Valencia Travel Guide

Spain  #3 in Best Cheap European Vacations
Credit

Courtesy of Sergio Formoso/Getty Images

Best Things To Do in Valencia

Valencia's three beaches feature soft golden sand and spectacular views of the Mediterranean. Visitors who enjoy spending time outdoors can spend their days strolling dozens of gardens located within the city or hiking the trails of the nearby La Albufera National Park. For the art aficionados and science fans, we highly recommend a visit to the expansive City of Arts and Sciences. Foodies looking for a real taste of Valencia should try sampling some fresh produce from the Mercado Central.

How we rank Things to Do

Updated March 25, 2011

  • #1
    Things to do in Valencia
    View all Photos
    #1 in Valencia
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    This is where local Valencians gather to do their shopping, though you'll find the atmosphere a bit different than your local supermarket. One of the oldest food markets in Europe, Mercado Central (Central Market) is adorned with Valencian-style mosaics and filled with Valencians purchasing local foods from trusted vendors. Open Monday through Saturday, the Mercado Central is open early morning through early afternoon.

  • #2
    Plaza Ayuntamiento
    View all Photos
    #2 in Valencia
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    This city square contains the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall), which is open for tours. Many travel experts say the Plaza Ayuntamiento is a good place to start off any sightseeing, as the square is filled with decadent buildings raised during Valencia's golden age. In the square's center is a fountain, which is then surrounded by fragrant flower stalls. And if you're in a shopping frame of mind, simply turn off one of the square's side streets: Many of the city's best shops line the adjoining streets.

  • #3
    City of the Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias)
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    #3 in Valencia
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Museums, Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Museums, Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Open daily, the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (also known as the City of the Arts and Sciences) is a traveler favorite. Built on the Old Turia River, the museum's contemporary architecture (by Santiago Calatrava) shelters the Science Museum, the Hemisfèric (a planetarium and IMAX theater), the Oceanográfico aquarium and the Queen Sofia Palace of the Arts (a performing arts venue), among other attractions.

    Most travelers raved about the complex's myriad offerings, and suggest you wear comfortable shoes; the City is so massive, you'll be doing a lot of walking. The City is open daily, though with varying hours depending on the season. You can purchase tickets based on individual attractions, or you can buy a combined ticket. To get there, jump off at the Alameda metro stop or you can take buses #19, 35, 95 and 40.

  • #4
    Cathedral (Seu)
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    #4 in Valencia
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Located in the Plaza de la Reina, the Seu Catedral is probably most famous for its claim of owning the Holy Grail. Built in 1262, the Seu was raised on the site of a former mosque and displays a number of architectural styles, including Romanesque, baroque and gothic. The cathedral is open daily, though closed for siesta each day. Admission is free, but if you want to climb the gothic Miguelete tower or visit the Museo de la Catedral, you'll have to pay a small fee.

  • #5
    Fine Art Museum of Valencia (Museo de Bellas Artes de Valencia)
    View all Photos
    #5 in Valencia
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you're a fan of Spanish artists, such as Velázquez, Goya and El Greco, you won't want to miss visiting the free Museo de Bellas Artes. Located on the northern bank of the Old Turia River, you can get there off the Alameda metro stop or on buses # 1, 5, 6, 8, 16, 26, 36, 79 or 95.

  • #6 in Valencia
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Spread across two buildings -- the contemporary Julio González Centre and a 13th-century convent, the Center del Carmen -- the Instituto Valencia d'Arte Modern (IVAM) fills with modern and contemporary works. Closed on Mondays, you'll find IVAM in the west of the city and accessible by bus #5.

  • #7
    Bioparc Valencia
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    #7 in Valencia
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Bioparc Valencia is a zoo, located in the northwest of the city. But this isn't just any kind of zoo -- it's an immersion zoo, which means it removes or hides many of the barriers most zoos put in place between different species, including the humans. Species that naturally (and safely) reside together in the wild are placed together, while other gentle species, like lemurs for instance, are free to meet humans face to face, without any barrier. Other barriers are simply hidden to give visitors the feeling of being out in the wild.

    Keep in mind the Bioparc's rules concerning the animals: They shouldn't be touched or fed, nor should they be disrupted by yelling or flash photography. Other than that, use your common sense: No jumping over the fence to meet the tigers.

  • #8
    Albufera Nature Park (Parque Natural de la Albufera)
    View all Photos
    #8 in Valencia
    Hiking and Parks, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking and Parks, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    To commune with nature -- specifically 250 bird species and miles upon miles of walking and biking trails -- make a visit to the Albufera Nature Park. Just south of Valencia, you can get there on a bus that departs from the corner of Sueca and Gran Vía de Germanias in Valencia. Buses tend to leave every 30 minutes in the summer/every hour other seasons, from 7 a.m to 9 p.m.

  • #9
    La Lonja de la Seda
    View all Photos
    #9 in Valencia
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange) was built between 1482 and 1548 and is considered a great example of the late Valencian gothic style. Today, it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, partly because of this style, but also because that style was applied to a secular building rather than a religious one, as was the norm in that time. Pay close attention to the gargoyles that crouch throughout the Silk Exchange: Their expressions range from funny to naughty.

  • #10
    Valencia Beaches
    View all Photos
    #10 in Valencia
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you're looking for a bit of R&R, the Valencian beaches are not to be missed. Bring your towel and beach book, and lay out on the khaki-colored sand. You also might want to bring some euros in case you get hungry for a dish of paella or a glass of Spanish wine at one of the many restaurants and cafés that line the shore. 

    Valencia's beaches, especially the Arenas and Malvarrosa beaches, are situated just minutes from the city center. You can get there by walking eastward on Avenida del Puerto, taking the tram (#4 or 6), bus (# 2, 19, 31, 32 or N1) or the metro (to Marítim Serrería).

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