Valencia is located on Spain’s eastern coast. The Mediterranean seaside town boasts an eclectic mix of new and old. From space-age architecture like the City of Arts and Sciences to the classic look of the Mercado Central, Valencia blends it past with its present better than many cities around the world. It is also famous for the Falles celebration.
Former home to the European Grand Prix and the Spanish Grand Prix, Valencia holds a place in Formula One history. Some of the world’s best drivers including Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, and Felipe Massa have won at the Valencia Street Circuit. Due to the Spanish city’s love of motorsports, there is plenty for petrolheads to love about Valencia.
Local Favorite: PaellaPaella is a Spanish dish found at restaurants around the world. Its origin can be traced to Valencia. There are foodies out there that claim paella should only be dined on in Valencia and nowhere else in Spain. That is how important paella is to the local area. The Moors arrived in Spain in the 8th century, bringing their rice-growing skills with them. The area around the Albufera Lake proved ideal for rice growing, making the eastern Spanish region great for growing the grain. Traditional paella from Valencia contains chicken, white beans, and rabbit. Today, most paellas contain seafood, but mixed dishes with fish and chicken are available too.
The City of Arts and Sciences
The Central Market of Valencia
Valencia City Hall
Top Tourist Attractions
Valencia’s seaside location provides visitors with some of the best beaches in Spain. Given that the country’s southern and eastern coasts are along the Mediterranean, there are a lot of beaches to choose from.
Las Arenas is a long stretch of gorgeous golden sand while Patacona is near the city center. If travelers want to get away from the crowds of the two city beaches, then they can head south to La Garrofera. This unspoiled spot is perfect to get away from everyone and everything. Anyone going to Valencia during the warmer months should make a day at the beach one of the many activities they do.
The Garden of Turia
At one time, Valencia was split into two by the Turia River. After flooding led to a crisis in the 1950s, the city decided to reroute the river to prevent such events from happening again. In the wake of the Turia River’s rerouting, a river bed was left exposed running through the center of Valencia. The city turned the riverbed into a park that snakes its way through Valencia. It is the perfect destination for anyone looking to explore Valencia’s quieter side.
Travelers can jog or cycle through the park. There are also areas to do other sports activities as well. The Garden of Turia also contains cafes, bars, and restaurants offering refreshment and food for parkgoers. It is also home to one of the most popular children’s activities in Valencia. A large Gulliver giant from the book “Gulliver’s Travels” was built in the park. It was designed so kids could climb, slide, and play on the massive installation. Families will find plenty to see and do inside The Garden of Turia.
The City of Arts and Sciences
The City of Arts and Sciences is said to be the most important tourist destination in all of Valencia. Opened in 1998, The City of Arts and Sciences has been listed as one of the 12 Treasures of Spain. The attraction is made up of six zones, and each offers visitors something different. There are dedicated exhibits to nature, opera, theater, and much more. In addition, it contains a 3D panoramic cinema that shows educational films to those who visit. While The City of Arts and Sciences contains a lot of amazing exhibits, the real wonder is the structure that houses it which is an architectural marvel.
Circuit Ricardo Tormo
Built in 1999, the Circuit Ricardo Tormo was one of the tracks Formula One teams used to test their cars. However, it isn’t just Formula One drivers who get to experience the circuit. Offered at the circuit usually once a year, the Pure McLaren driving experience gives visitors the chance to get behind the wheel of some of the world’s finest race cars. The experience offers expert coaching to learners and allows them to become better drivers while also increasing their ability to drive high-performance sports cars.
The Circuit Ricardo Tormo is also home to the Formula GT Experience. Guests can get behind the wheel of an Aston Martin, Ferrari, Porsche, or Lamborghini and drive around the famed Spanish racetrack. The company offers over various driving experiences, so drivers will be able to find one that suits them.
The Mercado Central is one of the oldest European markets still in use today. Renovated in 2010, visitors to the Mercado Central will be immersed in local culture. Anyone looking to get to know the city on a deeper level should experience the market, its stalls, and the people inside it.
The market is located amongst many of the other tourist attractions in Valencia, making it easy to find. Its architecture allows it to stand out amongst the city’s other buildings and hotspots.
Along with stalls selling unique items and food, tourists will find restaurants and bars found nowhere else in Valencia. For anyone unfamiliar with a traditional European market, there is nothing like the Mercado Central in the heart of Valencia.
Oceanogràfic is the largest aquarium in Europe, with about 45,000 animals inside its walls. It is a fantastic option for the whole family and also has the longest underwater tunnel in Europe. If you like dolphins, you certainly don't want to miss the dolphin show.
During your exploration of this wonderful oceanarium, take a break and grab a bite to eat in the Submarine restaurant, which, true to its name, is surrounded by tanks of underwater life with seethrough walls that offer breathtaking views. Hopefully, that won't be too much of a distraction while you eat.
Lonja de la Seda
Built in the 15th century, this set of buildings is steeped in rich history. Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, it was a center for commerce for centuries. One of the most known industries out of the place is its namesake of silk, or 'seda' in Spanish. The gothic architecture of the space is one to behold. The building and attached exhibits show the scale of the Mediterranean trading power in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Barrio del Carmen
One of the oldest areas in Valencia, the streets of Barrio del Carmen perfectly balance the ancient architecture with more modern-day buildings to deliver a stunning journey through the ages. Now known as a hub for foodies who particularly love Mediterranean cuisine, the area also has influences from the Arabs that lived there during its construction. Enjoy dinner surrounded by this amalgamation of centuries of human history.
Valencia may not be the European tourist attraction that Madrid and Barcelona are. Nor does it have the glamor of Ibiza or Mallorca. However, Valencia has plenty of Spanish flavoring and feeling that those other tourist destinations don’t have. That is why it is a must-visit European city for culture vultures and petrolheads alike.