Valencia is Spain’s third largest city, yet far less is known about this destination than ultra-famous Barcelona and Madrid. When I consider ‘Is Valencia worth visiting?’, I think about how it balances its cultural attractions, buzzing atmosphere, and varied restaurant and bar scene with a more comfortable pace of life than its frenetic big brothers. This is one of the city’s big advantages.
Valencia is located mid-way down Spain’s eastern coastline, south of Barcelona and east of Madrid. Your first glimpse of the city will probably be bathed in the sun, as Valencia boasts almost 300 days of sunshine yearly. This makes it ideal to enjoy the city’s numerous beaches, all within easy reach of the city center.
What struck me the most when I was in Valencia was the blend of traditional and modern, from the gorgeous gothic structures of the Old Town to the state-of-the-art Ciudad de las Bellas Artes y Ciencias, a science complex with an iconic curved structure at its heart.
Hi, I’m Timon!
I’ve experienced the heartbeat of Spain firsthand. Over the last five years, I’ve immersed myself in the dynamic cities of Spain, truly living the Spanish way. My insights into this beautiful country are rooted in genuine experience.
My Personal Connection to Valencia
The first time I visited Valencia was to take part in an immersive Spanish language school. The second was purely for fun. What I loved about Valencia both times was that there was so much to see and do, but I could still feel relaxed at the end of a long day exploring.
I got to experience loads of Valencia’s attractions, thanks to Linguaschool organizing student activities and events during my weeks in the city. I found going on a walking tour super informative and would recommend that as a great starting point when you arrive. Picking up some Spanish cookery skills was also fun, and I’ve impressed many friends back home with my new-found culinary capabilities!
Another amazing place is Turia Park, which ended up being my favorite part of the city. It’s Spain’s largest urban park and snakes its way through the heart of Valencia for 7 kilometers, from the City of Arts and Sciences all the way to the Bioparc Zoo.
Valencia’s Unique Blend of Traditions and Modernity
The striking contrast between the historical and contemporary in Valencia’s architecture is part of what makes the city so visually interesting. It also helped it win the title of World Design Capital in 2022. You can spot Catalan Art Nouveau, Baroque, and Gothic buildings on the same block. At the same time, the City of Arts and Sciences has innovative structures resembling – randomly – an eyelid and a whale skeleton.
This contrast between old and new is mirrored in the city’s culture, which is pleasingly progressive but also embraces tradition – not least in its world-celebrated Las Fallas festival.
Understanding Valencia: Is It For You?
Whether or not Valencia is worth visiting depends on your travel preferences. It suits me for many reasons, some of which I’ll delve into below.
Are you a food lover? Valencia’s Incredible Gastronomy
Valencia is a gastronomic paradise and is responsible for one of Spain’s most popular and famous dishes – paella. It was first created in the mid-19th century in Albufera, a tiny place on the Valencian coastline where rice was grown using water from its huge freshwater lagoon.
Unlike the paella we all think we know, Valencia paella contains no seafood but instead is packed full of chicken, rabbit, green beans, and butter beans. This combination is unfamiliar to most paella lovers, but I can vouch that it’s delicious.
Other dishes closely associated with Valencia include:
This popular milky drink is enjoyed all over Spain, but the Valencian version is made using tiger nuts, which can only be grown in this region.
Enjoyed alongside Valencian horchata are fartons, long sponge fingers coated in sugar and used for dipping. They’re irresistible!
- Agua de Valencia (Valencia Water)
Valencia Water sounds safe enough, but this cocktail should be enjoyed carefully! It contains fresh Valencia orange juice mixed with vodka, gin, and cava. It doesn’t taste as potent as it is – and was responsible for a nasty headache the day after I first tasted it!
A great way to sample Valencia’s best local food and drink is with someone who knows their city. The tour below was a highlight for me, where I got to meet a native Valenciano who, as well as showing me the city’s best food market, also shared the top spots to enjoy regional delicacies – some of which I still dream about now.
Are You an Arts Aficionado? Valencia’s Unique Street Art
Art is another important part of Valencian culture, with galleries, museums, and festivals dedicated to it throughout the city. But one of the most accessible ways Valencia shows its love of art is through its unique and well-respected street art.
