Some of Europe’s most notable museums, charming historic districts and sandy beaches boasting views of the Mediterranean Sea battle for attention in the Spanish city of Valencia, the third largest city in the country. This under-the-radar destination is much more than the birthplace of paella: it is the forefront of past meeting present in Spain.
Today, visitors to Valencia are watching the city evolve before their eyes. Once defined by the Turia River, Valencia’s former riverfront is now dominated by the City of Arts and Science, an impressive museum complex with spectacular architecture and exhibits. Historic markets, cathedrals and plazas remind visitors of Valencia’s past, and still, the historic port town holds true to its roots with several beaches offering a front-row view of the Mediterranean Sea.
Of course, eating is a way of life throughout Spain, and Valencia is no exception. It was here that the popular Spanish dish of paella was born, and travelers will delight in trying the many variations of local paella while visiting Valencia. Nightlife in Valencia doesn’t disappoint either, especially in the lively neighborhood of Barrio del Carmen.
Visitors tend to flock to the town and beaches of Valencia in the months of July and August, when the weather is at its warmest and rainfall at its lowest. August visitors can also spend the day experiencing the world-famous La Tomatina tomato-throwing festival in the town of Bunol, about 30 minutes from Valencia. December, January and February may be the cheapest months to visit Valencia because of the cold temperatures, but visitors should keep in mind that these months also see limited operating hours for many tourist attractions. The shoulder season months of April and May can be the best time to visit Valencia, thanks to fewer crowds and enjoyable weather.
Public transportation is a useful option for getting around Valencia. An underground metro system bypasses city traffic, and visitors generally find that Line 4 is best for exploring the city center and beach areas. Public buses are another convenient option for getting around Valencia. Tourists may also be interested in the sightseeing bus that runs historical- and maritime-themed routes. Many of the city’s popular attractions are accessible by foot or bicycle, and more than 100 bicycle rental stations are available throughout Valencia.