12 min read
After our Travel Expert Ellis spending 48 hours in Riga and bringing you some amazing travel recommendations, our Travel Expert Roxana takes you on a journey to Valencia, the heart of Mediterranean Spain.
Do you ever struggle to choose between a beach holiday and a city break? Well, the hassle is over, your prayers have been answered! Valencia is the solution you have been looking for! This is a place where all the best bits of the seaside and the city are rolled into one wicked destination. Valencia is Spain’s third largest city and is located on the eastern coast of the country where the warm Mediterranean Sea laps the shore. Valencia was founded as a Roman colony in 138BC and since then has been occupied by Moroccan and Arab Moors, established as its own kingdom under King James of Aragon, and even briefly served as the Spanish capital between 1936 and 1937. Now, the city is a thriving modern metropolis and the busiest port in the Mediterranean, but its wonderful cultural heritage can still be felt.
I don’t know who started the rumour that Valencia is “the ugly sister” of Barcelona and Madrid, but they were completely wrong. In reality, Valencia is more like the overlooked, beautiful Cinderella! With an average of 300 days of glorious sunshine per year, long stretches of sandy seaside, a spectacular blend of architectural styles, a rich history and its fun-loving, fiesta feel, Valencia is a fantastic place to go. But don’t just take my word for it! There are 2 million visitors who flock to Valencia every year who would agree with me.
As if Valencia could get any better, it is only a 2-and-a-half-hour flight away from London! Read this 48-hour guide to get acquainted with the city and Valencia will Valen-see ya soon!
After a 2 hour and 30 minutes flight from London Stansted, I land at Valencia International Airport (the main airport in Valencia). I want to make the most of my time in the city so I jump in a taxi and head straight to the 4* Mon Suites Catedral to drop off my bag.
The apartments Mon Suites Catedral is a group of houses with a minimalist and sober line, where the exteriors and the luminosity of the spaces predominate, located on two pedestrian squares of the old town and very close to the Plaza de la Reina and Plaza of the Virgin. Mon Suites Catedral apartments have a privileged location to enjoy the city on foot or to have access to the main means of transport in the city.
With an average rating of 4.5/5, I'm sure it's going to be a great stay!
Kick things off with a bang by heading straight for Valencia’s beautiful Old Town. All sorts of delights await you tucked away in this labyrinth of picturesque winding streets and majestic squares. The Valencia Cathedral is a crowning jewel of the Old Town and an absolute must visit. Dating back to the 13th century, the cathedral is a phenomenal hodgepodge of Roman, gothic, baroque and renaissance architecture.
Photo Credit: @katherine.wanderose
Admire the exterior before ducking inside to have a look at the treasured relic of Saint Vincente’s withered left arm, two Goya paintings, and the alleged “Holy Grail”, a chalice which dates back to Christ’s time. Rally your strength and climb the 207 steps of the Cathedral’s Miguelete (tower). You will be rewarded with a mesmerising view over Valencia and beyond to the sea.
Photo Credit: @kikamarga
Another unmissable gem of Valencia’s Old Town is La Lonja de la Seda, the stunning 15th century Silk Exchange. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a complex of buildings built between 1482 and 1533 and is famed as one of the best examples of non-religious Gothic architecture in Europe. Expect to be blown away by the opulence and splendour of these buildings.
Photo Credit: @gim_ros
It is also well worth spending the Torres de Serranos a visit. These imposing medieval towers were once the entry to the city and make for a great photo opportunity! As you meander around, treat yourself to some churros or a coffee at the grand Plaza de la Reina to keep your energy levels up.
Photo Credit: @gata_madrilena
Once you feel you’ve done your fair share of sight-seeing, head to one of Europe’s oldest running food markets, the Mercado Central. Most Valencians still do a lot of their grocery shopping here so it’s a great place to rub elbows with locals. Under the market’s stunning mosaic and stained-glass domes, you’ll find bustling stalls piled high with amazing fresh produce and Spanish treats. Graze on everything from cheeses and Spanish cured meats to pastries, sandwiches and freshly squeezed juice as you weave through the stalls. Take this opportunity to try Horchata, a creamy drink made from tiger nuts which is a favourite of Valencian cuisine.
Photo Credit: @stefanoriguzzi
Next up is an art museum. Depending on your preferences, choose between the fine art Museu de Belle Arts or the modern exhibitions of the Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno (IVAM). The Museu de Belle Arts is Spain's second largest art collection and is housed in an immaculate 17th-century baroque convent. Within its walls are early Picasso works as well as paintings by other Spanish greats such as Velázquez, El Greco and Goya.
Photo Credit: @csatireka
Alternatively, the IVAM was the first contemporary art gallery in Spain and is equally impressive. The exhibitions here showcase the artistic avant-garde of the 20th century, featuring everything from Abstract and Pop Art, through to European Informalism and the New Figurative movement. However, the IVAM is not all modern! You can also go underground and see a large portion of Valencia’s medieval city wall which was discovered during the museum’s construction.
