On the shores of the Mediterranean, this is one of the largest cities in Spain. A popular port of call for cruises, excellent for family holidays and perfect if you like exploring the history of a place through its landmark buildings, with popular beaches nearby, such as La Malvarrosa, and El Saler, which can be enjoyed for much of the year.
The medieval Carmen neighbourhood sprang up between the Islamic and Christian city walls, and a stroll around town will bring you to the Cathedral and its famous bell tower, known as 'el Miguelete', the former Silk Market, the Central Market, Serranos tower and Quart tower, and the museum of contemporary art, IVAM. Beyond the remains of the city wall are the Turia Gardens, the city’s largest green space, designed for enjoying the open air. The must-sees if travelling with children are the Bioparc and the City of Arts and Sciences.
Fallas: one of Spain’s best-known fiestas. It takes place in March (the big day is the 19th), when the streets are crowded with over 400 cardboard monuments which will later be burned in huge bonfires.
Mercat Central and Llotja de la Seda: the Central Market is one of the largest food markets in Europe, and the Silk Exchange or Llotja is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Marina Real and beaches: there are usually some glamorous yachts moored at the Marina Real. A few metres away there are fine beaches, such as the Malvarrosa, a stretch of sand with a long seafront promenade alongside it. A little further away, El Saler beach is next to the Albufera Nature Reserve.
City of Arts and Sciences: about five kilometres from the historic city centre is a striking example of futuristic architecture by the famous Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava, designer of the Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour. The complex includes an IMAX cinema and a science museum, but perhaps the most exciting feature is the Oceanogràfic, Europe’s largest aquarium.
No trip to Valencia would be complete without visiting the shops in the old city centre or elegant districts like Ruzafa or Eixample. You can find historic markets, and shops selling haute couture and shoes designed and made in the region. More information
Oceanogràfic, Hemisfèric, and the Science Museum: three must-see sites to enjoy in the complex of the City of Arts and Sciences. The Oceanogràfic is Europe’s largest aquarium, with over 500 species of marine wildlife. The Hemisfèric contains the largest cinema screen in Spain, with large-format IMAX and 3D. And the Science Museum offers plenty of interactive displays to enjoy with the family.
Climbing the Miguelete: this is the city’s most iconic tower. If you climb the 207 stairs, you will be rewarded by a spectacular view.
Valencia’s star dish is paella, which developed when the Arabs brought rice to the city. The best way to eat it is in a restaurant overlooking the sea. There is also a popular drink called horchata, usually accompanied by a traditional pastry, the farton.
The Great Mosque of Valencia, at 5 Calle de Palància, is the largest in the city.