Valencia is where paella first simmered over a wood fire. It's a vibrant, friendly, mildly chaotic place with two outstanding fine-arts museums, an accessible old quarter, Europe's newest cultural and scientific complex – and an exciting nightlife scene.
This you may not know!
- Paella is the local dish of Valencia and in the olden days your status was marked by the ingredients. Rich Paella had chicken and rabbit and duck, and peasant Paella had vegetables and snails.
- Check out the amazing street art around the Ciutat Vella
Make sure you tour the city late evening into the night. The way the light hits the buildings is magical.
You’ll see Valencia’s best face by simply wandering around the Barrio del Carmen, strolling the Jardines del Turia (in what was once the city’s river) or people-watching in one of the city’s many plazas.
Valencia’s Romanesque-Gothic-baroque- Renaissance Catedral is a one-off compendium of centuries of architectural history and home to the Capilla del Santo Cáliz, a chapel containing what they say is the Holy Grail.
The stunning Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias is a complex of museums including the L’Oceanográfic aquarium, the Museo de las Ciencias Príncipe Felipe (an interactive science museum), L’Hemisfèric planetarium, IMAX theatre and L’Umbracle (a covered garden). Also here is the shimmering, beetle-like Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía performing arts centre. Bus 35 goes from Plaza del Ayuntamiento.
Stretch your towel on broad Playa de la Malvarrosa, which runs into Playa de las Arenas, each bordered by the Paseo Marítimo promenade and a string of restaurants. One block back, lively bars and discos thump out the beat in summer. Take bus 1, 2 or 19, or the high-speed tram from Pont de Fusta or the Benimaclet Metro junction.
(Calle Salvador Giner 6) This tiny place does a creative range of vegetarian tapas using quality prime ingredients.
((Plaza Vicente Iborra 3) Down a blind alley, this slim white rectangle of a place does an innovative midday menú, perfectly simmered rice dishes that change daily and great meat grills.
(Plaza Picadero dos Aguas 3) Tucked away off Calle Prócida
(At weekends, locals flock to Las Arenas just north of the port, where a long line of restaurants overlooking the beach serve up paella. La Pepica (Playa de Levante 6) is one of the locals’ favourites.
Drinking and Dancing
The Barrio del Carmen, university area (around Avenidas de Aragón and Blasco Ibáñez), the area around the Mercado de Abastos and, in summer, the new port area and Malvarrosa are all jumping with bars and clubs.
Café San Jaume
(Calle Caballeros 51) This is a stalwart of Carmen’s bar scene, with lots of room upstairs and a particularly fine terrace.
(Plaza del Negrito) At this bar, which traditionally attracts a more leftwing, intellectual clientele, the crowd spills out onto the square.
(Calle Alta 28) The genial owner, a well-known DJ in his own right, picks from his collection of dub, reggae and funk.
Metro line 5 connects the airport, downtown and port. Valencia has an integrated bus, tram and metro network. Tourist offices stock maps for both services. The high-speed tram leaves from the FGV tram station, 500m north of the cathedral, at the Pont de Fusta. This is a pleasant way to get to the beach, the paella restaurants of Las Arenas and the port.
The walk from the city centre to the beach and Cup Port Village along the old river bed was a great tip from our Guide."