I won’t deny that moving to Scotland has got me searching for warmer weather and sunshine. So when the idea came up of a girl’s trip to somewhere hot, I didn’t hesitate to return back to Spain. Afterall it seems every holiday in Spain turns out to be amazing: from Barcelona to Madrid, Seville and the Southern coast. So as the third largest city in Spain, Valencia seemed like a natural choice. Yet it’s not the first destination that comes to mind when people consider going to Spain. Which is a mistake! I’d happily go back to visit Valencia and wished I had stayed longer. With only 3 nights in the city, my friend Jess from Paris and I explored and hit all the best the city has to offer. Here is my list of the top 5 things you must do in Valencia, Spain. Naturally they are also the top 5 reasons you should go.
1. Stroll through Old Town
We explored the Old Town with Free Tour Valencia which ensured we hit all the major landmarks: the Cathedral, The La Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange), and Mercat Central. The Cathedral holds one of the supposed holy chalices which many argue is the Holy Grail, the chalice used at the Last Supper.
For just 2€ you can enter The Silk Exchange, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and marvel at the incredibly tall spiral columns in Gothic architecture. And just across the street from the Silk Exchange, is the bustling central market. Go for the variety of spanish foods and stay for the colourful glasswork and interior.
As you may guess, I love beautiful architecture And if you’re like me, then Valencia is the perfect spot to enjoy some truly beautiful, opulent buildings. Don’t miss the Ajuntament de València, the City Hall with it’s grand main hall and drool-worthy chandelier.
2. Go for a Bike Ride along Turia Gardens
Who ever thought of turning a dry riverbed into a 9km stretch of park, recreational facilities, bike and footpaths is a genius. The best way to explore it is by bike. We rented some for 5€ for half a day from BR Bikes. It was quick and easy and soon we were on our merry way, exploring the Turia Gardens. As a bonus, we easily biked around taking in the sights, shapes and styles of the City of Arts and Sciences. Valencia is well known for this example of contemporary architecture that glistens in the sunshine. It was too beautiful of a day to stay inside, so we didn’t actually visit the museums and other buildings, but it was enough to just see their exteriors.
Note: we tried using the City’s bike-share system having read that you can buy one-day passes from the machines. Unfortunately we found only 7-day passes available which wasn’t economical for the few hours we wanted to ride the bikes for. It would be another great option for longer stays.
3. Suntan at the Beach
I was in Spain to get some sunshine after all. So we hopped on a bus from where we were staying in the Ruzafa district and spent the afternoon on the beach. Our AirBnb host has suggested we go to the beach further up the coast citing that the water is cleaner. We should have taken her advice because there were too many things floating among the waves for my liking. However being close to a port, it’s understandable. The beach was lovely either way, and with Sangria in hand, we stayed until sundown. A great way to end a busy day of exploring.
4. Eat all the tapas & drink all the drinks in Ruzafa District
We had tapas for every dinner. And even for lunch which we ate back at our AirBnb apartment. We opted to stay in Ruzafa just south west of the Old Town Valencia, away from crowds and among the buzz of the cool, young, hip district. Staying early in the week was a disadvantage, as most restaurants and bars closed early and weren’t very full. But our accommodation was very cheap and close walking distance to the Old Town. Overall don’t be weary of it’s proximity to the main train station, it’s an up and coming area and as two women, we felt perfectly safe walking around at night.
One of the appeals of traveling to Spain is the good food that is simple and affordable but delicious. Our favorite restaurant El Camerino Taberna, that offered a tapas menu for dinner. It cames with all the typical spanish tapas you want to try: croquetas de jamón (ham croquettes), patatas bravas (potatoes with a spicy sauce) and chorizo plus so much more food that we asked to take the rest home! It served as a nice little lunch the next day to have with cava – the Spanish sparkling wine. Lastly, one of our nights out, we tried the Agua da Valencia, a cocktail concoction of fresh squeezed orange juice, cava, vodka and gin. You know, just to change it up from the usual sangria that accompanied each meal.
5. Get into a tomato fight
To our delight, we just happened to be in Valencia during the annual La Tomatina in the nearby village of Bunol. On the last Wednesday of August, tens of thousands of tourists congregate dressed in throwaway clothes and goggles to take part in the biggest tomato fight of their lives. We booked a bus and entry to the festival at the last minute and likely paid too much (41€ each), but it was the no-hassle, easiest way to do it. We voluntarily got packed in like sardines, (and I’m not exaggerating) somewhere near the town centre. Then at 11am, four trucks loaded with millions of tomatoes crawled slowly through the crowd. Lucky participants in the truck threw the tomatoes down to the streets. The unlucky ones, since we were in a mob of people practically unable to move, tried to reach at the tomatoes and throw them haphazardly at people. At some point we were wading through tomato juice up to our shins. It was one of those once in a lifetime experiences that I’ll only have once in my lifetime. It was crazy!
What do you think of the top 5 things you must do in Valencia? Leave a comment below.
And hey, thanks again for reading! I’m linking up with #WanderfulWednesday with Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World. Go check out other great travel posts to fill you with inspiration.