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Valencia City Guide
- Places of Interest
- Getting to
- Getting around the city
Valencia, situated on Spain’s stunning Costa Blanca, is a vibrant student and tourist city that enjoys great food and riotous fiestas! It is Spain's third largest city and has experienced a cultural renaissance in recent years. This is a city that has something to suit everyone’s tastes. If you’re looking for history and grand, medieval architecture, check out the cathedral, the remains of the city walls or the Golden Age silk exchange. If it is science and technology that gets you going, visit the über-modern City of Arts and Sciences, with its IMAX theater and planetarium! This interesting mix of modern buildings is one of the most impressive projects in this millennium in Europe, and has lured crowds of visitors to the city Or perhaps you’d like to visit some of the hundreds of bars, restaurants and boutiques spread all over the city? However, Valencia also allows you to set your own pace, its various parks offer a tranquil refuge from the excitement of the city. And if that´s not enough, you can always catch some rays on one of the city´s beautiful beaches! Valencia is also home to the "paella" and boasts excellent Mediterranean cuisine with seafood and other delicacies.
Places of Interest
Valencia’s cathedral dates back to 1262, but this fascinating building was not entirely finished until the 18th century and has therefore accumulated styles from various periods. Its beautiful dome and tower, and the Puerta de los Apóstoles are all Gothic while the presbytery and the main gate are from the Baroque period. The Puerta de Palau is in a Romanesque style and the intricate chapels inside are reminiscent of the Renaissance.
Basílica de La Virgen de los Desamparados
Valencia’s Gothic Basilica, built between 1652 and 1667, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts a fabulous Pre-Baroque style, typified by its beautifully painted oval dome. The Basílica is known in the city for its part in the patron saint celebrations. On the second Sunday of May, a statue of the Virgin Mary is carried from here to the cathedral and back; a noisy and emotional ceremony.
La Lonja de la Seda
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, La Lonja De La Seda is the city’s old silk exchange. The silk industry was incredibly important to Spain during the 17th and 18th centuries, a fact no less evident from the grandeur of this Gothic Building. Its most impressive feature is the Room of Columns, some of which reach almost 16 metres in height!
Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències
Since 1996 Valencia has been famed for its ultra-modern, hi-tech City of Arts and Science which is made up of five unique areas, offering exciting and diverse attractions and activities.
The Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía is a state-of-the-art international venue comprising of an amphitheater, a chamber theater, a master room and a wide range of teaching facilities. This section of ‘The City of Arts and Science’ has also become a Valencian landmark, thanks to its unique design and prominent position.
L’Umbracle is the green entry-point to the entire center, filled with plants, trees and flowers chosen for their colors as the seasons progress. Surrounded by relaxing streams of water and small pools, l’Umbracle is an attraction in itself and makes a great place to wander through day or night.
The Museu de les Ciençe Principe Felipe holds a science museum as well as a planetarium and laserium, while L’Hemisfèric contains Valencia’s brilliant IMAX cinema and often hosts premières!
Finally L’Oceanogràfic is the largest sea-life center in Europe, home to fish and wildlife in huge aquariums from all over the world, from the tropics to the Antarctic. It has an open-air pool where there are regular dolphin shows and a global warming exhibition
Museu Provincial de Belles Arts
A tribute to Spanish and Valencian Golden Age art, this museum is Valencia’s finest collection of national and local artists from the 14th to the 16th centuries. It features a few select works by Goya and Velázquez as well as artists from the region such as Vicente López, Juan de Joanes and Joaquín Sorolla. This museum has free admission so there is no excuse for missing it!
The best beaches in Valencia are just north of the port. There are dozens of bars and restaurants along the seafronts and around the harbors and an abundance of water sports facilities. Just 3km from the historic center, head for Playa de la Malvarrosa or Playa de las Arenas for clean sand, crystal-clear waters and great food!
Formula 1 - European Grand Prix
Thanks to a country-wide surge in popularity, catching the races each Sunday all summer has rapidly become a national passion. Even more, Valencia has its own urban circuit, located around the America’s Cup port, where the annual European Gran Prix makes Valencia’s city streets roar to life. If you have some money to burn, go check it out live in action!
Getting to Valencia
The city of Valencia is located in the east coast of Spain in the autonomous region of Comunidad Valenciano. It has its own international airport 8km west of the city and is very easily accessible. To get to the city center from the airport, you can take the metro from the terminal building on Línea 5 or Línea 3. Both journeys take approximately 25 minutes and cost less than €2. A taxi from the airport can cost between €15 and €20 depending on your destination and the time of day, bear in mind that most taxis will also charge for luggage. To take the bus from the airport, you should catch the Aerobús (the blue line), which costs €2.50 and runs every 20 minutes between 6.00 and 22.00. Alternatively use route 150 for €1.05, this runs regularly between 05.25 and 23.55, check www.aena.es for more information.