Unlike other cities where street art is hardly better than graffiti, in Valencia, some of the city’s best artists have been commissioned to create long-lasting art pieces for the enjoyment of everyone. David de Limón created a masked character – representing street artists who must conceal themselves as they work – that can be seen painted on walls across the city.
Other street artists to keep your eyes open for include Xelon, an artist specializing in robots, DEIH, a fan of space-themed street art, and Dridali, who captures the breadth of human emotion in incredibly lifelike faces.
The majority of Valencia’s street art is found in the El Carmen district, so this is where I headed when I was visiting. Although I saw loads of pieces, I’m sure I didn’t find them all, and I would have loved to hear the stories behind the art. If you feel the same, a street art tour would be ideal. This bike-based street art tour is well-rated and on my list for the next time I visit Valencia.
The Truth About Valencia’s Beaches and Nightlife
Although Valencia’s beaches get busy, they’re rarely as crowded as other Spanish coastal resorts. This is because of their size – they run for almost 20 kilometers along the Valencian coast, so there’s room for everyone.
Playa de las Arenas
The closest beach to the city, Playa de las Arenas, is usually the busiest. It has a fantastic atmosphere, thanks to the numerous restaurants, hotels, and nightclubs lining the beach.
Immediately north of Playa de las Arenas is Playa Malvarrossa, another glorious stretch of sand that’s usually quieter than its neighbor but still offers plenty of facilities.
Valencia’s nightlife is largely an outside affair, thanks to the city’s exceptional climate. Find any square on a Friday and Saturday night; it’ll be bustling with people grabbing a beer and catching up.
To enjoy the al fresco nightlife, visit El Carmen – its streets are packed with party-goers once the sun goes down. If you want to try out Valencia’s clubbing scene, try La3 or Agenda to the east of the Old Town; both are longstanding favorites on the clubbing scene.
Why Valencia Could Be Your Perfect Spanish Getaway
Valencia is sunny, affordable, and balances traditional and contemporary living in a way not found in many other destinations. It’s for these reasons I love the place and why it’s quickly made its way onto the list of cities, that I think everyone should visit.
Here’s more detailed information to help you answer the question, ‘Is Valencia worth visiting?’
A Cheaper, Yet Equally Rewarding Alternative to Barcelona
Yes, Barcelona is popular because it’s a quality Spanish city. But, in my opinion, Valencia offers just as much to visitors. And when it comes to cost, Valencia wins hands-down. Here’s a handy comparison of the costs you can expect in each city.
|All prices in €||Valencia||Barcelona|
|Dinner (budget restaurant)||12||15|
|Beer (in a bar)||2.50||3|
|Cappuccino (in a cafe)||1.70||2.20|
|Public transport (one-way)||1.50||2.40|
|Hotel cost (per night)||116||192|
|Average daily cost (per person)||123||156|
Both cities have countless tourist attractions, and although Barcelona’s landmarks are more famous, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better.
In Valencia, you can visit the Silk Exchange (Lonja de la Seda), Valencia Cathedral, and the Plaza de la Virgen, all of which are gorgeous. There’s also the City of Arts and Sciences, the beautiful Art Nouveau Mercado Central, and the Oceanogràfic Aquarium.
As you walk between attractions in Valencia, I believe the city experience is much more peaceful and charming than in Barcelona. And this is coming from someone who loves Barcelona too!
Exploring Valencia’s Old Town
Valencia’s Old Town, or Ciutat Vella, is a sight to behold. It’s relatively compact, but I lost hours wandering the endless narrow streets that link its many plazas. The Old Town is an atmospheric place to be, and despite its popularity, it’s not difficult to veer off the well-trodden tourist trail and find a peaceful spot where you’ll have all to yourself.
I was surprised by how many of Valencia’s main attractions are found in the Old Town. This makes it perfect for exploring on foot, which is always my preferred way to see a new city.
If you visit the Old Town, make sure to visit my favorite attractions, which include:
- Valencia Cathedral
The exterior of Valencia Cathedral is pretty spectacular, but inside there’s something special too – it’s home to the holy grail. You can also climb the stairs of the ‘Miguelete’ bell tower, where you’ll be rewarded with epic views over Valencia.
