Valencia is Spain’s third largest city, after Madrid and Barcelona, and has plenty of attractions to fill at least a couple of days of sightseeing.
The is the City’s Number One attraction, with over 4 million visitors per year. It houses an Oceanographic Park, a Science Museum, an IMAX cinema, and a Concert Hall complex – all housed in the amazing modern architecture of Santiago Calatrava.
If Modern’s not your style, then head for the Old City, where you can explore: the ancient towers that once guarded the City gates; the Cathedral, with it’s much-loved belltower, El Micalet; and the Basilica, containing , and (supposedly) the Holy Grail.The different styles of Architecture are nowhere more apparent than around the , where you’ll find the Modernist , the Gothic Silk Exchange, and the Baroque Church of the Saints John, all within 100m of each other.
Valencia also has a very nice beach, popular with tourists and locals alike, with a Promenade that stretches for at least 2Km. Dotted along the Promenade are several Restaurants selling Paella, at prices much more reasonable than you might expect in such a location!
The City also seems to have a Museum for almost every type of Interest, covering Science, Fine Art, Modern Art, Ceramics, Porcelain, Bullfighting, Holy Week, Computer Technology, Rail, Maritime, Electrical Technology, the 19th Century, History, Military History, Medical History, Valencian History, Valencian Natural History, “Renown and Modernity”, Natural Sciences & Palaeontology, several local writers, and painters, and Rice (yes, really!).Last, but by no means least is a Museum associated with Valencia’s most famous Fiesta, Las Fallas – the Fallas Artists Museum. For this fiesta each year, hundreds of sculptures (Fallas) are placed around the city – some of them several stories tall, and costing hundreds of thousands of Euros. Associated with the main sculpture are many hundreds of Ninots (literally, “Dolls”) – and these are usually humorous or Satirical (and sometimes quite risqué) – quite often they feature politicians or other Spanish celebrities. The Fiesta runs for about 2 weeks, ending on 19th March, when all the Fallas are burned to the ground… all except for two Ninots (the ones judged to be the best), which are taken and added to the Fallas Artists museum. If you’re not lucky enough to visit during Fallas, go along to the Museum, and see what you’ve missed!
Valencia has a quite extensive Metro system, details of which can be found at the Metrovalencia website (helpfully provided in English, as well as Castellano and Valenciano). There’s also a large Bus network, with its own website. You can buy individual tickets for each, but the easiest way is to buy a Móbilis card, available from most Newsagents and Tabacconists, and load it up with a number of journeys, which can be used on Buses or the Metro.
For a more active option, there are Bike Hire stations all over the City Centre – much like the Barclays Hire Scheme in London, you can use your Credit Card to hire a bike, and drop it off at any other Bike station in the City. There are a total of 2,750 bikes available, across 275 stations.
Visitors have to buy a €10 one-week subscription. Journeys of up to 30 minutes are then free, up to 1 hour costs €1, and after that it costs €3 per hour. The Valenbisi website has more details, as well as a helpful map. There’s even an iPhone App which will tell you where the nearest station to hire or return a bike is – just search for AllBikesNow in the App Store! (NB: Be aware of Data Roaming Charges if you use your iPhone abroad!)
You can, of course hire a bike for a whole day from a bike shop, but since rates start at €15/day, it generally makes more sense to use Valenbisi for hopping from one attraction to the next.
If you’d prefer an easy option which takes in many of the City’s best sights, there is a Valencia Tourist bus, which operates two routes within the city, and one to L’Albufera (which also includes a boat ride). You can buy either a 24-hour or 48-hour hop-on-hop-off ticket for the two City routes. See the Bus Turístic website for more details.
Finally, for something completely different, see our Turia Gardens page for details of Segway Tours!