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Your Essential Guide to Valencia Spain

Karen standing in front of a mural in Hortensia Herrero Museum, Valencia Spain

I just returned from an unforgettable trip to Valencia, Spain, as part of Tile of Spain’s “Passport to Creativity” Tour. Immersed in the city’s vibrant energy, I experienced firsthand its stunning mix of gothic architecture, mouthwatering cuisine, and sunny Mediterranean beaches.

Now, I’m excited to share this essential guide to Valencia to help you plan your own amazing Valencian adventure!

Valencia, located on Spain’s eastern coast, is a treasure trove of history, art, food, and lively nightlife. From exploring the city’s historic center to strolling along its picturesque beaches, you’ll quickly discover why Valencia is an ideal Spanish escape.

Whether you have a few days or a week, this guide to Valencia will cover everything you need to know to create the perfect Valencia itinerary.

Guide #1—What To Eat and Drink in Valencia

Paella

Your trip to Valencia is not complete without trying their famous paella!

This iconic rice dish originated right here in the region, and Valencians are incredibly proud of their culinary heritage. Traditional Valencian paella features chicken, rabbit, and local vegetables like green beans and butter beans, all cooked in a saffron-infused broth.

But you’ll find delicious variations across the city —seafood paella is especially popular along the coast. Check out some of Valencia’s best rice restaurants specializing in paella at Visit Valencia.

Learn more about the history of this culinary and cultural staple in the new episode, The Design Tourist, streaming on Amazon Prime.

Cannoli

During my wanderings through Valencia, I stumbled upon Via Dolce Cannoleria, a charming shop specializing in the iconic Sicilian treat. Naturally, I had to indulge! Their cannoli were exceptional—the crisp, golden shells crackled satisfyingly, giving way to a creamy, ricotta-based filling.

I tried flavors like classic vanilla with chocolate chips, a unique pistachio variation, and a decadent chocolate-filled delight. It was a sweet taste of Italy in the heart of Spain and a reminder that sometimes the best culinary discoveries happen when you least expect them.

Coffee & Horchata

Horchateria de Santa Catalina, a Valencian institution, drew me in with its ornate tiled walls and lively atmosphere. While they’re famous for their sweet and refreshing horchata made from tiger nuts, I couldn’t resist their coffee offerings.

A rich café con leche hit the spot, its strong coffee flavor perfectly balanced by the creamy milk. The aroma of roasted beans and sweet pastries swirled around me, creating a delightful sensory experience.

With each sip, I soaked up the ambiance. Locals chatted animatedly, and tourists admired the intricate tilework. I felt immersed in Valencia’s vibrant culture.

Guide #2— Where to Shop in Valencia Spain

When it comes to finding authentic Spanish souvenirs, stylish fashion, and local gourmet treats, Valencia offers fabulous shopping opportunities.

The Central Market

This massive market is a shopping paradise, with over 400 stalls across 8,160 square metres. Open since 1928, the market is one of the largest in Europe.

Stroll through the dizzying selection of produce, meat, cheese, baked goods, and foodie specialties. Look for ceramics, embroidered fabrics, paintings, and souvenirs too.

Don’t miss the amazing seafood hall. The Central Market perfectly captures Valencian gastronomic culture all under one roof.

Mercado Colon

Forget about your regular market experience – Mercado Colón is something special. It’s like stepping into a beautiful old postcard, with those gorgeous high ceilings and intricate decorations. But instead of dusty stalls, you’ll find the most delicious smells wafting out of cozy cafes and gourmet shops.

The best part of Mercado Colón is that it’s not just about buying things; it’s about soaking up the atmosphere. You’ll see locals picking up their fresh produce, friends sharing tapas and glasses of wine, and maybe even catch a bit of live music.

Whether you’re hunting for the perfect souvenir or just want a taste of authentic Valencia, Mercado Colón is the place to be. Trust me, it’ll charm you in a way no ordinary shopping mall ever could.

If tile design catches your eye, be sure to check out the Tile of Spain podcast for the latest trends and inspiration from top designers.

