Exactly a week ago today, I arrived back in England after having studied in Valencia for 5 months. In such a short space of time, Valencia became like a second home to me and although I am relieved to be back in the land of roast dinners and tap water, I already miss the beautiful Spanish city. So many people have already asked me if I would recommend visiting Valencia and my answer is YES, 100%. If you are looking for somewhere that is quintessentially Spanish but without the craziness of a capital city, then Valencia is a great option. So here today I have compiled a list (yes, I know, I really like lists) of the top attractions Valencia has to offer – I hope it’s useful for you!
The Cathedral – Valencia’s cathedral is located just off Plaza de la Virgen and is one of the most popular spots for tourists. It only costs 2 euros to get to the top and when my friends came to visit we walked up the tower just before sunset and at the top you have a panoramic view of the whole city. This, I would definitely recommend, especially if you love views, but prepare yourself beforehand as the staircase is very narrow and spiraly and seems to go on forever.
El Carmen – Carmen is a very bohemian, up and coming district, just off the centre of the city. It is full of quirky restaurants and independent shops and very popular amongst students. To me, it feels like a maze but the narrow streets and graffiti give it a great atmosphere. On the outskirts of Carmen is Torres de Serrano and around there there are a few bars where it is nice to sit in the sun and have a drink. Also during my time there, around that area there were a few festivals which took place under the towers and their adjacent bridge.
Ciutat de Les Arts I Cièncias – possibly the most famous attraction of Valencia, and apparently one of the 12 treasures of Spain, this is an architectural masterpiece located on the outskirts of the city. It includes an aquarium, a cinema, a concert hall, a science museum and a club. It is on route of the tourist bus and is a great spot to spend an entire day!
Plaza de la Virgen – if I had to choose, I would say this is my favourite little spot in the city. It is about halfway between the centre and where my flat was and so most weeks I walked through it. When my mum came to visit we sat and drank at a restaurant on the square and just people watched for hours because often this is one of my favourite things to in a city! Expect to bump into many street artists and other tourists, as this place can get quite busy. I would recommend going around the time the sun is setting as then you can experience it’s beauty in the daylight and the evening when they turn all the fountain’s lights on.
Colon – Colon is the biggest and main street in the city where all the main shops are, and consequently, where I spent the majority of my time. If you go shopping on the Calle Colon, you can expect to find international favourites such as H&M, Brandy Melville, Pull and Bear, a Corte Ingles and numerous Zaras. At the end of Colon there is the metro stop Xativa, right next to the Plaza de los Torros and opposite the train station. I believe that the bullring is still in use, but the only events I whitnessed there were concerts.
La Playa – of course, you go to a seaside city, you must without a doubt visit the beach! When I first arrived in September, there was a heat wave to around 45 degrees, so I (being pale, English and blonde) was dying and the sea was my best friend. I wouldn’t say this is the most beautiful beach I have ever seen in my life because it is a little bit industrial, however, it’s easily reachable by tram and full of wonderful restaurants and the perfect spot for an afternoon walk.
Paella – all Valencians want you to know that the famous Spanish dish originated in Valencia. And that, in fact, paella is the name of the huge pan the rice is cooked in. Traditional ‘Paella Valenciana’ is made with green beans, white beans, chicken and rabbit – something I wasn’t aware of until one of my Spanish friends said to me “Oh, I didn’t realise British people liked eating rabbit?”. But, nevertheless, I would recommend!
Russafa – Russafa is one of the areas I feel I least took advantage of during my time in Valencia. It is a very up and coming area, and because of this, I believe, the price of renting flats there isn’t as high. But in Russafa every street you go down has a quirky, bohemian restaurant or bar and on every other, there is a boutique hotel and a range of private individual, majority family run shops. As soon as you enter the area, you will pick up on the change in atmosphere immediately, it’s a lot more chilled and relaxed that the feeling in the centre and the graffiti art everywhere gives it a more bohemian feel. One place that I would recommend is Dulce De Leche – a small boutique cafe in the centre of Russafa, who make the best range of cakes!
Of course, Valencia has a lot more to offer other than what I have mentioned here, for example museums, the mercat central and parks etc, but these are what I feel to be the most interesting and the key ones I would recommend if you were just there on a short city break. Maybe you have other sites that you would recommend about Valencia? Let me know in the comments!
Jacket: Zara, Jeans: Topshop, Top: Asos, Boots: Asos, Glasses: Ray Ban.