Best Things To Do in Valencia
Valencia's three beaches feature soft golden sand and spectacular views of the Mediterranean. Visitors who enjoy exploring outdoors can spend their days strolling dozens of gardens, parks and plazas located within the city or hiking the trails of the nearby La Albufera National Park. For 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 sample some fresh produce from the Central Market. The city also has architecturally notable palaces and churches to lure history buffs.
Updated February 18, 2020
- #1View all Photos#1 in ValenciaParks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing, Sports, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing, Sports, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
The Jardí del Túria (or the Garden of the Turia) might seem odd to newcomers, seeing as how it boasts more than a dozen bridges built to span a river that's no longer there. One of the country's largest urban parks, Jardí del Túria was built after a fatal 1957 flood of the Turia river, which was then diverted over the course of the mid-to-late 1960s. Today, the gardens shelter orange and palm trees and rose bushes among the wide variety of flora. The park's facilities also include cafes, football (i.e., soccer) fields, children's play areas, rugby pitches, fountains, baseball diamonds, running tracks, skate parks and miniature golf courses. Predictably, the park is especially popular with runners and cyclists. It is also ideal for families with children.
The green space is highly appreciated by recent visitors for the range of activities on offer as well as the peaceful atmosphere.
- #2View all Photos#2 in ValenciaEntertainment and Nightlife, Museums, Zoos and AquariumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDEntertainment and Nightlife, Museums, Zoos and AquariumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
The Ciutat de les Arts y las Ciències (also known as the City of Arts and Sciences) is a traveler favorite. Built on the old riverbed of the Turia River, the museum's contemporary architecture (by Santiago Calatrava) shelters the Museu de les Ciències (a science museum), the Hemisfèric (a planetarium and IMAX theater), the Oceanogràfic – the largest aquarium in Europe – and the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía (a performing arts venue), among other attractions.
Most past travelers raved about the complex's myriad offerings, and suggested you wear comfortable shoes; the attraction is so massive, you'll be doing a lot of walking. Reviewers recommended setting aside an afternoon or even two to three days to see the entire complex.
- #3View all Photos#3 in ValenciaZoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDZoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Though part of the Ciutat de les Arts y les Ciències, Oceanogràfic Valencia stands as one of the top things to do all on its own. It's the largest aquarium in Europe and also boasts the longest underwater tunnel on the continent, which facilitates close-up view of sharks and the only family of beluga whales in Europe. The aquarium reproduces multiple habitats, including Artic, Antarctic, temperate and tropical as well as, appropriately enough, Mediterranean. Its dolphinarium, which features bottlenose dolphins, seats more than 1,500 people and is (you guessed it) the largest in Europe. The attraction also shelters a sizeable crocodile preserve.
Past visitors marveled at the aquarium's unique architecture as well as the range of sea creatures on view (though the dolphins were frequently singled out as a highlight). Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the place is especially popular among families with children, though some travelers found the tickets rather expensive.
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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 residents purchasing local foods from trusted vendors selling everything from meat and vegetables to pastries and take-away items.
Recent visitors were invariably impressed by the expansive range of food and beverages on offer here, with some describing the market as a "foodie paradise." Reviewers recommended stopping by, even if you don't plan on purchasing anything.
- #5View all Photos#5 in ValenciaChurches/Religious Sites, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDChurches/Religious Sites, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
With more than 20,000 square feet of elaborate frescos adorning its interiors, the Parroquia de San Nicolás de Bari y San Pedro Mártir has been called the Sistine Chapel of Valencia. Originally constructed in 1242, the church was remodeled and restored several times, perhaps most famously between 1690 and 1693 when the interiors were decorated with fresco paintings of scenes depicting San Nicolás de Bari (Saint Nicholas) and San Pedro Mártir (Saint Peter Martyr).
Recent travelers described the frescos as "beautiful" and "outstanding." Many strongly recommended renting the audio guide, which reviewers say provides important commentary for understanding all of the beautiful frescoes.
