What to do in Valencia? 16 things you should not miss
Are you planning to visit the city and still unsure what to do in Valencia? Check out these 16 must-do things
What to do in Valencia? 16 things you should not miss
Valencia is one of the most important cities in Spain. It is located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, making it one of the most dynamic cities in the country. Gastronomy, culture, history, nature? Whatever your tourist interests are, Valencia will satisfy them. Although it is the cradle of paella, it is much more than this delicious dish. Still don’t know what to do in Valencia? Take note because these are the 16 plans that you can’t miss!
So what to do in Valencia at first? Enter through its front door!
Can you think of a better way to start this tour than passing through the Serranos Towers? These two towers form the main gate of Valencia and remind us of the fortified character of the city. This building is considered one of the most beautiful examples of military architecture in the Iberian Peninsula. And no wonder! The Serranos Towers symbolized the power of the city of Valencia during the Middle Ages.
Besides defending the city against possible sieges and attacks, among its many uses, it was a prison for nobles and knights. That was the reason why they survived the dismantling of the walls. After many reforms and restorations, they are today a museum and can be visited. You can even go to the top of the towers to contemplate the city.
Now you know. You can’t leave Valencia without passing through its walls!
To take pictures of Plaza de la Virgen’s fountain
Plaza de la Virgen is one of the most emblematic squares of the city as it is one of the points with more nightlife during the weekend. It is a pedestrian space that invites you to stop at one of its many terraces to contemplate the monumental buildings surrounding it. These include the Basilica of Our Lady of the Forsaken and the Gothic palace of the Generalitat. And the Cathedral of Santa Maria too.
In addition, in the center of the Plaza de la Virgen, you will find an imposing fountain with a bronze sculpture reproducing the Turia River. Its representation style is evocative of how Romans imagined their god Neptune. That is not surprising since the origin of the square dates back to the forum of Roman times.
Visiting it is to contemplate one of the most historical places in the city. For this reason, if someone asks me what to do in Valencia, I will ask that this is one of the most important things.
Be amazed by the Basilica De Nuestra Señora De Los Desamparados
As we mentioned in the previous point, Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Los Desamparados is one of the monumental buildings that delimit the Plaza de la Virgen. It is one of the most significant places in the historic center. We are talking about a building declared a National Historic and Artistic Monument in 1981 that has great significance for all Valencians. The reason for this is that it houses the image of the city’s Patron Saint, affectionately known as the Geperudeta, that is, the hunchback in the Valencian language.
Although from the outside, it may not be particularly striking. Don’t be fooled! Its interior is an artistic treasure worth visiting. Once inside, you will admire its rich decoration: statues, marble, and paintings. But, in my opinion, the most remarkable are the frescoes of its dome, which are full of symbolism and intend to exalt the Celestial Glory. It has so many details that you could spend hours contemplating it!
If you are still unsure what to do in Valencia, this is one of the must-see places. It’s worth it!
Enter the Cathedral of Santa Maria and go up the Miguelete. Indispensable things to do in Valencia
The cathedral, along with its bell tower, is one of the most iconic buildings to see in Valencia due to the large number of architectural styles that converge in it. Although people say its origin is Gothic, the truth is that this has been a place of worship since the times of Ancient Rome. Later, during the Visigothic period, the first cathedral was erected. When the Arabs arrived, it became a mosque. Finally, after the reconquest, it was reconverted into a Christian church again. The main structure of the building dates from this period, but its construction lasted centuries. For this reason, it is so different from other cathedrals you may see in other parts of Spain
The interior contains some marvels like the Holy Chalice, supposedly the one used by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper. Also worth seeing are the Renaissance frescoes of the High Altar, rediscovered just a few years ago, depicting 12 angels playing musical instruments. Therefore, entering the cathedral is a must on this list of things to do in Valencia.
Finally, you can not miss the opportunity to visit the Miguelete, the cathedral’s bell tower. It is a 70 meters high tower with a spiral staircase of more than 200 steps. If you love panoramic views, it is a fantastic option to admire the city from a privileged point.
Eat a fartón with a fresh horchata at Horchatería Santa Catalina
Although the Horchatería Santa Catalina is not a tourist attraction per se, there are many reasons to include it in this list of things to do in Valencia. And not only for the horchata! By the way, if you’ve never heard of this drink, the business’ website explains what exactly it is.
On the one hand, we are talking about one of the oldest horchaterias in the city. Though it is so old that nobody knows the exact year of its foundation, we have evidence that it has two centuries of history. With such a long experience, it is not surprising that it is considered one of the best horchaterias in Valencia.