Beher Charcuteria & Restaurante

The moment I stepped into the Beher Charcuteria & Restaurante, a heady aroma of cured meats enveloped me. Hams of all sizes hung from the ceiling, their deep mahogany color and glistening fat hinting at their rich, complex flavors.

The expert behind the counter offered me a sample of Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, the most prized variety.

a piece of meat on a stand

I learned about the meticulous curing process and the significance of different breeds of pigs. The shop’s dedication to quality and tradition was evident in every detail.

Picking out a selection of hams to bring home felt special, knowing that I was carrying a piece of Spain’s rich culinary heritage with me.

Guide #3—Fun Things to Do In Valencia

Beyond the historic sights, Valencia offers plenty of fun ways to experience the city’s vibrant culture.

Relax on the Beach

Valencia boasts over 4 kilometers of idyllic beaches, each with its own personality. For lively crowds and buzzing nightlife, head to Malvarrosa Beach, stretching along the waterfront promenade.

Families flock to Cabanyal Beach with its safe swimming and adjacent playgrounds. Patacona Beach draws a local scene with laidback bars and cafes.

Further south, El Saler Beach offers wildlife-rich dunes and wetlands in a more peaceful setting.

Catch a Show at The City of Arts and Sciences

The City of Arts and Sciences complex houses the magnificent Palau de Les Arts Reina Sofía and Hemisfèric IMAX cinema for stunning performances.

Classical music and opera shine at the Palau de la Música concert hall. Or catch innovative works at the Teatro Talia and Teatro Olympia theaters.

Day Trips Galore at Plaza de la Virgen

Plaza de la Virgen radiates with historic charm and a lively atmosphere. Stroll through this beautiful square, nestled in the heart of Valencia’s old town.

Admire the magnificent Valencia Cathedral, whose intricate architecture spans centuries. Marvel at the Baroque splendor of the Basílica de la Virgen de los Desamparados, and glimpse into the city’s political history at the Palau de la Generalitat.

Pause by the Turia Fountain, a symbol of Valencia’s connection to its river. Sit back at one of the bustling terrace cafes surrounding the square. People-watch with a refreshing horchata or a glass of vibrant Valencian wine as the plaza comes alive with vibrant energy.

Plaza de la Virgen is a place where history, architecture, and the joy of life come together, making it an unforgettable part of your Valencian experience.

Guide #4—Where to Stay in Valencia Spain

With its compact size and excellent public transportation network, Valencia gives you flexibility in choosing accommodations across multiple neighborhoods. Here are some of the top areas and types of hotels to consider:

Historic Center

For easy access to the medieval Barrio del Carmen district plus attractions like the Silk Exchange, Central Market, and Torres de Serranos, staying in the historic center is ideal. Boutique hotels in converted palaces or faded mansions offer character and old town charm.

Some feature beautifully preserved tilework reminiscent of classic Spanish design. If you’re inspired to own a piece of Spain, the ‘From Tapas to Tiles‘ article provides a fascinating overview of the real estate scene.

Youth Hostel Valencia

If you’re looking for a place to stay in Valencia that’s more than just a bed, check out the city’s awesome youth hostels! They’re the perfect way to connect with fellow travelers, get insider tips on the best local spots, and experience the real Valencia without spending a fortune.

Whether you want to be right in the heart of the action or prefer a chill, beachy vibe, there’s a hostel waiting for you. Think friendly vibes, budget-friendly stays, and adventures waiting to happen!

Guide #5—Places to Explore in Valencia Spain

As one of Spain’s top cultural destinations, Valencia has no shortage of incredible landmarks and museums to explore. Here are some of the must-see attractions and monuments that capture Valencia’s unique blend of old and new.

Museums

Las Fallas Museum

Step into the Las Fallas Museum and be transported to the heart of Valencia’s most iconic celebration. I was captivated by the intricate ninots, each figure bursting with vibrant colors and satirical wit.

Examining these rescued masterpieces will give you a deeper understanding of this unique festival, its artistic traditions, and its playful spirit.