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This city square contains the ayuntamiento (town hall). Within the town hall is where you'll find the main tourist office, which offers a variety of tourist information (including ticket sales) in various languages.
Many travelers say the Plaza Ayuntamiento is a good place to start off any sightseeing, as the square is filled with decadent buildings constructed during Valencia's golden age. In the square's center is a fountain, which is 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. Multiple restaurants and cafes are also nearby. The area is free to peruse any time of day.
- #7View all Photos#7 in ValenciaSightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
Adjacent to the Valencia Cathedral, the Plaza de la Virgen is an ideal spot to appreciate some of the city's architecture – and to people-watch. Many shops and restaurants surround the square, which frequently sees a variety of street performers.
The popular plaza is, of course, always open, and some visitors find it especially attractive at night. More information about the plaza and its fountain and monuments is available at the city's website.
- #8View all Photos#8 in ValenciaSightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
Within walking distance of the Valencia Cathedral, the Plaza de la Reina is a great space to sit and observe activity in the old part of town.
Past travelers found the area lively at all times of the day and said they visited on several different occasions during their trip. Multiple options for food and drinks flank the square. It provides places both to soak in the sun or to find relief in the shade. Even if you don't seek out the plaza, you'll likely spend some time here as it's home to a variety of bus stops, according to reviewers.
- #9View all Photos#9 in ValenciaZoos and AquariumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDZoos and AquariumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
The Bioparc Valencia is a 25-acre zoo, located in the northwest area 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. Other barricades are simply hidden to give visitors the feeling of being out in the wild. The park aims to recreate the African continent, with animals like zebras, Nile crocodiles, giraffes and elephants spread across four main habitats.
Past visitors enjoyed the chance to see the animals close up and found the unique layout an interesting departure from the typical zoo. 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. Reviewers suggested setting aside two to three hours to tour the attraction.
- #10View all Photos#10 in ValenciaMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
The Institut Valencià d'Art Modern (IVAM), or the Valencian Institute of Modern Art, is filled with modern and contemporary works. Its permanent collection, which boasts more than 10,000 pieces, centers on the 20th century and features important works by Julio González and Ignacio Pinazo, among others.
Recent travelers said the museum is worth a visit if you're a fan of modern art. Those who enjoyed it said it offered a wide breadth of exhibits and noted that it would be difficult for an art lover to find fault with its offerings.
- #11View all Photos#11 in ValenciaCastles/Palaces, MuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDCastles/Palaces, MuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
The Palace of the Marqués de Dos Aguas is widely regarded as among the best instances of Baroque architecture in Spain. (It takes its name from a Valencian noble family.) When first constructed in the 15th century, it was a Gothic building; it was reworked in the Baroque style in the 18th century, when the ornate entryway was added. Some of the rooms retain the original Gothic look. Since 1949, when the Ministry of Education bought the building, it has housed the González Martí National Museum of Ceramics. The museum boasts the largest collection of ceramics in the country and features pieces from the 18th century to the present, including work by Pablo Picasso.
Recent travelers reported feeling awe-struck by the opulent architecture. Though the building itself may be what impresses people the most, the ceramics museum is also generally deemed well worth a visit.
- #12View all Photos#12 in ValenciaMuseums, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseums, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
If you're a fan of Spanish artists, such as Velázquez, Goya and El Greco, you won't want to miss the free Museu de Belles Arts, which also houses a sizeable collection of medieval paintings. Among its holdings are approximately 2,000 paintings and statues, some dating back to the 14th century. The building itself is also quite interesting. It was once the home of the Seminary College of Saint Pius V, which dates back to the 17th century.
Recent visitors appreciated the wide array of artistic styles on display (as well as the quality of the food at the on-site restaurant). However, a few said this is not a must-see unless you're interested in Spanish artists.
- #13View all PhotosfreeValencia Beaches#13 in ValenciaBeaches, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
If you're looking for a bit of R & R, you can't miss the Valencian beaches. 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 cafes that line the shore.
