Valencia is definitely my favorite city in Spain and I was lucky enough to live there for 2 months, I am sure you will love it too!
This town has it all: a vibrant old center, stunning medieval buildings, a very radicated culture, the lovely Malvarrosa Beach, and delicious food (this is the home of Paella after all)! But some of the main highlights in the city are its crazy events, like the huge Fallas festival.
With so many attractions and things to see and do, it is hard to decide what to focus on during your holiday in its extraordinary city, so I decided to make your life easier and write this guide with the best things to do in Valencia!
There is something for any taste and traveler here, so there’s no chance Valencia will let you down… you don’t believe me? Then start checking out the best things to do in Valencia right now!
If you are in a hurry
If you don’t have time to read the whole post, check out the top tours and places to stay in Valencia:
Here are the main things to book in advance:
And here are the best hotels: Marqués House Hotel (Luxury), L’Esplai Valencia (Mid-range), Helen Berger Boutique Hotel (Budget)
1. See the City of the Arts and Sciences
The City of Arts and Sciences is a group of super cool, modern buildings designed by local architects (Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela) and built right at the end of the old Turia river bed… a must-see!
In the City of Arts and Sciences, you can find 6 distinct zones or buildings, surrounded by tranquil pools, each one offering different things.
If you want to learn more about this futuristic complex, you can join this guided tour of the spectacular City of Arts and the Sciences to step inside many buildings including the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum and the Oceanogràfic, while they explain to you about its construction.
Now let’s see each building separately:
1.1 Experience the 3D cinema in L’Hemisferic
The Hemisferic building looks like a giant human eye hosting a 3D panoramic IMAX cinema, super popular with both locals and tourists.
If you go to watch a movie, you will be given 3D glasses with built-in speakers programmed to your own language, so you can enjoy the movie without having to read subtitles or trying to understand another language!
1.2 Explore the Prince Philip Science Museum
If you want to learn about really interesting scientific things, you should definitely check out this museum, offering several different exhibits at different times of the year. This is also a good activity to do with the family as it also offers many cool facilities for children too!
1.3 Walk through the L’Umbracle sculpture garden
L’Umbracle is a sculpture garden hosting the Walk of the Sculptures: a walk of native plants combined with an outdoor art gallery with thought-provoking sculptures from contemporary artists.
The attraction is super artistic and is located on the roof of the building, so you’ll also get an amazing view of all the buildings, pools, and landscaped areas of the City of arts… and all of this for free, what else do you need?
1.4 Visit L’Oceanogràfic, the largest aquarium in Europe
The Oceanogràfic is the largest aquarium in Europe, hosting the main marine ecosystems of the whole planet and the biggest water tunnel in Europe to walk through (with sharks swimming a few meters from your face) so is definitely worth a visit!
The building is divided into several sections based on different aquatic environments: Mediterranean, Wetlands, Temperate and Tropical Seas, Oceans, Antarctic, Arctic, Islands, and the Red Sea, and there is even a Dolphinarium where you can see a fun dolphin show!
1.5 See a show at El Palau de Les Arts Reina Sofía
This impressive building, designed by the Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava, is dedicated to promoting the performing arts of Valencia. In fact, the Palau de Les Arts Reina Sofía is one of the finest international venues for theater, dance, opera, and music concerts… perfect if you want to enjoy some impressive shows and events!
The price changes depending on the show, check out the official website to see what’s on.
1.6 Catch an event at L’Àgora
L’Agora is the newest building of the city of Arts and Sciences (with the shape of an ellipse) and hosts events of the most diverse nature, from conferences to conventions, concerts, or performances, and sometimes it is even transformed into an exhibition area.
The agora is also used as a Club, mostly for underground electronic music, perfect if you want to enjoy some crazy nightlife in town… it was my favorite club in the city!
As with the Palau de Les Arts Reina Sofía, prices change depending on the event, but there’s no official website to book them. You will need to check the events on the City of Arts website.
2. Visit La Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange)
La Lonja de la Seda is a majestic ancient building located in front of the city’s central market (I’ll talk about that in #3), and a great example of Valencian Gothic architecture… it is not by chance that it has been proclaimed a UNESCO site!
The name means “Silk Exchange” and it comes from its past origins: the building was once one of Europe’s main centers for trade and culture, where traders from all parts of the Mediterranean would come to exchange silk and make deals.
The Lonja de la Seda building is THE place if you want to travel back in time and see some amazing architecture: from the twisting columns of the main hall to the incredible detail of the vaulted ceilings and beautiful ceramics.
The visit will take you around 1-2 hours and is free, or you can join this guided tour to discover the historical legacy of the silk trade in València, going through the Silk Exchange, Silk Museum, and the Espai Seda restaurant!
3. Buy local food at the central market
Right on the opposite side of the Silk Exchange, there is the Central Market building. This is foodie heaven but it also features beautiful historical architecture!
In fact, here you’ll find more than 400 small traders, selling delicious local produce at super affordable prices from chorizo to amón ibérico and manchego cheese.
