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Spain’s third largest city is a vibrant mix of old and new, combining a colourful history with outstanding modern architecture to form a unique and accessible city that is fun for just about everyone. Discover the sights, sounds and culinary delights of this fabulous European city with this 2 day itinerary.
This 48 hour itinerary starts by exploring some of the newer parts of the city. In the second day, you’ll discover more historic Valencian sites.
City of Arts and Sciences
No trip to Valencia is complete without time spent in the City of Arts and Sciences. There’s no way you can spend enough time here too see the everything, so choose 2 or 3 of your favourites from the list:
L’Umbracle - Walk through landscaped gardens littered with art and sculpture.
El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe - The Prince Philip Science Museum is a spectacular building with a rotating program of scientifically interesting exhibits. Fun and educational for kids and adults alike.
L'Oceanogràfic - Seaworld style amusement park. It’s not cheap but it’s a lot of fun and popular with locals and tourists.
El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía - Opera house and theatre. Catch a spectacular evening show.
L'Hemisferic - Shaped like a giant human eye, the key attraction here is a 3-D theatre with audio available in multiple languages.
L'Àgora - Large sporting and exhibition space that hosts a number of key events every year.
If you find enough entertainment to pique your interest, it’s perfectly acceptable to spend your entire day here. There’s an excellent two part guide here.
How to get to the City of Arts and Sciences
The City of Arts and Sciences is located near the ocean on the site of the old Turia River. Design commenced in 1998 and is spearheaded by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela, two architects local to Valencia.
There are a number of ways to get here, including taking the metro to Alameda and walking through the Turia River Park, riding a bike or catching buses 19, 35, 40 or 90. You can also drive, but try to avoid parking on site, as there’s cheaper parking at the shopping centre nearby.
Walk the old Turia River
Up until the mid 1950s a large river ran straight through the middle of Valencia. Not unlike London’s Thames, the Turia was a wide, fast moving river that flowed from the nearby mountains to bisect the city. Now it’s a long, wide park that runs from the City of Arts and Sciences through Valencia itself. After you’ve had your fill of scientific marvels and modern public entertainment, there’s nothing quite so serene as a gentle stroll through the park.
The storm that flooded Valencia
It was only after a large storm burst the river banks, causing mass flooding of up to two meters in the centre of Valencia that the people decided to reroute the Turia completely around the city. The end result is a long, wide park running right through the middle of the city. Hire a bike or just slip on some sneakers and walk the lengthy expanse of the park. Along the way you’ll see Royal Gardens, Botanical Gardens, playgrounds, sports fields and and a seemingly endless number of domestic and international plant species.
Some relics of the old river remain. As you journey through the park you’ll pass under bridges that once connected the two sections of Valencia. Some of these bridges are hundreds of years old, and still function as land bridges over the park.
The centre of Valencia offers a daring mix of old world architecture and contemporary Spanish lifestyle. Bright spaces, palm trees, warm weather and smiling, bustling locals are all here as you explore everything the city centre has to offer.
Start your day with a coffee and a horchata
Valencianos love their coffee. And you’ll find some of the best in Europe tucked away in old world buildings or buzzing in modern cafes. This list covers some of the top places in town, but if you’re looking for a real experience to go with your macchiato you should check out:
Antique Cafe - With delightful old world charm, entering Antique Cafe is like stepping into a time machine. A diverse range of coffees and teas is sure to keep even the fussiest caffeine lover happy.
Horchatería de Santa Catalina - With a taste akin to a sweet milkshake, horchata is a traditional beverage made from tiger nut that is both nutritious and refreshing. Horchateria de Santa Catalina also serves up hot coffee, hot chocolate, and a range of yummy sweets and pastries.
Climb the Valencia Cathedral
You don't have to be a devout Catholic to enjoy the Valencia Cathedral. Beyond the architecture (which is a pastiche of romanesque, gothic and baroque) there are two outstanding Goya paintings in the San Francisco de Borja chapel which are not to be missed, but the most controversial part of the Cathedral is the ‘Holy Grail’. Supposedly the actual cup Jesus Christ drank from at the last supper.
Search for the Holy Grail
While Valencia Cathedral isn’t the only place in the world to hold such a significant Christian artefact, the legend surrounding this particular cup is intriguing to say the least. Smuggled from Rome after the death of Christ, it was supposedly placed into hiding during the Muslim rule of Spain, and only emerged in the 15th Century, returned the Valencia Cathedral by King Alfonso the Magnanimous.
But there’s more than just Christian mysticism on display. Climb to the top of the Miguelete Bell Tower and enjoy panoramic views of the city in this once in a lifetime cathedral experience.
Grab something to eat at Valencia's Central Market
Get a closer look at the lives of local Valencianos at the Central Market. Located in a sprawling modernist structure, the market runs deep with history, bustling with people jockeying for position as they hunt for best goods on display.
Only a stone’s throw from the Valencia Cathedral on Plaça del Mercat, the market is divided in food types, making it easy to navigate even if you don’t speak the language. Fish, vegetables, meat and fruit stalls all proudly display their wares. There’s something to discover here even for the seasoned traveller, with regional crops and traditional meat dishes that are sure to inspire and delight the tastebuds.
Enjoy a picnic lunch in the park
Grab whatever takes your fancy from the market and head to one of the nearby parks or the Turia and enjoy a picnic in the delightful Valencian weather. Or if you’re looking for something more formal, a quick wander of the backstreets around the Central Market will open up a wide variety of
Take a dip at Valencia’s Beaches
Unlike many European cities, Valencia has, for the most part, kept its beaches clean and unspoilt. In fact, Valencia’s beaches can rival those of Australia, albeit on a much smaller scale. If you’re visiting during the summer, a trip the the beach can be the perfect opportunity to unwind, play in the calm surf, and relax in the sand.
Beaches to check out include:
Play de Patacona
Playa de Pinedo
Playa Port Saplaya
The best of Valencia nightlife
Say farewell to Valencia by partying the night away in some of the city’s best hotspots. This guide has an exhaustive list of places to enjoy a drink, some good food and spot of dancing, but if you’re looking for the ultimate in Valencian nightlife we recommend:
Las Mas Bonita - Fun, friendly with great food and wine and a breezy atmosphere down by the beach.
Marina Beach Club - A true Spanish style beach nightclub with daybeds and a pool if you want to start early.
Riff - A Michelin star rated restaurant, it’s probably the best in town.
With it’s relaxed atmosphere, gorgeous beaches and cool mix of old and new, Valencia is a city that will captivate you from start to finish. After 48 hours here, you’ll wish you had 48 more.
There’s a whole lot to see and experience and here at ExecuJet we want to help you see and feel it all. Most importantly, ensure you always travel in comfort and style when choosing your next holiday destination by choosing ExecuJet for all your private charter needs.