The four faces of Valencia
When planning a city break to Spain, Valencia can often be overlooked in favour of its more glamorous sister cities of Barcelona or Madrid. However, Valencia is no ugly step-sister. If the latter two are Spain’s superstar destinations then Valencia should certainly get the rising star award, as it has a lot more to offer than you might think. The real thing that stands out when visiting this beautiful city is its versatility. It has something to offer around every corner and you’d be mad to brush this destination aside. Let’s take you through the four sides of Valencia, which will have you revisiting over and over.
Let’s face it, there’s no better reason for travelling around the world than for great food, and Valencia has a lot to offer in this department. Valencia is the home of the widely popular delicacy paella, with ancient ties between the dish and the city. Travellers from all around the world still say this is the best place to go for this dish and they couldn’t be more right. At many of the local restaurants you can sample the authentic Valencian paella including many of the traditional ingredients such as: snails, duck, rabbit, chicken, beans and artichokes. Some of the best spots to visit for this paella are Le Pepica, the beachfront eatery steeped in history, or La Riua, the family-run restaurant which serves home style Valencian cuisine.
As well as this, Valencia’s Central market boasts all the fresh fish, veg, spices, herbs, meats, fruit and even beer you could possibly want all under one roof. Walking around you’ll be hit with a multitude of different aromas and once you’re done you’ll be ready to cook up a storm.
Valencia is a city saturated in historical intrigue and you’ll find that you’re never too far from a historical landmark when walking its streets. Located in the Plaza de Reina, Valencia’s cathedral is an architectural feat with a colourful story to match. Built on the ruins of a roman temple, which subsequently became a mosque this building claims to hold the Holy Grail. On top of all that, the octagonal tower boasts some spectacular views over the city.
Just a short walk from the cathedral is the Lonja building, whose gothic architecture is so stunning that it was declared a UNESCO world heritage site. La Lonja, literally meaning the Silk Exchange, harks back to when Valencia was both an economic and cultural hub of Europe. The lavish architecture is hard not to be impressed by and this landmark should definitely be on your list of places to visit in this city.
If you’re left feeling a quite tired out from all the eating and walking around in the heat, there’s only one thing to do- hit the beach for a bit of relaxation time. The beach closest to the city is Malvarosa. This beach is very popular with the locals and it’s not hard to see why. This beach provides the perfect setting for catching those rays with its long stretch of fine sand. Other options include El Saler, a beach dotted with sand dunes, or the quiet surroundings of Port Saplaya beach.
Another choice is to visit the newly built Marina Beach Club located in the Marina Real Juan Carlos I. The unique complex offers a bar, restaurant, outdoor lounge and infinity pool, all of which look out onto the Mediterranean Sea. The combination of beach vibes, good music and food means you could end up spending the whole day here!
After a long day of eating, discovering the beautiful architecture and have a splash on the beach there’s no better way to end the day than exploring Valencia’s nightlife. Make sure you fit a siesta into your day because the night starts quite late in Valencia, with most bars and clubs starting to liven up around midnight. Wondering around the narrow street of Barrio del Carmen you’ll find yourself among some fantastic bars where the cocktails will be flowing fruitfully.
If after this, you fancy hitting the dancefloor Valencia doesn’t disappoint in that area either. During the summer months some of the best open-air clubs open their doors, delivering great music in spectacular locations. Most notably L’umbracle, located in the City of Arts and Sciences, is an awe inspiring setting adorned with plants of all varieties. You can sip your drink on the comfy sofas or get up and get involved on the dancefloor. For those of you who are ready to party even harder, located in the basement of L’umbracle is MYA were the partying is taken up another level. There are so many different vibes to choose from there’s something for everyone.