- Mercado Central (Central Market)
Valencia’s Central Market is great fun to explore. I visited a few times during my stay and always found something new to see. It sells all those picnic essentials – meats, cheeses, and delicious baked goods – but the main attraction is the Catalan Art Nouveau building, packed with stained glass and hand-painted tiles.
- La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia (Silk Exchange)
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Lonja de la Seda, or Silk Exchange, is located next to the Central Market and is one of Europe’s best-loved gothic buildings. To me, it looks more like a fortress than a commercial center, but it’s gorgeous and is well worth a couple of Euros to explore.
If time is of the essence and you want to pack in as many sights as possible in a couple of hours, a walking tour of Valencia’s Old Town is an excellent idea. This tour combines an informative and fun route around the Old Town with wine and tapas tasting in a unique venue in the neighboring El Carmen district.
A Family-Friendly Destination: Valencia
Valencia is certainly very welcoming to kids, so you do not need to worry if you’re wondering, ‘Is Valencia worth visiting as a family?’. Spaniards are notoriously friendly and highly tolerant of the chaos that can come with kids.
There are plenty of activities in Valencia that are equally appealing to kids and adults, including the ones below, which I highly recommend.
- L’Oceanogràfic Aquarium
Located in the City of Arts and Sciences, the Oceanogràfic Aquarium is home to over 500 species living in recreated versions of their natural habitats, from the Mediterranean to the Arctic and wetlands to the tropics. I loved the Oceanogràfic, and although I don’t have kids of my own, it was great seeing their excitement – especially as they walked through the longest underwater tunnel in Europe!
- Valencia Bioparc
Little animal lovers (or big ones like me) will enjoy the huge number of animals to be seen in the Valencia Bioparc. Although the intention is to educate by encouraging an understanding of the importance of preserving natural environments, the outcome is a fun day out for everyone.
- Exploring the huge Turia Park
If there’s one thing kids have, it’s energy. So, to tire everyone out, I’d recommend a family visit to Turia Park. It’s 7 kilometers long, providing endless opportunities to walk and cycle, and ideal for a family picnic.
This family tour of Valencia is perfect if you want to taste the city but don’t want your kids to be bored. Guides make sure the route is packed with activities to keep little ones occupied so you can focus on enjoying the sightseeing.
Learning to Appreciate Valencia’s Festivals and Events
Spain likes a celebration as a nation, and Valencia has more than its fair share of festivals. The main events are spread throughout the year, so your visit may likely coincide with some city-wide revelry. Here are some of the best Valencia festivals and events to look out for.
Las Fallas: Valencia’s Grandest Festival
Without a doubt, Valencia’s most famous festival is Las Fallas, which translates as ‘The Fires’ in Valencia’s Spanish dialect. It’s a huge spectacle that takes place for almost 3 weeks every March.
Las Fallas originated as a celebration of St Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. It has grown from a small event where bonfires were built using old furniture to an elaborate festival where months are spent creating huge painted papier mache sculptures – called ‘ninots’ – displayed around the city before being set alight.
Up to 800 fallas are exhibited annually, and the artistry on display is amazing. Visit from 15 to 18 March to see the fallas once they’ve been positioned around the city. But, by the evening of 19 March, it’s time for the big finale, with a ceremonial burning of all the fallas – except one which is ‘pardoned’ following a public vote. This special sculpture is then displayed in the Fallas Museum, which joins every pardoned ninot since 1934.
I can’t emphasize how special Las Fallas is. And although tourists attend in their thousands, the festival still feels entirely Spanish. If you plan to visit during Las Fallas, make sure you book transport and accommodation early because demand is incredibly high – and so are the prices!
Other Celebrations Worth Scheduling Your Visit Around
Although Las Fallas is Valencia’s most famous festival, it’s not the city’s only major celebration. These events are also worth noting; each one offers an exciting glimpse into what it is to be ‘Valenciano.’
- Great Valencia Fair
Held every July since 1871, the Great Valencia Fair brings a month of celebrations to the city, with firework displays and processions, music concerts in the Viveros Gardens, and the Flower Battle. In this beloved parade, girls throw thousands of flowers over watching crowds.
