Pleasant climate all year round, so many things to do and attractions to see, average prices, comfortable for strolling on foot or by bike. All those features make Valencia an ideal destination for a young target, the ideal city if you are organizing a fun and carefree holiday without forgetting a visit to the main attractions.
From the colors of the "Mercado Central", to the serenity of the "Jardì del Tùria" and the charm of the "Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències", here are some useful tips on what to do and see in Valencia without missing the best attractions of the city but yet keeping an eye to the wallet.
- When to go to Valencia
- The beaches of Valencia
- The attractions you really shouldn't miss in Valencia
- City of Arts and Sciences
- Oceanographic: between dolphins and sea lions
- Hemispheric and Science Museum
- Visit Valencia: Tickets and guided tours
- Bioparc: a dive into the heart of Africa
- Strolling in the centre of Valencia
- The Cathedral and the old town
- Street Art lover? A tour not to be missed
- Amunt Valencia! All at the Mestalla Stadium
- The gardens of the Turia and a trip to the Albufera
- Valencia with your family: The perfect city for holidays with children
- How to get around Valencia: Rent a bike and go...
- What to eat in Valencia: From paella to horchata
- Valencia and surroundings: Alicante and the excavations of Sagunto
When to go to Valencia
The Mediterranean mild climate allows you to travel to Valencia practically any time of year. Our advice is to organize a journey between April and October: almost non-existent rains and long days with many hours of light, fantastic time to take advantage of every minute available for the holiday.
The beaches of Valencia
The beaches of Valencia are wide and well organized, but if you are looking for beautiful sea, better to find it elsewhere. In Valencia you can enjoy the cultural attractions of the city while the sea is anything but "unforgettable". If you travel in July or August and can't stand the heat, take a trip to Malvarrosa, one of the most famous and popular beaches; the sea is not exceptional, but it is full of young people and staying on the beach is still pleasant for a little bit of beach volleyball or in the evening for a drink at a bar.
The attractions you really shouldn't miss in Valencia
On the assumption that a week is not enough to see the whole city of Valencia, something has to be taken off your list of things to do. Having said that, in our opinion you should aim to the following attractions and follow our tips to optimize the time and try to see as much as possible.
City of Arts and Sciences
You must have heard of it, and when you think of Valencia, it's the first thing to see that comes to mind. The City of Arts and Sciences is the architectural masterpiece of Santiago Calatrava, a MUST SEE for all travelers. A breathless megacomplex that is structured in different thematic areas: it is practically a city within a city.
- If you're preparing a list of things to do in Valencia, consider a full day to visit it. The structure is huge and considering the influx of people, you would need one morning and one afternoon just to visit the most interesting areas.
The "Ciutat" includes the Oceanographic, the Science Museum Prince Felipe, the Emispheric, the Arts Palace Queen Sofia, the Agora and the Umbracle, a free admission winter garden. In our opinion, the first 3 areas are the ones you should give priority to.
Oceanographic: between dolphins and sea lions
The Oceanographic Marine Park is the must-see attraction of the City of Science; for us and for many travelers, it is a stop not to be missed during a trip to Valencia.
Do you know the Genoa Aquarium? According to many, this is even better; a real underwater city with environments and pavilions related to every area of the world.
The park is divided into two levels: on the upper floor there are open-air shows and a freshwater lake, while on the lower floor you will find some of the largest aquariums in Europe.
Going to the Oceanographic: choose a day when good weather is expected; most of the routes are outside and the rain can disturb your visit.
Walruses, sharks, sea lions, it's all a marvel but according to travelers reviews, the most exciting thing is the dolphins' show, included in the admission ticket.
- The shows at the Dolphinarium are held at different times of the day, ask for the program of the shows as soon as you arrive to better plan your visit.
Inside the Oceanographic you will also find a 4D cinema with scientific shows (try them for a few extra euros) and several restaurants including a submarine one with an aquarium wall: for the little ones it is a fun.
The ticket for the Valencia Oceanographic costs around 30€, a bit expensive but well worth it.
- By spending a little more you could book the ticket that includes 1 day bike rental too and the tour in English to the "Ciutat".
Hemispheric and Science Museum
Hemispheric and Science Museum are another of the not to miss attractions in Valencia for its stylistic beauty even if they offer a lesser number of things to do than the Oceanographic. The planetarium and the Hemispheric 3D cinema are fascinating but we recommend them only to fans or to those who travel with children (impressive projections wraps you with special effects).
Same for the Science Museum Prince Felipe, which offers many interactive activities aimed at a teenage audience.
