Valencia is on the east coast of Spain and the third-largest city in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona. The city is situated on the banks of the Turia, on the east coast of the Iberian Peninsula, fronting the Gulf of Valencia on the Mediterranean Sea.
Its historic center is one of the largest in Spain and its heritage of ancient monuments, views and cultural attractions makes Valencia one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.
If you have never been to Spain and are thinking of visiting, your first choices might be Madrid or Barcelona by default, none the less, you should also consider Valencia, not only because it’s the 3rd most important city in the country, but because it has many wonderful and unique things to offer as well.
Only three and a half hours away by car from Madrid and Barcelona, it is also easily accessible by train, bus or plane.
Valencia should be on your Spain itinerary, here are a few reasons why:
The food: Food throughout Spain is well known and where ever you go you can sure feast on Tapas and great Spanish wine. But Valencia is also the birth place of Paella, and you must try it if you are in town. This rice renown dish is most popular with seafood, but you can also try it with chicken and or rabbit.
If you want a real paella experience, venture out to Alfubera National park and see where the rice for paella is grown, before you enjoy paella though, take a boat ride in the Alfubera lake and enjoy bird watching.
Getting there is easy, take public transportation and be there in under an hour (about € 1.5 each way), or take a tour and these usually include lunch and a boat ride (about €30 Euros.
Central market: This is a great place to find gourmet foods like pork products, famous Serrano Ham, pancetta, fresh produce and fresh seafood, also you can get a bite to eat at Central Bar, an award-winning restaurant by Michelin Star Chef Ricardo Camarena, all while admiring the buildings architecture and eye-popping tile work.
Saint Joseph Coves: Located about 40 minutes outside of Valencia, these are a sight not to be missed.
The Saint Joseph Coves are located on the Costa de Azahar, in the heart of the Mediterranean, Les Coves de La Vall d’Uixó is the longest navigable underground river in Europe, here you can explore these marvelous coves by boat and be one with nature and experience sensations of peace and harmony unlike anywhere on Earth.
If you are lucky to be there during the summer months, make sure to find out if a concert or concerts are taking place in the coves, run and get tickets because you will be part of an unforgettable experience. It does not matter what the act is, you NEED to experience a concert inside these fantastic coves.
City of Arts and Sciences: designed by famed Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela, this complex was built on the former bed of the River Turia, which was drained and rerouted after a catastrophic flood in 1957.
This complex is an entertainment, cultural and architectural complex, which houses the Opera house, Oceanography center, amongst other entertainment venues.
The architecture resembles something taken out of a science fiction movie or the Jetsons, perfect harmony of white tones, tile and water, blend in perfect harmony that shocks the senses in a mystical and modern way, making this complex, the most important modern tourist destination in the city of Valencia.
This complex has also been a controversial one, depending on the local you talk to, you will learn that they have strong and mixed feelings about this city, some think its an eye sore and feel it was a waist of local money that went so over budget, they still can’t get over it. Others feel that it has helped the city by putting it in the map if you will, thus helping the economy and promoting tourism. Go, visit, and you be the judge…
The street art: if you like and or appreciate art, you will find eclectic, thought provoking, beautiful street art as you walk thru the streets of Valencia, some are hidden in plain sight, make sure you are on the lookout, so you don’t miss it.
There are more reasons to visit Valencia other than the ones I have listed, the intention is to peak your curiosity and hopefully you will consider Valencia on your next trip to Spain, have fun planning….