Updated February 2020.
While many people arrive in the city of Valencia to experience the culture of the region and relax on one of the many fabulous beaches, it has so much more to offer! Between fabulous festivals, amazing weather, and great museums, you can spend a lot longer in Valencia than two days if you would like. However, if you have limited time, then narrowing down the main sights can help you enjoy the experience a lot more–and help you to feel like you aren’t missing out on anything!
How to get there
The best way to get straight to Valencia is to fly there. The city has a major airport (VLC) located not too far from the city center, and plenty of flights go in and out on a regular basis. Alternatively, you can also fly into some other major airports around Spain and take the bus or train system to get to Valencia.
Flying into Madrid can be cheaper, and the high-speed train can get you there in little more than an hour. Costs vary, but depending on the time of day and season you might only have to pay around $30. Taking the bus system is longer (around four hours), but it’s also very cheap at around $20. Up to you and your budget on how best to get there!
When to go
One of the major pluses of Valencia is that it is enjoyable to visit almost all-year round. Since it is located right in the heart of the Mediterranean, winters are mild and summers are cooler than some of the other areas in Spain. I recommend April through June and September through November–that way you miss both the worst of the cold and heat.
How to get around
Valencia has plenty of rideshares and taxis, as well as a bus system. However, the city is small and all the major sights are located within walking distance. I recommend wearing a sturdy pair of tennis shoes and exploring the city the way it was meant to be visited–by foot. You can always catch a cab if need be!
(Looking for more information about Spain? Check out my guide so you can plan your trip sustainably and smoothly.)
Where to stay
Valencia has options for all types of travelers, whether you are more budget-oriented or looking to splurge a bit. I recommend staying in the city center if possible so you can easily get to the major sights without having to take a rideshare or taxi.
Carrer de la Barcelonina, 5
+34 963 51 4612
One of the best parts of Spain is that you can stay in wonderful hotels for some reasonable prices. The Catalonia Excelsior offers a wonderful room for you to relax and experience a little bit of luxury for not that much money.
Carrer de Pelai, 44
+34 961 01 5015
Included breakfast, a beautiful decor, and a great location makes this hotel a great option for those who want to have a solid place to stay for an extremely affordable price. Make sure you check out the stunning terrace where you can relax with a glass of sangria after a long day.
Carrer de Daoiz i Velarde, 6
+34 963 62 9689
This hotel offers a basic and clean room perfect for those looking for a place to relax in the middle of the city center. It also features a stylish lobby and free WiFi, making is the ideal spot for those on a budget but who want to upgrade from a hostel.
Where to eat
Of course, when you’re in Valencia, you are going to want to check out places for paella. Knowing which spots to go can be a bit of a challenge, since every restaurant claims to have the best! Here are some recommendations that can give you an authentic experience without having to empty your wallet.
Carrer de Josep Benlliure, 69
+34 963 67 2314
Located near the ocean, you’ll find some amazing seafood and some delicious tapas. Make sure to treat yourself to the wine selection here and be open to trying a number of different things off the menu. It might seem a little expensive compared to some of the other options in Valencia when it comes to eats, but it will be a meal you won’t forget.
Avinguda del Cardenal Benlloch, 22
+34 961 13 2291
This is the spot if you want to gorge yourself on some delicious paella, as well as some quality house wine. Known throughout the city as one of the best spots to try traditional dishes, you should be sure to call in advance for a reservation if you plan on sampling some of their amazing offerings.
Carrer de Xile, 5, Bajo
+34 963 81 1266
Seafood, seafood, seafood. This spot can’t be beat for its unique take on some of the area’s best fish dishes. With a variety of options, you can satisfy even the pickiest eater. Combining tradition with innovation, this is a meal that you’ll be talking about for years after you’ve had the final bite.
With this itinerary, you’ll be able to see all of the city’s main sights. Make sure to check out some paella restaurants–it’s said that this is where the dish originated and it’s where you can find the best in the world. If you have some extra time, make sure you stop at some local spots above in order to enjoy the dish at its finest.
Day 1–Valencia Nord Train Station, Mercat Central, and the Marques de Dos Aguas Museum
There are many places where you can begin your journey in Valencia, but many people choose to begin at the Valencia Nord Train Station. Right outside, you will be able to see the city’s bull fighting arena up close. However, I recommend bypassing the actual bullfighting itself. You’ll be shocked at how cruelly the animals are treated–though the structure is worth checking out for its architectural merit. From there, walk towards the Plaza del Ayuntamiento to see the central post office and the town hall. Not too far from there is the Mercat Central, which is the largest indoor market in the entire city. If you plan on grabbing a snack or souvenirs while in Valencia, this is the place to do it.
Down by the old Arab Quarter, you will find an archway that was constructed in 1440. The Portal de Valldigna is massive, and you can get an idea of how the citizens who lived within that quarter felt every time they passed underneath the arch to go to their homes in the past.
Over in the Plaça del Carmen you can see one of the remaining standing old city gates, Torres de Serranos. There was once a total of twelve gates, but only two remain. If you wish to see the other one, head over west to the Torres de Quart.
The Marques de Dos Aguas Museum will probably be one of the last stops on your Valencia itinerary for your first day. The entrance to this museum is amazing and you may find yourself loitering for quite some time before you finally go inside! You can find items inside from all eras, and the collection includes some incredible ceramic pieces from the 18th century and some stunning pieces from Picasso.
Day 2–City of Arts and Sciences, L’Oceanografic, and Playa de la Malvarrosa
Your second day in Valencia should start early–there’s still plenty to see! The City of Arts and Science should be at the top of your Valencia itinerary for the day and I recommend planning several hours there in order to explore the main exhibitions. With six buildings and a massive bridge, you can easily lose track of time and throw your entire Valencia itinerary out the window!
Most people love wandering around the aquarium, L’Oceanogràfic, but personally I loved the Museu de les Ciències Princípe Felipe and L’Hemisfèric for an interactive glimpse of the night sky. If you are still up for walking, you can take a stroll through the Jardin del Turia. These massive gardens are gorgeous at any time of the year–one of the benefits of being in Valencia!
If you didn’t spend a lot of time by the Torres de Serranos the day before, wander over to the Plaza de la Virgen to see the main cathedral, a pink basilica known as Basílica de la Mare de Déu dels Desamparats, and the stunning Turia Fountain. As an alternative, the Fine Arts Museum is worth a stop for art lovers and history buffs. Inside, you can see many unique Valencian Gothic paintings along with modern masterpieces.
Make sure not to miss a beach day at Playa de la Malvarrosa. Not only can you rent a chair for the afternoon for the reasonable price of six euro, but the beaches here are calm and offer table service, as well. After a long day of walking, it feels amazing to sit by the Mediterranean Sea and enjoy the good life in this beautiful city. Finish the day off at a restaurant serving classic tapas, paella, and sangria.
Have you ever been to Valencia? Any recommendations for those visiting?
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