I spent a weekend there (Friday evening - Sunday evening), and in my opinion, that was more than enough to see the main sights of the city without having to rush. I did walk around 20 km on Saturday though, so maybe my definition of relaxed city-tripping is different from yours. I've been told that before. You have been warned.
Anyway, let's get to it!
Here's a map of the places you have to see in Valencia that I'm going to talk about a bit more in this post:
Ruzafa (or Russafa, both ways of spelling can be found)
Ruzafa is a charming, up-and-coming neighbourhood in the centre of Valencia. Here is where you'll find your trendy restaurants and cafés, and this is where the local nightlife happens. I came here Friday night right after I arrived (around 8 pm), and I stayed until around 10 pm. The area was filling up with more and more people as time went by, and when I left, it was buzzing. I know, it might have been a bit lame of me to return to the hostel just as things were getting interesting, but I was tired. Don't judge!
2. Old Town and La Seu de Valencia
Valencia's metro system is quite good! It looks like it covers most of the city, it's affordable and clean. I got the metro to Colón, which seemed to be the most central station (everyone always got off there...I'm so well informed, I know!).
From there, you can walk around the Old Town (Ciutat Vella), which encompasses most of Valencia's centre (the marker on the map shows the very centre of Ciutat Vella). The Old Town contains many beautiful landmarks that you can stumble upon by wandering through the lovely little streets.
The most impressive one is the Seu de Valencia, a cathedral rumoured to house the Holy Grail (exciting!). I didn't go inside (I'm not that interested in immortality...kidding!), because I wanted to spend more time outside, but apparently, its interior is worth visiting.
3. Mercat Central
The Central Market of Valencia is quite a large market located in Ciutat Vella. It's worth visiting because of the architecture of the building, and of course for the food. Who would I be if I didn't include a food place in this list, amirite? 😛 The stalls mostly sell authentic Spanish food, and you can find anything from jamón ibérico to fresh fruit to seafood (bring on the fishy smell!). Great place to grab a bite if you're taking a break from all the walking.
4. Jardín Del Turia, and the dry-riverbed park (I don't know its name...)
Ok, so the marker on the map is lying a little bit. The Jardín Del Turia technically only covers part of the place I would like you to visit. The place I'm referring to is the whole stretch of green that connects the Bioparc (the zoo, which I didn't go to), to the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (which I'll get to in a bit). You see that stretch of green? That's the dry riverbed of the river Turia that was converted into a park! Cool, right?
The first time, I went for a walk there. It's nice to walk through, but it took a really long time! You don't realize how huge this park is until you start walking. So, my recommendation would be to rent a bicycle and bike through. You can start at either end, although I started in the middle and then cycled towards the Bioparc and beyond, to find a lovely green space with no crowds. That's right. A lovely little, green, tourist-free oasis.
5. Oceanografic and Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències (City of Arts and Sciences)
Disclaimer: I was offered the Aukey products reviewed hereunder for free.
I'm into aquariums. I know it sounds weird, but I am. I love looking at fishy things (I'm sure that's the scientific term for it), and learning all about them. Maybe it's because you don't normally see a lot of marine life, even if you go to the beach. I find it fascinating. Naturally, when I heard that Valencia was home to the largest aquarium in all of Europe, I had to get my ticket. I was so keen, I booked the ticket online before my trip! Needless to say, there was no queue, on a Saturday, in August. Silly me.
Anyway, I LOVED IT. I spent 3.5 hours in Oceanografic!!! Ok, maybe you don't need to do that if you're not as aquarium-obsessed as I am, but it is pretty cool. Especially if you have kids, they will dig it. Oceanografic is divided into areas for: tropical and warm-water fish, Antarctic marine life (penguins!!! belugas!!!), sharks (of course they have the classic shark tunnel), crocodiles, a butterfly house (why? don't ask me), a 4D cinema (but you have to pay extra), a bird house (why? again, don't ask me), and a dolphin show.
Now, I know that the whole topic of dolphin shows and keeping animals like belugas in captivity is controversial, and I get that. I don't like it when animals suffer, either. I do feel deeply conflicted about zoos and aquariums in that regard though. If it weren't for zoos, I would never have developed this love for wildlife. I would never have learned so much about animals, and I wouldn't care about them.
Additionally, I do think that the whole zoo/aquarium industry is changing. Slowly, but surely. The show that I saw in Oceanografic wasn't pure entertainment. It had segments about what to do if you come across a stranded sea animal, the conservation and research efforts made by the aquarium, and how the animals were being cared for.
Oceanografic is part of the City of Arts and Sciences, which is a gigantic complex of buildings dedicated to the Arts and Sciences (duh!).
There is so much to see and visit there, including:
- L'hemispheric, an IMAX cinema and planetarium. The building itself is shaped like an eye, and the roof opens/closes in the fashion of an eyelid as well. Pretty cool.
- El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe, a science museum in a building reminiscent of a whale skeleton, apparently (I guess I see it.)
I thought the City of Arts and Sciences would make a magnificent spot to test my brand-new Aukey smartphone lenses. Below, you can see a comparison of the shots taken using the Aukey Wide-Angle lens and just the smartphone camera. I love how the Wide-Angle lens gives you a wider view of the landscape, and it gives you this cool curved optic.
Aukey Wide-Angle Lens
iPhone 7 Camera No Lens
Aukey Wide-Angle Lens
iPhone 7 Camera No Lens
In brief, the whole building complex is endlessly fascinating. When you're there, you feel like you've stepped into the future! So, this is definitely a sight not to be missed if you're going to Valencia.
There you go, now you know which places you absolutely need to see when you go to Valencia! Let me know if you visit any of the places I mentioned and how you found them:)
Bonus: Playa de la Malvarrosa (The Beach!!)
Since I did pinpoint that spot on the map, I thought I'd add the beach to the list as a bonus. It's a bonus because it's not really unique to Valencia and because I didn't bring my camera that day 😛
Anyway! It's a pretty enough beach, quite clean, it wasn't overly crowded when I was there, the water was warm, overall a good experience:)
Ok ok, and the best part, the paella! Due to popular request, here it is!
A giant veggie paella, just for me!...kidding! I just had to taste the authentic dish that originated right here though☺️ mission accomplished. . . . . . . . . #paella #veggie #sodelicious #bigportion #beachside #foodblogger #yummyyummyinmytummy #saffron #yellowfood #bigdish #eatallthefood #tastyfood
It was the best paella I'd ever tasted, and it was vegetarian!! Can you imagine... 😀