Spain is of course known for its summer holiday beach resorts, however it is also packed with cultural and beautiful cities to explore too, many of which are within close reach of the coast, giving you the ideal two centre break.
Valencia is one of those cities – located on the south-eastern coast, in the region known as the Orange Blossom Coast, and is lapped by the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Because of this, you get the city life fun you seek, as well as beautiful nearby beaches, including Albufera.
The city itself is a perfect blend of old and new, with iconic old architecture, meeting new, futuristic structures; the city is known for arts and sciences, and more and more buildings with a scientific look are popping up.
Of course, you want to know the top places to go, and in that case, check out these ideas.
The name gives it away, but this traditional market is a must do. Open all week apart from Sunday, closing at 2pm, here you will find every type of food to buy, including fish, vegetables, cheese, and meats. The quality is exceptional. Colourful and loud, this market will show you the real side of Valencia, and it is famous across the country. There has been a market on this site since Roman Days and it is believed to be the oldest (still functioning) market in Europe. It is a splendid piece of architecture in itself and an ideal place to spend a couple of hours exploring at your leisure.
Antiquo Cauce del Rio Turia
When you’re in the middle of the city, sometimes you want to escape to somewhere quieter, somewhere with space to roam, and in that case the Antiquo Cauce del Rio Turia is the place for you. Packed with futuristic structures, the park gives you that green space to stretch your legs, and is particularly great if you’re travelling with kids, with a large playground, and free admission.
City of the Arts and Sciences
An amazing, futuristic experience, the City of Arts and Sciences was designed by the great modern day architect Santiago Calatrava, one of Valencia’s favourite sons. Inside the complex you will find an IMAX cinema, an interactive science museum, the largest aquarium in Europe, and an arts complex too. Again, if you’re visiting the city with children, this is the ideal way to instil a little learning into your time away, but generally speaking, this is a fascinating highlight to explore regardless.
Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas
Whilst Valencia does have many nods to the future in terms of its architecture, there are also many windows to the past to enjoy too, and this is one of them. This grand and opulent palace will blow your mind, and the guided tour shows you a little more about the history and meaning behind it. There is also an attached pottery museum.
Plaza del Mercado
This large and busy plaza is famous for its equally large and busy market. There are many cafés to stop for a snack or refreshment, and the large market is open until around 2pm. The architecture is very picturesque and the history behind the building is worth learning a little more about, before you head into the market itself, and buy a few traditional food items to take back home with you. It’s a good idea to dedicate at least three hours to this particular highlight.
Torres de Serranos
Somewhat of a hidden gem, although huge in stature, these are the huge towers which used to guard and protect the city back in the day, however nowadays you can catch sight of the most stunning view over Valencia by heading to the top – oh, and it’s free!
Torres de Quart.
The Western Tower or Gate guards the historic centre of the city or Ciutat Vella.
Note the holes created by bullet and cannon ball impacts. These go back to the Napoleonic War with Spain 1808-14. The Spanish ousted Napoleon’s Army, with the aid of the British, led by the Duke of Wellington, and in what is now regarded as one of the first wars of National Liberation, and is significant for the emergence of large scale guerrilla warfare.
Plaza de la Vergen
The plaza goes back to Roman Forum days. It’s now bounded by the Cathedral of Santa Maria, and the Basilica of the Virgin of the Helpless.
On top of these highlights we also mentioned that Valencia has close proximity to the coast, so why not split your time between the two?