PRO TIP: Don’t leave the market without trying a good hot chocolate with churros, an absolute must!
The market itself is divided into sections: fish, meat, fruit and so on… so you can easily find what you’re looking for and is surrounded by many shops, bars, and restaurants in case you get bored.
And if you want to learn more about the Valencian cuisine, you will love the next thing to do on my list, a paella cooking class!
4. Learn to cook delicious authentic paella
What better way of familiarizing yourself with the Valencian culture than learning how to cook its most traditional dish? Yes, I am talking about authentic and delicious Paella!
In this private cooking class, a native chef will bring you to browse the local markets and buy fresh produce, then teach you how to prepare the Valencian paella! But the best part is at the end when you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor accompanied by wine and sangria.
This skill is definitely the best souvenir you can take home, and one of the best things to do in Valencia!
5. Take a walking tour of the historic city center
The best way to explore the historic city center of Valencia is to take a walking tour with a guide who will explain the interesting stories behind all the cool attractions of the historic city center (Casco Historico).
The tour lasts 1.5 hours and you will visit some famous landmarks like the Torres de Serranos (a small castle which was the former main entrance to the medieval city) and Plaza de la Virgin. At each of the spots, you will get some historic insight and even have the chance to join a traditional craft workshop.
After the tour, I recommend going back to the popular Plaza de la Virgen as it is the perfect place to just stroll around at night or to take a break from the hot summer sun during the day.
Simply enjoy a cool glass of horchata (one of the most popular drinks here) in one of the many bars while doing some people watching, surrounded by some of the most iconic buildings like the Valencia Cathedral (which I will talk about next) and the Torre del Micalet (Miguelete Tower).
You should definitely climb the 207 steps of the Miguelete tower as you will get some amazing panoramic views of the city! The effort is totally worth it and it costs only €2!
6. Travel back in time at Valencia’s Cathedral and see the Holy Grail
If you love history, seeing Saint Mary’s Cathedral with the Holy Grail is definitely one of the best things to do in Valencia, being 800 years old and totally incredible to see!
The Cathedral was built as a church at the beginning and changed to a mosque during the Moorish occultation, so it has renaissance, gothic, baroque and neoclassical details.
When you visit the cathedral you can see renaissance paintings by artists such as the Valencian, but the main highlight is for sure the Holy Grail: one of a few chalices claimed to have been used by Jesus during the last supper, right on the altar of the Holy Chalice Chapel.
Even if you’re not a believer, the Holy Grail is definitely a must-see, plus the Cathedral hosts a collection of 90 works of different styles: gothic, renaissance, and mannerism, including pieces by Maella and Goya… you have plenty to see here!
You can visit the cathedral by yourself or as a part of this walking tour focused on the city’s art and architecture.
7. Search for street art in Barrio del Carmen
Barrio Del Carmen is an emblematic neighborhood located in Valencia’s historic quarter (the Ciutat Vella), famous for its quirky nightlight and having the highest concentration of street art murals in the city.
If you are a street art obsessed like me, this will be your paradise: get ready to lose yourself in the cobbled little streets and search for the stunning colorful graffiti, which makes a cool contrast with the neglected buildings’ walls!
To find the best spots, you also have the option to join this guided street art walking tour which will teach you about the works of the most important Valencian and international artists.
8. Visit the Museum of Fine Arts of Valencia
If instead, you’re fond of classic art, you will love the Museum of Fine Arts of Valencia, located right in the historic center.
Fun Fact: This is the second-largest art gallery in Spain and the first modern art museum in the country, offering artworks from the 15th century to the 19th century!
The museum is divided into several rooms showing artworks from different periods including Gothic and Renaissance. It even has a room specifically dedicated to the famous Valencian painter Joaquín Sorolla and another one dedicated to Francisco de Goya!
The entrance to the museum is free, and a visit takes you around 2-3 hours to explore.
9. Enjoy the sun on Malvarrosa Beach
I am sure one of the main things you are expecting to do in Valencia is just chilling on the beach and splashing in the Mediterranean sea! Well, great news, only a short drive from Valencia old-town you’ll find the stunning Malvarrosa beach.
Malvarrosa Beach is a long and wide strip of golden sand that stretches along the city’s seafront. It has been awarded the Blue Flag for the many amenities it provides including lifeguard towers, a medical station, drinking fountains and showers, ramps, and footpaths.
Here you’ll also find many restaurants and bars on the beachfront promenade, where you can retreat from the hot sun and enjoy a cold drink or bite to eat (note that since it’s a really touristic area, prices can be more expensive here).
PRO TIP: Malvarrosa is an urban beach, so if you want a more natural setting to relax, you should check out El Saler beach, located a little further south of Valencia’s port, and 15 minutes from Valencia Old Town.
This white sand beach stretches for 2.6 kilometers south until the stunning La Albufera Natural Reserve: THE place to enjoy relaxation and privacy, also perfect for a day trip! Another great place for beaches is the nearby Alicante, just a 2 hours drive from Valencia.