- Valencia Day (and St Dyonisius Day)
On 9 October, Valencia celebrates the day in 1238 when King James freed Valencia from the Moors, making it the autonomous region it is today. The day is shared with St Dyonisius, the Valencian equivalent of St. Valentine, when men gift their beloved a handkerchief filled with tiny marzipan sweets.
The Pros and Cons of Valencia: A Balanced Perspective
So, now you know a little about the (many) attractions, landmarks, foods, and festivals of Valencia, let’s take a look at the reasons why the city could be your ideal travel destination – or equally, why it may not work for you.
There are also certain pros and cons to living in Valencia, which you might find useful if you’re considering being there in the longer term.
The Reasons Why Valencia Could Be Your Next Travel Destination
Valencia is so popular and you might want to add it to your travel list for many reasons. These include:
Who can resist 300+ days of sunshine?
Historic meets modern in Valencia’s smorgasbord of architectural styles.
Valencia offers delicious local delicacies and an incredible food scene that grows by the year.
Combining a city break with some beach time is an enticing prospect.
Valencia has a sociable feel, where parties continue well into the night – and everyone’s invited!
Valencia offers better value for money than Spain’s other major cities.
The Reasons Why Valencia Might Not Be Your Top Choice
Like anywhere, there are reasons why Valencia might not be the travel choice for you – although, to be honest, there aren’t many!
- It doesn’t offer the big-name tourist destinations that you find in places like Barcelona.
- Because Valencia is modern and cosmopolitan, you may feel you’re missing the ‘Spanishness’ you can find in other cities.
- You’ll have to drive or take public transport between the Old Town and beaches, which is inconvenient.
Planning Your Valencia Trip: Practical Tips and Recommendations
Planning your Valencia visit is essential, as it can make the difference between a good trip and a great trip. Here’s some handy information I’ve picked up along the way.
When to Visit Valencia
When it comes to weather, it’s hard to go wrong in Valencia. Its summers are toasty, and winters are mild, but July and August can be a little too hot, if anything. Combine that with the crowds and increased prices, and peak season could be a time to avoid.
I did my Spanish course in March, and the weather in Valencia was perfect – 25 degrees and loads of sunshine. Ideally, I’d recommend spring or autumn, as you’ll likely enjoy warm weather, but crowds and prices won’t yet have hit their peak.
Of course, the first 3 weeks of March are a different matter, as Las Fallas sees prices increased and space at a premium as thousands of extra visitors cram into the city.
Getting Around Valencia
Valencia is a very walkable city, but it also has solid options for public transport. For those who prefer ride-sharing, Uber is available in Valencia.
- Metro and tram
There are 5 metro lines and 4 tram lines, jointly managed by MetroValencia, which link up many of the most popular parts of the city. Conveniently, you can take Line 3 or 5 from the airport to the city center.
Metro and tram services run between 4 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. during the week and until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. One-way tickets cost €1.50 if traveling through one zone, €2.80 through two zones, and €4.80 if traveling to or from the airport.
Valencia has around 45 bus lines running through the city from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. They may not get you where you’re going as quickly as the metro, but I like taking the bus if only to enjoy a free sightseeing tour of Valencia!
Generally, city buses are red and regional buses are yellow, with fares on the city buses costing a flat rate of €1.50.
Valencia is progressive when it comes to sustainability, and this includes maintaining over 175 km of bike lanes within the city limits. Because of these bike lanes, the 7 km-long Turia Park, and the fact the city has no hills, cycling is a popular – and environmentally friendly – way to get around.
If you want to rent a bike, there are plenty of rental shops in the city center and you can expect to pay around €10 per day.
If you want to cycle but don’t have the best sense of direction, you can join a bike tour. This one is particularly well-rated and will show you the city’s best bits, including the Ciutat Vella (Old Town) and the beach district.
The Valencia Tourist Card: Is it Worth It?
