Seated right where the Turia River and the Mediterranean Sea come together on the Southeastern coast of Spain, Valencia is a beautiful city to visit, even if it may seem contradictory on the surface. On one hand, it has some truly breathtaking natural features and historical sites to explore, but on the other, its City of Arts and Sciences is so futuristic that it seems like something out of a science fiction movie.
Here’s a look at both of these things and more, to show you why Valencia should be your next vacation destination.
What Is the Best Time to Visit Valencia, Spain?
Valencia, Spain sees close to 300 sunny days per year, so there is never really a “bad” time to visit this port city. To get the most out of your trip, though, the best time to visit it in April and May, when the weather is warm but the number of other tourists visiting is low.
The winter is also a good time to visit, as the temperatures are typically still mild and the sun is still shining, even if it may be a bit chillier at the beach.
Our Favorite Things to Do in Valencia, Spain
You may have eaten paella before, but you’ve never had it like this. Valencia is the birthplace of paella, so this is the real deal. Besides it’s signature round grain rice, this dish (technically known as paella valenciana here) can contain green beans, lima beans, olive oil, saffron, and often whole rosemary branches, as well as your choice of chicken, rabbit, duck, prawns, snails, or squid.
Visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Some may say that Valencia’s biggest draw is its futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, but this town is full of intriguing historical sites as well. Take, for example, La Lonja de la Seda, a 15th-century building with vaulted ceilings and twisted columns whose name means “Silk Exchange.” It was once a place where traders from all over the Mediterranean would come to negotiate deals with other traders on their products, but now it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you can wander through and marvel at its beautiful architecture, definitely a worthwhile adventure and one of the top sights in Spain.
Get Some Sun at the Beach
One simply cannot visit a city on Spain’s coast without spending some time at the beach. Valencia has several beaches to offer, but our favorites are Playa de la Malvarrosa, whose golden sand, accessibility, and excellent safety measures have earned it a coveted Blue Flag award, and Playa El Saler, a more natural, less crowded beach located on the coast of La Albufera Natural Reserve, not far from Valencia’s port.
Some of the Best Attractions in Valencia, Spain
City of the Arts and Sciences
Valencia’s Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias or City of the Arts and Sciences, is truly a sight to behold. It is a city within the city, full of futuristic buildings and structures made even more spectacular by the reflecting pools that surround them. Here, you can visit a planetarium (complete with an IMAX cinema), a science museum, the avant garde art spectacle of Palau de les Arts, and The Umbracle, a 17,500 square meter space where you can see the entirety of the City of Arts and Sciences as you surround yourself with gardens of Mediterranean plants and famous contemporary sculptures.
We ran out of space in the previous section, but there is one more must-see site to visit in the City of Arts and Science: The Oceanogràfic. This is Europe’s largest aquarium and contains aquatic wildlife from every one of the Earth’s main marine ecosystems. The aquarium is divided into multiple buildings, each devoted to a separate ecosystem, including Wetlands, the Mediterranean, Oceans, the Arctic, the Antarctic, the Red Sea, and the Islands. There is also a Dolphinarium and an underwater restaurant where you can dine under the sea.
Parc Natural de la Albufera
In the Valencian language, “Albufera” means “lagoon,” and this one is so big and important that a whole park was named after it. Parc Natural de l’Albufera de València is a nature reserve where huge amounts of the area’s natural flora and fauna are allowed to thrive and grow without any interference from mankind. Interestingly, the lagoon it was named for was once full of saltwater, but by the 17th century it had turned to freshwater due to dilution by the irrigation and drainage canals running into it.
Other Sights Worth a Visit in Valencia, Spain
Other interesting stops in the city include Parque Gulliver, a park full of giant sculptures children can climb on based on Johnathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, and the Central Market, where you can browse the booths and buy local delicacies like chorizo beneath the beautiful domed glass-and-metal ceiling.
Valencia is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Spain, and for good reason. Whether you prefer to wander among the historical architecture while you sample traditional Valencian cuisine or take a trip to the future without a time machine, in this city, you’ll never get bored.