Three weeks ago I was in Valencia catching last warm and sunny days in Europe. Today, finally I overcome my procrastination in writing the short summary from my 5 days in Valencia trip in October.
Summer holidays were coming to the end what reminded us that we have to wait a couple of months for the next bright time of relaxing and sunny weather when we will go skiing in Alpe di Siusi in Italy. Really not a good perspective… That’s how we came up, together with our friends, that it would be great to make a short break in October.
Initially, the plan was to go to Naples or Pisa in Italy. But flight dates were not good enough for us. Then somebody said, “How about Valencia?”. Quick check, direct flights are available, dates match for all of us and the weather forecast was promising. It didn’t take long when we took the decision: we will spend 5 days in Valencia this October.
Day 1 – First Encounter With Valencia
One of our priorities was to find a direct morning flight to Valencia from the nearby airport. Wasting the whole day for flying around Europe because of connecting flights was not an option.
We took a direct flight from Cracow Airport (KRK) to Valencia Airport (VLC) operated by Ryanair. The departure was around 10 am and according to the schedule, we should land approximately at 1 pm.
The flight was on time, so after 2,5 hours we reached our destination.
Valencia welcomed us with sunny weather – 27 Celcius degrees, clear sky. Tha’s a good start 🙂
Just after we left the arrivals hall we called a taxi using the Free Now app (former myTaxi) as Uber is banned in Spain.
Valencia is not a big city – following Wikipedia, it’s around 800 000 inhabitants. After 20 minutes ride, we arrived in Valencia’s Old Town center – Doctor Collado’s Square (Plaça del Doctor Collado) a place where we booked our Airbnb accommodation.
Usually, when we visit the city center our first choice is Airbnb. This time we did the same and as it turned out it was a great decision.
As we were two couples, we wanted to have two bedrooms and two bathrooms. We found what we were looking for close to Doctor Collado’s Square (Plaça del Doctor Collado).
The apartment was really clean, well equipped, spacious and located in the best location for exploring Valencia. The host – Mariana welcomed us personally. She was really kind and she gave us some local hints.
If you would like to book this apartment, use this link.
First Paella in Valencia
As it was around 3 pm we became hungry. We stopped at the restaurant nearby. Luckily they were serving the food at that time – in Spain, it’s not so certain that you will get lunch at 3 pm.
Usually, the dinner starts at 8 pm and earlier, maybe you can get some tapas (snacks/starters). But no worries – as we later found out, many restaurants in Valencia advertise themselves with the statement “we serve food whole day”. You don’t have to starve till the evening in Valencia.
The obvious choice for our first meal in Valencia was Paella – the rice-based national dish of Spain. You can have Paella with anything you imagine – meat, vege, sea-food.
Walking Around the Old Town in the Evening
After a short rest in the apartment, we decided to go out and walk around.
That was the first time when we could take a look around and see our neighborhood. Valencia after dark is magic – everybody should try that. It’s the living city till the late hours. Bars, restaurants, shops, all are full of people and streets and buildings are really well illuminated.
On our first evening walk in Valencia, we reached The Jardin del Turia. It’s a dried-out riverbed, full of parks and gardens that cross through the city.
It’s a dream destination for runners – we have met hundreds of them there. If you are running – take your running shoes and clothes with you.
Day 2 – The Beach
As the second day welcomed us weather great weather again, we planned to see Valencia’s beach.
But first, we wanted to stop by the Central Market – Mercat.
Central Market of Valencia – Mercat
This public market is one of the largest in Europe (8 000 m2). That’s the place where you can buy fresh seafood and the selection of the best cold cuts, meat, and vegetables.
In the Mercat restaurants, you can buy a fresh product on the market and ask to prepare you the dish from your product.
Anyway, take a look at the photos below – even just looking should bring you a good appetite.
As the Valencia beach – our destination for this day, was in quite a distance from our location (6 km) and we didn’t want to take a taxi, neither walk in the heat, we decided that we will rent bikes.
It’s the best alternative to a taxi. Valencia is not Amsterdam, but still, you can find there a lot of bike routes.
We rented our bikes in Mo’bike rental company recommended by Mariana – our Airbnb host. It’s not an expensive deal – the daily rate is 10 EUR per bike.
The Valencia Beach
After relaxing ride we finally got to Valencia beach.
That was amazing – at that time in Poland, we had to wear warm jackets and here we could batch in the sea wearing short trousers. We loved that!
Tempted by two large cruise ships at berth, we decided to stop by the Valencia Port on the way back.
It’s the second biggest port in Spain and the 6th in Europe.
In the evening we decided to go out and visit Russafa – Valencia’s hipster district. Mariana told us that this district has a special atmosphere and is home to some of Valencia’s best tapas bars and restaurants. It’s also full of galleries and vintage shops
On our way back we stopped by the luminous fountain on the Plaza del Ayuntamiento to take some shots.
We were walking for hours and it became late. Around 10 pm we were starving. We found a restaurant which was looking a little bit odd.
The entrance looked pretty much like an abandoned church. As we found out, the place is called Convent Carmen and it just to be a nunnery – the 400-year-old convent of Saint Jose and Saint Theresa in Plaza Portal Nou.
Today it’s a place for cultural events and gastronomy. In the garden, you can find the restaurant run by Miguel Ángel Mayor – a chef holding a Michelin-star.