Photo Credit: @meyvel_lillmu
Spend your first wonderfully warm Valencian evening in the Ruzafa neighbourhood. Recently emerging as the city’s hippest new area, Ruzafa is filled with tonnes of funky bars so embrace your wild side and take your pick of the bunch. A particular BRB fave is the Ubik Café which is a friendly bar that doubles as a bookshop. Wherever you end up, make sure to order an Agua de Valencia.
Photo Credit: @carlosvichino
Don’t be fooled by the name, this drink is definitely not water! A deliciously sweet concoction of freshly squeezed orange juice, Cava, gin and vodka, you can’t visit Valencia without giving this delicious drink a try.
Do as the locals do and dine a little later into the night than is usually done in England. An amazing spot for a scrumptious meal is Asador de Aranda. This restaurant excels at classic Spanish dishes, the ambiance is fantastic, and the dining room resembles those of old Spanish kings. You can’t go wrong with ordering their lamb which is uniquely roasted in a clay oven and is simply divine.
Photo Credit: @asadordearandadubai
For somewhere a bit more veggie friendly, try Rodamón Ruzafa. Their aim is to transport you around the world in five tapas dishes and they have some truly excellent cheese boards. If you can handle a dance after your filling meal then head to Electropura for some late night, rock ‘n’ roll vibe fun.
Photo Credit: @riecomiendo
There’s no better way to start the day than with a refreshing stroll through Valencia’s Turia River Park. Snaking for 9km through the city centre, the park follows where the Turia river used to flow before it was redirected after a disastrous flood in 1957. The park is home to 3000 different species of luscious trees and plants as well as 18 bridges and picture-perfect fountains.
Photo Credit: @davidcorderomurcia
As you make your way through the park, head for the City of Arts and Sciences. Completely different from anything you’ve seen so far in Valencia, The City of Arts and Sciences is a landmark you absolutely have to visit. It is a massive modern complex of futuristic, curvilinear architecture and reflecting pools spread over 86 acres. You’ll feel like you’ve walked onto the set of a sci-fi film!
Photo Credit: @littlelangoustine
The buildings are actually a collection of attractions including an IMAX cinema, a concert hall, a huge natural history museum, Europe’s largest aquarium and a planetarium. Spend some time walking around marvelling at the awe-inspiring buildings, the pools and the garden filled with indigenous plants and a disco! Then choose your favourite attraction and pay it a proper look around. My personal recommendation? The interactive Science Museum Prince Felipe!
Photo Credit: @daniel.creativ
It’s time to head to the beach for one of the best lunches of your life! Take a quick taxi from the City of Arts and Sciences to the seafront restaurant Casa Navarro where you can find some of the most exceptional paella. This absolute icon of Spanish cuisine originated in Valencia and the classic recipe features chicken, rabbit, beans, and veggies. Try traditional or pair the splendid sea view with the seafood version! It can’t hurt to order a sangria to wash it down with either!
Photo Credit: @casanavarrorestaurante
Spend the rest of your afternoon sunbathing as you digest or even go for a swim in the warm Mediterranean water. Go for a stroll to the old fishermen’s quarter of El Cabanyal. Directly behind the main beach, here you’ll find sweet little streets lined with colourfully tiled houses.
Photo Credit: @danyitoo
Head back to the city centre and spend your evening in the vibrant neighbourhood of El Carmen. In this area, the ancient city walls and cobbled streets are populated with hipster bars, quirky restaurants and locals looking for a good time.
Photo Credit: @alaincheung
Enjoy a delicious cocktail on Trapezzio Café’s terrace or kick back to some jazz tunes at Jimmy Glass Jazz Bar. When in Spain it’s practically obligatory to eat tapas, so for your final meal snatch up a table at Taberna El Olivo. Specialising in authentic taps and tucked away beneath beautiful olive trees, this restaurant is Spain at its most delightful.
Photo Credit: @flexy.revista
Squeeze every second out of your holiday and pay Radio City a visit before returning to your hotel. This welcoming and bustling establishment is a sort of bar, club and pub mix in the very best way! They host regular live music, DJ and even flamenco nights and you are sure to have a great time.
Photo Credit: @radiocityvalencia
If like me you love taking short weekend breaks across Europe and spending 48 hours in cities like Barcelona, Prague, Porto, Split, Bologna, Stockholm or Venice, but if like me you hate wasting hours trawling travel sites to plan and research your next weekend break, only to be hit by increased flight prices just before booking, then BeRightBack is for you!
The team at BeRightBack believes that the mission of a travel company should be to save you both time and money.
With BeRightBack, you get three trips a year to three surprise European destinations, all for the monthly cost of £49.99, which includes your return flights and your hotel.
With BeRightBack, creating a trip takes 60 seconds. Simply tell us how you like to travel when you create your account, and our concierge service does everything else for you. You won't have to lift a finger.
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I hope you enjoyed my 48 hours city guide to Valencia and do not hesitate to use our website chat or to email us if you have any questions!
Roxana Bujoranu (Travel Expert at BeRightBack)
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