Currency is the euro. Time is one hour ahead of the UK. Flight time from London is 2 hours and 15 minutes. The cost to carbon-offset is £3.30. For more details visit http://climatecare.org
EasyJet flies from London Gatwick to Valencia. easyjet.com Ryanair also runs a daily service from London Stansted to Valencia Manises Airport. http://ryanair.com
Visit Valencia is full of inspiration for what to do while you’re visiting, as well as providing practical advice. http://visitvalencia.com
Or the Bull Kills You by Jason Webster (Vintage, £8.99) follows detective Max Camera through the streets of Valencia as he investigates the death of Spain’s most celebrated matador.
Spain’s third-largest city has the beaches of Barcelona, museums of Madrid and sun of Seville rolled into one. It also has a mix of the traditional and modern in its architecture and food. While fiestas arrive by the barrel, the granddaddy of them all is Las Fallas, a street party celebrating the arrival of spring from 15-19 March.
What to do
Plan your trip to coincide with Las Fallas and start by exploring the streets surrounding Plaza Ayuntamiento where you’ll spot huge effigies resembling celebrities, politicians and fairy tale characters. On the final night they’re burned to the ground against a backdrop of popping fireworks to mark the spring equinox. Although it’s unpalatable to many, bullfighting is ingrained in local culture and particularly popular during Las Fallas. You can buy tickets http://servitoro.com to watch the matadors at Plaza de Toros. Later, explore the 13th-century Valencia Cathedral http://catedraldevalencia.es to see Goya paintings and a chalice thought to be the Holy Grail. Climb the 207 steps of its Miguelete bell tower and you’ll be rewarded with standout views. Feeling parched after the climb? Valencia is known for its oranges, so grab a freshly squeezed juice from vast Mercado Central 00 34 963 82 91 00, http://mercadocentralvalencia.es just a five-minute walk away. Finish off with a trip back to the future at the City of Arts and Sciences 00 34 902 10 00 31, http://cac.es which was designed by local architect Santiago Calatrava. Its space-age design offsets the more traditional elements beautifully. Head to Oceanogràfic http://oceanografic.org the biggest aquarium in Europe and home to more than 45,000 specimens from giant spider crabs to dolphins.
Where to stay
The best hotels in Valencia take historic buildings and renovate them with a combination of period features and contemporary style. Hospes Palau de la Mar 00 34 963 162 884, http://hospes.com is housed in two former 19th-century palaces. Inside, the palace’s original marble staircase sits alongside crisp design. Caro Hotel 00 34 963 059 000, http://carohotel.com is also found within a palace but this one was built on top of ancient ruins. Check out he Roman, Arabic and gothic remains on display before enjoying breakfast in the courtyard. The spread of meats, cheese, bread, fruit and unlimited cava is fit for a queen. Nearby in the old town, Hotel Vincci Mercat 00 34 961 014 260, http://en.vinccimercat.com has a rooftop pool. If you’d prefer to be closer to the beach, opt for Neptuno Hotel 00 34 963 567 777, http://neptunohotelvalencia.com where all the rooms have sea or marina views and the sun terrace has a Jacuzzi that’s perfect for cooler days.
Where to eat and drink
Don’t leave without trying horchata (a sweet, cold drink made from tiger nuts) that’s native to the city. Sant Catalina is our favourite. 00 34 963 912 3 79, http://horchateriasantacatalina.com
There’s no better place to try paella than in its hometown. The traditional version is served with meat instead of seafood and is eaten on Sundays with family and friends. Try Casa Roberto 00 34 963 951 361 for an authentic choice made with snails and hunks of chicken and rabbit. Casa Montana 00 34 963 672 314, http://emilianobodega.com is one of the oldest tapas joints in town and serves up excellent dishes such as roasted piquillo peppers stuffed with bechamel and tuna. The front bar has a lively atmosphere but if you duck under the counter you can also get a table at the back. For a modern take on tapas, visit Vuelve Carolina 00 34 963 218 686, http://vuelvecarolina.com and feast on razor clams in coconut milk and toasted sesame seeds. Michelin-starred Restaurante Riff 00 34 671 875 975, http://restaurante- riff.com has minimalist interiors but its plates have maximum flavour. Pick one of the tasting menus for marinated sea bream with orange blossom and langoustines with tomatoes and dill. Wherever you choose, round your night off at opulent Café de las Horas 00 34 963 917 336, http://cafedelashoras.com and sip on agua de Valencia (cava, orange juice, sugar and spirits) until the early hours.
Time running out?
Check out the street art in El Carmen neighbourhood. The mixed media works on Calle de en Gordo could rival east London any day.
Average daily temperatures and rainfall
This article was published on 13th March 2017 so certain details may not be up to date.