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Valencia’s Top Visitor Attractions: Lonely Planet

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Lonely Planet has just published an article naming Valencia’s top visitor attractions. Here we add Valencia Life’s take on it. Daniel Hazelhoff reports…

So, 15 Things To Do In Valencia. We could have picked a whole lot more for Valencia’s top visitor attractions, but all publicity is good publicity. Valencia is the city where the historic meets the modern. From the gothic architecture of la Lonja de Seda to the futuristic designs of Santiago Calatrava’s La Ciudad De Las Artes y Ciencias, the City of Arts and Sciences. Traditional cuisine and contemporary twists take on fine dining. From vibrant nightlife to picnics in the park, Valencia’s got it all. Lonely Planet, the world’s leading travel publisher, has provided a guide for tourists and locals of Valencia’s top visitor attractions…

Valencia’s contrasting architecture

The narrow streets of the old city provide a stark contrast to the wide avenues of La Avenida del Professor López Piñedo leading to Calatrava’s City of Arts and Sciences. A futuristic display of architectural prowess, home to the opera house, the science museum and so much more. Truly worth a visit when you’re in Valencia. With easy connections by bike and Metro, it resides in the old river bed of El Turia. Which happens to be our number one on the list of Valencia’s top visitor attractions…

Cycling through the city

Far from the madding crowd: Rent a bike and visit the dunes at El Saler


Valencia’s Jardines del Turia provide 9km of greenery for tourists and locals alike to ride their bikes through. Recent developments in bike paths allow cyclists to bike from the city centre to the many beaches on Valencia’s coast.

Jardines Del Turia

Not only do the Jardines del Turia provide an excellent landscape for cycling, but you can enjoy picnics and sunbathing within Turia’s old river bed. On 14 October 1957, a devastating flood happened when the river burst its banks. Valencia lies in a shallow plain and the casualty toll was unacceptably high, with 81 lives lost. Eight months later the Valencian government announced plans to divert the river. The original plan was to create a motorway for freight lorries to reach the port but the people objected. After popular protest, the people got their way. The new park was finally officially inaugurated in 1986. Since then locals and tourists have basked in one of Europe’s largest inner-city gardens, and deservedly our number one pick for Valencia’s top visitor attractions.

Valencia beaches

Beaches on the doorstep: Malvarrosa © PAUL KNOWLES / VALENCIA LIFE

Some 20km of beaches crown the Valencian coastline, meaning that the beach is one of Valencia’s top visitor attractions and each beach has its own personality. Malvarrosa’s proximity to the marina hosts a denser crowd, with restaurants and nightclubs bordering the beach. El Saler has the famous iconic dunes, children jump off of them and roll in the sand, as the youth and young adults hang out in the narrower part of the beach. La Patacona has a more relaxed environment. If you are a solitary wanderer, this may be the destination for you.

Traditional paella, Valencia’s pride and joy

“Valencia is the home of paella and feasting on the saffron rice dish at lunchtime is a Sunday ritual. Eat your fill at La Pepica – Ernest Hemingway’s favourite spot – or venture out of town to El Saler, a village by the L’Albufera natural park,” says Lonely Planet. At Valencia Life we recommend Arroceria Maribel in El Palmar.

Exploring El Cabanyal

As Lonely Planet mentions, El Cabanyal is the old stomping ground of the impressionist Joaquín Sorolla. The old fishing town, now part of the city’s enchanted barrios, still holds its old wonder. Though broken down and ageing in parts, one can still get a look at what traditional Valencia looked like. And its proximity to the marina provides leisure for sightseers and gourmands alike.

El Casco Antiguo/Ciutat Vella

Quiet streets: An alley beside the Cathedral on the edge of El Carmen © PAUL KNOWLES / VALENCIA LIFE

Going back in time to La Lonja de Seda, a marvel of Gothic architecture, provides one of the most interesting aspects of Valencian architecture. Paired with strolling around Valencia’s Casco Antiguo, known locally as Ciutat Vella, winding through the narrow alleys listening to live music, is a joyous existential pleasure when in Valencia.

Valencia’s festivities

Unesco world-heritage traditions such as Las Fallas are a must-see for any traveller. The colours and noises are unparalleled. Fireworks rule the skies as mascletás command the barrios, each competing with the next. The rumbling of these fireworks makes the city tremble as passers-by admire massive structures and huge figures called niñots. At the end of the March celebration, these niñots are lit aflame and crumble to ash.

Mercat Central

Valencia’s Mercat Central is one of the gems of the city and as such, one of Valencia’s top visitor attractions. Where fresh produce, cotidian life, and gourmet dining all meet under one magnificent glass-domed roof. Here, you can find the many natural colours of the Valencian landscape, displayed in market stalls, ripe for the picking. And here you can find one of Valencia’s most applauded Michelin-star chefs, Ricard Camarena who has his unpretentious and affordable Central Bar in the market. Think brushed-steel counter, black tiling and high leather stools – paired with exquisite tapas style dishes that won’t break the bank.

El Barrio De Ruzafa

Ruzafa charm: Typical architecture of Ruzafa © PAUL KNOWLES / VALENCIA LIFE

El Barrio de Ruzafa is one of Valencia’s more colourful central neighbourhoods. With glorious facades and a healthy array of restaurants and bars, it is one of Valencia’s go-to locations for lunch and nightlife alike. Ruzafa is also a hotspot for shopping in vintage stores and local book shops.

Bodegas in Valencia

Valencia is home to traditional bodegas, where the tapas are of traditionally high quality, and the wine flows like water. Lonely Planet suggests Casa Montaña in Cabanyal, which has been around since 1836.

Jazz bars in Valencia

In Ruzafa, you can find Café Mercedes, on Calle Sueca, home to local and sometimes international jazz artists, where live events are hosted weekly. In El Carmen, you can find Jimmy Glass, where live music is their bread and butter. Here you sit silently and enjoy the music over some cocktails. At l’Ermità in El Carmen, you’ll find regular jam sessions and small concerts, a friendly atmosphere and empanadas.

Art and Culture: The Spanish Masters

At the Museo De Belles Artes one can lose themselves in the old artworks of some of the world’s most talented artists such as Goya and Juaqín Sorolla. Other museums include the Ivam and MuVIM, home to more contemporary art.

Benimaclet: Traditional Valencia

Benimaclet is another one of those historic Valencian barrios, where one can still savour the traditional Valencian lifestyle. However, there is a cultural meeting here, where the traditional and the modern converge. Lonely Planet suggests La Pata Negra for meat lovers, and El Carabasser for pintxos.

El Oceanografic

Marine world: Oceanografic is an award-winning visitor centre

One of Europe’s largest aquariums, where you can walk under sharks, and dine with the fishes without being offed by the Mob. El Oceanografic is home to the only pod of Beluga whales on the continent, reports Lonely Planet. And with that concludes our list of Valencia’s top visitor attractions. Thanks, Lonely Planet


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