Day 1 – Ancient Valencia
Welcome to historical Valencia. A city that is split into the old and new city. Spend your first day soaking up the history of the charming old town on foot. Start your morning early to avoid the crowds and make sure to grab yourself a typical Spanish breakfast of ‘tostada con tomate’ to gain energy for your day ahead.
1. Eat your way through the Central Market
Mercado Central, one of the biggest markets in Europe, boasts some of the best local fruits, vegetables, and fish caught that morning. The market ceiling is a huge dome, painted with oranges, Valencia’s trademark fruit.
2. Valencia Silk Exchange
After the market, stroll across the road to the old Silk Exchange (La Lonja de la Seda) and buy a ticket for 2 EUR to go inside. Prepare to be blown away by the beautiful stained glass and stone pillars built to look like twisted palm trees.
3. Get lost in the streets of El Carmen
Valencia was under Moorish rule for hundreds of years and this Northern African influence is clear to see within El Carmen with narrow roads, water features, and palm trees.
From the Silk exchange, the heart of El Carmen is only 2 minutes away. Get lost in the back streets and see the contrast between some of the oldest buildings in the city, next to modern and colorful street art- undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Valencia.
Time for lunch? Saona (Plaza de la Virgen) does an amazing 3-course menu of the day for under 10 EUR. Be sure to book ahead.
4. Climb the Cathedral
After lunch, make your way to the cathedral of Valencia. El Micalet, the name of the cathedral tower, is a 207 steps climb, but one hundred percent worth the beautiful views over Valencia and it’s many blue-domed rooftops. Entrance: 2 EUR. If you have an interest in religious history, visit the cathedral on your way down to see the Holy Grail!
5. Plaza de la Virgen
Once you have finished up at the cathedral, make your way under the Arco de La Calle de la Barchilla and around the cathedral to Plaza de la Virgen. At night the square really comes alive and is filled with people from circus performers to musicians.
For dinner; Get a delicious pasta around the corner at La Papardella.
Day 2 – Futuristic Valencia, Spain
The new City of Arts and Sciences is one of the most popular things to do in Valencia. Spend day 2 of your trip exploring the park and new city by bike.
6. Cycle through the ‘River’
Start your day by hiring a bike and cycling through the incredible 7 km long park which winds around the city, admiring its many orange trees, palm trees, and water features. This used to be the River Turia, but as it was so prone to flooding, the river was redirected and the area was turned into a green space for the people of Valencia.
7. The City of Arts and Sciences – Unique thing to do in Valencia
At the south end of the park, you will find the ‘new city’ of Valencia. This extremely futuristic complex was designed by Valencian born architect Santiago Calatrava and was only finished in 2005. Initially budgeted at 300 million euros, it is estimated to have cost three times the amount!
Admire the eyeball of ‘La Hemisferic’, the shell of ‘La Palau de la Reina Sofia’ and the whale skeleton of The Science Museum. During the summer months, kayak or paddleboard in the water that surrounds the buildings.
Did you know? Valencia is also home to Europe’s largest aquarium which is situated next to the city of arts and sciences. You can even enjoy an ‘underwater’ dinner experience here, where you dine among sea life.
8. Trendy Rusafa
Make your way back to the city center via the neighborhood of Rusafa, one of Valencia’s coolest and most up and coming areas. Shop at one of the many vintage clothing stores and grab a healthy lunch at Bluebell Cafe or Artysana.
9. Palau Marques de Dos Aguas
On your journey back from Rusafa make one last stop at the impressive marble mansion ‘Palau de Marques de Dos Aguas’, a symbol of Valencian wealth which is now a ceramic museum. This is arguably one of the most outstanding buildings to see in Valencia.
10. See a Flamenco show
Although Andalucia is the home of flamenco, Valencia still does a great job of showcasing this traditional Spanish dance. See a late-night show at Cafe del Duende for only 12 EUR including a drink.
Hungry? Around the corner from Cafe del Duende is La Greta, serving some of the best tapas in town. Go before the show and order the Patatas Bravas.
Day 3 – Eat, Beach and Repeat in Valencia
After two beautiful days of sightseeing, take your last day to relax and enjoy the best things to do by the sea in Valencia.
11. Colorful streets of Cabanyal
On your way to the beach, do not miss the colorful houses of Cabanyal, which feel more reminiscent of Cuba than Spain. If you are in Valencia for more than three days, continue cycling to the colorful harbor of Port Saplaya which has been coined as Valencia’s own ‘little Venice’.
Getting there – From the city center take the metro to Maritim Serreria and then the tram the rest of the way OR take the tram from Pont de Fusta, depending on where you are located. Even better, cycle! The city is extremely bike-friendly, with bike paths almost everywhere.
12. Relax on Valencia beach
Valencia’s beach lies just beyond Cabanyal, a long stretch of white sand lined with palm trees. At the closest end, you have Malvarossa but if you have the energy it is worth going a little further down to Patacona, which has lots of great beach bars and delicious places to eat.
13. The old gates of Valencia
Take the tram back to Pont de Fusta where you can walk across the bridge to the Serrano Towers, one of the only remaining gates that used to surround the city. Climb to the top for views of the mountains surrounding Valencia.
14. Valencia Rooftop Sunset
Finish your Valencia city trip in the main city square ‘Plaza Ayuntamiento’. Here you will find a rooftop bar where you can see spectacular views over the city during sunset.
How much does Valencia cost?
- Hotel: 60 – 200 USD / night
- Hostel: 20-40 USD / night
- Food: 15-40 USD / day
- Entrance fee: 3 USD (most free on Sunday)
- Transport: 5-10 USD / day
- Water: 1.5 USD / 1.5L
- Airbnb: 30-60 USD / night
Getting to & around Valencia
Valencia is a small and walkable city. If you choose to hire bikes, you may not need to take public transport at all! However, there is a very affordable tram and metro with many stops throughout the city and down to the beach. The price for a 10 trip ticket is between 7.60 – 21 EUR depending on which zones you need.
From the airport: The city is easily accessible from the airport. Simply walk downstairs to the metro from the terminal and any line will take you the main city stops such as ‘Xativa’ or ‘Colon’ in around 20 minutes. Price: 4.90 EUR.
Best time to visit Valencia
The best time to visit is out of the prime summer months when the weather is cooler and it’s more pleasant to walk around and see all the things to do in Valencia. During the winter months of December- February the days are sunny and the temperature is between 15-20 degrees. If you’re visiting during the summer months of June-September expect highs of up to 40 degrees!
Extra: Experience ‘Las Fallas’ in March, a unique month-long festival that centers around the dates 15-19 where each district creates a giant sculpture, which is burned on the last night. Expect a lot of noise, fireworks, and street parties lasting until the early hours of the morning.
Where to stay in Valencia
Accommodation in Valencia is reasonably affordable. Aim to stay in the city center, near to the old town, for easy access to the key sights. For a more affordable option, book an Airbnb in Rusafa or down by the beach.