10 Reasons to Visit Valencia, Spain

| June 10, 2016 | 33 Comments More
Old Town Valencia

Valencia gets over 300 sunny days per year

When I first traveled to Spain a few years back, I didn’t get to visit Valencia. It was on my radar because of Santiago Calatrava’s modern architecture (such as the “winged” Milwaukee Art Museum), but I didn’t know much else about the city.

That changed when I was invited to visit Valencia with The Travel Mob bloggers. The day we arrived, I knew it would be one of my favorite places in Spain. Here are some reasons why.

1. Mediterranean Climate

The city has consistently pleasant weather: mild winters and warm to hot summers. With 300 days of sunshine and an average temperature of 66F/19C, any time of the year is good to visit Valencia and to feel the sea breeze.

2. Beaches and Green Spaces

You are never far from nature in Valencia.

There are urban beaches next to the marina and remote beaches near the Dehesa Natural Park outside the city. The Turia Gardens, created in the riverbed of the Turia after a flood, is one of the largest urban parks in Spain. Winding through the city, it has foot paths, bike lanes, leisure areas, ponds, and cafes. Great for a weekend outing.

About 6mi/10km south of Valencia lies the Albufera National Park, a fresh water lagoon and bird sanctuary surrounded by rice fields. You can take a bird-watch boat ride from the fishing village El Palmar and enjoy the tranquility of Albufera Lake.

Marina Real Valencia

There are several beaches next to Marina Real Juan Carlos

3. Gastronomy: Paella and Wine

Much of the food of Valencia is influenced by its seaside location and fertile land. Rice, vegetables, fresh seafood, and citrus fruits are main ingredients in regional recipes.

Valencia is the birthplace of paella, the famous rice stew with chicken, rabbit, and beans. Some other traditional dishes are arroz a banda (rice with seafood) and arroz negro (rice with squid). With hundreds of restaurants in Valencia, you can indulge in regional and fusion cuisine at any price point. Five restaurants have earned Michelin Stars. |

The city is also known for horchata, a refreshing beverage made from tiger nuts, Agua de Valencia (cava, orange juice, vodka, gin), and wines with their own Designation of Origin.

paella

Spain’s famous paella – rice stew with meat and beans – comes from Valencia

4. World Heritage

Valencia’s historic center is one of the largest of its kind in Europe and features one UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Silk Exchange Market. Dating back to the 16th century, this group of buildings was used for trading in silk. It’s now considered a fine example of Gothic architecture.

The Water Court from the Arab period (8th-13th century) is a legal body established to monitor the use of water for irrigation. It still meets once a week, keeping up with the old tradition, and has been declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Silk Exchange Valencia

La Lonja (Silk Exchange Market) – one of Valencia’s two UNESCO sites

5. Modernism

Architecture is among the main reasons to visit Valencia, especially its collection of modernist works from the early 20th century.

Don’t miss the Central Market, built with metal, glass, and Valencian tile. Covering more than 8,000 square meters, it’s one of the largest fresh markets in Europe. Other architectural stunners are the Colon Market, an iron structure with a glass roof and ornate brick facade, and the North Railway Station, which features a ceramic ceiling.

Mercado Colon Valencia

The Colon Market is an example of Valencian modernist architecture

6. City of Arts and Sciences

Designed by renowned local architect Santiago Calatrava and Spanish-Mexican architect Felix Candela, the ultramodern science-leisure complex is one of Valencia’s most unique features. It is situated at the end of the former Turia riverbed (easily accessible from the Turia Gardens) and made up of several structures.

Among them are: L’Hemispheric (IMAX theater, planetarium, and laserium) resembling a giant eye, the Prince Felipe Science Museum that looks like a whale skeleton, and the mirror-covered L’Oceanographic in the shape of a lily. The tower of El Pont de l’Assut de l’Or, a white cable-stayed bridge, is the highest point in Valencia (410 ft./125m).

City of Arts and Sciences Valencia

Calatrava-designed City of Arts and Sciences is one of Valencia’s most unique features

7. Ruzafa District

The current hot spot of the city, Ruzafa is a day and nighttime destination. You can walk there from the city center within 10-15 minutes. Once in the area, take your time to explore boutiques, alternative art galleries, bars, outdoor cafes, eclectic restaurants, and the Ruzafa Market.

