Travel back in time when visiting Valencia’s Old Town, filled with charming streets and historic sites around every corner. With its roots tracing back to the Romans in the Middle Ages, the Old Town of Valencia captivates visitors with its historic squares and monuments.
Located mostly in the El Carmen neighborhood, several historic sites highlight this area. It’s a crossroads of gastronomy and culture from Valencia Cathedral to Mercado Central.
After my visit in October in Valencia and falling in love with the area, I can assure you that this part of Valencia is a must-see in Spain.
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.
Navigating Valencia’s Old Town
There are so many great sites to see in Valencia Old Town that it’s hard to know where to begin. While some areas are easily identified, many hidden paths exist in the Old Town.
One popular area in Valencia is Calle de los Caballeros, a street home to many prominent landmarks. If you’re looking to experience nostalgic charm, these streets offer an authentic experience in Valencia.
Marques de Dos Aguas Palace will strike visitors with its romantic architecture, while Plaza de la Virgen offers Gothic architecture. One of the most popular places to visit is Valencia Central Market, a masterpiece of Valencian modernism.
I had the best visit to Valencia Cathedral this October, soaking in more on the history of this impressive Roman Catholic church. While the architectural details are impressive, the ambiance of the cathedral has always been my favorite experience. It’s hard to describe the experience of visiting as anything other than illuminating.
Dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries, its mix of details and interior items is an interesting mixture of multiple eras. One of the most unique parts of a visit to the Valencia Cathedral is seeing the Holy Grail, a Holy Chalice kept behind glass. It feels like watching a movie unfold when visiting this unique chapel in Spain!
The light through the stained-glass windows immediately invites guests in, but it’s not just the stained-glass that welcomes visitors inside. Valencia Cathedral houses some of the world’s most interesting paintings, some by Goya of San Francesco de Borga and other notable artists.
Torres de Serranos
Built in the 14th century, Torres de Serranos is considered the largest Gothic city gateway in all of Europe. It is built in Valencian Gothic style and is located in the northeast area of the old city center in Valencia.
Torres de Serranos is considered one of Spain’s most important and best-preserved monuments. The main intent behind the construction of Torres de Serranos was to defend the city from attack, but it was also regularly used for special ceremonies for weddings and other gatherings. This monument is consistently cleaned and preserved to maintain its beautiful presence in Valencia Old Town.
Some of the most beautiful views in Valencia are from atop the towers of Torres de Serranos, drawing many visitors there annually. Splendid views of Valencia can be seen from the towers, including the nearby river Turia.
By blending the history of Torres de Serranos and views of modern-day Valencia, visitors are in for a treat: a combination of old and new.
Palau de la Generalitat
The design of this palace also dates back to the early 1400s, when it was originally built as a tax office for the Crown. With many centuries of enhancements and restorations, Palau de la Generalitat is now an important building in the Old Town of Valencia but is no longer used to conduct business.
It is known affectionately as one of the most beautiful buildings in the Plaza of Valencia. Although the building can be used now and again still for local government meetings, it has now been opened to tourists to visit to enjoy its beautiful Gothic architecture at no cost.
Over time, one of the best enhancements to Palau de la Generalitat was an enlarged courtyard, providing more space for visitors to roam and enjoy the sites. When I visited, I enjoyed the architecture and unique government history shared at this site.
Valencia’s Culinary Traditions
A visit to Valencia is a foodie’s culinary delight with dishes that cannot be missed located throughout the region. Eating tapas in Valencia is one of the ways to try the different flavors there, sampling small bites of different dishes.
Central Bar in Valencia’s Old Town has some of the best, most affordable tapas dishes, a hidden gem that you don’t want to miss while you’re there. Another way to experience Valencia’s culinary traditions is through sampling coffee in Spain.
Secrets of Authentic Paella
Another great way to dive into a visit to the Old Town is by enjoying a dish of authentic paella. Valencia is home to more than a dozen varieties of this classic Spanish dish, all of which deserve a tasting.
Because the climate of Valencia is perfect for growing rice, paella has long been an authentic local dish served in homes and restaurants in the region. Whether you choose a vegetable paella, a seafood paella, or a mix of meat and seafood, the secrets of an authentic paella dish all depend on where you choose to dine.
I originally had attempted to visit Alqueria del Pou after a recommendation by a Valencian local that it offered a memorable paella dish, only to find that it was impossible to visit without a reservation on a Saturday.
Our taxi driver recommended La Pepica as another great choice for a restaurant offering paella in Valencia. This long-standing restaurant did not disappoint both in terms of food quality and the views from its terrace.
Sipping Agua de Valencia
If you are scheduling a visit to Valencia, you cannot miss the city’s most iconic and well-known cocktail: Agua de Valencia.
My first encounter with this refreshing beverage was at Blanq | Terrassa Rooftop, one of our personal top rooftop bars in Valencia.
