The Ultimate Valencia, Spain Bucket List (Besides the Beaches)

April 10, 2017

Valecia, Spain Bucket List (Besides the Beaches)

If you’re reading this, then you have probably heard of Spain’s third largest city and need a Valencia, Spain Bucket List for your trip. Well, if this is true then you are a step ahead of me because before I went to Spain, I ashamedly admit that I had never heard of Valencia. But I soon learned that Valencia is a regular stop for tourists plodding the path between Barcelona and Madrid, or vice versa. To me, Valencia, Barcelona, and Madrid are the Spanish trifecta of awesome.

Valencia is known for it’s beaches, but there are many other things to do on the Valencia, Spain bucket list.

So, while Barcelona and Madrid are the most famous of the three cities, Valencia is a part of this terrific threesome for good reason. Valencia, the smallest of these cities, is the perfect combination of small town charm and vibrant city living. Not only is there a thriving food and nightlife scene, but there is also a relaxing and rejuvenating green space that wraps around the river on the outskirts of town. Walking along this vast greenway, you will encounter the other worldly, modernist buildings of the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, designed by Santiago Calatrava. But the modernity of such structures is balanced by the charming character of the old quarter, which has a stunning array of colonial Spanish architecture that transports visitors back in time. This old world Spanish charm is enhanced with a diverse array of traditional, Spanish dishes that are served well into the night; dishes that alight the taste buds with the richness of the local huerta, or fertile fruit and vegetable farmland that surrounds the outside of the city.

  1. Ciudad de las Artes y Las Ciencias 
La Ciudad de las Artes y Las Ciencias is a must see on the Valencia, Spain bucket list.

Before you set foot inside the Ciudad de las Artes y Las Ciencias, you are memorized by the modern structure that emerges on the horizon, like an other-worldly spaceship in the distance. This modern edifice houses the Hemispheric, Oceanographic, and Science museums and is a truly an awe-inspiring site to behold. But once inside, you can actually feel adventures by attending a film in the enormous IMAX theater, which is located just inside the Hemispheric Museum. Also explore the informative, entertaining, and interactive exhibits of the Science Museum, which emphasizes the development of recent scientific discoveries. Lastly, descend into the underwater world of the Oceanographic Museum (my favorite) which is Europe’s largest aquarium. An assortment of dolphins, belugas, walruses, sea lions, seals, penguins, turtles, sharks, rays, sawfish, jellyfish, starfish, sea urchins, and crustaceans all call this place home. Get an up close and personal view of these animal’s behavior and way of life, through this museum’s state of the art exhibits. Due to the size of the complex, I suggest taking a day and discovering all the mysteries that this magical facility has to offer.

I love penguins!! One of my favorite animals from the aquarium.

Hours: See the website. Times vary based on season and which museum you are visiting, so check out the website here..

Admission: Prices vary based on the museum and which combination ticket you purchase, so check out the website here.

Address: Príncipe Felipe science Museum

Avda. del Professor López Piñero nº 7 – 46013 València.

Hemisfèric

Avda. del Professor López Piñero (Historiador de la Medicina) nº3 – 46013 València.

Oceanogràfic

C/. Eduardo Primo Yúfera (Científic), nº 1B. 46013. València

  1. Restaurante Navarro

To truly appreciate the rich food culture of Valencia, visitors must dine at this culinary landmark, located in the heart of the city. Restaurant Navarro has been serving up traditional, Valencian cuisine since 1951, with historic cooking methods passed down form generation to generation. Currently, the Bayarri sisters are continuing this family tradition and run Restaurante Navarro. They practice the same culinary techniques of their grandfather, father and uncle before them, all of whom previously owned the restaurant and taught these ladies everything they know about cooking.

Nothing better than Paella done well. That’s why this restaurant is on the Valencia, Spain bucket list.

This restaurant is quite famous, so I suggest booking a table in advance on their website. On offer here are a diverse array of Mediterranean themed dishes that are perfectly executed and masterfully seasoned. The menu here is quite diversified, with something for even the pickiest eater in your group. An assortment of soups, salads, meats, seafoods, desserts, and (of course) paellas are all served here. I opted for the seasonal vegetable paella since I am a vegetarian. Needless to say, there were no leftovers. The paella was perfectly cooked, with a crisp crust on the bottom that expertly complimented the airy texture of the rest of the dish. All in all, this was an out of this world restaurant experience that I would recommend to anyone visiting the area.

*Serious foodies should consider a day trip to El Palmar, the premier rice-growing region of Albufera, where some of the best paella in the world can be found.

Hours: Mon – Sat: 1.30-4pm daily, and Sat. night: 8.30-11pm

Price: Rices are between €11-18, while the set menu is €22

Address: Carrer de l’Arquebisbe Mayoral, 5, 46002 València, Valencia

  1. La Lonja (The Silk Exchange)
Stunning sunset in Valencia, Spain. This is why you need to have the Valencia, Spain bucket list.

