Valencia is one of those cities that always seems to be ignored ahead of Spain’s more attention-grabbing cities, such as Madrid, Barcelona and Seville. And we think it’s about time this changed. Just over 800,000 people call Valencia – on Spain’s east coast and at the mouth of the Turia River – home. The city, founded in 138BC by the Romans and now the third largest in the country, is bursting with museums and galleries, while the historic old town shows off its past. Its mix of sun, culture and cosmopolitan delights is a potent one indeed. And while some consider the 15th century to be its heyday, as one of the components parts of the Crown of Aragon, but modern-day Valencia – as a popular tourist destination and charming city – should not be underestimated.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Valencia uses the euro.
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.
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