On the eastern coast of Spain, you’ll find the unique city of Valencia. It offers a blend of the old and new, whether you travel to markets and cafes of the city centre or stroll near the futuristic buildings in the City of the Arts and Sciences.
There are a lot of things to do in Valencia. You can visit the 15th-century Gothic mercantile exchange or the restored central market with over 1000 stalls among the dozens of other destinations begging to be explored. The city is also known for its paella, which is a Valencian rice dish with chicken and seafood.
Need help deciding what to do? Get ready to explore more of the city with this guide to the best Valencia attractions…
Table of Contents
- What to do in Valencia: Top attractions & places to visit
- Tour the Silk Exchange
- Walk the cobblestone streets of Casco Antiguo
- Step into the future at the City of the Arts and Sciences
- Walk through a fairy tale at Gulliver Park in the Jardin del Turia
- Get some culture at Valencia Cathedral
- Indulge your senses at Central Market
- Get a tan or stroll the promenade at Malvarrosa Beach
- Where to stay in Valencia: The best hotels for sightseeing
What to do in Valencia: Top attractions & places to visit
Tour the Silk Exchange
The 15th-century mercantile exchange is a towering masterpiece of gothic architecture. It’s always at the top of any list of things to see in Valencia, thanks to the imposing façade. Stepping through the front doors, you need to strain your neck to take in the impressive views of the massive vaulted ceilings.
While at the Silk Exchange, take a guided audio tour to learn more about the history of Valencia. When the building was constructed, the city was experiencing the peak of its commercial prosperity. The audio guide is just a couple of dollars and helps give context to the significance of this landmark.
Expect to spend two or three hours at the exchange, between waiting to get in and taking the full tour. When standing outside, make sure that you check out the courtyard, which is lined with large orange trees and a fountain.
Walk the cobblestone streets of Casco Antiguo
Many of the historic Valencia attractions are within a few blocks of Casco Antiguo, which is the historic city centre. The area is full of winding cobblestone streets, cafes, old buildings, and some of the most important landmarks in the city.
On a hot day, this neighbourhood can also provide shelter from the sun. Many of the narrow streets are flanked by tall buildings that offer shade. It’s also a great spot to simply wander around. Besides small streets and alleys, the area also contains two large public plazas and a handful of smaller ones.
It’s hard to get lost. Just take a stroll through any of the side streets and find a café or restaurant where you can sit outside and enjoy the scenery. Whether you have one day in Valencia or a few, there’s hardly a better way to while away your time in this bustling Spanish city!
Step into the future at the City of the Arts and Sciences
With ultra-modern buildings and structures, the City of the Arts and Sciences is one of the most unique Valencia points of interest. It’s a major contrast compared to the older historic areas of the city.
The complex was developed in the late 1990s and early 2000s and ended up costing a whopping $300 million. It’s built over the old riverbed of the river Turia, which flooded the city in 1957.
The City of the Arts and Sciences also houses the Oceanographic, a local aquarium with over 45,000 marine animals. Other attractions include an opera house, museums, a planetarium, an IMAX theatre, and a laserium.
Walk through a fairy tale at Gulliver Park in the Jardin del Turia
If you ask locals where to go in Valencia, you’ll likely get directions to Jardin del Turia. It’s a large public park and one of the highlights of the city. It was built on part of the old riverbed after the catastrophic flood of 1957.
The park is a massive green space that was built after the flood and sits across from the City of the Arts and Sciences. It’s also the most popular meeting spot in the city, attracting millions of visitors and locals each year. If you enjoy people watching, this is an ideal destination.
One of the more interesting features of the park is Gulliver Park, which is an homage to Gulliver’s Travels. The area includes numerous sculptures, including a 70-metre depiction of Gulliver, washed up on the shore. You can climb the sculpture through various ramps, stairs, and slides.
Get some culture at Valencia Cathedral
Dating to the 13th and 14th centuries, Valencia Cathedral is a unique piece of history and an important destination for Valencia sightseeing. The mixture of Baroque, Gothic, and Neoclassical architectural influences make the cathedral an interesting site.
You could easily spend your time examining the exterior of the cathedral, including the massive Door of the Irons, which is the main entrance. It’s named after the large cast iron fence that surrounds the cathedral, but the main feature is the intricate carvings on the façade.
The inside of the cathedral is also awe-inspiring. The interior is lined with ornate details, including hundreds of golden sculptures and decorative elements.
Indulge your senses at Central Market
Across from the Silk Exchange, you’ll find the sprawling Central Market. It’s a large building with close to a thousand different stalls and vendors, covering over 8,000 square metres. Most of the market is dedicated to fresh food directly from local farms and fisheries.
The market is one of the best places to visit in Valencia for foodies. As you navigate the crowded market, your nose will be overwhelmed with the smell of fresh seafood, fruits, and vegetables. There are also many vendors serving up hot food, including the traditional Valencia paella.
Get a tan or stroll the promenade at Malvarrosa Beach
If you ever run out of ideas for what to do in Valencia, simply go to the beach. Valencia is right on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and includes several public beaches, such as Malvarrosa Beach.
Malvarrosa Beach offers crystal clear waters, sandy beaches, and a large promenade lined with restaurants, bars, and recreational activities. While it’s a popular public beach, it’s rarely crowded compared to some of the other Spanish beaches.
It’s a great place to take the whole family, as the promenade offers something for everyone. Adults can enjoy cocktails at any of the dozens of bars in the area, while kids can enjoy kiddie rides, sweets, and ice cream.
Where to stay in Valencia: The best hotels for sightseeing
Ready getting the most out of your trip? Choosing where to stay in Valencia will be a big part of the equation! Fortunately, many of the best places to stay in Valencia are found in the areas in & around the Ciutat Vella (Old Town) where most of the action for travellers unleashes. Start searching for your accommodations with these suggestions for the top hotels in Valencia:
- Hostal Venecia: Located in the main square of Plaza del Ayunyamiento, this budget-friendly hotel offer simple & comfortable rooms that deliver everything you need to make your stay in Valencia shine.
- Marques House: Occupying a stunning historic building in Old Town, this lovely 4-star hotel sets itself apart with a relaxing minimalist modern style. Upgrade to one of the superior rooms or suites to chill out on the balcony with views over Ciutat Vella.
- Caro Hotel: It doesn’t get much better than this luxury hotel, situated in a 19th-century palace with Roman Empire roots dating back over two thousand years. The uniqueness in this property is in how seamlessly they’ve integrated the building’s historical elements—from the city’s former city walls to Gothic arches to mosaics—with the hotel’s impeccable contemporary design.