Hortensia Herrero Museum

The Hortensia Herrero Museum is a world of modern and contemporary art that will captivate your senses.

As an art lover, I was particularly drawn to the diverse collection, featuring not only traditional paintings and sculptures but also captivating multimedia art installations.

The beautifully renovated space, including its exquisite tile floors, adds to the overall aesthetic experience.

Whether you’re an art aficionado or simply curious, the Hortensia Herrero Museum offers a delightful and thought-provoking exploration of contemporary artistic expression.

Historical Sites

Palau de les Arts

The Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía captivated me with its futuristic design. This iconic landmark, shaped like a sleek, futuristic helmet, rises dramatically from its waterside setting.

Whether you’re an opera enthusiast or an architecture lover, the building itself is a true work of art and a testament to Valencia’s bold artistic vision.

Palacio Delas Aguas

Palacio Delas Aguas is a historic palace that reveals Valencia’s fascinating relationship with water. Admire the exquisite alabaster facade and step inside to discover a world of intricate details.

Marvel at the ceiling mural depicting the palace’s former owners, gaze upon the intricate floor medallion, and lose yourself in the beauty of the porcelain room ceiling.

History buffs and those with an eye for detail will find this museum a true gem, offering a glimpse into the city’s rich past.

Cabanyal District

The Cabanyal District charmed me with its irresistible blend of history and vibrant coastal life. Strolling past to traditional tiled houses, each with a story etched into its facade, felt like stepping back in time.

The aroma of fresh seafood from local restaurants mingled with the salty sea breeze, and lively cafes spilled out onto the sidewalks. This former fisherman’s village is a true gem, offering an authentic taste of Valencia beyond the bustling city center.

Old Town Square

Strolling through Valencia’s Old Town Square was like stepping onto a stage set for history.

I felt transported through time while being surrounded by magnificent architecture . Sipping a coffee at a sidewalk cafe, soaking in the lively atmosphere and vibrant energy of the square, was the perfect way to experience the heart and soul of Valencia.

Tribunal Delas Aguas

Witness a tradition that has endured for centuries at the Tribunal de las Aguas (Water Court).

This unique outdoor court, recognized by UNESCO, convenes every Thursday to settle water disputes. Seeing Valencians uphold this important part of their heritage is both fascinating and a testament to the community’s deep respect for tradition.

Caixa Forum

The Caixa Forum immediately caught my eye with its unique, almost gravity-defying structure.

The combination of exposed metal beams and the vast, seemingly suspended exhibition spaces creates a sense of wonder and possibility.

Whether you’re an architecture enthusiast or simply drawn to modern design, the Caixa Forum itself is a captivating work of art. Of course, the fascinating exhibits within are well worth exploring too!

Palacio de las Comunicaciones

Step into the grandeur of Valencia’s history at the Palacio de las Comunicaciones. I was captivated by its stunning architecture, a blend of styles that tells the story of the city’s evolution.

Whether you’re a history buff or simply admire beautiful buildings, the Palacio offers a fascinating peek into Valencia’s past.

Other Places of Interest

Matador Statue & Bull Fighting Colloseum

Stand before the Matador Statue and feel the power and controversy of Spanish bullfighting. This powerful sculpture is inextricably linked to the imposing Bull Fighting Colloseum nearby.

Even if you don’t attend a bullfight, touring the arena offers valuable insight into this complex part of Valencia’s history and sparks important conversations.

Train Station

Valencia’s Train Station is a hidden artistic gem! Look beyond the ticket counters, and you’ll be rewarded with a magnificent tiled ceiling.

Depicting vibrant Valencian scenes in exquisite detail, this artwork is well worth taking a few moments to admire before boarding your train.

Silk Exchange

Step back in time at the Silk Exchange, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that embodies Valencia’s golden era of trade.

The moment you enter the grand hall with its soaring columns and twisting staircases, you’ll be transported to a time of bustling markets and international merchants.

History buffs and architecture enthusiasts will be captivated by this landmark.

