Spain’s third largest city, situated half-way down the country’s Mediterranean coast, receives 300 days of sunshine a year.
That in itself is enough to draw many people to this bustling city, but Valencia offers much much more.
It’s a centre of creativity, with an incredible food and drink scene, buzzing nightlife, stunning architecture and a laidback pace of life.
It offers all the excitement of city life, but at its own speed, where no one seems to rush.
With a stunning sandy beach on its doorstep, gorgeous parks and mountains nearby, it offers more than many cities its size.
Yet despite all its assets you avoid the tourist traps found in places like Barcelona, where it’s hard to have a moment’s peace without being hassled by a hawker.
Valencia has a laidback authenticity and it’s that, along with all its cultural and culinary attractions, which has found it named by many travel guides’ as one of the top cities to visit in 2023.
Best Things To Do In Valencia
#1. City of Arts and Sciences
The City of Arts & Sciences is one of the most striking pieces of modern architecture in the whole of Spain.
The complex of buildings, which cost €1.2bllion to build, comprises of many different tourist attractions in futuristic buildings and set alongside the beautiful Turia Gardens.
At the enormous site you can visit Europe’s biggest aquarium, a digital 3D cinema and an industry leading science museum.
There’s also an enormous arts and performance centre, which hosts large exhibitions, concerts, opera and ballet performances.
Meanwhile, in the summer months there is an outdoor nightclub in the area and lakes to boat and kayak around.
There are also beautiful gardens, a conference centre and a number of imposing bridges.
It truly is a jaw-dropping place.
The Turia Gardens is another example of Valencia’s incredible design and engineering.
The enormous, 270 acre park, stretches 7km and rings half of the city centre around its north and east.
It’s one of Spain’s largest urban parks and what makes it more impressive is that the land used to contain the large Turia River.
After numerous floods, the city decided to reroute the river in the 1980s, away from the city centre, and turn the remaining river bed into the stunning park.
What’s left today is one of the most impressive urban parks in the whole of Europe, providing access to nature for a huge portion of the city’s population, within only a 10-minute walk or cycle.
It’s full of beautiful gardens, football pitches, outdoor gyms, small lakes, a large network of running routes, cycle paths and many other facilities.
A great place to escape the busy city streets.
Valencia doesn’t only boast a beautiful park, it also has many kilometres of stunning coastline too.
It has beaches right next to the city’s heart, while also others stretching to its north and south.
The sands begin right next to the city’s port and stretch right up the coastline to its northern city limits, with many beachside cafes, bars and restaurants.
There are also wilder beaches to the city’s south, with sand dunes and the opportunity to surf and kitesurf.
The beaches near the city’s heavily populated areas are throbbing with life throughout the year, with many volleyball nets, people cycling along the long promenades, having barbeques and relaxing until the sun sets.
The beach is an absolute must while visiting Valencia.
#4.Street Art El Carmen
Valencia is covered in street art and across many areas in the city you can see stunning murals.
However, it’s in El Carmen, just north of Valencia’s city centre, where you can find street art in its highest density.
It’s one of the most unique areas of the city to explore and among the oldest.
The neighbourhood is made up of a tight network of historic streets and alleyways which have now been taken over by artists.
There are 1,000s of pieces of art dotted around this compact area, among a vast array of tasty eateries, bars and small cafes.
Get out for an explore around an area which is oozing with creativity.
#5. Drink & dine in Ruzafa
Valencia’s Ruzafa area, to the south of the city centre, is seen as one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the city.
The area is Valencia’s answer to Shoreditch in London or Nørrebro in Copenhagen.
It’s a cool and laidback area full of incredible independent eateries, craft beer breweries, coffee roasters, vintage shops, small wine bars, music venues and nightclubs.
Mixed among the brilliant independent business are lovely public spaces and plenty of artwork on the area’s walls.
It’s here you can find some of tastiest restaurants and best hipster hangouts in Valencia.
#6.Dance the night away
Valencia has a pumping nightlife scene with many electronic music clubs attracting some of the biggest names in electronic music.
It’s hard to find a day or night when there isn’t a big music event going on and revellers dance from midnight until long after the sun comes up, throughout the year.
#7.Eat traditional Valencian paella
You can’t come to Valencia without eating paella – it’s the home of the world famous Spanish dish.
The city is dotted with tasty paella restaurants, but make sure you go for the authentic Valencian paella ingredient combination.
The locals often include rabbit, chicken and sometimes duck in their paella, along with green beans, butter beans and of course rice.
#8. Mercado de Colon
If you like your food, then you absolutely must visit Valencia’s Mercado de Colon.
The covered market, in the heart of the city centre, comprises of 100s of fresh food vendors, among a smattering of cute restaurants, bustling bars and flower sellers.
It’s a focal point in the city and busy throughout the day.
#9. Watch a football match
If you’re visiting the city between August and May, keep an eye out for the football fixtures.
The city has two football clubs playing in Spain’s top flight, Valencia CF and Levante UD, and its residents take football very seriously.
Valencia CF is one of the most decorated football teams in Spain and the club’s Mestalla Stadium is one of the most impressive in the whole of the country.
If you can’t make it to a match, make sure to check out the Mestalla’s museum or go on a guided tour.
#10. Explore El Cabanyal
The old fishing district of El Cabanyal, alongside Valencia’s beach, feels like a district part frozen in time.
The colourful patchwork of two story fishermen’s houses, complete with tiled mosaic walls, are set in a grid network, just a stone’s throw from the shores of the Mediterranean.
The area had in parts fallen upon hard times, but it’s seen a revival in recent years, with old fishing warehouses turned into cool music venues, street food spots and many of the old properties have been restored to their former glory.
Alongside the fantastic new businesses, you can also find many colourful street art murals.
The area has a unique character, where many of the former fishing community live alongside young creatives, who’ve snapped up some of the old rundown properties.
It’s an obvious choice, but you can’t go to Valencia without checking out its fantastic array of stunning historic architecture.
The city’s 13th century cathedral, in the city centre, is a must.
As is the Torres de Serranos – one of the last remaining historic gates to the city, which was built in the 14th century.
There are many other examples dotted around the city, with a number of impressive squares and public spaces, such as the Plaça de l’Ajuntament, dotted with historic architecture.
#12. Go cycling
Valencia is one of Spain’s most cyclable cities.
Not only is the city pan flat, but there are also 156 kilometres of dedicated cycle lanes around the city’s streets, with other fantastic routes through the Turia Gardens and along the beachfront.
It’s the way to move about through Valencia’s streets, where you often find more bikes than vehicles.
A great way to keep fit and explore the city.
Valencia is an antidote to the crowded tourist trap cities around the Mediterranean.
It’s an incredibly laidback place, which still oozes Spanish authenticity – with affordable prices, stunning architecture, a brilliant drinking and dining scene, beautiful public spaces and bags of culture and creativity.
It’s a city which basks in sunshine for many days a year and where you can still find space to relax away from the crowds.
We think it’s one of the most dynamic and exciting cities around the Mediterranean, so get out there and give it a go yourself.