City break in Valencia: everything you need to know!

What to see, what to do, where to eat, my favourites: everything you need to know for a city break in Valencia!
city break in Valencia

In this article ...

I’m taking you on a trip to Valencia. This article is the first one a series of articles on city breaks in Spain.  And, of course, we’re starting in Valencia (for those of you who don’t know, this is where I’ve been living for the last 4 years * UPDATE, I lived in Valencia for 5 years and have now flown to Tenerife 😊).

Valencia, the country’s 3rd largest city, has long been overlooked in favour of Barcelona or even Madrid. But it’s full of surprises! For me, it’s the winning combo for a sunny city-trip: an old town rich in history, the beach, tempting gastronomic specialities, an interesting architectural mix and a warm, festive southern atmosphere. The love that Valencians have for their city and its traditions also contributes to Valencia’s ambience and atmosphere.

Anyway, here we go!

You can also read: City break in Seville and City break in Barcelona

Practical information for your city trip to Valencia

Getting around Valencia

If you arrive by plane, getting to the city centre couldn’t be easier: the metro arrives directly at the airport.

When you’re there, it’s worth bearing in mind that the city’s different districts are quite far apart. Public transport is a good option and serves the city very well (ticket price: €2.50 and €7.90 for 10 journeys).

From the airport, just follow the arrows M (metro). Just before the gates, you’ll find kiosks where you can buy your ticket. To get to the city centre, you can take line 3 (red).

Another solution is by bike! You can hire one just about anywhere in the city (+- €10/day) or buy a week’s pass for the public bicycles at the public bicycle stands (Valenbisi, €13.30). The city is almost entirely covered with cycle paths and is very flat – it really is a cyclist’s paradise! You can download an app (Valenbisi) to buy your ‘pass’ and unlock your bike when you borrow it.

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How many days should I allow and when should I go?

4 days there is perfect. It leaves plenty of time to visit the town, enjoy an afternoon at the beach and plan an excursion to the Albufera or Port Saplaya.

Valencia can be visited all year round! Well, almost – I’d advise against the really hot month of August! Temperatures often reach 35 or even 40 degrees and the city quickly becomes stifling. It’s very humid in Valencia and heat and humidity don’t make for a pleasant combination when visiting a city. February is not necessarily recommended either, as it rains a little more often and it’s cool.


The Spanish siesta is a myth? Not in Valencia. At least in the less touristy districts of Cabanyal and Benimaclet, the shops won’t be open between 2pm and 5pm! In the centre, on the other hand, the big shops generally stay open all day.

And don’t forget mealtimes. Breakfast is generally taken until 10am; then comes the “almuerzo” at around 11am (which consists of a large snack such as a baguette with fillings or empanadas); lunch is taken at around 2pm and dinner at around 9pm.

Accommodation for a city trip to Valencia

The range of tourist accommodation has expanded over the years and there is something for everyone. For a first visit, I’d recommend choosing a key location: a city centre district like El Carmen is ideal for being close to most of the city’s attractions.

Gastronomic specialities

Quelques spécialités à goûter lors de votre séjour :  

  • Paëlla valenciana (after all, this is where paëlla originated): made with rabbit and chicken. It’s best eaten at lunchtime, not in the evening!
  • Fideuà: very similar to seafood paella, but with little vermicelli.
  • Horchata and fartons: a sweet vegetable milk made from chufas (tigernut tubers) which is eaten at snack time with fartons (a long, thin pastry speciality).
  • Fresh orange juice: Valencia is the city of oranges. At the height of the season (from November to May), fresh orange juice is delicious!
  • Agua de Valencia: a cocktail made with orange, gin and vodka.
  • Chocolate bollets: cane sugar-based chocolate presented in the form of a rounded stick.

💡 A great idea for an activity in Valencia? A tapas tasting! You can sample 3 tapas accompanied by 3 drinks and discover the city’s coolest bars.

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The different districts

Old town (Ciutat Vella) 

This is actually the centre of Valencia: the town hall square, the central market, the bullring, the cathedral and all the city’s ‘important’ buildings can be found here.

It’s a great place to take a stroll and admire the attractive facades of the buildings.

My favourite square? La Virgen square: orange trees, a magnificent fountain representing the River Turia and its tributaries, the cathedral and the Palacio de la Generalitat Valenciana – you’ll fall under the spell of this composition!

The Carmen district also deserves a special mention. An old quarter combining nightlife, street art and vintage shops. It’s an atypical mix that adds to its charm!