Suppose you plan to use public transport and visit museums and attractions during your stay in Valencia. In that case, you may want to consider buying a Valencia Tourist Card, which is available in three durations:
- 24-hour cards – cost €15
- 48-hour cards – cost €20
- 72-hour cards – cost €25
The card allows you to use all lines on the metro (including airport services), trams, and buses. You’ll also benefit from free access to some municipal museums and monuments and discounts on restaurants, tours, and other attractions.
|Attraction||Free or discounted?|
|Lonja de la Seda||Free|
|Torres de Serranos||Free|
|Museo Faller de Valencia||Free|
|Almoina Archaeological Museum||Free|
|Valencia Modern Art Museum||50% discount|
|Cathedral and Cathedral Museum||20% discount|
|Botanical Gardens||10% discount|
|Science Museum||10% discount|
If you’re only in town for a few days and want to pack in as much as possible, the Valencia Tourist Card will likely be good value for money, especially as you’d have to spend almost €10 getting to and from the airport alone. It’s also handy to hop on and off public transport without worrying about buying a ticket each time.
However, as some attractions are only discounted, you’ll still have to pay for entry, so make sure you check whether you’ll save money before purchasing one.
Best Tours and Activities in Valencia
As you’ll have picked up from this article, Valencia has loads to offer visitors. An organized tour can be a great option to ensure you see the main attractions but don’t risk getting lost or waiting in long lines for tickets.
In this tour selection, you can combine art and science with wine and tapas – what’s not to love? Or, perhaps learning to cook authentic Valencian paella is more up your street. And, if a walking tour doesn’t appeal, you could take in the sights on a fun tuk-tuk tour instead.
Best Places to Stay in Valencia
Many of Valencia’s main landmarks are found in the Ciutat Vella, which makes it one of the best places to stay if you’re a first-time visitor. Staying in the Old Town also gives you immediate access to public transport if you want to explore further. It’s the most expensive part of the city to stay in, though.
If nightlife is your priority, I suggest you consider El Carmen as your base. This district, a little way north of the Old Town, houses a high concentration of the city’s nightlife. This can make it noisy, so it may not be for you if you’re a light sleeper.
Another option – and arguably Valencia’s trendiest neighborhood – is El Ruzafa. If you choose to stay here, you can enjoy its huge selection of cafes, bars, and restaurants and the area’s anything-goes attitude.
Where you stay on your trip is super important, so here are some of the best hotels and apartments in Valencia, from the stylish Only YOU Hotel and the palace-based Caro Hotel to the comfortable Palau Apartments:
FAQs: Is Valencia Worth Visiting
Here are some extra quick answers to common questions about Valencia. This should clarify before planning your trip to this amazing Spanish city.
💰 Is Valencia cheap to visit?
Valencia is quite affordable, especially compared to other big cities in Spain like Madrid or Barcelona. Food, accommodation, and local transportation are generally cheaper. Of course, prices can vary depending on the season and the level of luxury you want, but overall, budget-conscious travelers can find Valencia a great option.
🚄 Is Valencia a good base for exploring Spain?
Valencia makes an excellent base for exploring Spain. Its central location on the east coast of Spain provides easy access to other major cities like Madrid and Barcelona by train. The city also has an airport that offers flights to various parts of Spain and Europe. Plus,
⏳ How many days should you spend in Valencia?
I’d say 3-4 days is a good amount. This allows enough time to explore the key attractions like the City of Arts and Sciences, the historic old town, the beach, and the food scene. However, if you have more time, there’s certainly enough to keep you busy and entertained for at least a week.
🔐 Is Valencia safe for tourists?
Yes, Valencia is generally considered safe for tourists. Like any city, it has its caution areas, but the main tourist spots are typically safe and welcoming. I’ve always felt safe, even when out and about late at night.
My Final Verdict: Is Valencia Worth Your Visit?
So, based on the experiences I’ve shared in this article, I hope you’re leaving with an understanding of why Valencia is such an appealing destination and why it’s one of my favorite Spanish cities. I love its history, its unique food, and its standout architecture. I’ve also been wowed by the friendly locals, gorgeous climate, and natural appeal, from the giant Turia Park to the kilometers of golden beaches.
While many people immediately think of Barcelona and Madrid as Spain’s premier city break destinations, I hope you’ll now consider Valencia as an alternative. And when you ask yourself, ‘Is Valencia worth visiting?’, I hope your answer will be a resounding yes!
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