Valencia – great city break for a weekend getaway

posted in: Spain | 40

Recently we stumbled across the city of Valencia on the eastern coast of Spain, which lies on the Mediterranean Sea and it will took us by surprised. Beforehand, our impressions of the city was that the area was an urban sprawl which is the region’s industrial city and that no tourist would ever want to visit here and instead jump on a bus, train or drive a car to the nearby resorts like Benidorm or Calp. How wrong we were! We were lucky to have a few locals with us who showed us some great eating places, how to get around the city quickly and showed us what there is to see and do. We have to admit, we didn’t do any research on the city before we came here so we were very grateful to our friends for doing the hard work for us and now it is time for us to show you what we discovered and why this city makes a great destination for a weekend getaway.

Valencia, Spain
We have arrived! Watch out Valencia!

Arriving – the city is very easy to get around and the main entry point is the airport on the western side of the city. We flew in with Easyjet from London Gatwick which is one of a few destinations offered outside Spain (most flights here are internal which we noticed on the arrivals/departures screens inside the airport). Within thirty minutes we were in the arrivals hall and making our way into the Metro system. Buying a ticket is quick and simple from the machine on the platform and trains into the centre run roughly every five minutes (late at night then check the timetables). The journey into the centre takes about twenty minutes and is the quickest way to arrive in Valencia.

Valencia, Spain
Valencia Airport
Valencia, Spain
Airport station on the Valencia Metro
Valencia, Spain
Inside a train on the Valencia Metro

Facts we learned whilst here – Valencia is the third largest city in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona and has 800,000 people living here (really, it seemed a lot quieter than that when we were here!). The docks (port) here is the largest in the Mediterranean sea and the fifth biggest in Europe. Also ferries depart from here and has services to the Balearic Islands which lies east from here. History wise, the city was founded by the Romans when they ruled the roost then the Moroccan and Arab Moors moved in (along bringing their religion, customs and language) for about five centuries before the Christians reconquered the city. A few centuries later, Spain made Valencia the capital of the country in the eighteenth century but it didn’t last long before Madrid became capital. However, Valencia became capital for one year between 1936 and 1937 when Spain had a lot of internal problems.

Valencia, Spain
Beautiful buildings near the beach with a purple sky for a sunset on the first evening.

Now we got that out the way, here’s our favourite things to see and do in this small but amazing city. If you have seen an street map of Valencia or have visited the city and seen a long strip of land which goes through the heart of the city from the sea and is all green with trees and bushes, fantastic walking paths and grass, then we can tell you that this piece of land used to be a river which once flown through here. However the river didn’t disappear due to lack of rain, far from it, we were told it used to flood quite often causing problems with the surrounding streets. So the locals decided to reroute the river around the outskirts of the city and then turn this place into one long park. What a fantastic idea we thought and we had the pleasure to check some of it out by taking a stroll through it when the spring sun was out.

Valencia, Spain, park and city of arts and science
Park and city of arts and science
Valencia, Spain, park and city of arts and science
The city of arts and science
Valencia, Spain, park and city of arts and science
The Park and the city of arts and science

The top sight to see when walking through the park (at the southern end of the centre of the city) is the City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias). We have to admit we didn’t go inside this museum but the architecture for outside of the buildings is amazing and looks like something from the future just turned through a wormhole and dropped these buildings down to the ground. The most impressive building was one of the last ones to be built, the El palau de les Arts Reina Sofia which is an opera house and performing arts centre. Doesn’t it look like on of those helmets from Star Wars or a big glaring eye looking at you (see the photo). The whole area was wonderful to walk around and is probably the only place we have been to on our travels where it seems we were walking in the future. Could this be a sign of things to come and all cities could look like this? Who knows?

Valencia, Spain, park and city of arts and science
City of arts and science
Valencia, Spain, park and city of arts and science
The city of arts and science

We checked out the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Llotja de la Seda (Silk exchange building) in the heart of the city. The Gothic looking building took sixty-six years to build but was finally completed in 1548. Walking into the complex was amazing compared to other buildings in the city. This had character, this had art, this had style. The first thing we saw was the walled courtyard which was full of orange trees dotted around the place.

