DISCOVER THE BEAUTY OF THE CITY: ARCHITECTURE & NEIGHBORHOODS
Spain's third largest city has a fascinating history. As a result, Valencia is a beautiful mélange of architectural marvels from Romanesque façades to castle-like Gothic structures, to ornate Baroque residences, and Modernist buildings from the city's expansion, beginning in the late 19th century.
|Cathedral, Plaza de la Virgen|
The Valencia region is famous for its produce such as oranges and rice and wonderful food including Spain's most famous dish, Paella, and a local drink, Horchata.
Restaurant Week (Cuina Oberta) - Twice a year in spring and fall, usually June and November. With more than 50 restaurants participating, it's a great time to eat some Paella, said to originate from Valencia. Here, the pan of saffron-flavored rice is served with chunks of rabbit, chicken, snails, and vegetables (not seafood). Enjoy some at Palace Fesol (7 Hernán Cortés).
Horchatería Santa Catalina (6 Plaza de Santa Catalina; www.horchateriasantacatalina.com) Try this typical Valencian snack: Horchata, a cold, creamy, sweet drink made from chufas (tiger nuts), often served with Fartons, pastries covered with powdered sugar.
http://bit.ly/1oUSYe3) One of the largest food markets in Europe, it's a stunning example of Modernist architecture. Built in 1914, locals still buy groceries here.
Mercado de Colón (19 Calle Jorge Juan; www.mercadocolon.es) Another beautiful Modernist structure, this former food market opened in 1916. Today, it's an upscale mall with shops, cafes, and interesting restaurants such as Ma Khin Café. Concerts are also held in the atrium.
Original CV - Shop at one of these stores (or online) for authentic, Valencian food & gift items to bring home.
PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE
Valencia was founded by the Romans in 138 BC, occupied by Muslims for hundreds of years, then became part of the medieval kingdom of Aragon in 1238. During the 15th century, it was one of the most important Mediterranean cities. Today, the city's past is present as it moves into the future. Here's just a few of the wondrous sites to be visited: Museo Arqueológico de La Almoina (Plaza de La Almoina; http://bit.ly/190Xl1S) This museum, on the site where Valencia was founded, offers an exploration of the city's history through excavated ruins from various periods. Archaeological finds include Roman baths, Visigoth tombs, and a Moorish courtyard.
|Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange)|
This splendid Gothic-style mercantile palace was built in the 15th century to symbolize Valencia's wealth and power. Merchants came from all over to trade here--oil, then silk, followed by agricultural products. Now, it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Plaza de Toros (28 Calle de Xàtiva; www.torosvalencia.com) Bullfights (corridas) still take place in Valencia. If that's not your thing, the beautiful Plaza de Toros amphitheater, built in 1859, is also used as a concert venue. Take a tour of the ring and adjacent museum.
|City of Arts & Sciences|
Palau de la Música (30 Paseo de la Alameda; www.palaudevalencia.com) Valencia's concert hall is known for its wonderful acoustics. Some of the most prestigious orchestras in the world perform here.
|Arturo Mora ceramics|
Museo Nacional de Cerámica de Valencia González Martí (2 Poeta Querol; http://bit.ly/1DnHGEV) Housed in a beautiful, 15th-century palace, the museum traces the history of ceramics from prehistoric pieces to contemporary works by Picasso.
Lladró Museum (Ctra. de Alboraya, Tavernes Blanques; Tel: +34 963 187 000; http://bit.ly/1A2Qcqw) Lladró figurines are beloved world-over. At the headquarters in the Tavernas Blanques suburb, see the family's private collection since the 1953 beginning and take a factory tour to observe how everything's made. (Reservations required.)
Beach Day: As a costal city, Valencia has beautiful beaches just a metro ride away from the center of town. Stroll along Paseo Marítimo, the lovely beachfront promenade lined with cafés and restaurants, as you soak up the sun.
|Paseo Maritimo, Valencia's beachfront|
Better Than a Zoo: Bioparc - Without leaving Valencia, be transported to an African wildlife sanctuary. If you're traveling with kids or just love animals, spend a day here watching antelopes, zebras, gorillas, ring-tailed lemurs, warthogs, lions, and leopards, just to name a few, roam freely in natural habitats. Have a meal on the cafeteria terrace as giraffes stroll by!
DAY TRIPS: MANISES - Renowned for ceramics since the 14th century, with some 30 pottery workshops, many open to visitors--be sure to visit La Cerámica Valenciana & Arturo Mora. Manises is just a metro ride away from Valencia. SERGORBE - In the Valencian province of Castelló, Segorbe is famous for many things including a bull-running week (Semana de Toros) and fabulous olive oil, Belluga.
LEARN SPANISH AND/OR STUDY MUSIC
Making Your Trip Easier: Valencia Tourist Card - Unlimited travel on public transport, plus discounts at shops, restaurants and museums.
Where to Stay: There are any number of great places to stay from budget hostels (Nest) to lovely boutique hotels to five-star accommodations (Las Arenas, right on the beach) or vacation-rental apartments. AdHoc Monumental Hotel (4 Calle Boix, Tel: +34 963 919 140; www.adhochoteles.com) - This charming, boutique hotel with a delightful & helpful staff is right in the heart of the Old Town district.
|Modernist building in Ruzafa|