The Eastern coast of Spain has a lot going for it. Mile after mile of gorgeous coastline and beaches, brilliant cities, vibrant culture, top class food, perfect weather and great locals. Valencia is at the heart of all things great in this part of Spain and I couldn’t wait to get exploring this gem of a city.
After arriving at the Estacion del Autobuses, I had a leisurely walk to my hostel through the very green outskirts of town which was lovely, big park spaces that were popular with runners and walkers alike.
My base for my 5 day visit here would be the Purple Nest Hostel, only a 15 minute walk from the city centre. The hostel itself was a great hub of activity with nightly activities, daily walking tours, bike hire, good communal areas and a roof terrace. It is also the Busabout pick up point.
Because of its location, there are a myriad of things you can do in Valencia. The obvious thing is to go and chill out on one of the many beaches here, the best being at the end of town called La Malva Rosa which has plenty of space due to its huge shore as well as a heap of bars and restaurants should you decide to make an afternoon of it.
Another place worth visiting is the Central Market in town. Here you can find typical Spanish food like Paella, cured meats such as Jamon Serrano, Panederias making the freshest breads and local produce of fruit and vegetables. You’ll also find an international beer shop here and getting a coffee at one of the sit down bar type Cafes here is good if you like people watching. I took some Paella Valenciana for lunch and it was amazing!
The size of Valencia means that getting around on foot is quite easy. A lot of attractions are located in the old centre such as the Valencia Cathedral, Plaza Retondo, the Central Market, the Porta de Serrans, the Puerta del Mar and the Botanical Gardens. There are other transport options here though, bicycle hire is a great way to get around and I found a few places that offered hire for around €5 per day and the Metro system in Valencia is very good and quite new.
The bicycle was the most enjoyable method of transport here, especially as the weather was perfect for it – low 30 degree temps and sun for days. Cycling down to the beach from town was quite easy as I used Gulliver Park which almost separates to city in two meaning I could avoid roads for the most part. Along the way is the Oceanografique museum, the city’s aquarium and you also can’t miss the Agora, an unmissable blue shell shaped building that is the Convention centre.
The best time to visit Valencia would have to be between May-September and depending what time of year you visit there are events on all year round so you might be able to catch the Formula 1 which races down by the sea around a street circuit – of which I came across all the markings on my bicycle ride. The race is traditionally held around July.
Another massive event you probably know about is La Tomatina, the tomato throwing festival held in Buñol, about an hour out of Valencia. La Tom is held in late August – the same time I was in town – and attracts hoardes of travellers from everywhere, which made Valencia feel quite deserted after they’d all gone to Buñol! Numerous tour operators run tours for La Tomatina, if that’s your thing!
The Spanish love their football and Valencia CF are one of the biggest clubs in Spain. I was surprised at how easy tickets can be obtained compared to England, even for a visit of FC Barcelona, I got a ticket for €30 to the Mestalla which holds 55,000 people. I witnessed an incredible game that went the way of Barca 3-2 but saw the likes of Messi, Iniesta, Neymar, Pique and Xavi which will live long in my memory!
So in conclusion Valencia is a wonderful city that I really enjoyed getting to know. I know a lot of people will head straight for Madrid and Barcelona with good reason but Valencia is equally as good, on a smaller scale. Until next time,