  • Stroll the aisles of the Mercat Central at almuerzo time and buy a few gastronomic souvenirs.
  • Enjoy a drink in the small Dr Collado square.
  • Observe City Hall Square from the rooftop of the Ateneo Mercantil.
  • Spot all the street art in Carmen.
  • Climb to the Micalet, the Cathedral’s bell tower (€2) for a panoramic view of the city.
  • Pass through the old city gate: the Torres de Serranos.
  • See all the details of the Palacio de Marques de Dos Aguas.
  • Find the narrowest house in Europe (Plaza de Lope de Vega): La Estrecha.
  • Take the “secret passage” through the Plaza de la Reina and discover the little book shops (at number 9)
  • Discover the lace kiosks in Plaza Redona.
  • Drink a horchata, the traditional drink at the Mercado de Colon (just for the architecture of the place, make the diversions!).
  • Shopping on Calle Colon.
Book before you go👉A guided tour of Valencia in EnglishTo make the most of all these activities, opt for a guided tour with admission to the monuments! It’s an economical and practical plan.Price: €35

Eating and drinking


THE trendy district of the city. Perfect for grabbing a bite to eat in a trendy restaurant, vintage shopping or visiting an art gallery.

Close to the Ruzafa district is the Gran Via and Valencia’s upmarket districts.


  • Take a stroll and visit some of the art shops.
  • Shop at second-hand stores and boutiques selling clothes by the kilo.
  • Have an evening drink in the district and enjoy the warm, eclectic atmosphere.

Eating and drinking

This is also where you can eat Thai, Italian, Mexican or even French food!


Poblas Maritimos (Cabanyal and Malva Rosa)

Just a few kilometres from the city centre and a few tram stops away are the beaches of Valencia. The beaches? Yes, there’s Playa de las Arenas, Playa de la Malva Rosa and Playa de la Patacona. They may not be the most beautiful on the coast, but they’re there to be enjoyed by Valencians and tourists alike! I prefer the Patacona, which is a little further away and prettier.

The paseo marítimo de la Malva Rosa is full of great little restaurants, bars and ice cream parlours! You can also continue your stroll along the pier! My little treat? Take a little aperitif with me and sit there as the sun sets over the city.

If you leave the beach and head a few streets further on, you’ll find yourself in the Cabanyal district. A former fishermen’s neighbourhood, it has long been left to its own devices and is now undergoing a major modernisation and revitalisation.


  • Stroll along the Paseo Marítimo.
  • A sunbathing session and a swim on one of the beaches.
  • Stroll through the streets of Cabanyal and admire the colourful houses.
  • Sample some of Cabanyal’s unique specialities: Titaina and Esgarraet.
  • Visit the Mercat du Cabanyal: much less touristy than the big Mercat Central, this is where most Valencians go to do their shopping. Here you won’t really find any ‘souvenirs’ to take home, but good produce such as fish, fruit, vegetables and cheese!

💡My favourite beach activity ? A catamaran trip at the end of the day to enjoy the sunset over the city! Must do at least once.

👉Catamaran trip at sunset

For €25/person, enjoy a superb catamaran trip in the Bay of Valencia! Book at the end of your stay to keep a sweet souvenir of your trip.

Eating and drinking


Generally less recommended by tourist guides, Benimaclet is in fact an ancient “pueblo” (village): El Pueblo de Valencia. Attached to Valencia as a district in the 19th century, it has nevertheless retained a unique character. Today, it’s also a favourite spot for students, with a host of bars at very democratic prices! Once again, it’s a great place to stroll around and grab a few tapas in the square: good, local and cheap!


  • Strolling through the narrow streets.
  • Take a photo in front of El Colmado, a restaurant with a very unusual and colourful façade!

Eating and drinking

City of Arts and Sciences

The famous one! Most of Valencia’s photos feature this City of Arts and Sciences. A totally futuristic architectural structure, it was inaugurated in 1998. It includes a cinema, museums, a conference and performance hall and a nightclub.


  • Visit the museums: L’Océanographique and the Science Museum.
  • Take a stroll and observe the atypical architecture from every angle.
  • Enter the Umbracle.
  • Visit the Caixa Forum, a new exhibition centre in the heart of the Cité des Sciences.

Book before you go

👉Buy your tickets for the City of Arts and Sciences.

Choose a combined ticket for all the museums of the City of Science and the Oceanographic Museum. Includes: Tickets for the Oceanogràphic, Hemisfèric and Príncipe Felipe Science Museum of the City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia.

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La Turia

It’s not a district in the strict sense of the word, but a very large and long park (almost 9 km!) that connects the city from one end to the other: on one side the Cité des Sciences, on the other the Bio Parc. It is located in the former bed of the river Turia, which used to run through the city. It was moved following serious flooding in the 1950s. It’s the ideal place to go for a bike ride or a walk (or even a run)! Valencians also love to gather here for picnics!

The Turia river is a must-see: the Bridge of Flowers, the Palacio de la Musica and the Pont de la Mar.

