Valencia Travel Guide
Sigh. The holiday blues have well and truly kicked in! Although I leave for Portugal in a week, so don’t feel too sorry for me. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed I spent a long weekend in Valencia, Spain, with my brother and cousins a few weeks ago. I didn’t really know much about Valencia before we planned this trip (okay, I actually thought it was in Italy but ssh – I was never very good at geography!) We found some decent flights – Sam and I flew from Stansted with Ryanair and met my cousins out there as they flew with EasyJet from Gatwick. The whole Ryanair experience was okay – if you ignore the delays, and definitely helped by the fact that I’m over my fear of flying thanks to hypnosis (read my post about hypnotherapy!)
Sam found a fab little apartment, which split between the four of us worked out at about £90 each for the four days. We actually did the entire trip (flights + accommodation + spending money + meals) for around £300 each which I thought was pretty decent! Our apartment was two bedroom, two bathrooms and a lovely open plan living space, overlooking a cute, bustling courtyard down a cobbled side street in the old town, El Carmen.
For once, I didn’t do a huge amount of holiday planning. I usually love a list and an itinerary (where’s that nerd emoji?) but this time I just rocked up and went with the flow! We were all up for a bit of exploring and a bit of chilling so we managed to get a balance of the two. Here’s a little guide for where to eat/shop/explore in Valencia – and where to avoid…
Definitely worth the visit or even worth staying here as it’s very central. We were lucky enough to stay in this area which is stunning, quaint and always bustling. Explore the side streets for little fashion shops (ladies – Momo is so cheap and ALE-HOP has some cute bits and bobs), chill at a tapas bar for some drinks and nibbles, visit the Cathedral, pop over to the El Mercado Central (which looks AMAZING but we visited on a Sunday when it was shut – gutted!), take in the architecture and soak up some sunshine.
If you’re a massive foodie like me, you won’t be disappointed. Valencia has lots of restaurants and cafes, although they do seem to be scattered around the city so make sure you know where you’re heading! El Carmen, the old town, is one of the best areas full of tapas bars and restaurants just a stone’s throw from the Cathedral.
I’m gluten intolerant and my cousin is vegetarian (I know, we’re a right pair!) and we managed to cope just fine. I did bring some GF snacks/biscuits with me but managed to find GF cereal in the Carrefour and most menus were well labelled. Plus I was pretty safe in the knowledge that I could eat as much paella as I liked!
- El Picaro – tucked away down a little side street, this place was lovely and did the best tapas, steak and some lovely fish. Great place if you want a variety to choose from.
- Vicentino – their sticky seafood rice and vegetarian paella received a big thumbs up from us.
- Heladeria Veneta – ice cream that will KNOCK. YOUR. SOCKS. OFF. Not a bad price and super friendly!
The old river bed
Such an incredible place! The people of Valencia diverted the river after it flooded the city, and the river bed has been turned in to parks, cafes and the City of Arts and Sciences. We walked for miles through the old river bed (my feet just about coped) and each section is different, from lakes and fountains to cafes, purple-flowered trees, old stone ruins and of course, the famous Valencian orange trees. We spotted people practicing tai chi, yoga and tight rope walking so it’s a pretty relaxed and diverse place – kind of wish you could do this in the UK without everyone thinking you’re a total fruitloop!
City of Arts and Sciences
The river bed leads on to the City of Arts and Sciences which looks like it’s stepped straight out of Dubai. It’s a modern and stunningly futuristic area, and one of the main attractions in Valencia. We didn’t do the museums or aquarium – although I’ve heard good things about them! There were also people paddle boarding on one of the lakes which looked pretty awesome. It’s such a stark contrast to the old town but definitely worth a visit, even just to have a wander round.
Marina Beach Club
I wish I could say this was an incredible experience, but it wasn’t. It looks blooming lovely though, doesn’t it?! Serious Instagrammable views. The entry fee is a steep 70 euros which includes bed hire and the rest of your money (40 euros) can be spent on food and drink. Sam had booked in advance and asked for two beds in the sun for all of us and much to the dismay of pale little me, we were put in the shade. The overall service was pretty terrible, staff were rude and inattentive, they gave us a menu and then told us we couldn’t order from it. You couldn’t order at the bar, you had to track down and chase your waiter which felt like a bloody long and sweaty game of hide and seek, and to top it off, there were two beds available in the sun for the first 3 hours we were there. We read a lot of positive TripAdvisor reviews which have since been removed and TripAdvisor have added a notice to say they are investigating them for fraudulent reviews – which explains a lot.
I’m really not one to post a bad review, let alone mention it on the blog, but I’d hate for you to make the same mistake we did as it’s hella expensive. It looks pretty and has so much potential if it was run properly, but unless you have 70 euros to throw away, I imagine the beach would suffice if you want some tan time!
If you’re looking for a short city break somewhere sunny, with the option of the beach, I would definitely recommend Valencia. It’s not overly touristy, everyone is very friendly and the food (and drink!) is incredible. It may not be the obvious option for a city break as everyone automatically thinks of Barcelona when it comes to Spain, but that’s all the more reason to explore Valencia!
Hope you’ve enjoyed my Valencia Travel Guide – do you have any recommendations to add?