After we spent a day in the historical part of Valencia, it’s time to explore the modern architecture and iconic buildings of this city. So where should you start? Finish your morning coffee and head to the park.
Start the day in the park. If you happen to live near the historical centre, the park is the best way to get to the popular City of Arts and Sciences. This 7 km long park used to be a river but since it was so prone to flooding, it was redirected and the area was turned into a beautiful park. Whether you decide to walk or rent a bike, enjoy the calm and all the different parts of the park.
Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias
Whether you decide to visit the museums and aquarium or not, this is a must-see. The complex, designed by Santiago Calatrava, Valencian born architect, became a symbol of Valencia but also was very expensive. The original budget was 300 million euros but cost probably at least three times more (which is what Calatrava is famous for, almost all his designs cost more than the initial estimate).
First when you walk through the park you will see Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, a huge building for performing arts, e.g. ballet, concerts, opera. Walk a bit further and you will be mesmerised by La Hemisferic, which looks like an eyeball and hosts an IMAX and a planetarium. Last but not least, admire the Museum of Science which should resemble a skeleton of a whale and visit the interactive exhibition.
Tickets cost between 8€ and 32€, we decided not to go inside because we didn’t have much time but if you have the time and the budget, definitely give it a go.
When you walk further and across a bridge, you will stand in front of The Oceanographic Aquarium, the largest aquarium in Europe.
The botanical garden that is a part of the complex is as beautiful during the day as it is during the night. It’s free to enter and you can admire both the architecture and the trees and flowers.
The Beach and Cabanyal District
When you feel like you’ve seen all the modern architecture gems you could possibly wish for, head to the beach. You’ll walk through some cute neighbourhoods, one of them is a colourful Cabanyal but to be honest, we either didn’t find the “perfect” street or it just looked better in the pictures than in person.
The final destination though is the beach so depending on the time of the year either pack your swimsuit or just enjoy the views in a sweatshirt. Walk along to find beach bars and restaurants.
If you haven’t rented bikes, use public transport to get back to the old town. You simply hop on the bus and pay the driver.
Finish your afternoon at Horchatería
Finish your afternoon in a typical horchatería and order some fartons. The oldest and most famous in town is the Horchatería de Santa Catalina with a typical black and white interior.
We didn’t have the courage to try the typical drink, horchata, which is made of nuts but feel free to do so, some people like it, some don’t. If you’re feeling hungry maybe have some churros with hot chocolate too.
Check out the Plaza Redona around the corner, it’s a hidden oval square surrounded by houses with shops offering some traditional products.
Time to Buy the Best Souvenirs at Mercat Central
The best souvenirs are those that are edible or drinkable, at least in my opinion. With them, you bring the taste and smell of the destination home and I can’t imagine a better way to talk about your adventures in Spain than over a piece of cheese and jamón. Which is why the Mercat Central or Central Market is the last stop before we head back to the hotel to pick up the bags. Immediately after you enter through the front door you are immersed in the smell and sounds of tens of stands offering the most delicious foods. Right after we entered we found a stand that offers wine by the glass so we got ourselves two glasses of Spanish wine and headed towards other stands.
Also, don’t forget to look up to the ceiling. Right in the middle of the building it’s beautiful and decorated with oranges, Valencia’s trademark fruit.
Where to stay in Valencia?
Accommodation in Valencia is reasonably priced although slightly more expensive than Alicante (especially if you happen to stay there, like us, during the extremely popular Valencia Marathon, haha).
Definitely near the historical centre if you want to walk most places or get there by bike. We stayed at the Valencia Suits You hotel and we were pleasantly surprised. It has shared bathrooms which was not an issue at all and the room was newly refurbished. There is free water, coffee and tea downstairs 24/7 and the guys at the reception were super helpful and friendly.
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