Things to do in Valencia

A holiday in Valencia offers attractions to suit all tastes, from beautiful beaches right on the doorstep, to a host of museums, art galleries, bars, restaurants and nightclubs, a full calendar of exciting festivals, and historic attractions.

There are some wonderful beaches near Valencia, with favourites such as El Saler, El Puig, and Sagunto all less than an hour out of the city; the beaches within the city are less glorious but still good for a swim and a suntan. Valencia has some lovely green lungs as well, including the Antiguo Cauce del Rio Turia park, and the Bioparc Valencia, which is a great zoo.

Historical attractions in Valencia include the ancient Crypt of Saint Vincente, which contains evidence of the city's Visigoth, Roman, and Muslim heritage; the UNESCO-listed Silk Exchange (Lonja de la Seda), founded in 1469; the Valencia Cathedral, which is said to be the final resting place of the Holy Grail; and the beautiful Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas. A wander through the atmospheric El Carmen district is a must, as is a lazy meal or drink in the Plaza de la Virgen.

With a comprehensive bus and metro system, it is easy to get around Valencia while sightseeing. The metro system is not extensive, consisting of four lines, but covers the major points in the city, including a tramway to the beach. Buses, on the other hand, will get visitors to just about anywhere. More active visitors can opt to hire a bicycle, and enjoy Valencia's great network of cycle paths. Much of the city can also be explored on foot.

City of Arts and Science photo

City of Arts and Science

The impressive, futuristic landscape of the City of Arts and Science covers a vast area, rising out of a man-made lake in what was formerly the bed of the River Turia. It encompass…

City of Arts and Science

The impressive, futuristic landscape of the City of Arts and Science covers a vast area, rising out of a man-made lake in what was formerly the bed of the River Turia. It encompasses various attractions accessed along a magnificent arched walkway, overhung with an array of flowering aromatic plants and shrubs. The city consists of five areas: the Hemisferic, containing the IMAX cinema and other digital projections; the Umbracle, a landscaped viewing and parking area; the Principe Felipe Science Museum, dedicated to interactive science; the Oceanografico, the largest aquarium in Europe, housing more than 500 marine species; and the Palau de lest Arts Reina Sofia, which hosts opera, theatre, and music performances.

Website www.cac.es

El Carmen photo

El Carmen

The ancient district of El Carmen sits in the heart of Valencia's old town, with narrow cobbled alleyways, honey-coloured buildings, and bars and cafes contributing making up a chi…

El Carmen

The ancient district of El Carmen sits in the heart of Valencia's old town, with narrow cobbled alleyways, honey-coloured buildings, and bars and cafes contributing making up a chilled Bohemian atmosphere. El Carmen also has several interesting attractions, including the remains of the medieval city walls, and the Gothic tower gates of Torres de Serrano and Torres de Quart, the latter pocked with cannon-ball marks dating from an assault by Napoleon. Roman and Moorish influences are clear in the Old Town and the numerous squares and narrow streets give the area an authentic medieval feel, despite the invasion of tourists as the city increases in popularity. Along with several museums, there is also a convent complex dating back to the 13th century.

Valencia Cathedral photo

Valencia Cathedral

It is reputedly the resting place of the Holy Grail but, whether visitors believe that or not, the ornate Valencia Cathedral is worth a visit just because of its unique history and…

Valencia Cathedral

It is reputedly the resting place of the Holy Grail but, whether visitors believe that or not, the ornate Valencia Cathedral is worth a visit just because of its unique history and combination of architectural styles. Since it started out in 1262, it has shuffled back and forth from being a mosque to a Christian church, and has been added to accordingly in a variety of styles from Romanesque to Gothic, Baroque, and even Moorish. It houses an interesting museum, treasury, and the Holy Grail chapel. Visitors should also look out for paintings by Goya.

Website www.catedraldevalencia.es/en/index.php

Silk Exchange (Lonja de la Seda) photo

Silk Exchange (Lonja de la Seda)

One of Valencia's UNESCO World Heritage Sites is the old Silk Exchange, founded in 1469, copied from a similar structure built in Palma de Mallorca. The walled tower and flamboyant…

Silk Exchange (Lonja de la Seda)

One of Valencia's UNESCO World Heritage Sites is the old Silk Exchange, founded in 1469, copied from a similar structure built in Palma de Mallorca. The walled tower and flamboyant Gothic trading hall, once used for the trade of precious items like silk and gold, is widely regarded as the city's most beautiful building, and is now a top tourist attraction, often used for hosting art exhibitions. The immensely high vaulted ceiling tops some unusual and very attractive pillars, the floors are lovely, and there is lots of intricate stonework and Gothic detail to admire.

Crypt of Saint Vicente photo

Crypt of Saint Vicente

The Crypt of San Vicente is an ancient part of Valencia and exploring the space takes visitors on an intriguing archaeological journey through the history of the city. The crypt ha…

Crypt of Saint Vicente

The Crypt of San Vicente is an ancient part of Valencia and exploring the space takes visitors on an intriguing archaeological journey through the history of the city. The crypt has existed in many different incarnations: it was once part of a Visigoth chapel; was converted into palace baths during Muslim rule; and was incorporated into a Christian chapel dedicated to the martyr San Vicente (although it is unclear whether the saint was ever actually imprisoned here as some historians claim). There is even evidence of Roman architecture in the crypt, which is located in a district once occupied by Roman nobles. It is possible to wander in and see the ruins.

Plaza de la Virgen photo

Plaza de la Virgen

The Plaza de la Virgen is one of Valencia's loveliest squares. Once the site of an ancient Roman forum, a fountain sits in the centre and is surrounded by plenty of open-air cafes.…

Plaza de la Virgen

The Plaza de la Virgen is one of Valencia's loveliest squares. Once the site of an ancient Roman forum, a fountain sits in the centre and is surrounded by plenty of open-air cafes. On one side of the square is the impressive Gothic façade of the Palau de la Generalitat, seat of government for the Valencia region, and opposite is the Baroque Basilica de Nuestra Senora de los Desamparados, a grand church dating from the 17th century containing fascinating frescoes. The Plaza de la Virgen is an entertainment hub during the famous Fallas Festival in Valencia, which sees the community building big, creative sculptures in the square and later burning them. Street performers come into the square during the evening.