Travel Guide

Why Valencia Is Worth Visiting

Is Valencia worth visiting?

Living in Spain, this is a question I get a lot. Valencia is not the first place that crosses the mind of travellers.

When thinking of Spain, crowds tend to the busy Barcelona, the trendy Madrid or even the Balearic islands for their travels. Valencia seems to be somehow lost in the list.

Valencia turned out to be one of the biggest travel surprises I’ve had. Here are some reasons to think again why you should bother going there to explore¬†this gem!

How to get to Valencia

I hadn’t used train in long journeys since my Florence city break last year. So I was truly excited when hopped in to the train in the Sants Station in Barcelona. It’s my favorite transport!

However, the 3-hour long ride quickly turned into hell. No air conditioning, no wifi, random stops in the middle of nowhere and uncomfortable seats during painful. For 4 AND A HALF HOURS. I arrived Valencia at 1 am in the morning, desperately needing a mojito.

If you are coming from southern Spain, Madrid or Barcelona, train are still the best way to get to Valencia. But I don’t recommend Intercity trains – choose Euromed instead!

If you are coming from abroad, Valencia’s international airport is well-served my european airlines, specially Ryanair, Vueling and Iberia.

A Throwback To The Past

Walking in the old city of Valencia in a Saturday morning is surprisingly pleasant: there was a fresh breeze in the air and crowds were minimal.

First stop: The Santa Maria de Valencia Cathedral, with three entrances of different architectural types (Baroque, Gothic and Romanesque) and¬†where it’s believed the authentic Holy Grail is kept.

Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard dozens of bullshit stories about this thingy too, but I was surprised to know carbon dating has put the manufacture of Valencia’s chalice somewhere between 300BC and 100AD. Skeptics say if the Holy Grail exists, this one is the best bet. How about that?

Is Valencia worth visiting ? - micalet
Bell on the top of Micalet campanary.

Right next to the cathedral, the¬†highest building in the city: Micalet. This was when I first noticed Valencia has a local language, because next to the ticket office there was an exit sign saying Eixida. WTF. Valencian it’s not Catalan and its not Spanish either, it’s a rather awkward mix that only contributed to confuse my already confused brain – switching between Spanish/Catalan/Portuguese/English everyday is not easy…

Anyway, the Micalet. 207 steps later,¬†after arriving to the top like an exhausted dog, I¬†realized I need to do cardio more often. Can’t say I was blown away with the view,¬†but still was well worth the 2‚ā¨ entrance fee.

It’s possible to see very interesting architectural details in the Cathedral itself as well as of the narrow streets of the old town around the tower I was about to explore after.

is valencia worth visiting - Plaça de La Mare de Deu

why is valencia worth visiting - Plaza de la Virgen Valencia
Perspective of Plaza de La Virgen in the heart of old town.

The high point of Valencia for me was Plaza de La Virgen, the main square of the old town. Sitting on the former Roman Forum of Valencia, today is a very lively place, stunning by any angle.

There are lots of tourist traps around here, so don’t expect bargains if you decided to sit¬†for a coffee or a sangria. Still,¬†the granite paving, the central fountain and the medieval buildings in the surroundings create¬†the perfect place to watch the world go by.

… And a Step Into The Future

I thought Barcelona was hard to beat when it comes to architecture. Besides the main touristy sights, the everyday buildings are very well-maintained and frequently display interesting details, specially in the neighborhood I live in, Eixample.

Potentially I can cause some drama with what I’m about to say, but here it goes: turns out Valencia is even¬†more impressive. Of course it lacks an outstanding top attractions like the ones in Barcelona, like the Sagrada Familia or the over-the-top and disrupting Gaudi’s work in Parc Guell.

You might not be as a big of a fan of architecture as me. But you can’t help but notice the buildings in Valencia are super neat! It gives the city a very tidy, modern and trendy ambiance.

why is valencia worth visiting - architecture

Speaking of modern lines, the most popular sight in Valencia is Ciudad De Las Artes Y Ciencias (City Of Arts And Sciences). It’s a set of highly futuristic buildings comprised of an Aquarium, a Science Museum, a Planetarium/IMAX cinema, performance venues, exhibit areas, amongst others.

It was built by Santiago Calatrava, a local Valencian architect who’s rocketed into fame with controversial pieces of work like the Athens Olympic Complex (Athens, Greece) or the $4B World Trade Center Transportation Hub (New York, US).

City of Arts and Sciences is an ode to Calatrava’s¬†innovation aesthetic. The blue from the pool water is reflected in the white structures creating a stunning effect. It just feels like entering another world. A world 50 years from now.

