Valencia is one of the most interesting and authentic cities we’ve experienced. We spent a month here, embracing the culture, exploring the history and soaking up the beautiful Mediterranean sun. Valencia will always hold a special place in our hearts. If you’re lucky enough to visit one day, here’s a list of things you must do.
1. Relax in The Plaza de la Virgen: It’s absolutely beautiful and it’s right in the center of the historic district. Pick one of the many outdoor cafes, get a drink and some tapas and enjoy the sound of the fountain while you people-watch.
2. Drink Agua de Valencia: While you’re in the Plaza order Agua de Valencia. It’s a mixture of orange juice, champagne, vodka, gin and sugar and it’s as amazing as you’re imagining. Neon straws and stirrers are a must.
3. Visit the City of Arts and Sciences: Among other things, the “city” is home to a science museum, planetarium, sculpture park and Europe’s largest aquarium. Plus, if you choose to walk, it’s a wonderful stroll through the old Turia riverbed which is well-known for its beautiful parks and gardens.
4. Check out Gulliver’s Playground: I’m a huge fan of Jonathan Swift and Gulliver’s Travels so when we accidentally found this playground I was very excited! The structure is Gulliver after he’s been tied to the ground by the Lilliputians and it’s positively awesome. It’s all arms and legs, staircases and slides.
5. Eat Paella: Remember this old Verizon commercial where the mom sends her son a message saying she’s making paella for dinner, the son then calls her and says “I don’t know what pa-ella is but I’m not eating it — ever.” The mom orders a pizza. Well, that kid is me. That mom is mine. But you absolutely cannot visit Valencia and NOT eat paella. The good kind takes a while but it’s worth the wait. You will not be disappointed.
6. Picnic under palm trees: The weather in Valencia is almost always perfect for a picnic. Pack some bocadillos and snacks and go pretty much anywhere. We liked picnicking in the Turia gardens where there were always tons of dogs to watch and play with.
7. Climb Torres de Quart and/or Torres de Serrano: The towers were once part of the wall protecting Valencia. Today they still bear the bruises of cannon balls launched by Napoleon’s army. They’re a must see and if you have time, pay the 4 euros and climb to the top. The view alone is worth it.
8. Go to the beach: Malvarrosa beach is easy to get to and a great way to spend the day. It’s a wide beach with fine sand and a fun boardwalk with a great group of bars and restaurants. Definitely check out La Pepica.
9. Visit the Cathedral de Santa Maria: Back in the Plaza de la Virgen you’ll find one of the most impressive churches in the city both inside and out. Take your time walking through it and admire the detail.
10. Shop at the Central Market: This place is a feast for eyes and mouths. The market has everything you need, from fresh meat and cheese to produce and seafood. You can buy ingredients to cook a meal or buy pre-made foods to eat as you wander. You’ll be surprised how quickly time passes here.
Have you been to Valencia? What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!