Valencia is the perfect place for a city break. It is also called the orange city and it Spain’s third largest city, yet it’s often overlooked which is I think definitely a mistake. We decided to visit this marvellous city to escape the cold weather in February and it was the right choice! It gets very warm during the day so you get your portion of the happy vitamine D.
Valencia offers amazing contemporary modern architecture accompanied with wonderful historic buildings. Founded in 138 BC. by the Romans, it was then dominated by the Moors and afterwards by Christians. The city is also the birthplace of delicious paella. It’s located right on the coast where you can find beautiful beaches and promenades with palm trees. Moreover sunny weather and the friendly hospitality of the people turn Valencia into a perfect city break destination.
Check out also my list of the best restaurants in Valencia before you plan your trip.
I’ve written a 3 days in Valencia itinerary but of course you can stay longer there. There are plenty of things to do and see in a more slow and relaxed way. Nevertheless in 3 days it is possible to discover the most and the best of Valencia. It is a pretty compact and easily navigable city.
- Things to know before visiting Valencia
- When is the best time to visit Valencia
- Getting from Valencia Airport to the City
- Where to stay in Valencia
- Day 1: Old Town
- Day 2: Jardin del Turia, the City of Arts and Sciences & Oceanografic
- Day 3: Museum of Fine Arts, Harbour & Beaches
Things to know before visiting Valencia
- Restaurants are closed between 4pm – 8:30pm but you can find plenty of tapas places. I recommend to research beforehand where you would like to eat. Not every café or restaurant in Valencia is great. Check 10 Best Breakfast and Brunch Cafés in Valencia.
- It’s a paradise for bikers.
- Taxis are inexpensive in Valencia.
- You can drink tap water.
- Valencia is a great city to visit during the winter. It gets pretty warm during the day.
- It’s cheap, fast and easy to visit Ibiza by plane or boat departing from Valencia.
When is the best time to visit Valencia?
Valencia can get crowded during the summer period so if you want to avoid all the tourists the best time to visit the city is February-April or October. The month March is famous for city’s festivities though. From the 1st to the 19th of March there is a popular “Las Fallas” with various pyrotechnic shows and sculptures.
If you plan a quiet family holiday with good weather and less traffic then February & October are ideal months to visit Valencia. On the 9th of October there is another important festival, the Moors and Christians parade by the way.
Getting from Valencia Airport to the City
- Taxi: The airport is approximately 8kms from the centre of Valencia. A taxi to the center will cost around 15-20 Euros and is probably the easiest way. You can find them outside of the airport. Good to know is that there is no Uber but the Cabify App can be used to order taxis in the town. Taxis are pretty cheap and convenient in Valencia especially if you travel with kids or in a group.
- Aero Bus: You can find Aero Bus in the departure area of the airport. Tickets cost 2.50 Euros per person and there’s enough space for any luggage in the bus. The Aero Bus brings you right to the city centre. It runs every 20 minutes from 6 am to 10 pm.
- Metro: The metro runs from 4am to 11.30pm weekdays and 5am to 12.30pm weekends. If you need to get to the city centre, take either Line 3 or 5 and get off at Xativa station. The trip will take you about 20 minutes and trains run every 5-10 minutes. The price of a single ticket is 4.90€.
Where to stay in Valencia?
For a city break in Valencia I’d recommend staying in or near the Old Town area. It’s a wonderful central location for all main sights and this is where we stayed as well. If you are travelling during the summer period and crave for some beach vibes then of course book a hotel at the beachfront with a swimming pool.
Closer to the beachfront and with swimming pool I would recommend Resa Patacona, Hotel Olympia Valencia or fancy Las Arenas Balneario Resort. Most of the hotels also give services of free airport pick up. Awesome, right?
Day 1: Old Town Walking Tour
Plaza de la Virgen
Before we start exploring the city I would recommend to check out some tours that I find great for exploring Valencia in a comfortable and interesting way. First of all Hop-On Hop-Off bus is always a great choice if you don’T have so much time or you get tired of walking. Moreover it’s practical if you travel with kids! The sporty ones should definitely join the bike tour! Valencia has ideal roads for biking and you will observe the city in a more interactive way!
Start your first day with a delicious breakfast and then head to the heart of Valencia city, Plaza de la Virgen. Every Thursday at midday the Tribunal de Las Aguas meets outside the Door of the Apostles on that square, keeping alive a one thousand year old tradition. The tribunal is made up of eight farmers who wear the typical black blouse of the Huerta. The members are elected every two years by the farmers. The proceedings are in the Valencian language but it’s interesting to observe. Since 2009, the Water Tribunal is on UNESCO‘s Intangible Cultural Heritage List. If you want to know more about Valencia join the guided tour for just 15€! I think it’s nicer to walk around with someone who is from the city and can show you the best of it.
Cathedral of Valencia
If you want to visit museums, travel for free by public transport and save money at various restaurants then definitely get Valencia Tourist Card. It will help you to save some money because for example museums in Valencia are not cheap. Next to the square you will find a Gothic-style building Cathedral of Valencia. It was built on an ancient Roman temple that was later a mosque. Nevertheless it preserves many elements from different periods, from Romanesque to Baroque eras starting from the 13th century. It’s famous for being a home for valuable treasures such as the Holy Grail, the one that has been used by Jesus in the last supper. The whole Cathedral is one tremendous museum which is must to visit in Valencia.
To enjoy the panoramic view, you can climb the Miguelete tower. The entrance is in the Cathedral of Valencia. You will need to climb 207 steps, but the best panoramic view of the city is worth it.
