Last Updated: 5/17/2020
Established as a Roman colony all the way back in 138 BC, the name Valencia translates to mean “valor”, as in bravery and strength. Today, as Spain’s third-largest city with some of Europe’s most iconic beaches, Valencia has become one of Europe’s most popular beach vacation destinations. If you are looking for a spot in Europe to escape the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life and hit the beach, then Valencia is a popular option. With hot summers, mild winters, soft sand beaches, and rich food culture, Valencia is a tourist magnet for vacationers in Europe and worldwide.
However, Valencia isn’t just about beaches and suntan lotion. What many travelers don’t realize is that the city also has a rich culinary history. The tasty Spanish dish known as paella is just one of the many iconic Spanish dishes to have originated near the city of Valencia. So if you are a foodie or enjoy eating when you travel, then you will be hard-pressed to find many locations in Spain that will please your palette more.
In this guide, I am going to give you all of the information you need to plan a successful trip to Valencia, Spain. I cover the best times to visit and the best ways to get there so that you can maximize what you are able to see and do on your trip. In addition, I outline the top things to see and do while you are there and where the best places to stay and eat are. With this information in hand, you can be confident that your trip to Valencia will be one that you remember for the rest of your life.
|At A Glance|
|Top Things to See|
|How to Get There|
|Best Time to Visit|
|Where to Stay|
|Where to Eat|
|Recommended Tours and Excursions|
At a Glance
Before you start making any travel plans, you will want to make sure to take care of all of the passport, VISA, and immunization requirements for your trip. In addition, you will want to make sure you have a clear understanding of what language they speak in Spain and what currency they use so that you can plan any translation needs you might have for your trip and exchange currency before your trip if necessary. I have included some of this key information below for you to review as you start to make your travel plans.
|Passport requirements exist. See below for details.|
|Immunization recommendations are listed below.|
|The official language in Spain is Spanish.|
|The official currency in Spain is the Euro.|
Passport, VISA, Customs, and Immunization Requirements
In order to assist you in navigating the legal requirements for visiting Spain, I have included a link to my Spain Passport, VISA, Customs, and Immunization Requirements for Visitors Guide as well as some information on the EU’s new ETIAS VISA requirements below for you to review. These guides will give you all of the information that you will need to meet the VISA, passport, customs, and immunizations requirements and recommendations for visiting Spain.
|New Visa Requirements for Americans to Visit Europe Starting in 2021|
|Spain Passport, VISA, Customs, and Immunization Requirements for Visitors|
Before you leave for your trip to Valencia, you need to make sure you have all of the proper vaccinations. Not only to protect yourself but to protect others. If you have questions on what immunizations you will need and what to look out for when you go to get them, below are some general guidelines I can pass on to you from experience.
- Most specialized travel clinics will not accept insurance so you will have to pay for your travel consultation and immunizations and then request reimbursement from your insurance company later.
- Some immunizations aren’t accepted by every insurance company, so check with your insurance provider before getting your immunizations.
- Check with your regular doctor first, as often they can do a travel consultation for you and write you the necessary prescriptions for your immunizations, even if they aren’t able to give them to you. This way you can ensure that at least your travel consultant will be covered by your insurance up-front.
- Check with Walgreens or other drug stores that give flu shots to see if they have any of the immunization shots that you require before going to a specialized clinic that doesn’t accept insurance to get them. Walgreens can give you many of the immunizations necessary for international travel, and they accept insurance up-front.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website can be a great resource for answering any travel immunization questions that you have.
In case you are unsure of what travel vaccinations you might need, I have compiled a list below of some of what you might expect your physician to recommend.
- Hepatitis A & B (if you haven’t had them).
- Tetanus (if you aren’t current).
- Transderm SCōP Patch (for motion sickness) or at minimum Dramamine pills if you get motion sickness easily and you plan on getting out on the water or doing adventure activities.