- The Palace of Arts is dedicated to classical ballet, contemporary dance, symphonic music and theatre. If you're not a lover of the genre, it's ok to have a quick visit just to admire its beautiful rooms.
Visit Valencia: Tickets and guided tours
In the outdoor area of the City of Arts and Science you can also walk and look from outside for free. While you need to buy tickets to enter and visit the various attractions.
According to your personal tastes and the time you want to spend, consider what you may be more interested in and what you dislike. The most important advice is to book the tickets in advance so as not to waste time in the queues at the various entrances. Many travelers report that they have given up the visit in the summer because of the miles long queue, under the scorching sun.
Keep in mind that it is also possible to buy combined tickets online, so to match more attractions and save compared to buy a ticket for each attraction. You can also choose to purchase guided tours in English, some of which are really nice.
A few examples? You can buy a single ticket for both the Museum of Science and the Hemispheric, combine all three attractions in a unique ticket or book the tour in English of the entire City of Arts and Science (Ciudad de les artes y las ciencias) which also includes the admission to the Aquarium and to the Museum.
Bioparc: a dive into the heart of Africa
A nice thing to do in Valencia, is a walk in the Bioparc. The Biopark of Valencia is not just a zoo, but a real dive in the heart of Africa. An oasis in the middle of the city, where you don't find cages but the reproduction of the wild environments in which the most famous animals of the Dark Continent live.
- Even if you don't love this kind of attraction for ethical reasons related to animals kept in captivity, you will be surprised: the habitats recreated will make you believe you are really in the Savannah or in Madagascar or Equatorial Africa.
Gorillas, buffaloes, leopards and hippos are a stone's throw. Along the way you get so close to the animals that you can almost touch them.
- In the early morning you can attend the event "Good morning Lemurs". A group of lemurs left free in the park, will keep you company during the tour of the Bioparc!
- A tip? At the end of the route stop at the café-restaurant inside the biopark. Order something and sit on the terrace, a few meters from giraffes and lions. A unique experience!
We suggest a day at Bioparc especially if you travel with children but the visit is also recommended for those who just want to spend a few hours of fun in the wild. Bring water and a hat, the sun is really strong! We advice to go there in the afternoon to avoid the heat, the park remains open until 20. The good thing about going there in the morning is that the staff organizes various activities and shows with the animals.
The visit to the Bioparc in Valencia takes about 3 hours. During the week and in low season, the queue at the ticket office is fast and you enter in no time. On weekends and red stamp periods the queue is more consistent and if you stop for a few days in Valencia it is worth to get there with the fast track ticket.
Strolling in the centre of Valencia
If you are still wondering what to do in Valencia, this wonderful city in Spain is not only Biopark and Science Museum, indeed! Spain's third largest city has a historical centre that is the envy of the whole of Europe so leave at least one day of your program for a walk or a ride through the characteristic areas of the old town.
The Cathedral and the old town
The historic centre of Valencia has an incredible cultural heritage and is perfect for a visit by foot or by bike. Ancient buildings and palaces, squares and markets: where to start from?
The Barrio del Carmen is the historic district of Valencia, start from there and drop by Plaza de la Virgen and Plaza de la Reina, which houses the famous Cathedral of Valencia and the Torre del Micalet.
In the things to do list mark a stop at the Silk Exchange (UNESCO World Heritage Site), a tour of theTown Hall square, the Central Market and the Torres de Serranos. A few tips:
- If you plan to visit the interior of the Cathedral, take the ticket for the climb to the Tower too, because the view is worth it.
- Enjoy breakfast at the Central Market. Fresh juices, centrifuges, freshly baked sweets at affordable prices.
- Lonja de la Seta is one of the main monuments to see in Valencia. It houses a cloister with citrus tree, an oasis of peace that is truly lovely. A must-see!
- If you are in Valencia on a Sunday, remember that in most of the monuments of the old town you have free entry on bank holidays.
The old town is easy to get around on your own but there are some really engaging and, what is nice, low-cost, nice tours with tourist guides in English perfect if you do not want to spend too much.
Street Art lover? A tour not to be missed
The center of Valencia has another fascinating aspect, an underground side made of colors, hip hop music and street culture. El "arte callejero" or "urban art" is for some a real lifestyle in the city, whose the Barrio del Carmen is the maximum expression; an open-air museum with graffiti, murals and writing on the walls.
If you are looking for something different to do in Valencia have a look at tour of Street Art in the city, nearly a niche experience but if you are passionate about it, you will be satisfied.