Getting to Malvarrosa:
By car: The drive will take you 15 minutes and the beachfront parking is free.
By bus: Take on one of these bus lines: 1, 2, 19, 31, or 32 from Plaza del Ayuntamiento for ~30 minutes and get off at Malvarrosa Beach station.
10. Relax at El Jardín de la Turia park
If you love green spaces you need to check out the amazing astounding Jardin de la Turia, constructed around the bed of the Turia river. This is the perfect place to take a break from the city, the hot sun, and enjoy some fresh air!
The park lies in the middle of the city and extends for nine kilometers of incredible gardens, a pine forest, orange groves, palms, walking/cycling paths, fountains, and sports facilities… you could spend the whole day here!
For those of you traveling with children, inside the La Turia Park, you will find Gulliver Park, inspired by the Gulliver’s Travels book, with little interactive figures on the ground, slides, ramps, stairways, a skating area, and much more… your kids will love it!
If you are looking for more unique things to do in Valencia for families, I recommend going on a hot air balloon ride to see the city from the sky. Your kids will never forget this adventure!
11. Celebrate las Fallas
Las Fallas is not only Valencia’s most popular celebration but also the most colorful and noisy one of any holiday in Spain. Between 15 to 19 March, the city gets full of life, music, and street parties.
Las Fallas is meant to mark the beginning of spring and to celebrate the patron St. Joseph’s Day on the 19th of March.
If you are lucky enough to be here during this time, you’ll see the city full of life, with “Ninots” (huge satirical cardboard statues) making their way around the city, massive bonfires on the night before the 19th, and La Mascletá, an ear-splitting firework display.
It could be a little overwhelming, but this is really a must-see!
NOTE: Even if you aren’t in town during the festival, you can still visit the Museo Fallero where they showcase more than 80 figures from the annual Fallas festival parades so you can still get an idea of its magic!
12. See the sites on a Bike Tour
Another cool way of discovering the most important streets, squares, monuments, and attractions of Valencia’s historic center is on this two-wheel guided tour, lasting 3 hours!
You will start by pedaling downhill to the unique Turia Gardens until the Torres Serranos, and then pass through important attractions like the Mercado de Colón, Gardens of the Old Hospital, Pillar Square, and the Quart Towers, and much more… check it out!
|🤩 Range of activities:||Large|
|👪 Family-friendly score:||Medium|
|🏛️ Must see attraction:||City of the Arts and Sciences|
|🎢 Top paid attraction:||Valencia Cathedral|
|🚶🏽♂️ Best free activity:||Las Fallas|
|🥟 Must try food:||Paella|
|📅 How many days:||4-5|
|✈️ Cost of traveling:||Medium|
Where to stay in Valencia, Spain
If you want to have access to all the top attractions and things to do in Valencia, you should find your accommodation in Ciutat Vella, the Old Town. Check out these hotels divided by price range, all located in Valencia’s central part:
Luxury (€150 and up)
Marqués House Hotel – This hotel is one of the best places in Valencia for luxury, offering really elegant rooms, some of them even including a private balcony with a great view of the city of Valencia!
Mid Range (€80 – €150)
L’Esplai Valencia – Modern decore in a beautiful, renovated, listed building with original features. What more could you want for your stay in Valencia? With a central location, city views, and free wifi, it’s hard to beat this bed and breakfast.
Budget (up to €60)
Helen Berger Boutique Hotel – If you are searching for an affordable option, check out this hotel. Offering amazing rooms in the central part of the city, this is one of the best places to stay on a budget in Valencia, Spain… check it out!
Frequently asked questions about Valencia
🤩 What are the best things to do in Valencia, Spain?
In Valencia, Spain, you have to see the City of Arts and Sciences, visit the Valencia Cathedral and the Museum Of Fine Arts, offering artworks from the 15th century to the 19th century, plus enjoy the fresh air at Jardin de la Turia.
👪 What are the best things to do in Valencia, Spain for families?
The best things to do in Valencia, Spain, with the family are enjoying the hot sun and sand of Malvarrosa beach, seeing the city from the sky on a hot air balloon, and visiting the BioParc Zoo, or searching for the colorful graffiti in Barrio del Carmen’s little streets.
📅 What are the best things to do in Valencia, Spain, in 3 days?
If you go to Valencia for 3 days you have to see the Holy Grail in the Chapel of the Holy Chalice, search the street art in Barrio El Carmen’s little streets and learn how to make Paella.
🥟 What are the best food to try in Valencia, Spain?
The best foods and drinks to try in Valencia are Paella, hot chocolate with churros, horchata, and sangria… try them all at the central market!
Congrats, you made it to the end of this extensive guide about the best things to do in Valencia!
With unique attractions like the holy grail, events like the Fallas, great art, and activities like hot air ballooning, there is really plenty to see and do here!
I hope this post will help you to have a great holiday in Valencia, and if you have any questions or suggestions for me, please drop them in the comments below, I am looking forward to reading them all!
Enjoy your holiday,
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