You can spend the first day in the historic city centre. Take your time discovering all Valencia’s most famous heritage buildings, mainly in the Gothic style. You can do it all in a leisurely walk.
A morning in the historic quarter
Just five minutes’ walk from Plaza del Ayuntamiento, a good start to a day in Valencia is a breakfast of cold horchata with fartons (cakes) in one of the traditional horchaterías on Plaza de la Reina. It’s a local speciality, but more importantly... it’s delicious! While you’re in one of the city’s prettiest and busiest squares, enjoy the atmosphere, buy an ice cream in an unusual flavour, and admire the silhouette of the Cathedral and the belltower, known as “el Miguelete” and one of the symbols of Valencia.
Did your breakfast fill you with energy? In less than 5 minutes you can reach Plaza de la Virgen, with another view of the Cathedral, and the Basilica of La Virgen de los Desamparados. Now it’s time to have a look inside the Cathedral (did you know the Holy Grail is supposed to be here?) and climb the 207 steps of the Miguelete tower (51 metres tall) for a really unforgettable view.Back at ground level, you’re very close to the curious Plaza Redonda, a circular space surrounded by traditional craft shops and tapas bars, and another star attraction, the Valencia Silk Exchange, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Visiting the Lonja and the Mercado Central
Time for some tapas. Many people regard the 15th-century Lonja de la Seda or Silk Exchange as the prettiest sight in Valencia. We recommend going inside to see its delicate spiral columns and peaceful courtyard full of orange trees. Opposite, you will surely notice the striking Art Nouveau architecture of the food market, Mercado Central. As stunning as the exterior is, the real experience is inside. There are over 1200 stands selling food and drink of every kind, and the colours and scents of fruit, vegetables and spices are overwhelming.
As you will undoubtedly be feeling hungry by now, you can take the opportunity to have lunch in the market’s Central Bar with a menu based on the fresh seasonal produce all around you. Alternatively, you can take a table at one of the many bars and restaurants on the stairs around the Lonja, Plaza del Collado, Plaza del Negrito or Calle Caballeros to try clóchinas al vapor (mussels), tellinas (clams), esgarraet (pepper salad), patatas bravas, etc.
Afternoon in the Turia Gardens and cool evening
After a good lunch, you might like a stroll in the Turia Gardens. Five minutes from Plaza de la Virgen, you’ll find the magnificent 14th-century Serranos Towers. From here you can enter the Turia Gardens, a park that winds nine kilometres along the former course of the river Turia. A lot of people like to cycle from end to end! If you’re an art lover, you could stop along the way at the Valencia Institute of Modern Art (IVAM), with artists like Julio González and Ignacio Pinazo among its collections.
If you still have the time and energy, you could pass by the National Ceramics Museum just to see its very photogenic façade. Otherwise, it’s time to look for a place to have dinner and a drink, on a square in the charming Carmen district or the trendy Ruzafa neighbourhood.