My best friend had just had her heart broken by a man, and I’d just had my heart broken in grief. We’d both buried our heads in the sand by working ourselves to the point of burn out, so we decided instead the better option was to bury our heads in the sand and run away. So we decided it was time for another trip, time for another adventure, time for some sunshine. We decided upon Valencia, mainly for the sunshine and tapas, not really knowing what to expect other than an escape from our problems for a few days.
Getting there was simple – we flew from Heathrow and it was a pretty short flight. To get from the airport to the centre we decided to take a taxi as we were so tired. It took about 45 minutes as we hit some traffic. You can also get on the Metro lines 3 or 5 (red and green) directly from the airport to the centre in 30 minutes for a much better price.
I didn’t fall in love with Valencia, but I am really glad to have visited. It’s an interesting city, rich in culture. It’s actually the third largest city in Spain and was founded as a Roman colony in 138 BC. Then in 714 Moroccan and Arab Moors occupied the city, introducing their language, religion and customs. In the 1200s, the Christians came and conquered the city, dividing the land amongst nobles and demolishing existing religious houses and building churches/cathedrals on their sites. Valencia has also been the capital of Spain twice – in 1812 and again between 1936-37. It’s rich in historic architecture and I was really surprised at how beautiful the city centre was.
Here are 10 fun things to do when visiting the city, all manageable in a weekend.
1. Valencia Cathedral
Valencia Cathedral is architecturally stunning, and the doors are almost unbeatable (I look so tiny!). Interestingly, the cathedral was built on the site of a Roman temple, then became a mosque, and was then converted to a cathedral. You can see the various architectural styles throughout the building and audio guides come free with the entrance price enabling you to learn about the history of the Cathedral as you stroll around the beautiful interior.
2. The Central Market
Completed in 1928 after 14 years of construction, the market covers over 86,000 square feet in two floors! Inside it mainly sells food, which is highly diverse and smells incredible. There are also a number of restaurants and bars, including the popular Central Bar, which is where we stopped for a glass of Prosecco or 3.
Inside and outside the Market
3. Micalet Tower
For some beautiful views out over Valencia, climb up Micalet Tower. There are quite a lot of steps though, but always good to burn off some of that Paella and Prosecco.
4. The Bullring
Built in the 1850s, and not hard to see, inspired by the Colosseum – this bullring is part of the culture and still used today. I personally don’t agree with bull fighting, but it’s part of the tradition here and when visiting new places I always think it’s important to appreciate that. That said, I wouldn’t want to see a fight.
5. The City of Arts and Science
What a weird place. I wasn’t sure if I loved it or didn’t like it, but in the end decided on the former. It was really futuristic. Within the buildings there is an aquarium, Imax cinema, planetarium, science museum and an opera house! You can even go zorbing in the water pools here. The Umbracle is a cool greenhouse which turns in to a club at night time! We spent the morning walking around here, then walked through Turia Gardens back to the city centre.
6. The Beach
OK, so Valencia’s beaches aren’t Caribbean level, but they’re still nice to walk along. The fronts are pretty touristy but the food is still good. We even got to watch some filming for a Spanish movie going on as we drank copious amounts of Sangria. I also liked the famous Valencia sandcastle!
7. Paella and Sangria
Valencia is the home of Paella. Traditional Valencian Paella consists of white rice, green beans, meat (chicken and rabbit, sometimes duck), garrofó (a variety of lima beans or butterbeans), and sometimes snails! And it is delicious. Minus the snails. Eat as much of it as you can, and pair it with Sangria! Perfect.
8. The City Gate
One of the 12 gates that form the old city walls, Torres de Serranos still stands today. Built in the 1300s, it is one of the most preserved landmarks of the city. You can also climb the gates to the top for views out across Turia park.
9. City Hall
I liked the City Hall because it’s just a beautiful building. The city council is still based here, and also in the hall is a lovely little museum on the city of Valencia inside which is worth a bit of your time.
10. Get lost in the beautiful streets
Valencia has stunning buildings wherever you turn – so go for a wander and see what beautiful places you can find. I particularly liked the church of St Joan, the train station and this beautiful flower stall.
Thank you for reading! Has this article been helpful or inspired you to visit Valencia? Have you already been to Valencia? Let me know in the comments below – stay safe and happy travelling!