Valencia in Spain: 11 essential things to see during a trip

by Destination(s) Europe
Published: Last Updated on

📌 Read in / Lire en : Français (French)

Planning a trip to Spain and considering Valencia? You must have good judgement because the country’s third-largest city has so much to offer, from top-notch restaurants to pristine beaches, art galleries to vibrant nightlife, and lots of unique traditions. In terms of architecture and historical heritage, you are sure to be thrilled. Here is our short list of the 11 must-see attractions in Valencia.

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🗒️ What you need to know before your trip to Valencia

Before we begin our list of must-see things in Valencia, Spain, here are some tips for your next trip.

When should you go to Valencia, Spain?

The climate being very mild in Valencia throughout the year, you are spoiled for choice. We still recommend that you visit from March, to have good temperatures, and try swimming from May. The off-season, from September to early November, is also very good if you want to avoid the influx of tourists.

Which hotel should you choose in Valencia?

Valencia is a city with almost 800,000 inhabitants. The hotels on offer are therefore commensurate with one of the largest cities in Spain. Among all the hotels available, you are sure to like the Hotel Las Arenas Balneario Resort, highly rated on booking sites. Located by the sea, it offers a superb view of the Mediterranean from its rooms or its outdoor swimming pool – which is also extremely beautiful, by the way.

More central and less expensive (but without a swimming pool), the Cosmo Hotel & Bar is also ideal. Here, emphasis has been placed on modernity, particularly in the decoration of the premises, and the staff are very attentive. Still within cheap and well-placed establishments, there is also the Hotel RH Sorolla Centro, which is sober in decor, but very practical for a short stay.

🔝 The 11 must-see things in Valencia

Those were our first tips. So, without further ado, here is our selection of unmissable things to see in Valencia.

The City of Arts and Sciences

At this futuristic complex on the outskirts of Valencia, visitors can immerse themselves in a world of cutting-edge arts and sciences. The Ciutat de les Arts i Ciències de València (City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia – official site) is one of the most spectacular cultural and scientific exhibition centres in Europe. The complex includes examples of avant-garde architecture designed by architects Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela on a two-kilometre stretch along the Turia River.

The main spaces of the Ciudad complex include the IMAX Hemispheric cinema, which also functions as a planetarium, the landscaped Umbracle space offering exceptional views, the Museu de les Ciències, an immersive museum with exhibitions on science, the natural ecosystem, and technology, the Oceanogràfic, the largest aquarium in Europe, the Valencian Opera (Reina Sofía Palace of the Arts). The City of Arts and Sciences also hosts conferences, exhibitions, and workshops related to science and the arts. It’s a must in Valencia: you can’t leave the city without seeing it.

The City of Arts and Sciences is one of the things to see in Valencia

The Serranos Towers

The magnificent Torres de Serranos sit where the Old Town of Valencia gives way to the Turia Gardens. These historic towers are an ancient gateway to the long-destroyed old city wall, the Muralla Cristiana (“Christian Wall”), and make a perfect vantage point for photos. They also play a key role in the city’s biggest festival, Las Fallas, as the prestigious opening ceremony takes place right outside.

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The Longa de la Seda

Valencia’s Medieval Silk Market was designed to display the city’s riches during the heyday of the silk trade. It is now one of the main architectural attractions of the city and is reputed to be a rare European examples of non-religious Gothic architecture. You can explore the ornate halls, including the main one with its imposing columns representing palm trees soaring towards paradise. The building’s classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is well deserved.

La Lonja de la Seda is one of the things to see in Valencia

Valencia Town Hall

The Ayuntamiento de Valencia, or Valencia Town Hall, is located near the train station and is one of the city’s most popular buildings, attracting tourists and locals alike. The structure, which dates mainly from the 18th century, includes a spectacular clock tower, a graceful marble staircase, and a ballroom, as well as spaces where the official business of the city is conducted. A wide balcony overlooks the square, providing a prime spot to watch the Las Fallas fireworks. The building also houses the city’s history museum.

Turia Gardens

The Turia Gardens, or Jardines del Turia, is not a typical urban park; rather, it is a historic riverbed that has been transformed into green space with playgrounds and sports facilities. It winds through the city centre, from the Bioparc (read below) to the City of Arts and Sciences, and finally to the sea. During the summer, locals come here to exercise, picnic, and party, and the long ribbon of greenery is popular with everyone from runners and cyclists to families and nature lovers.

The Turia Gardens are one of the things to see in Valencia

The Rotonda

Valencia’s iconic circular ‘square’ hides behind Plaza de la Reina in the heart of the Old Town district. Located in the circular courtyard of a pretty house, there are craft stalls, pubs, and cafes. You might not want to stay too long, however, as some of these restaurants have a reputation for overcharging visitors, though the patio itself has a nice atmosphere and is an uncommon place to visit.

Valencia Cathedral

Another must-see in Valence is its cathedral. Located in the Plaza de la Reina, it is perhaps more known for its claim to house the Holy Grail than for its architecture, although it is still fabulous. The religious building was erected on the site of a former mosque in 1262 and displays a variety of artistic features from different periods: Romanesque, Baroque, and Gothic. The interior of the cathedral impresses tourists, though some do complain about the price of admission. We strongly advise you to take an audio guide, so as not to lose out on any of the richness of the place.

But what is the Holy Grail? Since 1437, Valencia Cathedral has housed a relic believed to be the Holy Grail, the cup used by Jesus Christ and his twelve disciples during the Last Supper, which collected the blood of Christ. It would have been sent from Rome to Spain by Saint Laurent in 258.

The cathedral is a must in Valencia

The Square of the Virgin

Plaza de la Virgen, located next to Valencia Cathedral, is a great place to admire some of the city’s architectural designs. The square is surrounded by many shops and cafes, and it is regularly visited by street performers. Of course, the famous square is always open and tourists find it particularly attractive at night.

The Valencian Institute of Modern Art

The Valencian Institute of Modern Art is full of historical and contemporary works. Its perpetual collection, which features more than 10,000 pieces and includes works by Julio González and Ignacio Pinazo, among others, focuses on the 20th century.

Bioparc Valencia

The Bioparc Valencia is a 10-hectare zoo located in the northwest of the city. However, it is not an ordinary zoo, but an interactive one, meaning it eliminates many of the barriers that most of these parks build between different animals, including humans. Species that naturally (and safely) coexist in the wild are grouped together, while other “friendly” species, such as lemurs, can interact with humans. Some barriers are camouflaged to give tourists the impression that they are in the middle of nature. Animals like zebras, Nile crocodiles, giraffes, and elephants are spread around four main ecosystems in the park, which seeks to recreate the African continent.

The Bioparc is one of the things to see in Valencia

The Playa del Saler

This breath-taking stretch of sand is just 16 kilometres from Valencia, in La Albufera Natural Park, making it one of the finest attractions in the Valencia region. Playa del Saler is bordered to the north by the beach of l’Arbre del Gos and to the south by La Garrofera beach. This picturesque stretch of 2.6 kilometres of fine sand is sheltered from the wind by dunes and pine trees. A true delight. 

There you have it, our selection of the 11 things to see on a trip to Valencia. But you probably have other ideas, so feel free to share them in the comments.

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