- Flu Shot
Outside of taking care of the passport, visa, and immunization requirements so that you can get into Spain and don’t get sick, there is no more important pre-travel planning task than making sure you pack the right clothing and gear for your trip. To help make sure you are properly packed and prepared, I have included links to some of my packing resources below for you to review.
|The Ultimate Travel Packing Check List|
|The Essential Carry-On Checklist|
Top Things to See and Do
Between the amazing beaches, historical churches and buildings, and fantastic restaurants and bars, there is no shortage of great things to see and do in Valencia. In fact, depending on how much time you plan to spend in the area, you might find yourself struggling to find time to fit everything you want to see and do into your itinerary. In order to help make that planning process a little bit easier for you, I have included a list of my top things to see and do in Valencia for you to review below.
|Street Art (El Carmen)|
|Wine Tour (Requena)|
|Torres de Quart|
|Plaza de la Reina|
|Mercado Central (Central Market)|
|Llotja de la Seda (the Silk Exchange)|
|Plaza de la Virgen|
|Playa de la Malvarrosa (Beach)|
Valencia Street Art
The city of Valencia is a treasure trove for those interested in art and culture. From the City of Arts and Sciences to the many ceramics, to the intricate traditional clothing, to the local cuisine, Valencia is a city that loves to celebrate its culture.
One of the more unique and wonderful ways in which this culture is expressed is thru the many pieces of street art you will find thru ought the city. I took the picture above while walking past one of the many street cafes in the city.
Valencia is part of the Comunidad Valenciana region, which has a history of winemaking that dates back thousands of years. For this reason, it is no surprise that Valencia is considered the wine export capital of Spain.
The Comunidad Valenciana wine region is broken down into four sub-zones, and the kind of wines you will find vary by region because of the climate and soil type. Those regions are as follows:
- Alto Turia (to the Northeast) – Mountainous area with vines planted at very high altitudes. This is primarily a white wine-making area that grows Merseguera and Macabeo grapes.
- Valentino (to the Northwest) – Gentle slopes and a Mediterranean climate are suitable for the growth of Semillon, Chardonnay, and Tempranillo.
- Moscatel (in the center near Valencia) – This low-altitude, hot climate is best suited for growing the grapes for which the area is named. And for producing the luscious sweet wine that eventually made the region famous.
- Clariano (to the South) – Suited for growing a number of different grapes. Many white grapes are cultivated, including Macabeo and Moscatel. Reds grown are Tempranillo, Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.
The two wineries that we visited are listed below. I’ve included some recommendations for wine tours in my list of recommended excursions at the end of this article as well. If you have the time, I would suggest taking a tour. It was a great experience.
Torres de Quart
The Quart towers are part of an old Christian city wall system that was built in the 14th century. The towers were added later on in the 15th century. The walls of the Torres de Quart still show signs of bombardment from France’s siege of the city in 1808.
If you have the time, go inside the tower and make your way to the top. Not only is the structure itself pretty cool to see from the inside, but the views of Valencia from the top are amazing.
Plaza de la Reina
Considered by many to be the beating heart of Valencia, the Plaza de la Reina is one of the oldest and busiest plazas in the city. While at sight it may not be the picturesque Spanish plaza that Spain is famous for, it is home to many of Valencia’s most popular tourist attractions and is an excellent hub for which to explore the city.
The plaza is surrounded by the Cathedral de Valencia and its bell tower, the Miquelet to the north, and Plaza Santa Catalina with its beautiful Iglesia in the southwest. It is also an outstanding place to sit at a cafe, enjoy some wonderful Spanish cuisine, and do some serious people-watching.
Mercado Central (Central Market)
Built-in 1914 by Francesc Guàrdia I Vial and Alexandre Soler, it is considered one of the oldest markets in Europe. The market is comprised of over 400 small merchants and restaurants selling seafood, meats, produce, candy, nuts, and a variety of other foods.
