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Things to do in Valencia
With a population of over 850,000, Valencia is Spains third largest city, but arguably combines the best of both Barcelona and Madrid when it comes to beaches, museums, culture, bars, restaurants and attractions aplenty - all on a fraction of the budget. Much of what it has to offer is obvious at first, but stay for a little longer than you think you will need and there is a lot more to discover.
Some recommended websites for tourist information on Valencia are:
TOP 15 | MUSEUMS | BEACHES | HISTORICAL SITES | BIKING | RELAXATION | BARS AND CLUBS | INDOOR ACTIVITIES | HIDDEN VALENCIA | 1 DAY SUGGESTIONS | 2 DAY SUGGESTIONS | BEYOND VALENCIA CITY |
1. The City of Arts and Sciences
Exploring the City of Arts and Sciences is a must. You don’t need to go in to any of the buildings to appreciate this spectacular example of modern architecture. However, budget two days to get around all there is including the Oceanogràfic, the Hemisfèric, Palau de les Arts Reina Opera House, Science Museum, the Umbracle and the Agora.
A popular tourist destination in the center of town, the Valencia Cathedral is unmistakable. With various architectural styles through the times of its history to marvel at from the outside, paintings and the supposed true Holy Grail on the inside, it is well worth taking a couple of hours to enjoy.
There are many landmarks located in the center of town that you can take half a day and tick as many off as you can while leisurely strolling through the winding streets. These include the original entrance gates to the city, plaza’s (city squares), museums and palaces/mansions now used for alternative purposes.
Valencians Old Town is peaceful during the day with the relaxing sound of café’s serving their café con leches and alive at night with restaurants and clubs. Stroll through the streets and step back in time as you view the Valencian past while appreciating the graffiti on walls and buildings that has become an attraction in itself.
One of the biggest parks in Spain, the Turia stretches over 9 kilometers and contains foot paths, running tracks, sports areas and romantic spots where you can sit and unwind. It was created when the city diverted the original river south of the city after constantly flooding.
One of the largest active indoor markets in Europe, head to the Central Market to experience the hustle and bustle of vendors selling food and drink items underneath a blend of Art Nouveau and Gothic style iron building.
Valencia has over 8 golden beaches where you can take a break from the city, relax and soak up the sun from. While any one of them will provide you with what you’re after, Malvarossa and Patacona are particularly popular because of the proximity of the beach bars, volleyball and promenade.
While you are at the home of the paella, you won’t be able to avoid the opportunity to sample this local favourite. Valencians consider paella as one of their identifying symbols. The quality will vary across town as you would expect and many guides and books have been written on the subject. The following blog by Duncan Rhodes provides you with a detailed introduction to paella and recommendations: http://www.urbantravelblog.com/feature/eating-paella-in-valencia/
The Bioparc is not a traditional zoo. The animals are free to roam around in areas where boundaries are almost invisible. Visitors get to see coexistence between different species of animals in new and innovative ways. Well worth a day trip.
The Valencian Fine Arts Museum (Museu De Belles Arts de Valencia) houses over 2000 works of art, most dating from the 14th to the 17th centuries as well as sections dedicated to sculpture, contemporary art and archeological findings. Budget half a day exploring some of these magnificent pieces.
About 10km south of the city, the Albufera Natura Park is home to the largest lake in Spain. It is a very important wetland area from both a wildlife perspective and agricultural. Historically the rice grown in the area has provided the basis for the dishes in the Valencian region. You can take a boat tour on the lake to see some of this up close with the sunset crossing particularly spectacular.
Built in the 15 th century, La Lonja de la Seda (the Silk Exchange) used to house the trading of silk and be the financial center where the merchants would work out contracts. Spend an hour or so here enjoying the grandeur. The UNESCO considered it as a World Heritage Site in 1996 since "the site is of outstanding universal value as it is a wholly exceptional example of a secular building in late Gothic style, which dramatically illustrates the power and wealth of one of the great Mediterranean mercantile cities."
Administered and run by the University of Valencia, The Botanical Gardens are a great way to spend two to three hours of your day getting lost amongst the vegetationd. It remains a place of botanical study, research and development.
A decade ago, this area was run down, decaying and avoided. Since then it’s become the trendy place to be. Restaurants, bars, artists and hipsters have taken over and when walking around at night you will feel the buzz of excitement all around. Visit in the evening and soak up the atmosphere before you stop off at one of the many excellent restaurants along the way. Duncan Rhodes summarizes the area nicely in his blog: http://www.urbantravelblog.com/district/ruzafa-valencia/
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