8. El Cabanyal District

Located closer to the waterfront, this historic fisherman’s quarter is becoming Valencia’s new “it” area. Trendy bars are starting to pop up, but El Cabanyal is well worth a visit for local history. Take a look at the traditional fishermen houses, decorated with Valencian tiles, and earn about rice cultivation in the area at the Rice Museum.

El Cabanyal Valencia

Traditional fishermen’s houses still stand in El Cabanyal, Valencia’s next hot spot

9. Las Fallas Festival

Every March, Valencia celebrates spring with a grand fiesta. Las Fallas (“the fires” in Valencian) takes place over five days and is a multi-sensory experience involving pyrotechnics.

At the center of the festival is the creation and subsequent destruction of ninots, large statues and monuments placed on city streets. They’re a satirical representation of current events, politics, even pop culture. The idea is that everything bad or corrupted gets burned, then reborn to welcome the new season. Another part of Las Fallas is the offering of carnations to the patron saint of the city, Our Lady of the Forsaken. The bouquets are delivered by over 100,000 people dressed in colorful silk costumes.

10. Fútbol

As in most of Spain, soccer is a big deal in Valencia. There are two local teams in La Liga, the first division of the Spanish League: Valencia CF and Levante UD. Catch their games if you visit Valencia between August and May. Both teams play near the city center, at Mestalla Stadium and Estadi Ciutat de València, respectively.

Here’s a photo from a Valencia CF match in the Champions League. The team lost to Lyon that night, but the atmosphere was hot for the entire 90 minutes.

What would you like to do in Valencia? And if you’ve already visited, what did you like? Leave a comment!

Valencia CF

Amunt Valencia! Valencia FC plays at Mestalla Stadium near the city center.

I traveled to Valencia with The Travel Mob blogging team and Valencia Tourism. All opinions in this post are mine.

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Category: City Highlights, DESTINATIONS

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About the Author (Author Profile)

Pola Henderson is a travel writer and city explorer. Besides Jetting Around, her writing credits include CNN, Yahoo, Expedia, MasterCard, among others. She also runs JA Media, a boutique agency specializing in content writing and event production. Happily multicultural, Pola grew up in Krakow, lived in Chicago for 13 years, and is currently based in her soul city Paris.

Comments (33)

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  1. avatar Stef says:

    I’ve been to Valencia twice and love that city. Next time I go is for the Tomatina Festival. Looks like so much fun.

  2. There’s so much of Spain I still need to explore and I will definitely be adding this to my list – sounds amazing! Wish I could head up there from Portugal where I am now, but I need to head home for a bit. Forgot how much I loved Europe and this trip definitely reminded me how special it is.

  3. avatar Kassie says:

    300 days of sunshine?!? Sign me up!
    And that architecture is the stuff of dreams 😍

  4. avatar Voyager says:

    You have listed out 10 reasons to visit Valencia, but for me a couple of them is enough to draw me there, the beaches and the green spaces, the heritage and the Football.

  5. avatar Marteen says:

    I have to put Valencia on my list after reading this. The heritage and architecture is definitely a draw. I’m intrigued by the Ruzafa and El Cabanyal Districts.

  6. avatar Kenny says:

    I love the Spanish coastal Cities… Barcelona of course and Valencia is also one of them, just because it has a perfect mix of Mediterranean breeze, classic European vibe, and layback attitude. The historic housing and buildings and modern architecture make the cityscape so interesting as well! @ knycx.journeying

  7. With the Spanish food is a little the same as with mother-in-law. Both look good only on pictures.

  8. avatar MarieAnne says:

    Valencia is absolutely beautiful – I always enjoy going back! El Cabanyal is one of my fav districts.

  9. Green spaces, beaches and the architecture is more than enough reasons for me to visit Valencia :D I never knew about Las Fallas festival but it sounds so interesting and I would love to experience it.

  10. avatar Monika says:

    The only thing I wouldn’t like there would be be paella – I’m not a big rice fan.
    The rest – very encouraging and I’m sure I’m going to visit Valencia one day :)

  11. Agree! It’s a fantastic city worth visiting. Amazing place! Thanks for sharing this reasons. :)

  12. avatar Karolina says:

    Never been but after reading your 10 reasons I will put it on my list of places to visit.

  13. avatar Mmalena says:

    I’ve never been in Valencia. Maybe it’s time to change it :)

  14. avatar Karolina says:

    After reading your post, I will have to put Valencia on my bucket list! Awesome photos :)

  15. avatar Prateek Goel says:

    Never been to this place. But after this, I just started loving this place and the food. Awsome blog. Love this!!

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