As food travel bloggers, it’s no secret that we travel for food. But, we understand two important things. First, not everyone is focused 100% on eating like we are. Second, and more important, you have to fill the time between meals. That’s why we not only wrote a comprehensive Valencia Food Guide but that we want to share our recommendations for the top things to do in Valencia Spain.
Check out more tips in our Ultimate Spain Food Guide – How To Travel in Spain
Valencia Sightseeing Guide
Many travelers visit Valencia for the beach, and they should. It’s beautiful. There are other options for what to do in Valencia, though, from some top museums to outdoor activities to food and wine tours. In this post, we will share recommendations for interesting things to see in Valencia as well as some activities that make great day trips from Valencia. Because when it comes to what to see in Valencia, there’s more than the beach.
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.
The Valencia Beach
Before we get to our list of what to do in Valencia Spain, let’s talk about the Valencia city beaches. When looking at a Valencia Spain map, particularly as a tourist, it might be hard to determine where the best place to stay is in Valencia. There are two primary areas for travelers, there’s the city center and Old Town and there is the beach area. There are buses that travel between the two areas, so it’s not impossible to hit both areas during a visit to Valencia. But, if you are there for the beach, then maybe stay in that area.
There are two beach areas in the city, Playa Cabanyal and Playa de la Malvarrosa Valencia, with Malvarrossa being just slightly north. There is a long promenade allowing travelers to walk and walk, all along the beach. There are a few restaurants nearby that are worth checking out. Try Casa Montana for traditional cuisine in an old wine bar. There is a dining area on one side, but check out the traditional wine bar on the other side for a more local feel. Or, check out Casa Carmela for paella rice dishes, and other traditional Valencian food.
Where to Stay in Valencia
We stayed at the AC Marriott Hotel Valencia, which is close to the City of Arts and Sciences Valencia. We really enjoy the AC Hotels, which is a Spain hotel chain that is now part of Marriott. This AC Hotel is a great find if you plan on renting a car to explore the region, or plan to spend most of your time at the City of Arts and Sciences. During the summer it’s not too far from the beach either. As an alternative, the AC Marriott Colon Valencia is located in the heart of Old Town and is more centrally located.
Check the latest prices for the AC Marriott Hotel Valencia here.
Check the latest prices for the AC Marriott Colon here.
Find the best rates for Valencia hotels here.
Best Things To Do in Valencia
So what else is there to do in Valencia besides the beach (and eating paella!)? Included below are some recommended activities, or just areas to wander through. I’ve also recommended a few tours to help explore the Valencia sights. I am generally a fan of independent exploration, but also think it’s important to learn something about the history and the culture of a new destination.
Valencia City of Arts and Sciences
This has to be the heart of Valencia tourism and is certainly one of the top Valencia Spain points of interest, the Valencia City of Arts and Sciences. Within the complex are several Valencia tourist attractions including a Science Museum, the Oceanogràfic Aquarium, the Hemisfèric (a 3D Cinema), and the opera house at the Palau de les Arts. Even if you are not a traveler focused on culture, the City of Arts and Sciences is a Valencia must-see destination. Just stroll around the park and admire the architecture, even if you don’t plan to visit any of the buildings themselves.
Looking for a unique way to explore Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences? Check out this Valencia Tour of the City of Arts and Sciences, which includes a rooftop tapas and wine tasting.
Explore Jardin Del Turia
It’s impossible to look at a map of Valencia and not notice the extensive park that circles Valencia Old Town and stretches beyond the City of Arts and Sciences. The park ends just at the edge of the Valencia Port. What was once the Turia River is now a dried-up river bed that is a stunning example of city planning. The gardens stretch for nine kilometers, making it a perfect spot for a run or walk, or even to grab a late morning coffee at one of the cafes. Valencianos definitely make the most of the park (as did we). It’s a big running destination for a city that prides itself on being the city of running.
Explore the Valencia Old Town
As with many European cities, Valencia’s Old Town or Ciutat Vella, is loaded with some of the top tourist attractions in Valencia. It forms the characteristic and historic center of the city. Loaded with narrow alleyways, cobblestone streets, and picture-perfect architecture, it’s worth it to just stroll and get lost. Stop at a cafe or visit one of the numerous boutiques. The Ciutat Vella is roughly bordered by the Jardins del Turia on the north and east. On the west and south it’s bordered by a series of roads that encircle the old town, including Calle Guillen de Castro and Calle Colon, among others.
Within the Old Town, check out the San Nicolas church, with what people often describe as Valencia’s version of the Sistine Chapel. At the edge of the Old Town is the Torres de Serrano. Climb to the top for a birdseye view of Valencia. Or, check out a Valencia Museum, like the Valencia Ceramics Museum even if just to admire the architecture from the outside.
Want to learn more about the history of Valencia? Book this Private Walking Tour of Valencia
The Valencia Cathedral
Located off the Placa de Reina, Valencia’s Cathedral is unique in that it is almost hidden in a corner of a square rather than forming more of a centerpiece. It also has a mixture of Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque architecture. It supposedly has the “Holy Grail” on display, the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper. Climb the spiral staircase inside to check out the rooftop and views of the city.