Ceramics Museum. Marqués de Dos Aguas Palace
Tourists love to take pictures in front of the gate of the National Museum of Ceramics. And no wonder, it’s considered to be the best example of Baroque architecture in Spain, the Palacio del Marqués de Dos Aguas. This museum owns the largest national collection of ceramics, dating from the 18th century to the contemporary period, and includes pieces by Picasso. And the entrance is just 3€.
La Lonja (The Silk Exchange)
La Lonja was declared a National Historic and Artistic Monument in 1931 and was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. It considers to be the one of the most beautiful Gothic buildings in Europe. In the 15th century it was the headquarters of the silk trade. The Market Tribunal and the first Spanish court were also located here. The turret, the little tower, was a prison for traders who could not afford to pay their debts. They were locked there until their family paid for them.
Central Market in Valencia is Europe’s largest indoor fresh market. It’s definitely worth visiting but I personally think La Boqueria in Barcelona is more spectacular. The Art Nouveau building, with its beautiful glass roof, was built in 1912 and consists of more than 400 stalls. It is a place where you can buy traditional products, fresh fruit and vegetables, especially famous oranges, tomatoes and beans.
My tip is if you are hungry get some tapas in the Central Market but not from the cafés around it. We’ve tried some food there and were very disappointed. This is another fact about Valencia, know where you will eat because there are many traps.
The City Hall
Valencia City Hall is located on the main square in the center of the city, Plaza del Ayuntamiento. It’s a great place to enjoy the sun next to the fountain, observe beautiful architecture or just stroll through the car-free area. The town hall itself was built in the 18th century and is a symbol of the city of Valencia. It is also the seat of the City History Museum which is very interesting to visit.
Norte Railway Station
Just a stone throw away you will find attractive Norte Railway Station which was built in 1917. The style of architecture is homogeneous and special. Worth of seeing it with your own eyes.
On the left side of the railway station you will the Bullring. It’s a neoclassic design by Sebastián Monleón Estellés, built between 1850 and 1860. Bullfighting still occurs in this arena which surprised me because I thought it was stopped in Spain. Probably not in the whole country, what a shame.
Colon Market was designed in the early 20th century and it’s of the most iconic places in Valencia.It features a few shops and several bars, restaurants. It’s a very bright and open space. The market becomes very vivid in the after-work hours when everyone comes for tapas and a drink. That is a great stop to finish the first day of getting to know Valencia.
Day 2: Jardin del Turia, the City of Arts and Sciences & Oceanografic
If you come to Valencia a visit to the City of Arts and Sciences should be on your list. The futuristic and iconic buildings of this area are the work of Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava. It is a scientific and cultural complex which can be visited with family or friends. You will definitely need the whole day to enjoy it peacefully. If you come during the high season then pre-order tickets online for at least 2 museums. We’ve visited Oceanografic and the Science Museum. They were both interesting and entertaining for us and a our 4 year old boy.
Biking through Jardin del Turia
Start your day with renting a bike and heading to the Turia Gardens. Valencia is a paradise for bikers and Turia Gardens is the perfect place to start. It’s one of the largest urban parks in Spain which runs through the city along nine kilometres of green space occupied with foot paths, sports areas, and romantic spots. Turia Gardens are the perfect escape from the busy city life where you can find plenty of runners, cyclists, families and nature enthusiasts. From here you can easily bike to the City of Arts and Sciences.
No trip to Valencia is complete without visiting the Oceanogràfic, Europe’s biggest aquarium. There are seven different marine environments, numerous different species and a fantastic parkland setting. The entrance fee is approximately €34/person. I would recommend to take some healthy snacks with you. There are some stands with fast food and drinks but after a while you would like to have something less greasy in your mouth. Again especially if you are travelling with kids.
I had a bit of ambivalent feeling while visiting the aquarium. Seeing majestic belugas and cute dolphins trapped in water tanks made me conscious that they were caught in the wild and brought here to entertain us. So well the animal-lover in me was against this entertaining cruelty.
The Science Museum was very entertaining and informative. It allows visitors to learn about the evolution of life, science, and technology in an educational and fun way. Interaction is the main feature of this museum, which brought up the slogan: “It is prohibited not to touch, not to feel, not to think”. If you travel with kids of any age then you should doubtlessly pay a visit this place.
Day 3: Museum of Fine Arts, Harbour & Beaches
Museum of Fine Arts
The Museum of Fine Arts of Valencia has works that were made between the 15th and 19th centuries. It is the second largest art gallery in all of Spain and it’s FREE. The Gothic art rooms are very impressive. There are also rooms of Valencian famous artists like Pinazo, Benlliure and the famous Valencian painter Joaquín Sorolla, additionally a room dedicated to Francisco de Goya.
Visiting Hours of the Museum of Fine Arts of Valencia: from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 8 pm.
La Marina de Valencia
Take a taxi to the harbour side of Valencia and start your walk between the city’s commercial port and the Seafront Promenade. Here you will see beautiful boats, sport enthusiasts, bikers and inline skaters. If you wish rent a bike and cruise along the promenade towards the beachfront. The most symbolic building is the Veles e Vents. It is a cultural building that hosts exhibitions, live music, theatre and conferences. Here you can also find restaurant and bar.
Enjoy the beach side
Head towards the Marina Beach Club and next to it you will discover two the most famous beaches of Valencia: Playa de las Arenas & Playa del Cabanyal. Even during the colder months like February, March or October it’s nice to visit this area, to enjoy beach activities or just walk along the fancy promenade. Here you will also find various restaurants and ice cream shops. If you haven’t tried paella yet, this is the right place to do so. Here you can taste authentic paella valenciana (with chicken, rabbit, and beans) or paella mixta (with meat and seafood). Afterwards enjoy the sound and relax on the beach!