Valencia is pure Science-fiction. Valencia is innovation. Valencia is thriving culture. Valencia is bustling tapas bars. Valencia is a wonderfully liveable city. Valencia made my Dream Destinations top 5 list because it has everything I would want in a city – strikingly futuristic buildings, a fistful of fabulous Modernista architecture, great museums and a large, characterful old quarter. Valencia, surrounded by its huerta, a fertile fruit-and-veg farmland, is famous as the home of rice dishes such as paella, but its buzzy dining scene offers plenty more besides.
I love the contrast that Valencia has to offer. On one side of the town, you can visit the Valencia cathedral – built over a mosque in the 13th Century AD – it displays both Gothic and Neo-classical architecture, and the interior is simply stunning. The plaza outside the cathedral is beautiful, and becomes alive at night. Alternatively, visit the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias – an aesthetically stunning set of contemporary buildings designed by the local born world-famous architect Santiago Calatrava. He is a controversial figure for many Valencians as the money used for building came directly from taxes, and the building has had to undergo several repairs. Nevertheless, the buildings are absolutely stunning if you get a chance to see them.
Visit the Market hall in Valencia to get a true taste of Spain. Nearly 400 local traders sell local produce including fruit and veg, cheeses, meats, and seafood with a lot of Iberico ham, a local speciality that has become world-famous. There are also hot-food stalls selling local street food including paella, tapas etc.
In the afternoon, take a trip to the Museo de Bellas Artes, or head to the Bioparc de Valencia for an eco-friendly day at the zoo. Alternatively, visit the National Pottery Museum, the Museo del Patriarca, or La Longa.
In the evening, head to one of Valencia’s many tapas bars, and enjoy some of Spain’s finest dishes, including gambas con ajo, calamares a la romana or gazpacho. Enjoy your meal with a glass of Spanish wine, and/or a small glass of jerez (sherry) – made in the local town of Jerez.
Is Valencia budget-friendly?
Yes, yes, yes. Flights cost as little as £45 for a return from London to Valencia (flying with Ryanair). You can stay in a hotel, although Airbnb offer beautiful bespoke rooms with air-con and wifi for only £20, right in the centre of Valencia’s cultural quarter.