Blue Tile Dome

Discover Valencia’s hidden architectural treasures – the iconic Blue Tile Domes. These gems adorn churches, monasteries, and sometimes even unexpected buildings throughout the city.

Keep your eyes peeled as you explore! Spotting them feels like a delightful treasure hunt. Snap stunning photos of their intricate designs, a testament to Valencia’s exquisite ceramic craftsmanship.

Valencia Cathedral

Explore Valencia’s spiritual heart at the magnificent Valencia Cathedral. A blend of architectural styles, from Gothic to Romanesque, creates a sense of awe from the moment you step inside. Seek out the Chapel of the Holy Chalice, revered by many as the true Holy Grail.

But the true highlight for me was climbing the Miguelete Tower – the panoramic city views are absolutely breathtaking and worth the climb!

Guide #6 — Valencia Spain Travel Tips

A few tips will help you make the most of your Valencia visit:

Getting Around

Valencia’s metro system is fast and efficient, with new stations and lines added in recent years. Trams, buses, trains, and taxis offer additional public transit options. The walkable historic center and beaches are best explored on foot or by renting a Valenbisi city bike.

Useful Phrases

Brush up on key Spanish and Valencian words and phrases. Hello = Hola, Goodbye = Adiós, Please = Por favor, Thank you = Gracias. Most locals speak Spanish, with Valencian (similar to Catalan) used as well.

Budgeting

Prices for food, entertainment, and sightseeing are very affordable in Valencia. Opt for mid-range hotels to balance comfort and value. For luxe stays, historic properties converted into boutique hotels provide a special experience.

Guide #7— Best Time to Visit Valencia Spain

Valencia’s Mediterranean climate blesses it with mild weather and sunshine nearly all year. The best time to visit depends on your ideal activities and crowd tolerance.

Warmer Months (March–October)

  • March-May: Perfect for exploring sights like the City of Arts and Sciences or the historic Old Town. March explodes with the unique energy of Las Fallas — expect huge crowds, constant fireworks, and stunning artistic displays.
  • June–August: Hit the beach for swimming and sunbathing — lively Malvarrosa Beach or the family-friendly Cabanyal Beach are top spots. This is the most crowded tourist season.
  • September–October: Heat lessens, but sunshine remains abundant. October brings enticing food and wine festivals celebrating the region’s autumn harvest. Expect smaller crowds than in the summer and the start of Valencia’s vibrant cultural season.

Cooler Months (November–February)

  • November-December: These months burst with Christmas spirit, twinkling lights, and festive markets. Crowd levels are significantly lower.
  • January–February: Expect occasional rain showers and shorter daylight hours. Explore museums or find cozy cafes to enjoy the relaxed pace. This is the least crowded time, also offering the best hotel deals.

There’s no truly “bad” time to visit Valencia! Just plan your trip based on weather preferences, budget, and which festivals or events coincide with your ideal time to travel.

With this essential guide in hand, you’re ready to experience the heart and soul of Valencia, Spain. It’s a city that effortlessly blends the old and the new, offering a vibrant escape for every traveler.

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Picture of Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a freelance writer living in Orlando, Florida with many published bylines in magazines, newspapers, and multimedia sites. As a professional lifestyle writer, Karen specializes in art, architecture, design, home interiors and personality profiles. Karen is the writer, producer and host of the streaming series, The Design Tourist (www.TheDesignTourist.com) that brings viewers a global dose of design inspiration with episodes featuring the latest looks and trends from the world’s premiere design events and shows. She also publishes a quarterly magazine on design travel that you can read by clicking the link: https://thedesigntourist.com/the-magazine/ Her journalism background includes seven years on-air experience as a TV news reporter and anchor covering a range of issues from education to politics. Her educational credentials include a Master of Arts in Mass Communications from Northeast Louisiana University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Louisiana State University. Throughout her career, Karen has written and produced dozens of documentaries and videos for educational, commercial, corporate, and governmental clients and appeared in many TV and video productions as a professional host.

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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