Two of Valencia's most popular shorelines, Las Arenas Beach and Malvarrosa, are situated just minutes from the city center and can be reached via bus routes Nos. 92, 19,32 and 95 and metro lines 4, 6 and 8. According to recent visitors, there are plenty of facilities within reach of these beaches, including restrooms and hotels. For a quieter stretch of sand, reviewers suggested heading to Patacona Beach.
- #14View all Photos#14 in ValenciaNatural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDNatural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
To commune with nature – specifically 250 bird species and miles of walking and biking trails – make a visit to the Albufera Nature Park, a large freshwater lagoon. The park is surrounded by the rice fields that helped prompt the invention of paella. Indeed, there are a number of restaurants nearby in the towns of El Palmar and El Saler, and many travelers find the food alone a reason for visiting the area.
Located about 15 miles south of Valencia, the park can be reached from the city center using the No. 25 bus. Fares cost 1.50 euros (about $1.65) each way. There are organized tours (such as the Albufera Tourist Bus) that depart from the city center and include a variety of add-ons, including boat rides on the lake, but past visitors said it's just as easy to take the No. 25 bus and explore on your own. According to reviewers, it's free to access the park, though you'll have to pay if you want to take a boat ride.
- #15View all Photos#15 in ValenciaChurches/Religious Sites, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDChurches/Religious Sites, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Located in the Plaza de la Reina, the Valencia Cathedral is probably most famous for its claim of owning the Holy Grail. Dating back to 1262, the cathedral was raised on the site of a former mosque and displays a number of architectural styles, including Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic.
Past visitors were impressed with the cathedral's interior, though they bemoaned the entrance fee. Others applauded the audio guide that is included with admission, saying it provided important historical context. Audio guides are available in a variety of languages, including English.
- #16View all Photos#16 in ValenciaSightseeing, ToursTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, ToursTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
The Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange) was built between 1482 and 1533 and is considered a great example of the late Valencian Gothic style architecture. 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.
Recent visitors found the architectural details endlessly fascinating. Many reviewers also advised opting for an audio guide, which they say helps explain the building's history and various architectural elements. Plus, recent travelers said there is little information available without the aid of the audio guide. Others suggested enjoying the courtyard, which is filled with orange trees.
- #17View all Photos#17 in ValenciaMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
If you're not in Valencia in time for Las Fallas – a raucous annual celebration of spring and Saint Joseph's Day – then be sure to check out the Museu Faller. The distinctly Valencian museum displays ninots, individual figures of the gigantic paper-mache figures collectively called falles that are paraded through the city and then burned in bonfires during their yearly namesake festival. Only the ninots deemed to be the best are spared and then preserved here. The museum also contains a variety of other historic items from past festivals, including posters.
Museumgoers invariably found the Museu Faller fascinating, and exhibits are believed to offer insights into the city's culture and folklore.
- #18View all Photos#18 in ValenciaParks and Gardens, Recreation, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, Recreation, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
If a park designed with the giant from Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" in mind sounds fanciful, that's because it is. Yet Gulliver Park is not merely a literary tribute; rather, it's a playground consisting of numerous slides and staircases arranged in the shape of its prone namesake. The figure's hat contains a smaller version of Gulliver, providing a sense of what the massive character looks like when glimpsed from above. To give a sense of the size of the "giant," the strands of Gulliver's hair are huge slides.
While some adults appreciated the bibliophilic reference, the park was especially popular with children.
- #19View all Photos#19 in ValenciaSportsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDSportsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Mestalla Stadium can seat approximately 55,000 football (i.e., soccer) fans, and those in Valencia are among the sport's most ardent. The home of the Valencia Club de Fútbol (VCF) since 1923, the stadium is known for its unusually steep grandstands and is regarded as an especially exciting place to catch a match – and absorb a notable side of the local culture.
Stadium-goers generally enjoyed the upbeat atmosphere and noted that the venue is quite family-friendly.
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