Located in the center of the city, this Unesco World Heritage site, was originally the home of the silk and commodity exchange in Valencia.  Constructed in the late 15th century, this building is one of the most famous civil Gothic monuments in all of Europe. The entire edifice surrounds a courtyard filled with aromatic citrus trees, that are a delight to walk through in warm weather.

Within La Lonja itself, there is the la Sala de Contratación. This room contains three longitudinal and five transversal naves, along with eight columns that support the entire, domed ceiling. There is also the Consulado del Mar, which is where the maritime tribunal sat. Also visit top floor, with it’s stunning, coffered ceiling that was relocated here from another building. Lastly, explore the two upper floors,  which were used as a prison for those who could not pay their debts. Make sure to get the audio guide (€3) since the amount of printed material here is limited.

Hours:  Mon-Sat: 9:30am – 7:00pm and Sun: 9.30am-3pm.

Admission: Adults are €2 and children are €1, with free admission on Sundays.

Address: Lonja, 2 46001 – Valencia

  1. Mercado Central
Some of the delicious foods on display at the Mercado Central, a must see on the Valencia, Spain bucket list.

Since the Mercat Central de Valencia was first established in 1839, this Modernista-covered market has provided the residents of Valencia with fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood, and meats that better the lives of the local community. Because of this market’s popularity, over 300 vendors call this place home. Therefore, this facility has transformed from a simple market, into a major cultural attraction for tourists and locals alike.

Meander though the narrow rows between the food stalls, and take in the vast array of sights, sounds, and colors that adorn this fast-paced, epicenter of daily life. Impressive seafood counters display an assortment of species that I didn’t even know existed, while a quaint tapas bar lets you relax and watch the many people hustling by.

While here, make sure to try the Calabaza Asada, which is a generous piece of roasted pumpkin that can be served for dessert when adorned with caramel sauce and whipped cream (Yum). Also not to be missed is the Horchata de Chufa, an icy cold, milky drink that is made from Tiger Nuts, and the Fartons, which are pastries that are not as sweet as doughnuts, but not as savory as bread rolls. Once these elongated, thin pastries emerge from the oven, they are dusted with a healthy amount of powdered sugar and then dipped into Horchata, to soak up some of the sugary, milky goodness.

Hours: Mon-Sat: 7:30am – 3:00pm

Some of the awesome street art in Russia. One of the many reasons why this area is on the Valencia, Spain bucket list.

Admission: Free because it’s a giant market.

Address: Plaza Ciudad De Brujas, S/N 46001 Valencia

  1. Russafa

This Valencia neighborhood is the new town’s most exciting corner. Russafa was once a downmarket barrio that has become a trendy and vibrant hub of activity. By day, there are quirky galleries and vintage shops to explore, that make for a fun and relaxing way to discover the city. At night, Russafa becomes the center of culinary and cafe-bar nightlife, with such delicious offerings as tapas, vermouth bars, and literary cafes. Be sure to visit on the weekend when local nightlife is at its most vibrant and exciting.

  1. Jardines del Turia

Located along Valencia’s Rio Turia, this 9km-long, botanical paradise is the perfect mix of playing fields, playgrounds, walking/cycling paths, and extensive fields; a perfect place for a picnic or even a bit of sunbathing in nice weather. As it curves through the eastern part of the city, the park becomes a peaceful way of navigating this busy place. This park is also a great place to relax and people watch, as you listen to the multitudes of children giggle through the park’s tremendous playgrounds.

One of the enormous playgrounds in the Jardines del Turia. You can see why this park is on the Valencia, Spain bucket list.
  1. Museo de Bellas Artes

This light and airy art gallery is one of Spain’s finest. This spacious building houses  an exquisite collection of late-medieval altarpieces, as well as paintings from several iconic, Spanish masters. Museum highlights include Goya portraits, a haunting Velázquez self-portrait, and an El Greco John the Baptist, among many others.  Downstairs, there are a series of rooms dedicated to a local painter named Joaquín Sorolla, who is renowned for capturing the emotional turmoil of ages past, through his evocative portraiture.

Hours: Tue-Sun: 10:00am – 8:00pm

Admission: Free Admission

Address: Calle de San Pío V 9 Valencia, Spain

girlwiththepassport

Nanny by day and travel blogger any other time.

I love writing and traveling and bearing my soul on the page.
I want to inspire others to face their fears and join me on an adventure.

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46 Comments

  • Trippin' Turpins (Kelly) 8 months ago

    So much to do in Spain! I hope I get there one day. VALENCIA is now on my bucket list… it sounds perfect. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jean 8 months ago

    Have paella in valencia is a must do for anyone! Love this guide. Oh so helpful.

  • Salomé 8 months ago

    I love Valencia. Thank you for the tips I willl definitely go back and go to the Mercado Central !!!😊

  • Anna 8 months ago

    I’ve never been there, use to go to Barcelona every year.. Thx for the ideas! x

  • Stella 8 months ago

    Museo de Bellas Artes got me at free admission! Of course, I would love to have a taste of Valencia food in Spain! (and you also got me super hungry by this!)

