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Different ways to explore Valencia

Valencia

Valencia-València

Unusual guided tours of the Mediterranean city and its surrounding area

Valencia is a city worth taking time over, exploring every detail and discovering the places you might miss on a first trip. The famous City of Arts and Sciences and the Miguelete tower are always great places to visit. But to see what really makes a city tick, you have to pause and enjoy the atmosphere in its sunny squares and its markets, discover the legends behind its monuments, explore restored neighbourhoods like Cabanyal, or see the light of the Mediterranean suffusing the landscape in La Albufera. If you’re looking for intriguing, unusual activities that let you see the city in a different way, we suggest you take note of these tours.

Learn about Valencia’s past life as the City of Silk

Let’s travel back in time to the 14th to 18th centuries, when the silk trade was the lifeblood of the city. You can track the footprints of this past thanks to a guided tour which takes you to fascinating places like the Silk Exchange, one of Valencia’s most beautiful buildings, with 15 late-Gothic vaults and columns that spread out like palm trees. This route also stops at the Silk Museum, in the Velluters district where the silk-weavers used to work, and in a shop selling traditional Valencian costume.

The Silk Exchange, Valencia

In search of the Holy Grail

Not many people know that the myth of the Holy Grail, the chalice from the Last Supper, is connected to Valencia. The story goes that this relic, closely connected to the history of the Templars and to legendary figures like King Arthur, was brought to Spain and came to Valencia Cathedral in the 15th century. Today the Grail Route suggests visiting several important religious buildings in the city, such as the church of San Nicolás (with such impressive frescoes it has been called the “Sistine Chapel of Valencia”) and the Cathedral itself, with its Chapel of the Holy Chalice.

Valencia Cathedral

Tasting Valencian wines

The reputation of Valencia’s wines is steadily rising. So as well as trying iconic local dishes like paella, we recommend accompanying your meal with wines from the region with a Designation of Origin. For example, a white wine from Alto Turia or Serranía, or a red from Requena-Utiel or Campo de Liria. The Valencians are also very fond of a sweet wine called mistela (must with alcohol) to accompany desserts, and a cocktail called “Agua de Valencia”. If rather than going it alone you would prefer some culinary expertise to guide you, there is a guided tour that includes a Valencian wine tasting and tapas in the taverns of the old quarter. Another fun option is the Wine Bus, which takes you in a guided tour of two wineries in the Requena-Utiel area. Requena also offers an alternative combination of activities: rafting and wine tourism.

Wine tasting

Las Fallas: get a closer look at Valencia’s most iconic fiesta, any time of year

Valencia would not be the same without its most famous fiesta, Las Fallas. Although the most important day of the week-long fiesta is 19 March, it’s fun to follow the route any time of year to learn more about the history of this event, when giant papier-mache figures or ninots are burned. During your visit to Valencia, you can go to the balcony at the Town Hall, from where the fallera mayor announces the beginning of the mascletà; or immerse yourself in the art of the Fallas in the two museums dedicated to these popular cardboard monuments: the Fallero Museum, which houses the ninots pardoned from the fire by popular vote since 1934, as well as posters of Fallas and photographs; and the Museum of Fallero Artists, a good sample of the work of local artists specialising in the Fallas, and in other fields.

Fallas festival, Valencia

A day in the market gardens of Valencia

The Valencians are very proud of the landscape formed by their market gardens and orchards. To see how farmers continue to work and develop these areas, you can try unusual activities like taking a horse-drawn carriage through the gardens, picking and cooking your own vegetables, or visiting a museum to see the farming tools that were used in the 19th century. There are many routes through Valencia’s orchards: from thematic walks about organic farming to tastings or a literary journey through the landscapes of the work of the Valencian writer Vicent Andrés Estellés. There is even a Horchata Route that will take you through the heart of the orchards, where you can see an authentic tiger nut dryer and finish up with a tasting of horchata and traditional cakes (fartons) in an original horchatería in the middle of an orchard.

Tiger nut fields near Valencia

Exploring La Albufera Natural Park

About 20 kilometres from the city centre is this beautiful natural space. It includes one of the largest lakes in Spain, so it’s a great place for a ride on a traditional local boat, a type called albuferenc. Even better if it’s near sunset, because the reddish tones are quite spectacular. To eat, we recommend the area on the shore called El Palmar, with restaurants famous among the locals for their excellent paellas, or all i pebre made with eels from the lake. Within the park itself, you can also take the Rice Route to learn a little more about how it is cultivated and even attend a practical workshop to learn how to prepare an authentic paella with firewood.

Sunset at La Albufera Natural Park

Cabanyal, a former seaside village reinvented

If you prefer staying in the city of Valencia but you’re intrigued by the atmosphere of the traditional fishing village, we recommend El Cabanyal, quickly becoming a fashionable neighbourhood. Here industrial buildings are being remodelled to create cultural spaces, new restaurants are popping up all the time, and it still seems to have the authentic spirit of the Mediterranean. You can discover the history and heritage of this Protected Historic Site, with houses that preserve the architecture of the nineteenth century, through a route on foot with expert guides.  This historic neighbourhood was once the inspiration for artists such as Sorolla, and we can see why.

El Cabanyal neighbourhood

Agricultural excursions

This last suggestion is ideal for travellers with more time to spend, who would like to take a side trip to try local specialities in the small towns and villages around Valencia. There’s no better way to enjoy the products of the Region of Valencia than visiting the places where they are grown. You can book agricultural tours of Sueca and its rice paddies, Relleu and its almonds, Planes and Alcoy and their cherries, Alboraya and its horchata, Ayora and Cofrentes and their honey, Onteniente and its persimmons, Villareal and its citrus fruit, Viver and Vilafamés and their olive oil… You can be sure to leave with a good taste in your mouth and a full suitcase.

Fields of vegetables around Valencia
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