Thursday, July 09, 2015

City Guides: 8 Things To Do In Valencia, Spain

Valencia is Spain’s third largest city, occupying space on the country’s Iberian Peninsula.  The Port of Valencia is the largest in the West Mediterranean and fifth largest port container in the world.  The city is also the birthplace of paella and the only city in Spain to have two American Football teams.  

As neither LT nor me had previously visited, and we were heading to Madrid for a break, we decided to split our week and spend three days in Valencia to see what it had to offer.   These are the highlights of our trip:

The beautiful Estacio del Nord 
Valencia's Bullring
The Train Station (Estacio del Nord):
Yeah, I know, it sounds boring, but trust me, it’s beautiful.  It’s a modernist building set right in the heart of the city and was designed by Valencia architect, Demetrio Ribes.  The fa├žade is gorgeous and, if you have time to wander through, the decoration inside is equally beautiful.

Plaza de Toros de Valencia (the Bullring):
Located about 200m from Estacio del Nord, the bullring has a capacity of 10,500 and is, as the name suggests, used for bull fighting.   I’m not a fan and certainly wouldn’t go to watch, but the neoclassical building is quite stunning.  It looks even better when lit up in the evening.  The main bullfights take place during Fallas, which is a famous festival in Valencia, held each year in March.

City of Arts and Sciences:
We spotted this building from our bus on the way to the beach and both craned our necks round for a better view.  It’s really quite something.  The full complex is made up of 6 different facets, which include an IMAX Cinema, Planetarium, Opera House and Open Air Aquarium.  The modern architecture and design are really eye-catching and there’s so much to see that we could easily have spent a couple of days trying to fit it all in.

Go Shopping at Mercado de Colon:
This is one of two stunning open-air markets in the city and features beautiful iron latticework and cast iron pillars, which can be viewed around the interior.  The basilica-esque exterior is equally impressive and range of shops and eateries make a good location for a relaxing walk. 

The Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia:
Also known as Valencia Cathedral.   The mainly Gothic architecture of the cathedral and the fact that it is said to house the Holy Grail, make for an interesting visit.  One of the highlights of the visit, and if you’re ok with heights, is to climb the spiral stairs to the viewing deck and gaze out across the city.   Beware of sitting on the bell tower as it does ring every so often.  It went off as I was relaxing in the sun and took a few years off my life.  Made my ears ring for a good while afterwards, too… 

Valencia Cathedral
The amazing interior
waiting for the sun to set 
Incredible views from the top of the Cathedral...if you can cope with the steps!
The Beach:
We spent a lazy afternoon drinking beer and catching rays at El Cabanyal, but there is also Las Malvarossa Beach, and both are within fairly easy reach of the city centre.   The pace is slow and it’s a great way to unwind after a hard day sightseeing.

Drink a Horchata:
This is a very popular drink in the city and is made up of a mixture of ground almonds, tiger nuts, sesame seeds and rice.  It might not sound that appealing, but it’s a lovely, healthy drink that kept me away from my usual vino tinto for, well, a few minutes at least.  We enjoyed a glass or two while watching a street entertainer eating fire at the square near the Cathedral.   He needed one after he'd finished... 

Enjoy a horchata at a beautiful Valencian bar.
Eat Paella!: 
No trip to the home of paella could be complete without sampling the local cuisine.  It’s everywhere…. and it’s fabulous.  Watch the chefs making massive cast iron skillets filled with fresh seafood, meats and veg, and relax on a city sidewalk and soak up the wonderful atmosphere. 

enjoy a stroll in the sun.

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