One Day in Valencia, Spain: Itinerary & Where to Go in 24 Hours

With a wide variety of attractions, spending just one day in Valencia may leave you struggling to explore everything. In launching any Valencia itinerary, however, you’ll quickly discover a vast city with a lot to see and do, and one of the best destinations in Spain.

As your explore the old city centre during your first 24 hours in Valencia, you’ll find the type of ancient architecture, stone streets, and public squares that you expect from a typical European city. But it’s also got a touch of modernism.

In the City of the Arts and Sciences, you can walk past futuristic structures that stand in stark contrast to the more historic buildings in the middle of the city.

Not sure what to do in Valencia in one day? Start planning your adventure with this complete 1-day Valencia itinerary…

Where to go in Valencia in 24 hours: A complete 1-day itinerary

One-day city itineraries can help you explore as much of a destination as you can during your short trip. Make the most of your limited time while still checking out the most popular sites.

With just 24 hours in Valencia, you will need to cover a lot of ground. This itinerary will help you navigate the city to cram more excitement into your vacation.

Luckily, Valencia is easy to experience on foot. You’ll start in the old district and follow an old riverbed that cuts through the centre of Valencia, making it almost impossible to get lost.

Fuel your trip with breakfast at the Central Market

If you want to truly explore Valencia in 24 hours, you’ll need to rise early. The Central Market (Mercado Central) is the perfect spot to start your day, as it’s in the middle of the old city centre and offers plenty of choices for an early meal.

Central Market (Mercado Central) in Valencia

The market opens at seven, and it’s typically busy all day, but if you get there shortly after the doors open, you’ll beat most of the crowd. Take your pick of local fare, including fried dough or fresh fruit.

Mercado Central is one of the largest markets in Europe, covering over 8,000 metres and two floors of a massive enclosed building.

The exterior of the building combines Art Nouveau and Gothic elements, while the interior simply looks like a massive, open market filled with hundreds of food stalls and vendors.

Want to dig deep into Valencia’s food scene? Eat to your heart’s desire on this 3-Hour Valencia Culinary Tour including a stop at Central Market!

Take an audio tour through the historic Silk Exchange

After you’ve filled up, it’s time to learn more about the history of Valencia, starting with a trip to the Silk Exchange. This 15th-century mercantile exchange is a culturally significant landmark in the city.

Old Silk Exchange in Valencia

The exterior of the building looks utilitarian, with its straight lines and minimal decorative elements. The interior is much more elegant, however, featuring marble floors, carved columns, and a completely decorated ceiling.

When you walk into the exchange, you’re immediately overwhelmed with the size of the place. In medieval times, the exchange needed to be a large area to provide a spot for merchants to conduct trade. Even today, when the interior is crowded with tourists, it’s easy to feel small while gazing up at the expansive ceiling.

If you want to explore more of the history on your one day in Valencia, spend a couple of dollars for the guided audio tour. It’s informative and will give you a chance to delve into the past and understand more about the city.

PRO TIP: Save time & avoid waiting in queues by purchasing a ticket for the Valencia Silk Tour! The ticket includes skip-the-line access to the Silk Exchange and the Silk Museum.

Experience more history and culture at Valencia Cathedral

The next historic site is just a few blocks northeast from the Silk Exchange. In fact, most of the historic sites are within a small area in the middle of the city.

Exterior of Valencia Cathedral

Valencia Cathedral opens at 10 am and becomes busier as the day goes on. After a quick tour of the Silk Exchange, you should arrive just after the start of visiting hours.

Valencia Cathedral is an historic site, much like the cathedrals that you’ll find in just about any old European city, but it has its own unique charm. The façade is quite impressive, thanks to the multi-storey entrance known as the Door of the Irons. The entrance has a large cast iron gate and exquisitely detailed carvings.

The interior features a variety of architectural and design influences, including Gothic and Baroque. The chancel in the cathedral is one of the grandest areas, featuring large stained-glass windows, classic paintings, and golden décor.

PRO TIP: Simplify your travels by picking up at Valencia Tourist Card before your trip! The card (available for 24-, 48-, and 72-hour durations) includes free public transportation and barrage of great discounts on tours, museums, leisure activities, shops, and restaurants.

Round out historic sights at the Plaza de la Virgen

When you step out of the cathedral, cross the street north of the building to reach the landmark public plaza – Plaza de la Virgen. It’s the last spot to explore in the old district before entering the more futuristic area of the city.

Plaza de la Virgen

The square is surrounded by historic architecture, including more churches. It’s also surrounded by various eateries and tapas bars. It should be about lunchtime during this stretch of your itinerary. As you walk the public square, find a restaurant or café that isn’t too crowded, and order a quick bite.

You can sit on any of the cement benches or ledges and eat your meal while enjoying the central fountain or watching locals and tourists alike come and go.

Interesting in exploring Valencia’s historical attractions? Hop onto the Valencia Old City Private Walking Tour to learn more about the city’s medieval & Moorish past!

Walk through the City of Arts and Sciences complex

After getting your history fix in the old district, you can start walking northeast. Within a few minutes, you’ll reach part of the City of Arts and Sciences.

