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You might find yourself naturally drawn to the hustle and bustle of Madrid or Barcelona; however, Valencia quietly dazzles with its rich history, delectable cuisine, and ample opportunities for fun. Known as the birthplace of paella and home to a striking cultural centre, this palm-lined port on Spain’s southeastern coast masterfully blends the old with the new.

The Square of Saint Mary Valencia

With a host of intriguing museums, iconic landmarks, and a creative energy that saw it crowned World Design Capital in 2022, Valencia is a must-visit. And, of course, the futuristic Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias is among the most breathtaking sights in Spain.

Foodies will be in heaven with Valencia’s outstanding local cuisine and fresh ingredients — think vine-ripened tomatoes, juicy oranges, and rice aplenty. The city’s massive central market and numerous excellent restaurants mean you’ll never go hungry. Add to this 300 days of sunshine a year, lovely parks, and beautiful beaches, and you’ve got an ideal spot for outdoor enthusiasts who like to balance sightseeing with soaking up the rays.

Santa Catalina: A stunning seventeenth-century Baroque bell tower

Best Times to Visit

Valencia is a fantastic destination year-round. While summer brings picture-perfect weather and more beachgoers, the city’s cultural treasures, delicious food, and mild climate make it a great place to visit anytime.

Best Things to Do

Exploring the city by bicycle is a joy. Valencia, the green capital of Europe, prioritises pedestrians and cyclists, and its flat terrain makes for leisurely rides. We had the pleasure of touring with the wonderful Catalina Benito Mulet from CBM Visit Cultural — definitely one of the best ways to learn all about the city.

Explore Valencia’s stunning old town

Valencia is brimming with historic attractions and is delightfully walkable, making it easy to hit many must-see spots quickly. Start in the medieval old town, a maze of cobbled streets lined with cafés, artisan shops, and stunning architecture. Highlights include La Lonja de la Seda, a UNESCO World Heritage site with its intricately detailed pillars, and Valencia Cathedral. Don’t miss the Mercado Central, one of Europe’s largest indoor markets, and the lively Plaza de la Virgen, perfect for people-watching and snapping photos.

A must-see: Immersive art installation at the Centro de Arte Hortensia Herrero

For art lovers, Centro de Arte Hortensia Herrero is a must-visit. Founded and developed by billionaire businesswoman and philanthropist Hortensia Herrero, this gallery showcases over 100 works by renowned artists like Anselm Kiefer, Anish Kapoor, and Britain’s Damien Hirst. Set in a 17th-century palace, the gallery’s blend of history and modern art is truly captivating.

The stunning Turia Gardens, born from a former riverbed

Voted one of the 12 Treasures of Spain, the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias tops the list of unmissable modern sights. Designed by local architect Santiago Calatrava, this striking complex features a ship-shaped opera house, an IMAX dome theatre, an interactive science museum, an open-air art gallery, and Europe’s largest aquarium — a stunning contrast to the medieval old town.

Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias: A top modern sight not to be missed

The magnificent Turia Gardens, created from a former riverbed diverted to protect the city from flooding, are now a vast park with grassy lawns, gardens, fountains, bridges, playgrounds, and multi-use pedestrian pathways. It’s also just a short car or bus ride to Playa de la Malvarrosa, a popular sandy beach where locals and visitors alike enjoy the sun, drinks, and games year-round. For nature lovers, the stunning Albufera Natural Park, 10 km from the city, offers boat trips on traditional Albuferencs boats and is the actual home of paella, with rice still grown there today.

Albufera Natural Park: A haven for nature lovers

Best Places to Eat and Drink in Valencia

For the best views of the city, head to Atone Sky, a stunning rooftop venue with panoramic vistas, live local music, and traditional fare like freshly made sepia (cuttlefish) and exquisite homemade croquettes.

Atone Sky: A breathtaking rooftop venue with panoramic views

Paella, Valencia’s most famous dish, can be savoured in many spots, but we particularly enjoyed El Trident de Neptune, where the paella is prepared in the authentic style with chicken and rabbit.

Mercado Central: One of Europe’s largest and most stunning art nouveau markets

Mercado Central, one of the largest markets in Europe, is an art nouveau marvel filled with vendors selling everything from poultry and fish to fresh produce and baked goods.

Best Places to Stay in Valencia

Terrace at Hotel SH Colón: A tranquil retreat in the heart of the city

Valencia’s artistic flair and design pedigree shine through in its accommodation options. We stayed at the modern and comfortable Hotel SH Colón, perfectly central for exploring. For a boutique experience, try the charming Hotel Palacio Vallier or the glamorous Westin Valencia, an art-deco style hotel established in 1917. If you fancy feeling like royalty, the Caro Hotel, a former palace of the Marqués de Caro, offers rooms with unique stories. Beach lovers will adore Hotel Las Arenas Balneario Resort, an iconic hotel with a hundred-year history and a modern facelift.

No matter your taste or budget, Valencia has a range of hotels to entice all travellers and city explorers.

Ryanair offers weekly flights from Birmingham Airport to Valencia. Click here for flight information, and for more about the city, visit www.visitvalencia.com/en.