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Valencia

Valencia, Spain's third-largest municipality, is a proud city with a thriving nightlife and restaurant scene, quality museums, and spectacular contemporary architecture, juxtaposed with a thoroughly charming historic quarter, making it a popular destination year in year out. During the Civil War, it was the last seat of the Republican Loyalist government (1935–36), holding out against Franco’s National forces until the country fell to 40 years of dictatorship. Today it represents the essence of contemporary Spain—daring design and architecture along with experimental cuisine—but remains deeply conservative and proud of its traditions. Though it faces the Mediterranean, Valencia's history and geography have been defined most significantly by the River Turia and the fertile huerta that surrounds it.The city has been fiercely contested ever since it was founded by the Greeks. El Cid captured Valencia from the Moors in 1094 and won his strangest victory here in 1099: he died in the battle, but his corpse was strapped into his saddle and so frightened the besieging Moors that it caused their complete defeat. In 1102 his widow, Jimena, was forced to return the city to Moorish rule; Jaume I finally drove them out in 1238. Modern Valencia was best known for its frequent disastrous floods until the River Turia was diverted to the south in the late 1950s. Since then the city has been on a steady course of urban beautification. The lovely bridges that once spanned the Turia look equally graceful spanning a wandering municipal park, and the spectacularly futuristic Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències (City of Arts and Sciences), most of it designed by Valencia-born architect Santiago Calatrava, has at last created an exciting architectural link between this river town and the Mediterranean. If you're in Valencia, an excursion to Albufera Nature Park is a worthwhile day trip.

Why cruise Valencia

Valencia may not be as obvious or popular port of call as its Spanish neighbours Madrid, Barcelona and Spain on a Mediterranean cruise, but like them if offers a wealth of amazing and rich history coupled with a vibrant and cosmopolitan atmosphere. The city offers something for everyone, from ancient sites and modern architecture to urban seafronts and beautiful beaches.

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What to see and do

City of Arts and Sciences (CAC)

This scientific and cultural leisure complex is regularly touted as one of the ‘must-sees’ of Valencia, and in truth, it’s easy to see why when you consider the breadth of activities on offer. The buildings, designed by Valencian architect, Santiago Calatrava, have quickly become iconic in the city. CAC is home to the Oceanogràfic, Europe’s biggest aquarium with approximately 500 different species; The Hemisfèric, a digital 3D cinema with a 900m concave screen; and The Umbracle, an open-access garden, among other attractions.

Old Town

Discover more about Valencian history with a stroll around its gorgeous old town. Packed to the brim with things to see, such as the Silk Exchange, a stunning piece of Gothic civil architecture, the Water Tribunal which is a Unesco World Heritage Site, Catedral De Valencia, a cathedral built on the site of a Roman temple, and the Central Market, a great place for fresh produce.

Cabecera Park

In West Valencia is Cabecera Park, one of the most extensive areas of greenery in the city. It also includes the Bioparc Zoo, which has 150 different species of animals and has been designed to recreate the ecosystem of Africa. The Bioparc is divided into four areas: the Savannah, baobab forest, which is home to a dozen elephants, the island of Madagascar and the forests of Equatorial Africa.

Enjoy Spanish cuisine

Valencia is home to several great restaurants. Traditional Spanish restaurant La Pepica is famously Ernest Hemmingway used to order a paella – and that man certainly knew a thing or two about good food and drink. Speaking of drink, Horchateria de Santa Catalina is where you can try Valencia’s favourite tipple, horchata, is a sweet concoction made from water, sugar and tiger nuts. Finally, slightly off the beaten track but well-worth the travel time, Bodega Casa Montaña is an incredible tapas restaurant that has been serving small plates of the highest quality since 1836.

Go shopping

Tapinería Market is a clever, rotating retail space that showcases new tastes, shops and stalls every two weeks meaning you never know what you might find. Meanwhile, Barrio del Carmen is trendy neighbourhood in Valencia’s old town where you’ll find up-and-coming restaurants, bars and, of course, some independent boutiques. If you’re after something more contemporary, Calle Colón is the main shopping street of Valencia and the perfect place to find those high street favourites and a selection of shops unique to Spain.

What to expect when travelling to Valencia

Getting around in Valencia

The Valencia passenger terminal is located approximately three miles from the city centre, so passengers will need to seek out public transport, unless they have shuttles organised by their cruise line. The Port of Valencia has two berths with excellent facilities, such as restaurants and gift shops. Access to the terminal from the ship is through an elevated walkway. The port has also recently introduced a pilot test for a bike rental service, consisting of ten electric bikes, as part of the European SUMPORT project. The bikes will be recharged via solar energy.

When to go to Valencia

The city’s temperate climate makes it an ideal place to visit all-year round, with warm summers and mild winters.

Currency

Valencia uses the euro.

Visas

If you hold a British Citizen passport, you don't need a visa to enter Spain. Just be aware that it is a legal requirement to carry a valid form of ID in Spain – your passport or driving license should suffice – and you could face a fine if you walk about without one.