On the other hand, its decoration transforms it into a unique place since visiting it is like traveling back in time. Inside you will find a combination of modernist and bohemian elements. But if there is something that stands out is its ceramics of Manises, a type of traditional Valencian tile. All this gives it a particular atmosphere!
Whether to try typical Valencian products such as horchata or fartóns or to admire its decoration, Horchatería Santa Catalina is a place you cannot miss!
Counting the steps of the Santa Catalina Tower
Opposite the horchatería is one of the most beautiful Spanish baroque works, the Santa Catalina Tower. It is a bell tower with a height of more than 56 meters, built between 1688 and 1705. Its ornamentation, capitals, and, more specifically, its Solomonic columns make it a unique architectural work. But you don’t have to be an expert to admire its beauty, do you?
In addition, a peculiar event in the history of its construction paralyzed it for a long time. The architect did not build a staircase inside the tower claiming that the contract did not include it. For this reason, its winding staircase is much more modern than the rest of the building. You learn something new every day, don’t you?
However, if you are not satisfied just observing it from the street, you can also go up to marvel at the view of the city. Inside you will have to face more than a hundred steps, but everyone who walks up says it’s worth it. So, if you are passionate about panoramic views, going up the Santa Catalina Tower is something to do in Valencia! I bet you will love it!
Visit the Marqués of Dos Aguas Palace, the most beautiful one to see in Valencia
A few meters from Plaza de la Reina and Santa Catalina Tower is the Marqués of Dos Aguas Palace. The building is the result of a series of renovations of the ancestral home of the Rabassa de Porallós family. From a gloomy gothic style, it passes to an ornate rococo style that catches the attention of everyone who admires it. Due to its originality and rich decoration, it is considered an emblem of wealth in Valencia.
Today, you can visit the building because it houses the National Museum of Ceramics. And it doesn’t matter very much whether you are a lover of this type of art. Contemplating the splendid interior of the Marqués of Dos Aguas Palace is well worth it! Once inside, you will find shiny blue floors, walls perfectly upholstered with fabrics, or halls still sporting their original decoration. There is also a collection of 18th-century carriages.
Visiting this building is like traveling back in time! For all these reasons, we consider visiting the Marqués of Dos Aguas Palace one of the most important things to do in Valencia.
Walking around Town Hall Square is something you have to do in Valencia
Next to the Marqués of Dos Aguas Palace, you will find the Town Hall Square. The people of Valencia consider it the heart of the city because it is one of the biggest and most beloved ones. It is surrounded by important buildings such as the Casa Consistorial, home of the Valencia City Hall.
In addition, in the center of the square, you will find a large circular fountain and landscaped areas. This part of the city is one of the most emblematic places of the Fallas because the famous Mascletá is performed there. In addition, numerous flower kiosks in this square provide a touch of color to the ambiance.
Town Hall Square is one of our favorite places to stroll around at night!
Travel back in time inside the North Station
The North Station is the most important train station in Valencia and one of the most frequented in Spain. It is a modernist building inaugurated in 1917 where time seems to have stopped. If you think the façade is beautiful, wait till you visit the lobby! Its decoration, composed of ceramics, glass, marble, and mosaics inspired by local agriculture, makes it a unique place. Visiting the North Station is something to do in Valencia!
In addition, due to the intense bombing that the city suffered during the Spanish Civil War, it has an air raid shelter that is open to visitors today.
More things to do in Valencia being a foodie? Enjoy the gastronomy at the Central Market!
Hidden in the heart of the city is a jewel of modernist architecture, the Central Market of Valencia. The building is over 100 years old and has been open to the public for 90 years. It has an area of more than 8,000 square meters. In addition, it is full of decorative elements that evoke the orchard and gardens of Valencia. Its iron structure, tiles, stained glass windows, and domes make it one of the most architecturally charming buildings in the city.
Although many people visit it to admire its architecture, many more do it to enjoy Valencian gastronomy. Thanks to its 300 stands, it is considered the most important European market for fresh foods. In addition to buying meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables, you will find gourmet stores, international products, and stalls specializing in wines, beers, and canned food.
And as if all this were not enough, the Central Market of Valencia has managed to reinvent itself. In recent years small stands offering food have started to appear, so it is not unusual to meet friends to have some tapas at the market. For all these reasons, more and more people know it as “The Cathedral of the Senses.” So, if you are a true foodie, a visit to the Central Market is one of the things you have to do in Valencia.
Wonder with the columns of Lonja de la Seda
In front of the Central Market of Valencia, you can find La Lonja de la Seda or de los Mercaderes, another of the iconic city buildings. Its construction began around 1482 to demonstrate the wealth and prestige of the Valencian bourgeoisie of the 15th century. In addition, in 1996, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Inside you will find several differentiated spaces. On the one hand, we were amazed by the garden called Patio de los Naranjos, as it is a quiet place where you will find several sculptural details, trees, flowers, and a central fountain that will help you relax while you take a break. On the other hand, the column room is a monumental space about 17 meters high with helical columns that hold a series of domes. All this makes Lonja de la Seda one of the most Instagrammable places to see in Valencia.