Amunt Valencia! All at the Mestalla Stadium
One hour in the temple of the Valencia Futbol Club, the fascinating Mestalla Stadium. Even if you are not a fan of the team, for a football enthusiast it is always nice to visit the stadiums around the world. The "Mestalla Forever Tour" lasts 60 minutes and takes you through the locker rooms of Valencia, through the press room, the trophy wall and then down to the field for a walk through the grass.
- The stadium is located in the Aragon district, a few kilometers from the center but it can be easily reached by metro or even by bike. If you have not booked the tour in advance, before going to the stadium always check the time at your disposal or you'll risk to waste a trip.
The gardens of the Turia and a trip to the Albufera
Another area not to be missed is the Jardì of the Turia, the green lung of the city with the ancient bridges that connect the old town and the most modern part of Valencia. Here are 4 ideas to enjoy it to the full:
- Unusual lunch: Picnic on the grass and a pick-up game.
- If you rent a bike, you should absolutely include this area in your itinerary
- If you're traveling with children it's perfect: there you'll find rides, slides, minigolf and skateboarding tracks
- On a sunny day, lie on the green areas and enjoy the peace and quiet
As a park, then, I also recommend the Jardines del Real, not far from the Jardì del Turia and easy to reach. Go for a walk and you'll also find a few kiosks where you can stop for a break.
A final tip? The excursion to the Natural Park de la Albufera definitely deserves one of your days in Valencia: a few kilometers from the city and a stone's throw from the sea. Bus line 25 direction El Palmar from Valencia, the bus ends right in El Palmar. Once there, you can choose from various boat trips at very affordable prices.
- The advice is to plan the trip for the afternoon and remember to bring your camera. At that time you can admire an exciting sunset on board of one of the many "barqueros"!
Valencia with your family: The perfect city for holidays with children
A lot of people say that and we confirm it: Valencia is perfect for those who travel with their families, promoted with top marks! In addition to the attractions we have already talked about, perfect for children, also add a trip to the Marina of Valencia - that offers many outdoor activities - and a detour to the Ateneo Viewpoint, a mirador that offers an exceptional view of the city (the panoramic veranda is located at the top of the building Ateneo Mercantil, in Plaza del Ayuntamiento 18).
How to get around Valencia: Rent a bike and go...
The city's attractions are not far apart and this is one of the reasons why Valencia is comfortable to walk around or even to bike. Consider that the city is completely flat and this is an advantage for not sporty or untrained people; consider that a ride is always fun and good for your health and you'll understand why Valencia is one of the bike-friendly cities par excellence in Europe.
Is it easy to rent a bike? Yes, there are several companies that provide bicycles for adults and children. The price ranges between 7 and 10 euros per day but if you take it for several days the cost is relatively lower.
- A tip and a proposal if you rent the bike independently: it is better to park and walk in the city center, the place is located everywhere and easily. Here's our proposal about what to do in a mini-itinerary: go across the Parco della Turia until the sea, then get to the City of Arts and Sciences. From the city center to the sea it is full of bike path, so in 30/40 minutes you can make it easily.
A very good alternative is to book a tour of Valencia by bike with a guide who will take you among the attractions of the city. There are plenty of them, but we would like to suggest two:
- For a fun experience, the tour in Segway of 1 hour in the Medieval Valencia
- For the romantics, the bike tour and a boat cruise at sunset departing from the port
What to eat in Valencia: From paella to horchata
Paella, fideuà, tapas and traditional desserts: start here if you want to taste something of the typical food of Valencia. Where to stop and eat?
A short list of places to eat in Valencia and where to find a few goodies here and there:
- As many say, a magnificent place to sip good wine and eat optimal tapas is the "Taberna El olivo"; go there in the evening and if the weather is good take a place outside, under the olive trees.
- For the best paella in Valencia, a tip shared by many travelers: go and eat at the "Pepica", on the beach of Malvarosa. Pure enjoyment!
- For breakfast, as we have already said, go to the Central Market for fresh stuff and at bargain prices. Alternatively, go to the Cathedral Square and you'll find a small shop selling good ham and fantastic bocadillos for a few euros.
- The "Horchata de Chufas" is the typical drink of Valencia. It is good everywhere but for a typical experience stop at the Horchateria Santa Catalina, a historic place. The combination of churros and hot chocolate is also excellent.
Valencia and surroundings: Alicante and the excavations of Sagunto
In Valencia you won't get bored even if you go for several days, I would advise you to spend the whole holiday in the city. If you really want a trip out of town, Alicante is the most suitable destination for proximity.
The alternative can be Zaragoza: you can reach the city by train and the trip is not very long but it is worth stopping at least a few days. For an alternative half day, you can go and see the excavations of Sagunto; near Valencia, can be easily reached by Cercanias train.