Getting around the city
The city itself is compact, with 95% of the main sights being in the city center. Wandering through the streets on foot means you can really appreciate the buildings and sights you wouldn't see underground or on the main road. An efficient urban bus and metro system serve the city center and the suburbs, providing a reliable and economic means of getting around. Although most of the attractions are central, take advantage of the cheap fares (€1.20 per trip) and explore as many areas of the city as you can.
A bonometro or a bonobus (special travel cards) can be a more economical purchase should you plan on using the services frequently. This costs from €6.10 - €17.30 for 10 trips, depending on which zone you need. You can also use the Valencia Tourist Card which costs €6 for 1 day, €10 for 2 and €12 for 3 days. The card covers all transport and enables you to receive discounts on entry to museums and other attractions. If you're coming to Valencia for more than a couple of weeks then it's a good idea to buy the Abono Transporte which is valid for a month. Taxis also run 24 hours a day in Valencia and taxi ranks are located all over the city center, easy to spot thanks to the green light on their roofs. Taxis are regulated in Spain and are another, more expensive way to get from A to B. The minimum tariff in Valencia is €3 during the day and €5 at night.
Valencia is in league with Madrid and Barcelona for shopping opportunities, from giant commercial shopping centers and chic boutiques to local craft fairs and delicious food markets, Valencia has it all!
If you want a day of intense shopping, head to one of the city’s leisure centers. Nuevo Centro has over 100 shops; while El Saler goes one step further offering bars, restaurants, a cinema and a hypermarket, as well as regular stores. If you prefer wandering down a real high street, take the metro to Colon and find Calle Don Juan de Austria. Here you will stumble on shops such as Mango, Zara, H&M, and dozens of shoe stores!
Markets are a great way to get to know a place and to get a glimpse of the local specialties. Valencia has a number of bustling markets, the biggest of which is Mercado Central. Built in 1928, this food market is part of a bigger market, which is one of the largest in Europe! Selling everything from colorful fruit and vegetables to Iberian ham, cheese and of course, fresh cuts of meat and seafood! The best time to visit is on a weekday morning. Also part of the larger market is Plaza Redonda, which sells everything from lace and leather bags to parrots and Mercado de Colón, one of the most important modernist buildings in the city with its unique architecture.
Located on the coast, towards the south of Spain, Valencia has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild winters, although there are slight regional variations between the coast and inland.
Between the months of November and February it can get quite cold, however temperatures rarely get close to zero and they usually stay around 7 - 10°C. From March onwards, the temperature starts to rise and alternates between slightly cold and very warm. Although the weather can be mixed at this time of year, by the middle of May the days are generally longer and warmer. The summer months of July and August tend to be very dry and hot, with daytime temperatures rising as high as 40°C. Rainfall is rare in Valencia and does not usually last; the typical times are the end of September-October and March-April.
Cost of living
Valencia is Spain’s third largest city, a bustling business center and a huge tourist trap, unfortunately the cost of living tends to reflect this. Having said that, it is also a student city and therefore it is still possible to live very well on comparatively little.
If you are not living with a family and catering for yourself, food will probably be your greatest expense. Meals in restaurants can vary from as little as 10€ for a set 3-course lunch, or menú del día, to much higher prices for dinner in Valencia's top restaurants. Partaking in the Spanish tradition of the tapeo, or tapas bar crawl, can also be a very reasonable way to eat and a delicious way of tasting typical Spanish cuisine. In Valencia, raciones are very popular, they are a large portion of tapas, usually to share and often consisting of cold meats and cheese. A drink and a snack in a bar costs as little as 3€. Equally, the cost of drinks can vary enormously. A coffee taken outside on the seafront or in the old town costs up to 3€, whereas a coffee in a bar can cost as little as 1.20€. However food and drink is also available cheaply in the supermarkets, of which there are several dotted around the city center.
The Valencian nightlife is renowned across Spain for its exuberance, the young tourists and large student population ensures that every night is a fiesta. There is often a entrance charge for clubs from 5 to 15€ but often you will be offered a free drink with your ticket. Drinks can vary in price from 2€ for a small beer to 10€ for a large mixer or cocktail. Activities such as going to the cinema and the theater are often discounted for students. A cinema ticket costs around 6€ whilst a ticket to the theater is generally priced at 18€. Entrance to museums varies between 1.80€ and 25€ (for the City of Arts and Science) - although many museums also have discounts for students and free entry on selected days.
Spanish newspapers cost approximately 1€; however, foreign press often costs considerably more - about 3€ for a newspaper and more for magazines. Stamps to European destinations cost around 0.60€, whilst those to America, Asia, Africa and Oceania cost more, usually around 0.80€.