Day 3 – City of Arts and Sciences
For the third day, we planned to visit the Oceanographic Museum in Valencia which is a part of the City of Arts and Sciences. It’s a must-see place, you just have to spend there one or two days when you spend 5 days in Valencia. Instagrammers – this is the place for you. The architecture of this place is admirable.
The City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias) is a cultural and architectural complex of buildings situated at the end of the former riverbed of the river Turia and is the most important modern tourist destination in Valencia.
We got there by bikes, through the mentioned Turia’s park.
Finally, we reached Valencia’s Oceanographic Museum. We bought our tickets in advance online.
The museum is the largest aquarium in Europe, following Wikipedia it covers the surface of 110 000 m2 and holds 42 million liters of water.
In nine underwater towers, you can admire 500 different species including sharks, penguins, dolphins, sea lions, beluga whales, and more.
Just after crossing the entrance gate we went for a bottlenose dolphins show. Check the timetable on the museum’s website to not miss any of performances as besides dolphins show there are plenty of other exhibitions on fixed hours.
Valencia Science Museum
After we finished the exploration of water ecosystems of the planet we went to Prince Philip Science Museum. It’s right next to the Oceanographic Museum – an interactive museum of science with architecture appearing like the skeleton of a whale.
That was a tough day – visiting the City of Arts and Sciences in one day is challenging. So if you have more than 5 days in Valencia, think about splitting it into two days.
In the evening we went for tapas. And we found our favorite Tapas in Valencia – Escalones de la Lonja. Great food, service, and vibe.
Day 4 – Valencia Cathedral
On the fourth day of exploring Valencia, we had to slow down. Legs hurt us as after riding a bike and walking for dozens of kilometers.
We slept a bit longer and after a great breakfast, we went in the direction of Valencia Cathedral. Well, in fact, the name is a bit longer: The Metropolitan Cathedral–Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia, but let’s keep the short name for the rest of the text 🙂
The Cathedral is a mix of architectural styles including baroque, romanesque and gothic. To explore interiors you have to purchase a ticket for 8 EUR which includes an audio guide.
Virgen Mary Statue
One of the statues caught my attention as a number of pregnant women came and said prayers in front of the statue. The audio guide explained that it’s coming from the local tradition which is saying that if you want to deliver a healthy baby, then as a pregnant woman you should ask at the Cathedral entrance for a candle, pay the handout, say a prayer and round the Cathedral 9 times. Take the candle with you and light it up on the day of delivery.
The Holy Grail
One of the most precious exhibits in Valencia Catherdral is the Holy Grail – the vessel that Jesus used at the Last Supper to drink wine. However, the opinions if this one is the real one are divided as many places around the world claim to have the real Holy Grail.
The vessel itself is made of stone, but through the centuries it was decorated with gold. It’s not possible to take a closer look as it’s stored at the altar.
Cathedral Tower – El Micalet
After visiting the Cathedral chambers we wanted to climb to the Cathedral Tower – El Micalet. To get there we had to ascend 207 spiral stone staircases leading to the biggest bell called “Miguel” – that’s where the name of the tower is coming from.
In reward for climbing up 207 stairs, we could enjoy amazing views of the city and surroundings.
Guess what we did after our sightseeing tour?
Exactly – Tapas in Escalones de la Lonja 🙂
Day 5 – El Carmen, Exploring the Old Town Area
On the last day of our stay, we didn’t want to fix any particular locations. We just left the apartment and take long walks for the rest of the day with some breaks for tapas and drinks.
Unfortunately, we were not able to enter to Valencia’s bullring – Plaza de Toros de Valencia. It was closed for preparations for the coming event.
Just across the street, you will find the North Station – Valencia’s main railway station. It’s registered as a Good of Cultural Heritage – Spain’s list of heritage. Worth to take a look.
St. Nicolaus Church
We found St. Nicolaus Church by chance. Located in the Old Town neighborhood, among the maze of narrow streets with cafés, tapas bars, and shops.
This richly decorated 13th century Roman Catholic church is under St. Nicolaus patronage – the saint which is an archetype for Santa Claus.
Valencia’s Street Art
I didn’t expect that Valencia is filled with street art.
Each shop window, every corner and most of the walls are covered with good quality street arts.
That makes the city look incredible.
Just take a look at some of those below.
One type of arts brought my attention in particular – drawings of a masked man looking like a ninja.
A quick check of Google results for “Valencia’s ninja” keyword brought me to the artist David de Limón. His arts are everywhere in Valencia.
It became for us a new challenge to collect as many shots of a man in the mask as we could find – just take a look at some of those which we found.
Plaza de la Virgen
Plaza de la Virgen is an old square surrounded by the Basilica of the Virgin of the Helpless, Valencia Cathedral, and the Palace of the Generalitat with the “Del Turia” fountain in the center.
It’s a perfect place for a short break in the cafe with beautiful views.
5 Days in Valencia – Wrap Up
And that was it… We had to go back. We packed our stuff, left the apartment and in the evening we departed from Valencia Airport.
All good things come to the end. But our 5 days in Valencia trip was one of our best European city tours.
And here’s the final tip – visit Valencia in October. It’s still warm but at that time there are not so many tourists.
Stay tuned for the next European city tours.
Photos and featured image: Lucas