Located next to Torres de Serranos, I was excited to enjoy this special refreshing beverage after a long day of sightseeing, and it did not disappoint. Agua de Valencia does contain alcohol, although the beverage’s name may cause readers to believe it is just water.
The key to agua de Valencia is the freshly picked, local oranges that taste sweet and unique. Picked right from the local orange trees, cafes, tapa bars, and restaurants offer this unique cocktail of Valencian orange juice, champagne, vodka, gin, and sugar.
Visiting Mercado Central
A visit to Valencia’s Old Town wouldn’t be complete without a stop in Mercado Central, the city’s main public market. One of the largest in Europe, this market covers more than 8,000 sq meters, with a unique domed roof that gives it a Valencian-styled twist.
Having been completely renovated in 2010, the Mercado Central still boasts impressive 20th-century architecture. A visit to this market involves searching for some of the most local food offered in Valencia.
Local citrus fruit, for example, is one of the best finds at Mercado Central, along with plenty of fresh fish, meats, cheeses, baked goods, and wines. This is one of Valencia’s best markets, with incredible, locally sourced products.
When I visited this vibrant scene, I noticed unique stands, from one offering snails to stands dedicated to saffron, the spice commonly found in paella dishes. Jamón (ham) is a product that is taken very seriously, with cured hams being central to many Spanish dishes.
Exploring Art and Craftsmanship in Hidden Corners
While food is king in Spain and especially in Valencia, art and craftsmanship are also prominent offerings throughout the city. Valencia has a rich history of art of all kinds, including a more laid-back version of street art.
Hand-crafted items are made locally and offered in boutiques and through workshops on the streets of Valencia, inviting visitors to learn more about the beautiful city and its residents.
While many trades, from silk to wool to ceramics and wicker, are found in Valencia, the Ceramics Museum is one of the most visited art institutions. This notated museum has collections of ceramics dating back to the 18th century, including items created by Picasso.
Valencia’s Street Art
Don’t limit yourself to the main streets in Valencia to observe art, as plenty of street art can be found in small alleys. Murals throughout the city boast impressive pictures and colors.
Valencia is home to many talented artists! The most striking attribute of the city’s street art is the quality of the drawings, attracting crowds of viewers who stop daily to admire this impressive art.
One historic neighborhood offering eccentric street art is Barrio El Carmen, with art found on doors, roller shutters, and really flat surfaces on the streets. Another great street option to see street art in Valencia is the neighborhood of La Xerea.
Because of this, Valencia is considered an open-air museum, offering visitors the opportunity to enjoy art without entering a building.
Local Workshops and Boutiques
Visitors can explore handmade crafts in Valencia by visiting local workshops and boutiques, establishing a true connection with local artisans. Throughout this province, visitors can discover unique products crafted by locals.
In Aldaia, for example, artisans craft specialty fans. Handkerchiefs and other silk products are found throughout Valencia. In northern areas of Valencia, porcelain is the specialty product of many artisans.
What makes a visit to a local workshop in Valencia unique is learning the stories behind the people there. These artisans have been working for decades to specialize in their craft, and they invite tourists to experience their skills and gifts when visiting Valencia.
From goldsmithing to silk painting, visitors to Valencia can support locals by learning a new skill through a trained artisan there.
Festive Spirits and Nightlife
History is one trait that Valencia doesn’t lack, yet despite it being a historically rich site, it is also known for its vibrant nightlife. With a deep-rooted music culture, Valencia has one of the liveliest party scenes in Spain.
Throughout the Old Town, cafes, bars, and clubs line the streets, inviting party-goers to let loose in the city. There are also several festivals in Valencia, where costumes, dancing, and fireworks delight locals and guests.
Night at Plaza de la Virgen
To experience an extra special night in Valencia, consider watching the sunset at Plaza de la Virgen, where the mood changes immediately. The streets around the plaza come alive at night with people.
People can be spotted lining the streets, dining al fresco, and enjoying the Valencian views. In the evening heat, locals and visitors frequent local bars to meet with friends or take an after-dinner stroll.
Some of the best bars in Spain are located in Valencia, drawing clubbers and party-goers to this lively city. Because of its popular seaside location and beautiful architecture boasting history, the combination of modernity and history draws partiers of all ages.
It’s not just the drinks in Valencia’s bar that attract visitors but also the delicious tapas food, which is wonderful for sharing with friends in a bar setting. Gathering with friends or strangers who have just become friends in Valencia is one of the best ways to enjoy the beautiful city.
Conclusion: Valencia Old Town
The collective experiences and treasures discovered during the journey through Valencia Old Town take visitors from ancient history to modern delights.
If you’re looking for a Spanish city that highlights impressive history while offering modernized bars and tours, Valencia is a wonderful location for you. With a combination focused on culture, culinary arts, and lively spirits, it’s hard to find another Spanish city that rivals its unparalleled exploration.
Is Valencia worth visiting while in Spain? Absolutely, and make sure to also pay a visit to the Old Town.
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