Visiting the City of Arts and Sciences
The City of Arts and Sciences is a cultural complex that houses the most avant-garde art and science exhibitions. It consists of a series of modern buildings designed by the architect Santiago Calatrava, each with a different purpose. The Palau de les Arts is a hall for opera and performing arts. Hemisferic is a planetarium. Umbracle is a garden for strolling. The Museu de les Ciènces is a museum of applied sciences. Ágora is a hall for events. And finally, Oceanogràfic is an open-air marine park. Furthermore, large swimming pools and landscaped areas surround all those buildings. So, strolling through this part of the city is something you have to do in Valencia. The experience will not disappoint you!
Although tickets are required to access some of its buildings, you should not miss a visit to the City of Arts and Sciences. As you can see in the pictures, it is a spectacle to behold. Its magical and futuristic aspect has made it an icon of the city and one of its main tourist attractions.
If you think all this exudes glamour, wait until you see all these buildings at night! Why? Because when the lights are on, the reflections on the water create an optical illusion like no other – we’re sure you’ll love it!
Learning about marine wildlife at the Oceanogràfic
As you have read in the previous section, Oceanogràfic is an open-air marine park where different habitats of the world are represented in an area of around 110,000 m2. That makes it the largest aquarium in Europe and one of the biggest in the world. Dive in it and discover the oceans’ secrets as you walk under sharks in the longest underwater tunnel on the continent.
In addition, at the Oceanogràfic, you will find more than 45,000 specimens of about 500 different species: dolphins, turtles, rays, jellyfish, crustaceans, penguins, seals, reptiles, birds, and an infinite number of fish species. You’ll also have the unique opportunity to meet the only family of beluga whales in Europe. Take a look at what you’ll find in this remarkable place!
As if that wasn’t enough, Oceanogràfic offers shows where the animals are the stars, different food outlets, souvenir shops, and even an underwater restaurant. As you can imagine, it’s a visit that the whole family will enjoy. So, this is one of the very best things to do in Valencia, without a doubt.
Don’t you know what to do in Valencia? Spend the day at Malvarrosa Beach!
Valencia is famous for its long beaches with many meters of sand and calm waters. But if we have to highlight one in particular, it would have to be Malvarrosa Beach. Its amplitude, fine sand, and easy access from all over the city make it one of the most popular beaches for locals and tourists. Furthermore, it has all the services bathers can imagine: beach umbrella hire, showers, beach bars, etc. It also has a full-of-life boardwalk due to countless cafes, bars, and restaurants.
It doesn’t matter if you want to enjoy a swim, a stroll, or eat an ice cream looking at the sea. Visiting Malvarrosa Beach is one of the things you must do in Valencia!
Eating a paella in one of Valencia’s best restaurants
Besides its beaches, Valencia is also famous for its gastronomy. In particular, for its star dish, the Valencian paella. But we are not talking about the usual rice dish where you can find prawns, mussels, chicken, or peas. We mean the traditional recipe!
Although there are many restaurants where you can try excellent paellas in Valencia, if you search on Google, the most prominent ones will surely be La Alquería del Pou and Casa Carmela. And no surprise! We have been lucky enough to try both, and now, we understand why both have the best ratings in the city. So, if eating a Valencian paella is on your list of things to do in Valencia, you should consider these two restaurants.
Get away from the city at La Albufera
About 10 kilometers from Valencia is La Albufera, one of the most famous Natural Parks in the region. It is one of the most representative wetlands in Spain, with a high environmental value is very high as it is home to numerous endangered species. Everyone who visits the area agrees to enhance its beauty. For this reason, it is one of the most important tourist spots in the city.
This National Park offers many activities: biking or hiking trails, boat rides, wildlife observation points, etc. Even guided tours are available on tourist buses. There are also numerous villages in the surrounding area where you can go to enjoy the local gastronomy. There is something for everyone! It is undoubtedly one of the best places to relax and disconnect from the city.
As you can see, the list of things to see and do in Valencia is very long. But it could be much longer! Although its historical center is not too big, this city has a lot to offer: nature, history, architecture, nightlife, cultural tourism, gastronomy, etc. In this list, we just numbered the things we considered the most relevant to do in valencia. But if you know the city like the back of your hand, maybe you could suggest many more. What else would you recommend us to do in Valencia? Write it in the comments. We are eager to hear your ideas!
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