Despite the fact that the world has stopped lately due to the coronavirus pandemic, I still decided to go on a short trip to Valencia and get some ‘fresh air’, as I was desperate to get out of the island. Here’s a 3-day itinerary you can follow if you ever visit this beautiful city!
Facts about the city:
While Valencia’s official language is Spanish, they have their own language called Valencian, which is a dialect of Catalan. Another insteresting fact, the Túria park in Valencia was once a river which flooded the whole city in the ’50s.
3 Days in Valencia
Trip to Valencia – Day 1
Our brazilian friends, Sérgio and Marina, found some very cheap Ryanair flights (5 euros each way!) to Valencia, Spain. Despite the fact that no one is travelling for leisure nowadays, because the situation with COVID-19 is getting out of control everywhere, we still decided to go.
The truth is that we were all craving to get some ‘fresh air’ and see someplace new and this trip to Valencia seemed like the perfect getaway. Malta can seem quite small an suffocating when you’re forced to stay in the island! Alejandro had visited Valencia before, but for the rest of us, it was the first time.
We booked three nights at Hotel Conqueridor, located in the heart of the city. The hotel was decent, but we were expecting a bit more for a four star hotel, to be honest.
We went to the hotel to leave our backpacks there, and then went for a walk in the city centre. One of the first attractions we saw was Mercado Central. This is one of the oldest public markets in Europe still in operation The Mercado Central is also one of the largest in Europe, with a predominantly Valencian Art Nouveau style.
This is where you can find the flavors and colors of the city, a true temple of gastronomy: with seasonal fruits and vegetables, an abundance of fresh fish, Iberian pork stalls, huge varieties of ham and cheese, bread makers, olive producers, wine traders, and even a section dedicated to saffron (a spice used in the preparation of Valencian paella and Fideuà)!
We found a stall inside the market where they were selling Venezuelan and Brazilian food. Sérgio was delighted to finally find farofa, and Alejandro was also happy to buy some venezuelan arequipe.
Also, right outside the Market, we found another place where you could buy all types of food from Latin America. We bought some empanadas, tequeños and coxinha, and they were delicious!
Right across the market, we saw another landmark – Llotja de la Seda. Built between 1482 and 1533, it was originally used for trading in silk, and it has always been a centre for commerce. It is a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture.
We continued walking and got to the Ayuntamiento – the City Hall. We only viewed from the outside but the façade of The Town Hall is very impressive. It is situated in a lovely square with a nice dancing fountain which is lit up in the evenings.
On our way to the Cathedral, we stopped to buy some horchata. This is a sweet drink made of grains, ground nuts, and spices, typical from Valencia. You can find it everywhere around the city!
After drinking our horchata, we reached Plaza de la Virgen. The Plaza de la Virgen is one of the most beautiful squares in Valencia and is located behind the Cathedral. Beside it is the Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados, from where it gets its name.
We only saw the Catedral de Valencia from the outside. Some people claim the holy grail is inside! The very impressive octagonal bell-tower, El Micalet, is the landmark of Valencia.
The last landmark we visited on the first day was the Torres de Serranos. These towers are considered to be the largest Gothic city gateway in all of Europe, and were constructed at the end of the 14th century as part of the city’s fortification, provisionaly housing prison cells.
Before heading back to the hotel, we stopped at a tapas bar called Barecito to eat something and drink some wine and beers before we passed out. We were super tired because we had to be up at 5am to catch our flight, and without realizing, we had walked non-stop for like 10h around the city! The service was amazing and the tapas (nachos with an amazing guacamole sauce and friend calamares) were great. I totally recommend it!
Trip to Valencia – Day 2
On our second day in Valencia we took a bus to visit the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences). This place is just incredibly beautiful! This cultural and architectural complex houses several buildings and structures.
One of them is the L’Oceanogràfic, which is the largest aquarium in Europe. This aquarium is a home to over 500 different species. We were tempted to go inside, but the admission tickets are quite expensive! Since Alejandro and I already been to the largest aquarium in the world in Atlanta, we were not that excited about this one. However, I’m sure the Oceanogràfic is worth the visit!
There is also the Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe (Felipe Science Museum), which is an interactive museum of science that resembles the skeleton of a whale, and the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, which is an opera house and performing arts center.
Then there’s the L’Hemisfèric, which houses an IMAX Cinema, planetarium and laserium. The building is meant to resemble a giant eye. The surrounding water pool’s bottom is glass, creating the illusion of the eye as a whole. This was the first building being completed, back in 1998. You can rent little boats and go into the water pool.
The last structure I would like to highlight is L’Umbracle. This is an open structure enveloping a landscaped walk with plant species indigenous to Valencia. This structure, built over a car park, was designed as an entrance to the City of Arts and Sciences.
After exploring the City of Arts and Sciences, we stopped at a restaurant called La Mar to have lunch. The guys ate lobster paella, and I ate pulpo a la plancha. My octopus was amazing, but they regreted having ordered lobster, because it’s super messy to eat – and not much meat inside!
After lunch, we took a long walk along the Turia Park, which is located right next to the City of Arts and Sciences. This place was the former riverbed of the river Turia, which was drained and rerouted after a catastrophic flood in 1957. The old riverbed was then turned into this picturesque sunken park!
This is the largest purely urban garden of Spain. It runs through the city along 9 km of green space boasting foot paths, leisure and sports areas, and romantic spots. This is the perfect place for runners, cyclists, families and nature enthusiasts. Crossed by 18 bridges full of history, the former riverbed passes by the city’s main museums and monuments on either bank.
After a long walk across the park, we went back to the city center and stopped at a Brazilian place to buy some pão de queijo. We passed in front of nice buildings, like the Plaza de Toros, and did some shopping (Primark, yey!).
We ended the day next to the Central Market again, and sat down for some tapas and Agua de Valencia at a place called Boatella Tapas. Even though this drink has ‘water’ in its name, it is a famous alcoholic drink in Valencia: a mix of cava, orange juice, vodka and gin. After our drinks, we headed back to the hotel.
Trip to Valencia – Day 3
On our last day in Valencia, we took a taxi and went to the Albufera area. This area is where you can eat the most authentic Valencian paella. We had lunch at a restaurant called Bon Aire. I totally recommend it, the paellas were amazing!
After lunch, we did a boat trip in Albufera, around the lake. This is a vast expanse of water with various migratory and resident birds. The natural biodiversity of the nature reserve allows a great variety of flora and fauna to thrive and be observed year-round. Very beautiful and peaceful!
On our way back to the city centre, we’ve decided to stop at a random beach – Playa Autocine, since we wouldn’t have time to see the main beach of Valencia – Playa de la Malvarrosa – in daylight, because we were quite far. Even though this was a ‘random’ beach, we loved being there for a bit, feel the sea breeze in our faces and the sand in our toes!
This stop marked the end of our trip in Valencia. Thankfully, everything went well and none of us felt any virus symptoms. We had to wear the mask at all times, but it was definitely worth it. Valencia is a beautiful city, and I enjoyed every moment of this well-deserved break from reality!
Check other posts about my travel adventures in the Travel section of my blog