Llotja de la Seda, Valencia, Spain
Llotja de la Seda
Llotja de la Seda, Valencia, Spain
Llotja de la Seda
Llotja de la Seda, Valencia, Spain
Llotja de la Seda

The main hall was next and this was a large decorated space with many twisted columns. It is in here where the merchants of old would used to work out contracts. The artwork here was definitely worth checking out. Afterwards we went upstairs to see other parts of the building but for us, the view overlooking the courtyard was a pleasant one and a great place to stop and relax.

Llotja de la Seda, Valencia, Spain
Llotja de la Seda
Llotja de la Seda, Valencia, Spain
Llotja de la Seda
Llotja de la Seda, Valencia, Spain
Llotja de la Seda
Llotja de la Seda, Valencia, Spain
Llotja de la Seda

Valencia is full of churches and a cathedral but one really caught our eye and again, didn’t even know it existed until we were standing outside it. The Church of Saint Nicolas looks like any other church from the outside but after paying a small fee, we were treated to one of the most beautiful pieces of art to be found in any church in the world. It was on par with the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City or the Chapel of Holy Trinity in Poland. We spent quite a while taking in the artwork (as well as listening to the audio guide on the history of this beautiful Roman Catholic church). If anything this is the highlight of the trip for us regarding sightseeing.

Llotja de la Seda, Valencia, Spain
Parroquia Santa Maria del Mar on Avinguda del Port
Llotja de la Seda, Valencia, Spain
Church in Valencia’s centre
Llotja de la Seda, Valencia, Spain
Valencia
Saint Nicolas Church, Valencia, Spain
Saint Nicolas Church
Saint Nicolas Church, Valencia, Spain
Saint Nicolas Church
Saint Nicolas Church, Valencia, Spain
Saint Nicolas Church
Saint Nicolas Church, Valencia, Spain
Saint Nicolas Church

On the northern side of town (and next to the river turned park) is the Torres de Serranos (The Serranos Tower) which is one of twelve gates that formed the city walls which once stood here and has stood proud and loud since the fourteenth century. Again with a Gothic style facade, visitors can climb the steps to the top and gain a view of the northern side of the city. For the best view to see the tower from the ground, its best to stand on the bridge opposite (over the river/park) to capture the tower in all its glory.

Torres de Serranos, Valencia, Spain
Torres de Serranos
Torres de Serranos, Valencia, Spain
Torres de Serranos

The last place after walking all the way around the city, checking out many tapas bars has to be the beach and enjoying gentle walks along the seafront. The beach here was wide, sandy and perfect for the summer months and hopefully the sea isn’t too rough in those months as it was in March (when we traveled). We also checked out a couple of the restaurants dotted along here, which were a bit more trendy, upmarket and a little bit more expensive that the eating places in town but we still enjoyed ourselves, sitting outside, drinking a smoothie and watching the waves crash against the beach for a while.

Valencia, Spain
Beach
Valencia, Spain
Nice paths between the docks and the beach of Valencia

Another fact we didn’t know about until we arrived, that the traditional Spanish dish Paella is from this region. Its that popular here (and all over Spain) that the dish was declared as a National Tourist of Interest to Spain in the 1960s and is also listed in the Cultural Heritage list by UNESCO. That’s how great the dish is in Spain but we didn’t know it came from this region.

Valencia, Spain
Paella

So there you have it guys, this is the main reason why Valencia makes a great European city break. A few days is needed here but all the top sights can be done in a day or two. However, there is a lot of eating places to check out and the food here is fantastic. We found compared to the other big Spanish cities, there is more room to roam here, no hustle or bustle of the locals doing their everyday thing, life here is more relaxed. And being an easy place to get to with airlines and high-speed trains within the country, Valencia is fast proving to be the place to visit. We really did enjoy ourselves here and can’t wait to return to the region to explore.

And here is some more photos we took whilst walking around Valencia –

Valencia, Spain
Just fancy some Chicken!