Sadly, the entrance tickets are expensive so didn’t actually see the inside of any of the buildings (sorry, but there’s a lot I can do with 23‚ā¨!). Nevertheless, just exploring this complex is a must-have experience in Valencia. It’s a damn cool sight, it’s instagrammable and completely different from anything else in the city – and I’d dare say in the whole Spain.

why is Valencia definitely worth visiting - Ciudad De Las Artes Y Ciencias Valencia
Architecture Candy.

A River of Activities

After the floods that ravaged the city in the 50s, the council decided to divert the Turia river further south. The old river bed was planned to be a highway, but THANKFULLY they eventually opted for a new urban park, which today is the largest one in Spain: Jardines de Turia (Turia Gardens).

Today this park crosses the city from the east to the west along 9 km (!) and have become the green lung of Valencia. Ciudad de Las Artes Y Ciencias it’s on its southern-most point, but there’s a lot more to do! Throughout the park, there are many sporting activities going on – football, rugby, baseball, etc –¬†and even a child park shaped like¬†Gulliver The Giant. Perfect for strolling, skating, rollerblading or biking.

One year ago I didn’t know how to ride a bike. I know, shocking. There’s no specific¬†reason for this, I’ve just hadn’t got much interest in bikes. I’d rather swim in the sea, play with Legos or climb to trees in my parent’s farm. But today I’m always dying to explore a new place by bike. And Jardines de Turia¬†was¬†the best urban bike ride I’ve had¬†so far.

why is Valencia worth visiting - Jardines de Turia Bici
The bike which carried my ass during the whole afternoon.

Getting to know¬†through all the different sections of the gardens and passing by fountains, orange groves and old medieval bridges along the way was super cool. I’ve completed a full lap to the park, roughly 18km, which is HUGE achievement for me. A ride in Turia is THE experience to have in Valencia. Or perhaps I’m way too excited about this biking thing?

why is Valencia definitely worth visiting- jumping in the city hall
Happy days.

Eating And Drinking Like a Spaniard

Before going to Valencia, I had no idea what a horchata was or how was it made. I didn’t even know there were drinks made from chufas (tigernuts). Well, horchata is the traditional beverage of Valencia, having a surprisingly refreshing¬†almond-like taste perfect for those spanish hot¬†sweaty¬†days.

Now I’m seriously craving¬†it and I even started noticing in many supermarkets and caf√©s in Barcelona. It’s just like learning a new word: all of a sudden you realise it has always have been EVERYWHERE in front of you on signs, books and newspapers.

But not knowing about horchata is forgivable. But something’s really wrong with you if you’re going to Valencia and not eat a paella, which has grown in popularity to undoubtedly become the national dish of Spain. The Valencian version is believed to be the original recipe and consists of rice, meat (chicken/rabbit), beans, snails and artichokes.

Paella can be found virtually in any restaurant or street food stall in the city, but at least try to eat in a typical place.

If you have some extra time¬†to spend, you can find this original¬†recipe in¬†the Albufera rice fields south of the city. In the¬†El Palmar village, which is consider to be¬†the birthplace of the¬†paella, many restaurants are specialized in rice dishes and serve what is considered to be the most traditional paella in Spain. It doesn’t get more local than this!

valencia worth visiting - Mercado Central de Valencia
Impressive interior of the central market of Valencia. Fruit, fruit, fruit everywhere!

Any decent-sized city has its own market and often is the best place to get valuable insights about the food and the culture of the place.

Mercado Central (Central Market) of Valencia is no exception and besides oranges, horchatas and paella stalls, it comes with a plus: an extremely eye-candy interior. This is one of the biggest markets in whole of Europe, so plenty of opportunities to indulge in Spanish delicacies. Like a freshly squeezed Valencian orange juice.

Visiting Valencia also means going to the beach!

After exploring the city centre, I still found some hours to relax¬†on the last day on the Cabanyal beach. A quick 15-min metro journey took me right next to¬†the Mediterranean luckily in the hottest day of the year so far (33¬ļC).


  • ACCOMMODATION: 43‚ā¨/2 nights
    • Bike Rental: 8‚ā¨
    • Metro Return Ticket: 4‚ā¨
    • Meals: 68‚ā¨
    • Natural Juice: 3‚ā¨
    • Horchata¬†x 3: 8‚ā¨
    • Gin & Mojito : 13‚ā¨
    • Micalet¬†Entrance: 2‚ā¨
  • TOTAL¬†COST (‚ā¨):¬†149‚ā¨/pax

Wrap-up: Valencia is definitely worth a visit!

What I liked about Valencia is that it does not try too hard to be beautiful. It doesn’t need to. What I expected to be a soulless and boring destination turned out to be a cool and groovy place, ideal for a getaway weekend.

Valencia has definitely got an unpretentious vibe which I am very keen on and which I very rarely found on my travels. I will be surely¬†be coming back and next¬†time I won’t miss Las Fallas Festival for nothing!

