the beauty of this plaza and snap a couple of pictures.
6. Lake Albufera
This freshwater lake is located within a swift taxi ride from Valencia city. It is one of the largest wetlands in Europe and is the paella central in Valencia.
And if you go in the summer, make sure to stay for a mind-blowing sunset!
If you decide to go by bus, Valencia Bus Turistic can take you there in 1.5 hrs.
7. Silk Exchange
This gothic chamber of commerce was designed with the dazzle that only religious buildings flaunted at the time.
It’s a symbol of the thriving 16th century’s Valencia. You will find that both the exterior and even more so the interior are simply exquisite!
8. Torres de Quart
Although the twin gate of Torres de Serranos is equally impressive, Torres de Quart is a bit more special. And here’s why.
The pocks in its stone canvas have been there since the early 19th century. And they are testimony to no less than Napoleon’s army’s attempt to take Valencia! (Which miserably failed).
Throughout history, Torres de Quart served as a gunpowder warehouse and… prison! Due to the latter, the authorities deemed it useful, which saved it from demolition.
9. The Central Market
The city’s main temple for food lovers is this quirky fresh produce market tucked away in the Old Town.
Its neighbourly atmosphere combined with top-grade agricultural yield, seafood and meat, attract crowds of locals and tourists alike.
The surrounding streets and plazas are busy with traditional tapas bars catering to both categories. Though there are still a couple of scruffy-looking bars, which maintain their focus on the loyal Valencian clientele, who know their tapas. So go to those for an authentic tapas experience!
10. America Cup’s Port
Valencia went all wild with the America Cup’s events preparations, and the port built out for the purpose reflects the grandeur.
Take a walk along the Northern part of the port, where the tiered white building “Veles i Vents” sits on the waterfront. Water taxis can take you to the other side, where a couple of great restaurants face the water canal.
11. Malvarrosa Beach
Malvarrosa beach. Image credit: Juan Roig
Valencia is no LA, but its city beach is up to par to the famous Santa Monica one. Winter or summer, make sure to drop in here on your first time visit.
An adjacent stone-clad esplanade lined with cafés and restaurants borders this long (and damn wide!) stretch of golden sand.
This is a perfect place for a morning jog, sunbathing and relaxing in the shade at one of the restaurants’ terraces.
Finally, finding yourself in such a rich place as Valencia for the first time may make you want to gobble up all of the local cuisine staples. So perhaps after checking out some of these must-see places you will want to join my delicious food tour? Make your booking online or via phone and eat like a local!