Valencia, Spain

Destino 56, Valencia, Spain
Destino 56
Destino 56, Valencia, Spain
Destino 56
Destino 56, Valencia, Spain
Destino 56
Destino 56, Valencia, Spain
Destino 56
Valencia, Spain
Valencia’s North train station
Valencia, Spain
Valencia’s North trains station
Valencia, Spain
Inside Valencia’s North train station
Valencia, Spain
Bull Ring in Valencia
Valencia, Spain
Bull Ring in Valencia
Valencia, Spain
Bull Ring in Valencia
Valencia, Spain
The main post office in Valencia
Valencia, Spain
Inside the main post office in Valencia
Valencia, Spain
Valencia
Valencia, Spain
Valencia
Valencia, Spain
Valencia
Valencia, Spain
Valencia
Valencia, Spain
Valencia
Valencia, Spain
Valencia
Valencia, Spain
Valencia
Valencia, Spain
Valencia
Valencia, Spain
Valencia
Valencia, Spain
Valencia
Valencia, Spain
Valencia
Valencia, Spain
Valencia
Valencia, Spain
Valencia
Valencia, Spain
Valencia

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Valencia, Spain

40 Responses

  1. What a fun weekend getaway! I enjoyed learning a few facts about Valencia, especially the one about how they rerouted the river that once flowed through the heart of the city. Beautiful photos!

  2. Everything looks so grand and picturesque! I would love to explore and visit Valencia someday with my family.

  3. This looks like a fun place to visit. There’s so much to see and do. I enjoyed your photos! The food looks tasty too!

  4. If we ever get over that way we will have to check everything out. That science and museum center looks fabulous. Love looking at all you photos.

  5. Anita Anderson

    OMG, now I want to visit Spain and see all of these magnificent places. The architecture of the church is amazing.

  6. There’s so many places in the world that I need to get to. Apparently I need to add this one to my list because this one looks amazing! There’s so much to explore and with the history that is still in all the architecture I would love it.

  7. Oh my goodness. I want to see it for myself now. It is such a gorgeous place. Spain is on my bucket!

  8. I think this needs to be added to the bucket list. Close to the top of the list! Such a beautiful place.

  9. First of all, gorgeous photos! What an incredible place!! A friend of mine went to Spain last year and the photographs she posted were amazing. It looks like you all had a wonderful time!!

  10. Spain has always been amazing, so there’s no doubt that Valencia is beautiful. I’m glad you shared your adventure with us. I’d love to visit this place someday. I think it’s amazing!

  11. Bonnie G

    What a great place to visit! I have always wanted to visit Spain. You took amazing photos.

  12. Spain is on my travel bucket list. I can’t imagine a weekend getaway in Spain. That would be so amazing.Looks like you really enjoyed yourself.

  13. This looks like a great place to visit! The food looks absolutely amazing!

  14. It’s so beautiful, I’d go here as much as I could! I think Valencia is the place you want to go to for a relaxing and peaceful vacation.

  15. Danila Caputo

    We’ve never been to Valencia and from what I read we’re missing out big time! I had no idea that paelle is in the cultural heritage list by UNESCO! Is it the version with both fish and meat or just with fish?

  16. Valencia looks charming. I haven’t been there myself but I’d love to visit the Llotja de la Seda. Definitely one to put on the list for a future trip, if only to have an excuse to feast on Paella for a few days

  17. What a what a gorgeous place Valencia is! If I would be given a chance to visit Spain, I’ll keep Valencia in mind.

  18. That looks like a really fun place to go for the day! There are a lot of beautiful buildings there.

  19. I love the City of Arts and Sciences, especially the opera house. I also love the Turia river bed park.

    I’ve not spent as much time there as a native but we’ve decided to move to a village about an hour from Valencia.

    I’d have to ask what you are looking to have reviewed? Do you want to visit or become a resident? Something else?