City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia

Cutting through the centre of Valencia, the City of Arts and Sciences complex (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias) spans over two kilometres. It’s a collection of futuristic structures and venues that are built along the former riverbed of the River Turia. These buildings are the top attractions in Valencia, as they help frame the city in a different light. Instead of just another European city with old historic buildings, it’s also a forward-looking city with architecture that you can’t find elsewhere.

The river that once ran through the city is now covered in parks and the stunning buildings that comprise the City of Arts and Sciences. The path of greenspace and futuristic structures curves around the northern boundaries of the old city centre and heads east toward the beach.

Follow this path as you check out some of the out-of-this-world buildings, such as the opera house. There are also many public parks between the buildings, which will give you a chance to rest as you work your way to the next destination.

PRO TIP: Save time & money by booking a City of Arts Full-Day Combined Ticket before you arrive!

Climb on top of a giant at Gulliver Park

The parks and futuristic buildings that comprise the City of Arts and Sciences eventually lead you to Gulliver Park. It’s hard to miss the 70-metre sculpture of Gulliver as you approach.

Gulliver Park

The park was built in an area that was renovated after the River Turia flooded Valencia in 1957. After the river was diverted, the old riverbed was covered in parks, including Gulliver Park.

The massive sculpture of Gulliver is the central attraction in the park. You can climb stairs or ramps to get to the top and then take a large slide down to the bottom. While it’s mostly intended for kids, it’s still a lot of fun for adults.

Get interactive at the Prince Philip Science Museum (Museo Príncipe Felipe)

The path of the riverbed takes you through more parks and futuristic buildings, such as the Prince Philip Science Museum (Museo Príncipe Felipe). The exterior of the building, much like many of the other City of Arts and Sciences buildings, looks like it belongs in a science fiction film.

Prince Philip Science Museum

Inside the museum, you’ll find numerous interactive exhibits designed for children and adults. Unfortunately, the exhibits are not open year-round. During slower tourist seasons, you can explore most of the museum in just 30 minutes.

If you arrive at the museum, and there isn’t much to do, you’ll find a lot more excitement at the next stop.

PRO TIP: Save time & money on your visit to the Museo Príncipe Felipe by booking a City of Arts Full-Day Combined Ticket before you arrive!

Observe sharks and whales at the Oceanographic

Continuing the same path, you’ll reach the Oceanographic, which is a massive aquarium with over 45,000 marine animals from several hundred different species.

Oceanographic in Valencia, Spain

As part of any Spain itinerary, the Oceanographic is a must-see destination. It’s the largest structure of its kind in Europe, taking up over 110,000 square metres and containing over 42,000,000 litres of water.

The species inside the aquarium include various fish, birds, reptiles, sharks, dolphins, penguins, walruses, and even beluga whales. The aquarium contains nine different marine ecosystems housed in different underwater towers.

If it’s not too late in the afternoon, treat yourself to a meal at the underwater restaurant. You get to eat your meal while watching marine life swirl around you.

PRO TIP: Avoid the queues at the aquarium by purchasing your Oceanogràfic Entrance Ticket online before you arrive!

Take a dip at Malvarrosa Beach

Travelling from one spot to another while trying to see all of Valencia in one day is likely to take its toll on your body. Cool down and relax your muscles with a swim at Malvarrosa Beach.

La Malvarrosa Beach in Valencia

Even during the busiest seasons, the beach is rarely full of tourists or locals. You should have no problem claiming a spot in the sand for yourself. While the waters and the beach itself are rarely crowded, the adjacent promenade tends to attract people from all over.

When you tire of swimming and feel like calling it a day, wind down with drinks or food at any of the bars or restaurants that line the promenade. Have a few cocktails or order a meal while recounting all of the sites that you explored on your Valencia itinerary.

Want to enjoy the sun out on the Mediterranean? Book yourself onto a Valencia Guided Kayak Tour! The two-hour excursion along La Malvarrosa Beach also includes a stop for snorkelling or swimming and yummy seaside paella lunch.

Where to stay with 24 hours in Valencia

As one of Spain’s biggest cities, choosing where to stay in Valencia isn’t much of a problem. There’s plenty of accommodations inventory here with much of it focused on the main areas of the city centre where you’ll find most of the top attractions.

When you’re crunched for time, the areas in & around Old Town (Ciutat Vella) are your best bet. Get your search started with a few of these top hotels in Valencia:

  • Hostal Venecia: Holding a prime location in Valencia’s main square, Plaza del Ayuntamiento, this budget-friendly hotel offers clean & comfortable rooms that won’t break the bank. Several transportation options and some of the top tourist attractions in the city lie within a short walking distance.
  • Marques House: This 4-star hotel occupies a beautiful historic building in the heart of Ciutat Vella (Old Town). Rooms are decorated with a minimalist modern style that coaxes relaxation with ease.
  • Caro Hotel: Situated in a former 19th-century palace with sections dating back over two millennia, this luxury hotel brilliantly combines modern amenities with the property’s historical prowess. The Michelin-starred on-site restaurant, Sucede, is a huge bonus in staying here.

Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

DISCLAIMER: Treksplorer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and its affiliated international sites.

DISCLAIMER: You'll notice that from time to time I link out to recommended hotels/tours/products/services. If you purchase anything through these links, I'll receive a commission. It won't cost you anything extra, but it will help keep me trekkin' on and delivering more free (and unsponsored!) travel information to you. Thanks :)