  • Danielle Bricker 8 months ago

    Glad to see paella so high up the list. I think a lot of people don’t realize that paella isn’t a Spanish dish, it is a Valencia dish! I knew that before visiting Barcelona last summer, but what I didn’t realize is a lot of paella restaurants won’t serve solo diners. You have to really do some digging to find single portions of paella.

    • girlwiththepassport 8 months ago

      So true!!! I was alone and so it was really tricky to find a place that would serve me a smaller person. Glad I got to taste some authentic paella. So different from what we have in New York.

  • TravellingDany 8 months ago

    I have heard so much of Valencia, but I still haven’t been able to go. It sounds like there’s so much to see and do, we’d love to see the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias!

    • girlwiththepassport 8 months ago

      It was so fun. My favorite part was the aquarium. But I am a huge fan of animals so I knew that I would love it.

  • lula dolz 8 months ago

    Hiya, good to see Russafa on the list, bit different! My mum’s from Valencia so I know it pretty well, isn’t the mercado just stunning?! 🙂 My fave has to be the river though, I spend hours walking / running through there. Really glad you liked it and thanks for sharing!

    • girlwiththepassport 8 months ago

      love the river. It is so peaceful and they did such a great job with the park there. Such a lovely place to explore.

  • Joanna 8 months ago

    I have heard many times about how beautiful Valencia is. I am traveling between UK and Spain quite a lot often, because of work, and I might end up visiting Valencia one day soon too. I would like to pop in to Restaurante Navarro and taste the best paella in the world. I would also like to walk along the streets at sunset and admire the pink skies warming up the colors of the buildings. For a foodie like me, a stop in Mercado Central is a must.

    • girlwiththepassport 8 months ago

      Me too!! The food there is really second to none. Definitely an amazing experience. Hope you get there soon!

  • Leigh 8 months ago

    Great list – I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of Valencia, but then again I haven’t read or researched much of Spain…yet 🙂

  • Angelique 8 months ago

    There are so many places in Spain that I would love to visit. Made it to Barcelona last year, but really haven’t heard much about Valencia. Very informative post!

    • girlwiththepassport 8 months ago

      Thanks! While I was there I hit Valencia, Barcelona, and Madrid. Wish i could have explored more of Spain but just not enough time.

  • Travellinn 8 months ago

    I have been to Spain many times but never Valencia. As I love food and drinks it is officially on my list of places to go. Thanks for sharing. And Russafa sounds like a great place both day and night time.

  • Chiara 7 months ago

    There’s really a lot to do in Spain, aside from beaches. Glad someone is talking about it 🙂

    • girlwiththepassport 7 months ago

      LOl. Don’t get me wrong, I love beaches. But I also love to do other things and am so glad you could relate!

  • WanderTruant 7 months ago

    What a great list! Thank you so much for including recommended restaurants – most people only focus on the sights, but I’d have loved to have some recommended places to eat during my previous travels.

    • girlwiththepassport 7 months ago

      Oh happy you found this helpful!! Always so hard find great places to eat that serve traditional food!

  • Carmen Baguio 7 months ago

    I hoping to go to Spain next spring. The aquarium and markets would definitely be on my list. Pinned this for later!

  • Amy Krigsman 7 months ago

    I’ve heard a lot of wonderful things about Valencia, and I love the small town charm. Something tells me Valencia will be a favorite for me one day.

  • Wanderlust Vegans 7 months ago

    Valencia looks like a place with tons of interesting stuff to see. It looks like you don’t have to go to the beach to have fun since the Ciudad de las Artes y Las Ciencias looks incredible. I like the sound of walking around the Russafa neighbourhood as well.

    • girlwiththepassport 7 months ago

      Yes!! The beach is great but the Ciudad de Las Artes y Ciencias is a must. Hope you get to go there soon!

  • Lee 7 months ago

    Great list! But for me who has plans on visiting Spain soon, how much do you suggest should I bedget for my 2 week stay? A hostel will be fine

    • girlwiththepassport 7 months ago

      Good question. I guess it depends on where you are going and what you plan on doing and where you want to eat.

  • Danique 7 months ago

    I just read an article about Barcelona and now Valenica. It makes me want to go to Spain so badly! I would really love to visit the mercado because I know Spanish food is just amazing.

  • Anita 7 months ago

    I love Spain, but haven’t been in Valencia yet. As I am not beach lover, your post sounds good to me. I love idea to see a sunset in Valencia. Maybe one day.

    • girlwiththepassport 7 months ago

      You should. The city is truly gorgeous and I am not a huge beach person because my spin just can’t handle it.

  • Winnie 7 months ago

    Thanks so much for this great post! Such a comprehensive list, which will definitely come in handy when I travel to Valencia 🙂

  • Therie 7 months ago

    That sunset is spectacular! I’m already in love with Valencia!

  • Megan Indoe 7 months ago

    I have been wanting to go back to Spain since I only got to see Barcelona last time! We are hoping to go back to Europe in the next few months, I’m crossing my fingers we can fit Valencia in! Russafa seems like my kind of place!

  • best medical sites 6 months ago

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Perfectly written!

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