30 Dec One Weekend in … Valencia
Often neglected behind the “bigger sisters” Barcelona and Madrid, Spain’s third largest city has much more to offer than just Paella. Valencia has an incomparably casual flair that invites you to just drift around the city.
The Spanish metropolis not only spoils its visitors with an amazing city beach but also with countless culinary highlights. What’s more, the Mediterranean city is almost a guarantor for nice weather with its 300 days of sun per year.
FRIDAY: VALENCIA FROM ABOVE
Any stay in Valencia should start with the colorful hustle and bustle at Mercat Central, the market hall in the city center. At one of Europe’s largest markets you will find fresh fruit, vegetables and other regional products. The market hall is also intriguing from an architectural point of view, as it was built in the Spanish style of Modernisme. Just across the street the next sightseeing highlight awaits you: the old silk exchange, which is part of the UNESCO world cultural heritage. Next, the cathedral of Valencia is on the list of sightseeing spots. To get a breathtaking view of the entire city you should definitely walk up “El Micalet”, the cathedral’s tower.
After all the sightseeing, shopping is on the agenda. Apart from the big Spanish fashion chains on and around Carrer Colón, Valencia has to offer a lot of small vintage stores such as Spirito Santo in Carrer de Dalt. To end the day leisurely, you can enjoy delicious pinchos and tapas at Pintxo i Trago on Plaça Redonda. Afterwards you stop by Café Negrito to get the best Agua de Valencia in town (a cocktail made with fresh orange juice, wodka, gin and Spanish Cava), where you can sit under orange trees on a nice little square. If you feel like moving on after this you can just stroll around the Barrio del Carmen where there are lots of hip bars.
SATURDAY: BEACH AND CULTURE
Saturday begins with some cultural activity in the Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences). The modern complex was designed by Valencian star architect Santiago Calatrava and is home of the opera and a large scientific museum. Furthermore, you should definitely bring your bathing suit for a weekend trip to Valencia. The milelong city beach spoils you with fine sand and is perfect to escape the hustle and bustle in the city center. In one of the many restaurants on the seafront you can enjoy the best Paella in town. If you don’t want to be recognized as a tourist immediately you should order your Paella during lunchtime since Spaniards traditionally have the rice dish for lunch.
After an afternoon at the beach you can stroll around the Ensanche neighborhood to see the picturesque Mercado Colón and many other beautiful buildings. The hip Ruzafa quarter is also very close. At Slaughterhouse you can not only get delicious burgers but also browse through their book store. Just across the street at Café Berlín, you can enjoy delicious tapas and cocktails.
SONNTAG: SUNDAY: EN ROUTE IN THE RIVERBED
Sunday starts where Saturday ended: in Ruzafa. With a relaxed brunch at Dulce de Leche you can enjoy tasty cakes while making plans for the rest of the day. To experience the city from a different perspective it is best to go by bike. You can hire cheap bikes via Valenbisi, which is a bike sharing system with stations all over Valencia. By bike you should explore the Parque de Turía, a park in the drained riverbed. Along the old riverbed you can bike as far as the Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias or the harbor.
If you still have some time to spare before going back home you should check out the National Ceramics Museum, which is situated in a gorgeous rococo palace or just have one last café con leche in one of the many nice cafés in the city center.
Source cover image: YouTube / Razvan Dragomirescu