  20. I always associate Valencia with oranges, because my dad used to grow Valencia oranges on our farm in South Africa. I wouldn’t have expected to find a city of arts and science there! While my son would love to visit this, I’d much rather head to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Llotja de la Seda. I see the courtyard is indeed dotted with orange trees!

  21. Great guide to an amazing city. I was only there for a day and it ended up being my favourite city in Spain. If you ever go back I would definitely recommend renting a bike and cycling around the city and through the green belt.

  22. Valencia is a beautiful city with so many gorgeous buildings- I’ve been to most in this post!:)

  23. I’ve heard nothing but great things about Valencia. An ecletic mix of modern and historical – your pictures are great and really tell the story. I’m sold, bookmarked, I need to go!

  24. Gemille Sleweon

    Beautiful pictures! The architecture there looks amazing. I’m glad you guys had a great time. I’d love to visit someday.

  25. Reesa Lewandowski

    What a beautiful city! I don’t think I will ever get to go to Spain though, so I enjoyed your trip from afar!

  26. I had no idea Valencia was the birthplace of paella! that alone would make it worth visiting. interesting how the city mixes the ancient historical parts with the more modern architecture.

  27. I had no idea that Valencia was the third biggest city in Spain and founded by the Romans! Looks like there’s so much to see and do. Llotja de la Seda looks amazing!

  28. I absolutely had no idea that Valencia had all of that. Can I just say that I also love the architecture? You have that predominantly old architecture and then somewhere tucked in Valencia is a modern city of Arts and Sciences!

  29. I did not know Valencia is the third biggest city in Spain, it sure doesn’t look too crowded from your pictures! I am planning to visit Spain this year and also wasn’t sure about including Valencia in the list because I wasnt sure if there’s enough to see and do there but I think your post is helping me make the decision. I really like St Nicolas Church and Llotja de la Seda from inside, such lovely interiors and architecture. Thanks for this informative post.

  30. hey guys, it looks like you’ve had lots of fun in Valencia, great food and great weather, congrats 😉

    I’m sending you warm regards from Bucharest, Romania!

  31. I must admit that Valencia looks like a beautiful city to visit. The architecture looks amazing. The City of Arts and Science is amazing indeed. The Torres de Serranos and the inside of the Saint Nicolas Church are places I would definitely want to check out when I visit Valencia.

  32. Glad to see you’ve enjoyed the trip despite not researching beforehand. Valencia’s architecture looks so impressive. Sounds like an amazing city to explore. I’d agree that the City of Arts and Science does look so futuristic! Definitely crossing my fingers to having other futuristic and modern-looking cities around the world! 😉

  33. I’ve been thinking about potential city break destinations for the next 12-18 months, and this reminds me that I’ve not yet visited Valencia! I love the history and architecture, dying to visit the Llotja de la Seda. And of course, the food of the region!

  34. Love when preconceived notions of a place are changed once you visit. Thanks for the tip about taking the train into the city. The Church of Saint Nicholas sound beautiful.

  35. Valencia surprised me too, although I found it a little too quiet compared to Barcelona 🙂 I love paella, although I prefer the seafood version to the traditional chicken and rabbit, although I’d still happily eat it! It’s so nice to have friends to show you the best places too.

  36. I didn’t know that Valencia was the capital of Spain during the Civil War (1936/39) Did the locals speak Catalan or Spanish only?
    I had no idea Valencia was so beautiful! Tha church was well worth the entrance fee.

  37. Valencia is so beautiful. I never its third largest place and houses almost 8 lakh people. The architecture looks great there. The artwork of Llotja de la Seda is super impressive. Food too looks quite yum. I am surely going to visit Valencia while planing a trip to Spain.

  38. What a wonderful photo story! For an erstwhile capital, Valencia is still under populated! I especially loved the photos of murals on the ceiling. Reminded me of the Sistine Chapel.

  39. I love the photographs! Such a beautiful place to explore. I can see why you got the impression of a Star Wars helmet. The architecture is simply beautiful and I want to go wander around the city myself.

  40. Wonderful photos as usual! Valencia Has really great street art and the architecture is just amazing. I learned so much about it thanks to you!

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