SPAIN: DISCOVERING THE CITY OF VALENCIA
January 1, 1970
by Irene Parrilla
I wanted to dedicate this article to show you my own city in SPAIN: Valencia. Some advises about how to discover best places to visit and also best places to eat!
BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT VALENCIA:
- Geographic location: East coast of SPAIN (Mediterranean Sea)
- Size: It is the third biggest city of SPAIN after Madrid and Barcelona. Its population is around 787.266 citizens.
- Weather: Hot summers (around 35ºC) and soft winters (it can vary from 12-18ºC).
- Important festivities: ¡The Fallas! Is the traditional festivity in Valencia celebrated every year from March 15th to March 19th.
- Typical plate in Valencia: Paella
- Transport: Valencia is a flat city so you can go almost everywhere by walk. However, buses and metro are available and they are in some cases the best way to move after all the day walking around the city.
FIRST STEPS: CITY CENTER AND OLD CITY
Probably, when you arrive to Valencia, the first area to discover is the city center.
You can start having a look to the main train station called Estación del Norte. Just next to it you will discover the Bullring of Valencia, a point of reference in the city. It is used for bullfighting, concerts or shows. Nowadays, you cannot do a tour inside (I would not advise you anyway, I think is better from outside than inside) unless you have booked a ticket specifically for watching a spectacle.
If you are interested about the Bulls’ world you can also visit:
- The bullfighting museum which is located at: Passatge Doctor Serra 10, 46004, Valencia.
- Buy Bullfighting tickets
Another important point in Valencia is the Town Hall Square. To the West, you can find the Town Hall building, and to the East the Post Office Building, while the square is surrounded by small flower shops, theaters and bars. Once you are here I advise you to take a break for tasting one of the most typical food (and drink) in SPAIN: Wine and Ham (in Spanish: vino y jamón). The place is called “Beher” and you will find it at this address: Plaça de l’Ajuntament, 16, 46002, Valencia.
If you continue by the street San Vicente Martir, you will arrive to Plaza de la Reina. It is always a crowded square where you can find a lot of restaurants. Important things here:
- In this square you can catch the Tourist Bus
- If you are curious about ice creams you should have a look to an ice cream shop called “Gelateria Linares” located in one of the square corners, which has the most amazing flavors you can imagine.
- El Miguelete, this is how is called the bell tower of the Cathedral of Valencia. It is 70 meters high and from the top you can have a really nice view of Valencia (it can be also funny to go up through its 207 steps and its sometimes narrow walls), but at the end, it will be worth it. It is open for public from Monday to Sunday from 10 am to 7 pm (be careful on Sundays during November-March due to it is closed from 1pm to 5 pm due to the religious mass). Prices vary from 1-2 €.
The following place you will find is: Plaza de la Virgen, my favorite square! It is without traffic, only for pedestrians, plenty of bars, children playing and people going around, it is full of life. If you go in summer, my advice is to go there during the evening, around 6:30-7:00pm to be able to have a walk without all the sun, to take a beer while you enjoy the beautiful views. You can also have dinner in one of the restaurants around the square and enjoy it also during the night.
Once you have finished your dinner is time to go for some drinks! If you are in Plaza de la Virgen and you follow the street Calle Caballeros you will arrive to the old part of the city, called El Carmen. Here you will find pubs, bars and places to dance. However, it is not only a nice place during the night, it is also nice to get lost during the day between its narrow and multiple streets where you can discover recondite places as these ones:
Around this part of the city (the old city) you should also visit Las Torres de Serrano. This gate was built between 1392 – 1398, when the city of Valencia was surrounded by a wall. Nowadays it is another symbol of the city, well preserved and open to public. If you want to visit it:
- Monday – Saturday: 9:30am to 7:00pm (each ticket 2€).
- Sunday and festivities: 9:30am to 3:00pm (free entrance).
VALENCIA IN DEPTH: BEACH + RIVER + ARTS AND SCIENCE CITY + HARBOR
If you want to go to the beach this is your plan!
The beach we have in the city is divided in three areas (even when is the same land and it is not separated). The beginning of the beach is called Las Arenas, it is in front of one of the biggest and most luxury hotels in Valencia which is called “Hotel las Arenas”. In this area of the beach you can find multiple shops and restaurants. It has a really good promenade, therefore, if you go walking through it, you will arrive to the area of the beach called Malvarrosa and if you go further, to La Patacona. I advise you to go to the beach during the morning and have breakfast in front of the sea, in one of my favorite places: “La Más Bonita” which is located in La Patacona. Here, you can try a typical dish from SPAIN, the Spanish Omelet. It is made by potatoes and eggs and it is delicious! After breakfast, you will be prepared to jump into the sea!
If you are also interested in having lunch at the beach, you should eat PAELLA!. You can find this plate all around SPAIN, but it is originally from Valencia, therefore, I recommend you a couple of restaurants where Paella is really well cooked: “La Pepica”, and “Restaurante L’estimat”. However, if you are more interested about having really nice views of the sea and the beach than in the food I recommend you then the restaurant “Panorama”.
Another really good option is to hire a bike and explore the city. As I have already told you, Valencia is a flat city, so its easy for everyone to go around with a bike. The only place I do not advice you to go with it, is to the city center. It is always really crowded and at the end, you would have to go walking. There are multiple shops around the city where you can hire bikes and they are not expensive. Once you have one, I recommend you to go to Los Jardines del Rio Turia. I will explain you this: In Valencia, many years ago we had a river across the city, called Río Turia. In the year 1957, the river overflowed and flooded the city. As a consequence, the river was deviated outside Valencia. Since that moment, the old riverbed turned into a garden where people go to do exercise, to do picnics or to play with children. Now that you know the story you are ready to explore it. In one of its extremes you will find “El parque de Cabecera”, a really nice and relaxed park, and on the other extreme of the river you will find The Arts and Science City, in Spanish La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias.
Arts and Science City / Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias
Arts and Science City is a must if you come to Valencia. It is an architectural complex built by the Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava, a cultural and entertainment space where you will find several buildings:
- Oceanogràfic: The biggest aquarium in Europe. (If you want to go inside you will need a ticket).
- Science Museum Principe Felipe: Science and technology museum. (Some exhibitions are free, for others you will need a ticket which you can buy there).
- Hemisfèric: Here you can find a 3D cinema where every day are projected several documentaries.
- Arts Palace Reina Sofia: If you like the opera, ballet, concerts etc this is your place.
- Umbracle: It is a garden where you can find the most typical Mediterranean plants and it is free! During the night it opens a terrace where you can go and have some drinks.
- Ágora: It is the most recent building and inside it have been celebrated events of all kinds: Valencia Fashion Week, New Year parties, tennis matches etc. (It is not open for public visits).
Now we are arriving to the last place I wanted to write about: The Harbor, or most specifically, the area called Marina Real Juan Carlos I. You can have a walk around here during the day, but I think the best moment to go is at night. There are several restaurants where you can have dinner with really nice views (restaurants Marina Real), after that, if you still feel enough energy is time to go for some drinks and dances: High Cube, Marina Beach Club or Cachao Puerto are some of the most popular places.
I hope this information has been useful and that it helps you to enjoy a little bit more the amazing city of Valencia!