Where to stay in Valencia

Accommodation in Valencia is not expensive, but be smart about where to stay to fully experience the city. Here’s my top suggestion:

Catalonia Excelsior
This place boasts spacious and comfortable rooms in the very heart of Valencia. Breakfast included!
Check price >>

Or do your own search in the best area of Valencia:

What did you think of Valencia? Can you find any more reasons to visit this city?

Share your thoughts ūüí¨

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28 comments ūüí¨

  1. Wanted to visit this beautiful city in the 90’s but most flights, at that time, were only from Gatwick or Heathrow and as a family living in the north of England it was another 2 days travel for us to add to our holiday…..
    Finally ‚Ķ we made it last year, flying with Ryanair from Manchester, it’s everything and more than we expected.
    Your review is very informative and to add to your description of the architecture we thought parts of the old city were very Parisian; in style.
    We had visualised a compact city with a fishing and ferry harbour (an area where there wouldn’t be much to see) but worth a day’s tour. How wrong we were!!
    The city even has a Bioparc, a zoo which has been purposefully built to appear more like wild, natural habitats for the animals, birds etc.
    The most important part of Valencia are the warm and welcoming people. We were met with kindness and caring locals; who made our stay so worthwhile and memorable.

  2. Valencian language is not catalan, Josep. Catalan is a dialect of provenzal language. Joanot Martorell and Ausias March wrote in valencian language, and they said it in our books. They didn’t say that write in catalan dialect. NEVER.

    Thank you for your visit to Valencia, Bruno. And no doubt to know the political problem that affects us with the paranoical pancatalan movement. We speak valencian language, yesterday, today and EVER

  3. it’s absolutely inaccurate that Valencian language is a ‘mix of Catalan and Spanish’. Valencian is in fact Southern Catalan, and there are just some pronunciation and little grammar differences.
    The diferences are the same that can be found between Castilian from Valladolid (Northern Spain) and Seville (South)
    It is true however that many Valencians dislike to call their language ‘Catalan’ because of certain political and historical reasons.
    The most important classical writers in Catalan language were born in fact in the Valencian Kingdom, such as Joanot Martorell or Ausiàs March.

  4. This is nice. My wife and I are excited for the vacation we’ve booked in Europe to Spain and definitely we will go to the Canary. Tenerife is one of our eyeing place for our 1st stop ūüôā There so many thing we want to do from a page we’ve read.

  5. Nice post on Valencia and the best things to do there – such a great city in Spain! Moreover, our favorite areas in Valencia are the center and Plaza del Mercado. We also have a detailed post on the best areas which we hope your readers will find useful.

    Guidora team

  6. Valencia is a stunning city!
    Prior to taveling there I could barely find photos of it, but after having visited it, it became one of my favourite cities in Europe. It’s beach is stunning too… so fast, so clean, such fine sand…

  7. I’ve been to Valencia twice, both during Las Fallas. I’d love to go back some time when the city is quieter ‚Äď it’s beautiful there!

    1. Looks like we had opposite experiences in Valencia Kirstie. I’ve been in a quieter time – highly reccommend it – now I want to live the party side! Did you enjoy Las Fallas?

  8. This post made me relive so many memories (I lived in Valencia for 4 months) – I’m glad to see you were equally impressed with the city! Plaza de la Virgen is one of my favourite places in the world to date -it’s touristy but the energy there is amazing! I do have to admit that I never quite understood the appeal of horchata though…

  9. Hi Bruno,
    Cool post and I enjoyed reading your comparison to the architectural side of Barcelona. Valencia is very impressive, and another city that you would enjoy in Tarragona, if you haven’t been already.
    Lovely photos also

    1. Tarragona is on my short-term to-do list, yes!
      Thanks for the comments, glad you enjoyed it Jackie!


  10. One must visit the La Longa in Valencia it is the former silk exchange in Valencia it is worth visiting as i have

  11. I’ve always wanted to go to Valencia, and after reading this post it seems I need to bump it up on my list for a visit!

    1. You should definitely go, it’s captivating place. Prepare for the heat in the summer peak though!

  12. Ah, Valencia! I remember that I wasn’t excited about the trip when I went, but quickly fell in love with the place. I loved the old town, it’s the main reason I want to go back – to explore it more. I don’t know how to ride a bike either, for the same reason you didn’t. Perhaps I should learn, haha. We drove from Valencia to Barcelona when I visited, because it was my birthday wish and it seemed like such a long drive. I can only imagine that it can be quite boring on a train.

    PS: Who was your favorite team on The Amazing Race? ūüėÄ I really liked Laura & Tyler.

    1. Well you have one life goal now: learn how to ride a bike and do it in Valencia!
      It’s only 3-hour long ride, so it’s not too bad IF THE TRAINS ARE NOT DAMN SLO.

      PS: Laura and Tyler were my favorites too ūüôā