If you have the time, explore the market, and sample some of the amazing food that is available. It is amazing to see the variety of food that is available and to see the pride that the vendors take in their businesses.
Llotja de la Seda (the Silk Exchange)
The Llotja de la Seda, a gothic style civil building, was built between 1482 and 1548 and served as one of Europe’s main venues for the booming silk trade of that time. The silk exchange is one of the busiest tourist attractions in Valencia, and for good reason. If the building wasn’t beautiful enough, the fact that it is still authentically furnished adds to the historical interest of the building.
The silk exchange is comprised of three separate parts. The main hall (shown above), which is lavishly decorated with amazing twisted columns and a gold plated ceiling, is where the merchants would meet to do business.
The side-wing, named the Pavilion of the Consulate, is where the seat of the Tribunal del Mar (the tribunal that ran the silk exchange) was seated.
Finally, there is the Tower of La Lonja, which is where the tribunal would imprison merchants would not pay their debts.
Valencia Cathedral and the Holy Grail
The Valencia Cathedral, otherwise known as Iglesia Catedral-Basílica Metropolitana de la Asunción de Nuestra Señora de Valencia, was constructed in 1238 by the first bishop of Valencia after the Spanish reconquest. It was dedicated by James 1 the Conqueror to the Saint Mary.
The cathedral is home to one of the alleged Holy Chalices in the world, and most Christian historians in the world maintain that this is the most likely candidate to be the actual cup used by Christ.
This is a must-see for anyone visiting Valencia. Even if you aren’t of the Christian faith, the beauty of the church, and the historical significance of the chalice (real or not) is worth seeing.
Plaza de la Virgen
The Plaza de la Virgen sits on the site that was once the forum of Roman-occupied Valencia. In the center of the square is the Turia Fountain, which represents the Turia river in human form surrounded by its tributaries. The sound of the fountain is often regarded as the sound of Valencia. You can check out the sound of the fountain below.
For two of the four days of the festival Las Fallas, the city is taken over by parades of people in beautiful, traditional costumes bringing flowers to the Plaza de la Virgen. The flowers are placed in a giant wooden silhouette of the Virgin Mary in a ceremony to honor Mary.
The people of Valencia love the beach. Which probably explains why there are a ton of them around the city. During the summer months, they come alive with activity as these beaches are some of the more popular tourist attractions for Europeans. If you are a beach bum, Valencia in the summer might be your idea of Nirvana.
We visited Valencia in early Spring and didn’t have much time to explore its beaches while we were there, but I have included a few guides to the best beaches in the Valencia area for those who are interested.
The largest aquarium in Europe (1.2 million square feet and 11 million gallons of water), L’Oceanogràfic showcases over 45,000 animals of over 500 different species of fish, mammals, birds, reptiles, and invertebrates. Among these are sharks, penguins, dolphins, sea lions, walruses, Beluga whales, and more.
We didn’t have a lot of time, so we didn’t go inside the aquarium, but the outside of the aquarium alone was worth checking out. It is definitely something that we would have checked out if we had more time and is certainly something I would put near the top of your list of things to see in Valencia.
How to Get There
If you are visiting Valencia from outside of Spain, there are a number of ways that you can get there. For those visiting from outside of Europe, the easiest way to get to Valencia is to fly into the Valencia Airport (VLC). If you are visiting from elsewhere in Europe and have the time, an attractive alternative to flying into Valencia would be to take the rail system. The rail system in Europe is quite advanced, and the rail system within Spain is no exception. In fact, taking the train can save you time versus driving if you are heading to Valencia from other locations within Spain as well. If you are traveling to Valencia from another location within Spain and would like more information on travel times by train and by car, I have included a map below for you to review.
