Valencia Credit  Turismo  Valencia    Cathedral

Why go?

Often overlooked in favour of its glamorous neighbour Barcelona, Valencia has all the benefits of its rival city – fantastic food, great architecture and world-class museums – without the drawbacks (that is, hordes of tourists). A well-balanced cocktail of old and new world, gourmet and unpretentious local food, Valencia has a little of everything you could look for in a holiday. Go now before everyone else realises what they’ve been missing.

What to do

The maze of Moorish streets in Valencia’s oldest district, El Carmen, is worth pottering around for hours. Enter through one of 12 ancient city gates and head for the central squares – sleepy during the day, they burst into life with cafés and restaurants in the evening. The cathedral, located on Plaza de la Reina, is splendidly decorated inside, and supposedly houses the Holy Grail. Less grand in scale, but no less impressive in its ornamentation, is the Basilica of the Virgin on Plaza de la Virgen. Make your way south west to the Mercado Central – it’s one of the largest open-air markets in Europe, where traders from over 1,500 market stalls haggle with locals under the vaulted art deco roof. Nearby, the restored Silk Exchange is more than worthy of its UNESCO-protected status. Amble past the Ceramics Museum (its striking exterior is a highlight), to the Plaza Ayuntamiento with its quirky architecture, then on to the railway station, which boasts mosaics illustrating the city’s vital trade in oranges. The Mercado de Colón has lots of shops and restaurants, but if you’ve picked up some nibbles from the Mercado Central, take your picnic to the Turia Gardens – eight kilometres of former riverbed that’s now a park. The city has dozens of museums, but don’t miss the Museo de Bellas Artes (museobellasartesvalencia.gva.es), housed in a former convent, or IVA M (ivam.es), the modern arts museum with an excellent restaurant, La Sucursal. To the east you’ll find the City of Arts and Sciences (cac.es), a mind-bogglingly futuristic complex of space-age buildings and exhibits; just walking through it is an experience. From here the coast is within walking distance; The maze of Moorish streets in Valencia’s oldest district, El Carmen, is worth pottering around for hours. Enter through one of 12 ancient city gates and head for the central squares – sleepy during the day, they burst into life with cafés and restaurants in the evening. The cathedral, located on Plaza de la Reina, is splendidly decorated inside, and supposedly houses the Holy Grail. Less grand in scale, but no less impressive in its ornamentation, is the Basilica of the Virgin on Plaza de la Virgen. Make your way south west to the Mercado Central – it’s one of the largest open-air markets in Europe, where traders from over 1,500 market stalls haggle with locals under the vaulted art deco roof. Nearby, the restored Silk Exchange is more than worthy of its UNESCO-protected status. Amble past the Ceramics Museum (its striking exterior is a highlight), to the Plaza Ayuntamiento with its quirky architecture, then on to the railway station, which boasts mosaics illustrating the city’s vital trade in oranges. The Mercado de Colón has lots of shops and restaurants, but if you’ve picked up some nibbles from the Mercado Central, take your picnic to the Turia Gardens – eight kilometres of former riverbed that’s now a park. The city has dozens of museums, but don’t miss the Museo de Bellas Artes (museobellasartesvalencia.gva.es), housed in a former convent, or IVA M (ivam.es), the modern arts museum with an excellent restaurant, La Sucursal. To the east you’ll find the City of Arts and Sciences (cac.es), a mind-bogglingly futuristic complex of space-age buildings and exhibits; just walking through it is an experience. From here the coast is within walking distance; stroll along Las Arenas beach as the sun sinks below the horizon, or hop on a catamaran tour – Mundo Marino (mundomarino.es) departs from Marina Real Juan Carlos I. You’ll get fabulous views of the city from the water.

Where to stay

In a prime location just outside El Carmen and next to the leafy grounds of the botanical gardens, Chill Art Hotel Jardín Botanico (00 34 963 154 012, hoteljardinbotanico.com) has stylish, quirky rooms decorated with bespoke art pieces. Out in Valencia’s gleaming new business quarter, the Sercotel Sorolla Palace (00 34 961 868 700, hotelsorollapalace.com) has modern, comfortable rooms, plus a pool, sauna and gym.

Where to eat and drink

Come to Valencia and you won’t stay hungry for long. Located in the heart of the old district since 1836, El Siglo (00 34 963 918 466) specialises in horchata, a milkshakelike drink of crushed tigernuts, water and sugar, into which you dip a fluffy fartón (a sugar-dusted pastry). If you need a beachside refresher, pop into the Neptuno Hotel (00 34 963 567 777, http://foodandtravel.com/?URL=http%3A%2F%2Fhotelneptunovalencia.com">hotelneptunovalencia.com), which has a stylish bar overlooking the Las Arenas; its Tridente Restaurant serves rice and fish dishes. Michelin-starred Riff (00 34 963 335 353, http://foodandtravel.com/?URL=http%3A%2F%2Frestaurante-riff.com">restaurante-riff.com) is an intimate restaurant serving exceptional fish-led Mediterranean cuisine with a German twist, courtesy of chef Bernd Knöller. Tapas bars are plentiful, but head to tiny Sidrería El Molinón on Calle de la Bolsería, where the wine list is scrawled on a giant blackboard the length of the wall, and locals pour cider from jugs while munching on meatballs and cabrales a la sidra (cheese in cider). Afterwards, head to the bustling squares of El Carmen for a glass of agua de Valencia – a potent mix of Valencian orange juice, cava and spirits.

Time running out?

Pick up some chewy turrón, the city’s signature nougat, at stalls in the Mercado Central.

Map

Travel Information

Travel Information

Currency is the euro. Valencia is one hour ahead of GMT and is a two-hour, 20-minute flight from London.

Getting There

Easyjet (easyjet.com) flies from London Gatwick to Valencia.
Iberia (iberia.com) flies from London Heathrow and London City to Valencia, via Madrid or Barcelona.

Resources

Valencia Tourism (turisvalencia.es) is a useful resource for planning your trip.

Average daily temperatures and rainfall

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Max Temp151618192226292927221815
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