Visit the Valencia Central Market
I just love visiting local food markets when we are in a new city. We love our Girona central market and have visited some amazing markets in Barcelona too. We also toured the Central Market in Malaga and simply loved it. The Mercado Central, or Valencia Central Market, is one of the oldest in Europe. The Spanish government declared the Valencia market a Heritage of Culture Interest Site.
The market is in the center of Valencia Old Town. It’s definitely more of a locals’ market than La Boqueria in Barcelona, with most of the space dedicated to meat, seafood, and vegetable stalls. I also love visiting the market bar when possible. Stop at Central Bar at the Central Market. Central Bar is from by Chef Ricard Camarena, who has a Michelin Star Restaurant in Valencia. Central Bar offers more contemporary versions of traditional Spanish tapas, including some fabulous looking bocatos, or sandwiches. They also offer a good selection of local Valencia wines by the glass. It’s a must visit at the Valencia central market. The market is open from 7 am to 3 pm six days a week. The market is closed on Sunday.
Drink Horchata at the Mercato de Colon
The Central Market is for wandering, the Mercato de Colon is for eating. There are a series of cafes and restaurants upstairs. Downstairs there are a few specialty market stalls as well as some Asian restaurants and a cocktail bar called Down Monkey Business. There is also another outpost from Chef Ricard Camarena called Habitat.
The market building is a pretty space, and definitely worth a visit. The building opened originally in 1916, and it is stunning. While there drink a horchata at Horchatería Daniel. Horchata is a typical drink for the warm weather in Valencia during the summer. It’s a milk-like substance but made from tiger nuts instead of cow milk. That makes it a vegan-friendly Spanish drink. It’s milky, creamy, and sweet.
Check out the Mercato de Colon on this Valencia Food Tour and Wine Tasting
Try a Food You’ve Never Eaten Before
Yes, sometimes I feel like a broken record, but there is more to Valencia than paella! Valencia is home to a lot of unique dishes that are not typical elsewhere in Spain. And, I am certain, a few of these dishes or ingredients are ones that you’ve never tasted before. If there is a place in Spain to eat something different, Valencia is it. How about all i pebre, a potato and eel stew. Or mojama, a dried and salted tuna. Valencianos also like a dish called esgarraet, which is a dish with red peppers and salted cod. There are so many unique dishes in Valencia you must try.
Things To Do Near Valencia Spain
If you have the time, there are some interesting day trips from Valencia Spain. These are great options whether you are in town for a city break, or even if stopping through on a Mediterranean cruise.
One great way to spend a day in Valencia is on a visit to L’Albufera, the wetlands outside of Valencia City Spain. This area is known for some of top rice production in Spain, and probably in Europe. The fertile land is perfect for growing rice, and is one of the reasons why Valencia is so associated with paella. Book this Gastro Experience in L’Albufera, including a wine tasting a paella show cooking from €110
Requena is the Valencia wine region that is only about an hour drive outside of the city. It’s a great destination for Valencia wine tours. The Moors originally founded the city. Today you can still see traces of the old city wall. Just outside of town are sulfurous springs as well. A truly unique way to explore the wine region is by water. Book this Rafting Tour and Wine Tasting in Requena from €100.
Book One Of These Valencia Day Tours:
FAQs – Valencia Facts
- Where is Valencia? Valencia is a city in Spain and the capital of the province of Valencia. It’s on the east coast of Spain along the Mediterranean Sea. Valencia is about a 3 1/2 hours drive down the coast from Barcelona. It’s also possible to take the Euromed train between the two cities in about three hours.
- What is the Valencia Spain weather like? The Valencia temperature varies throughout the year. Luckily, due to its location on the coast, it doesn’t get too hot in the summer, with temperatures averaging in the 80s. The winter is mild, but cooler, in the 50s and 60s. They also have tons of sunny weather, making it a great destination year round.
- Is Valencia worth visiting? Yes, definitely. Living in a “competitor region” just up the coast, I kind of didn’t want to like Valencia, but I did. A lot. Next time, I would love to check out the famous La Fallas spring festival.
- Can I use the RENFE Spain Rail Pass to travel to Valencia? We traveled around Spain for two weeks using a RENFE Spain Pass. The RENFE Spain Pass allows travelers to book a train pass for 4, 6, 8, or 10 journeys for a set price, starting at €250. You can book the rail pass before leaving home and then make reservations for seats online, or at the train station, for each journey. The pass is valid for one month from the date of the first journey. We used the pass to travel from Malaga to Valencia and Valencia to Barcelona. Learn more about the RENFE Spain Pass here.
- Where can I learn more about Valencia Spain food and travel? For more information on Valencia Spain travel, check out the Valencia Tourism Board’s website.
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER. We were hosted by Visit Valencia, but all opinions are our own.
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Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.