Valencia is a Mediterranean city, open to the sea, which combines the tradition of its historic quarter with the innovation of the modern City of Arts and Sciences complex. And there are more good reasons to spend a few days there, not least the delicious food, the parks, the beaches, and its very walkable pedestrianised centre. You can see a lot of it in two days, but it deserves more time to really explore and enjoy it.

DAY 1: Avant-garde Valencia

You could devote the first day to the modern side of Valencia and its avant-garde architecture, including the City of Arts and Sciences. This is the new symbol of the city and the image by which many people now recognise it the world over. A visit to the complex can take most of a day, as it includes the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum, the Hemisfèric and the Oceanogràfic. You can also see the exterior of the Reina Sofía opera house, the Ágora and Umbracle structures, and cross the striking L’Assut d’Or Bridge.If you start your visit around 11 am you can spend the morning in the science museum, where you’ll find the time passes much faster than you think. The great thing about the museum is that it's interactive, so you can take part in experiments and learn about science while having fun. After this visit, you could have lunch at one of the restaurants on the site. If you’d like to try the city’s more avant-garde cuisine, there are several prestigious restaurants in the area with spectacular views of the City of Arts and Sciences.The next stop is the Hemisfèric, an impressive cinema shaped like the human eye, where watching a film becomes more exciting than ever thanks to stunning 3D images and ultra high definition.The rest of the afternoon can be spent discovering the underwater world at the Oceanogràfic. It is one of the world’s largest oceanariums and the largest in Europe, with around 50,000 specimens representing 500 different species. In just a few hours you’ll see sharks, dolphins, walruses and sea horses, as well as a few less-known species such as the enormous belugas. The dolphinarium is one of the largest in the world.Worth knowingThere is a combined ticket providing all-day entry to the Science Museum, the Hemisfèric and the Oceanogràfic.The films at the Hemisfèric last approximately 20 minutes.DINNER IN THE HISTORIC QUARTERThe climate in Valencia is ideal for strolling, which is an excellent option for the evening. The best place to do this is the historic quarter, where there is always a lot going on and most of the streets are pedestrianised. The area around Plaça de la Mare de Déu and Plaça de l'Ajuntament is usually very lively, and is a good place to find a restaurant where you can have dinner. On a warm evening, you might like to dine outdoors at one of the many pavement cafés in the area. In this area you’ll also find examples of the city’s traditional architecture, such as the cathedral, the basilica of Los Desamparados and the Palau de la Generalitat where the Regional Government sits. After dinner, you could go opt to go clubbing in El Carme district, or maybe stroll over to have a look at the remains of the old city wall: the Quart and Serranos towers are both floodlit at night.

DAY 2: Maritime Valencia

We suggest spending your second day in Valencia exploring its links to the sea. In the morning, pay a visit to Marina Real, a large area by the harbour developed when the city played host to the America's Cup, and take a look at the Veles e Vents (Sails and Winds) building. There are several places in the area to stop for a snack while enjoying the sea views. It’s probably a good idea to do this before continuing on to the seafront promenade by the Arenas and Malvarrosa beaches. These are two large city beaches where you can cool off in the Mediterranean without leaving town. Afterwards, continue your stroll along the promenade until you begin to feel peckish. That’s your cue to sit down for a paella valenciana at one of the many pavement cafés and restaurants along the seafront. There's no better way to enjoy this delicacy than right by the sea.GOTHIC VALENCIAAfter lunch, you could spend the afternoon exploring Valencia's historic quarter. The dominant architectural style is Gothic, notably the UNESCO World Heritage Lonja de la Seda or Silk Exchange, the Palau de la Generalitat, and part of the cathedral. If you can climb to the top of the cathedral’s Miguelete tower you’ll be rewarded with a stunning panoramic view of Valencia. A tour of the cathedral interior is also recommended.A good route to follow would be to start at the railway station, next to the bullring, and then continue up Avinguda Marqués de Sotelo to Plaça de l'Ajuntament and the Town Hall. The Silk Exchange and Central Market are both within easy reach of this square via Avinguda de María Cristina. Next, continue to Plaça del Tossal and then take Carrer dels Cavallers to Plaça de la Mare de Déu, also known as Plaza de la Virgen, the lovely square between the Palau de la Generalitat and the cathedral complex. Finally, head down Carrer dels Serrans to Porta de Serrans, the tower thatt guards the bridge, Pont dels Serrans, across the city’s largest park, the Turia Gardens.Taken at a gentle pace, you can follow this itinerary and see most of the historic quarter of Valencia in just two hours. You should even have time to visit the González Martí National Museum of Ceramics and Decorative Arts, in the Baroque palace of the Marqués de Dos Aguas, with its photogenic façade. As well as Valencia’s traditional ceramics, the museum displays decorative objects, carriages, paintings, and some of the rooms of the palace itself. You could round off your two days in Valencia with a well-deserved rest over a cool drink in the city centre, such as the local horchata (tiger nut milk), and then enjoy the lively atmosphere of the streets in the afternoon as you buy a few souvenirs.

Worth knowing

You can book guided tours of the city at the tourist office.The sightseeing bus is an excellent option for getting around the main attractions.The Valencia Tourist Card, which you can buy online or at tourist offices, gives you unlimited use of public transport, free admission to municipal museums, and discounts in other attractions, shops and restaurants.Valencia is a very flat city, and very easy to get around by bicycle. Find out where you can hire a bike at the tourist office.

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