Valencia, an architectural juxtaposition of tradition and the ultra-modern, could have jumped straight out of a sci-fi novel. Put the labyrinth of meandering streets and cathedrals next to space-age structures, like the Ciudad de les Artes y las Ciencias, and it’s easy to where the city gets its ‘whatever goes’ vibe. It might not get the same footfall as Madrid or Barcelona but we’re kinda happy about that – here’s where you’ve gotta hit when in Valencia.
Eating & Drinking
Valencia is an absolute foodie heaven. The Central Market is the jewel in the crown of the city’s food experience: a real feast for the eyes as an architectural diamond filled with fresh fruit, locally caught fish and saffron as far as the eye can see. Highlights are the fresh Valencian orange juice, oysters and deliciously rich churros.
Would it be wrong to visit without having paella? Yes. It would. If you’re looking for authentic Valencian cuisine, La Riuà is your place, on the aptly named Carrer del Mar. It’s a family-run restaurant in the historic centre that boasts the city’s best version of the classic Spanish dish. With a small collection of awards, it remains a typically humble, excellent place to dine.
It would be sacrilegious to mention Valencia without mentioning Las Fallas (1-19 March). Every day for this period men, women and children take to the streets in traditional dress to celebrate the daily ritual of the Mascleta – a five-minute bombardment of noise. It’s a firework display of thousands upon thousands of bangers, set off in rhythm, that shake the city. Smoke fills the air and the sound begins to feel like it’s coming from within you. For a few short minutes, people dance on the street to the rhythm as if it’s a baseline. The festival ends in one big party called the ‘Crema’, where satirical effigies of politicians, celebrities and public figures are burnt. Each town and village has its own skillfully crafted sculpture, which often tells a socially critical tale.
Outside the mayhem, this is a city of curiosities and learning. A long walk in the Turia Gardens, cultivated in the dried-up river bed, will take you on a flowing journey through the city. It leads up to the spaceship-like Ciudad de les Artes y las Ciencias, which houses an iMax cinema, an ocean-focused zoo, an interactive science museum and an arts centre.
Housed in a 19th-century palace in central Valencia, Caro Hotel is the living embodiment of those two opposing design concepts found all over the city, marrying the ultra-modern with historical features to create a contemporary and stylish hotel.
Located in a renovated historic building in the quarter of ‘El Carmen’, Valencia Lounge Hostel is a great place to stay if you’re on a budget. There are 11 neo-classical bedrooms, as well as a living room and kitchen where you can prepare your own meals and make life-long connections.