Best Time to Visit
Average Temperature (°F)
Because of its location on Spain’s southern coast on the Balearic Sea, the temperatures in Valencia are very mild during the winter months of December thru February, with temperatures ranging between the 40s and the 60s. Although temperatures are mild, they aren’t quite warm enough to swim. So if you are planning on visiting Valencia to enjoy the beaches, I would steer clear of the winter months. During the summer months of June thru August, temperatures will consistently hit the mid-80s and the city’s infamous beaches will fill up with vacationing tourists. It’s a great time to visit the city to enjoy the beaches, but you will undoubtedly have to navigate large crowds. If you are looking for a good time to visit and enjoy the nice weather, but not have to fight the crowds for a spot on the beach, I would suggest visiting during the shoulder months of April and May. Temperatures are typically getting warm during this time, but the summer crowds have yet to show up.
Average Precipitation (Inches)
With over 300 days a year with sunshine, the city of Valencia is a great destination for outdoor activities virtually year-round. This is especially true during the popular summer beach season where the average daily rainfall is quite low. If there is a season to avoid because of the possibility of bad weather, it is undoubtedly during the autumn months of September thru November. During this time of year, the average daily rainfall is much higher than the rest of the year. This is especially true for the month of October, which typically has the most rainfall in Valencia than any other month of the year.
Where to Stay
One of the most important decisions you are going to have to make when planning your trip to Valencia is where you will stay. When you travel, the accommodations you choose are oftentimes amongst the biggest expenditures for your trip. So not only do you need to be comfortable where you are staying, but you also need to be comfortable with how much you are paying to stay there. Finding the right accommodations for your trip involves looking at the amenities, the location, and most importantly, the price. If you are starting to plan your trip to Valencia and want some hotel and hostel suggestions, I have included some great options at different price points below for you to review. As always, don’t be afraid to expand your search to room sharing sites such as Airbnb or VRBO if you aren’t finding a hotel or hostel that meets your needs.
|Cantagua Hostel ($)|
|The River Hostel ($)|
|Hotel Sorolla Centro ($$)|
|Soho Valencia, Ruzafa ($$)|
|Meliá Valencia ($$$)|
|Hotel Vincci Mercat ($$$)|
|Hotel Palacio Vallier ($$$$)|
|Caro Hotel ($$$$)|
|Hotel Balneario Las Arenas ($$$$$)|
|The Westin Valencia ($$$$$)|
Where to Eat
When most people plan a trip, the primary focus is one how to get there, where to stay, and what is on the list of things to see and do. What many travelers neglect to plan, is where to eat when you are there. Granted, it is sometimes fun to be spontaneous when choosing a restaurant while traveling, and it is always smart to get recommendations when you arrive. However, it can also be advantageous to have some ideas of restaurants you would like to try during your trip written down beforehand as well. This way you can be assured that you won’t miss out on a highly recommended culinary experience that you will regret. To help you decide on some restaurants in Valencia to add to your list, I have included a list of some highly recommended options for you to review below.
|Restaurante Navarro||Seafood, Mediterranean, European||$$-$$$|
|El Pederniz||Mediterranean, European, Spanish||$$-$$$|
|Di Vini Sapori||Italian, Pizza, Mediterranean||$$-$$$|
|Grillo Grill Bar||Steakhouse, Mediterranean, Barbecue||$$-$$$|
|Ricard Camarena Restaurant||Mediterranean, European, Spanish||$$$$|
|Restaurante Nou Chocomeli||Mediterranean, Spanish, Veggie||$$$$|
Recommended Tours and Excursions
There is an abundance of amazing things to see and do in the Valencia area and one of the best ways to experience those things is on a tour. If you are looking for fun tours and excursions to fill out your trip, I have included some category links to recommended tours and excursions you can review below.
|Cruises, Sailing & Water Tours|
|Cultural & Theme Tours|
|Food, Wine & Nightlife|
|Multi-day & Extended Tours|
|Walking & Biking Tours|
The city of Valencia in Spain is a beautiful city that is full of surprises. There is no shortage of things to photograph in the city and along its coastline. If you are interested in seeing some of the amazing photographs that I was able to take when I visited Valencia, I have included a gallery for you to look at below.
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