Around Valencia

Port Saplaya: Valencia’s Little Venice; This is also where you’ll find the “best” horchata. Port Saplaya belongs to the municipality of Alboraya, where the chufas are grown. 

L’Albufera: One of the largest lagoons in Europe! This is the place to eat authentic Valencian paella, as the rice fields are located here.

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Bringing back some memories

  • A fan (although we tend to think that the origin is more Andalusian, the real ones are only produced in Valencia!)
  • You can buy them at the Mercat Central, for example, and eat them just like dried fruit.
  • Bring back Valencian rice, saffron, a bottle of Agua de Valencia or even rice liqueur, all from the Original CV

In short, 3 good reasons to visit Valencia

As you’ll have gathered from this article, Valencia is a great idea for a city trip in Spain. Still not convinced? Here are 3 reasons to visit Valencia:

Lots of stylish addresses to discover

In 2022, Valencia was designated World Design Capital by the World Design Organization (WDO). This is an opportunity to highlight its most emblematic buildings, such as the City of Arts and Sciences complex, the work of architect Calatrava; the Mercat de Colon, a modernist building by Francisco de Mora y Berenguer… But that’s not all! Design is alive and well throughout the city and in every district. Numerous places renowned for their architecture (including bars and restaurants) are also being showcased for this event.

One of the best destinations according to CNN

Every year, the American media outlet CNN publishes a ranking of the best tourist destinations. In 2023, Valencia stands out from the crowd! Not without reason, of course: the beach, the almost 8 kilometres of gardens in the former bed of the river Turia, the old town… Valencia is a city where life is good, perfect for disconnecting for the time of a getaway.

A very (very) rich cultural heritage

The city of Valencia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over the course of time, several civilisations have succeeded one another, leaving traces of their passage that we can still see today.

Culture and art

If you’re an art lover, there are 4 must-sees:

  • The IVAM (Valencian Institute of Modern Art), a benchmark for Iberian art. It houses over 1,200 permanent works by a wide range of artists;
  • The Fundación Bancaja, a building of over 12,000 m² filled with works by the greatest Spanish and international artists. As well as showcasing Valencian art, it also hosts concerts, workshops and conferences;
  • The Centre del Carme Cultura Contemporánea (CCCC), which focuses mainly on Valencian culture and contemporary art. A number of artistic disciplines are brought together in a single venue, to the delight of young and old alike;
  • Caixaforum, opening in June 2022, in the heart of the Cité des Sciences, with its temporary exhibitions

Culture and history

If you prefer to visit monuments and discover their history through architecture, there are a few must-see sights. As well as the ‘design’ places, I recommend :

  • The Silk Lodge, one of Europe’s most famous Gothic buildings;
  • Valencia Cathedral, which alone contains a number of rare works and objects, such as the Holy Chalice and paintings by Goya. Every Thursday at 12 noon, under the Apostles’ Gate, you can also watch the Tribunal des Eaux de la Vega, whose aim is to resolve disputes between farmers.

Culture and celebration

Finally, how can we talk about Valencia without mentioning the Fallas? This annual festival takes place from March 15 to 19 and celebrates the arrival of spring. For a whole week, the city is alive with noise, with numerous fireworks displays and mascletas. Valencians have a real passion and expertise for pyrotechnics, and the sky is filled with lights and smoke during these few days.

Statue, Falla, construction

I hope this article has inspired you to visit one of my favourite cities in Spain! 😎

Q&A : Valencia getaway

Valencia, Spain’s 3rd largest city, offers a unique blend of history, beaches, gastronomy, architecture and a warm, festive atmosphere. Long underestimated in favour of Barcelona or Madrid, Valencia is full of surprises and varied activities.

To get around Valencia, the metro is a practical option from the moment you arrive at the airport. Public transport is an efficient way of exploring the different districts. Renting a bike is also an excellent way to make the most of the city’s many cycle paths.

A 4-day stay in Valencia is ideal for exploring the city, enjoying the beach and taking a trip to the surrounding area, such as the Albufera or Port Saplaya.

Valencia can be visited almost all year round, but it is advisable to avoid August due to the high heat and humidity, and February, which is cooler and wetter.

For a first visit, we recommend choosing accommodation in the city centre, such as the El Carmen district, which is close to most attractions.

The must-try dishes include paella valenciana, fideuà, horchata with breadcrumbs, fresh orange juice and Agua de Valencia.

The Old Town (Ciutat Vella), Ruzafa, Poblas Maritimos (Cabanyal and Malva Rosa), Benimaclet, and the City of Arts and Sciences are key districts, each offering a unique experience.

Valencia has plenty to offer: stroll around the Mercat Central, admire the street art of Carmen, visit the museums of the City of Arts and Sciences, relax on the beaches, and explore the Turia Park by bike or on foot.

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Hello! I’m Julie, digital content creator, travel enthusiast and Spain lover!

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