Wondering what to do in Valencia during your visit? Valencia is a vibrant and culturally rich city known for its cutting-edge architecture, delicious cuisine, and beautiful beaches. As the third-largest city in Spain, it offers a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages, vibes, and interests. But exploring it might be a little daunting, so I think this Valencia bucket list is a good place to start. Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, a beach lover, or a foodie, here’s your ultimate guide to the best things to do in Valencia.
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1. Admire the otherworldly architecture of the City of Arts and Sciences
The futuristic City of Arts and Sciences is one of the most intriguing places to visit in Valencia. This absolute marvel of modern architecture is equal parts creative genius and brilliant engineering.
Reminiscent of a city within a city, Valencia’s most popular attraction features an opera house, a sciences museum, an aquarium, an IMAX cinema, a shaded area, and an exhibition center. All buildings can be visited.
The City of Arts and Sciences was designed by the world-renown architect Santiago Calatrava. He was born and raised in Valencia and has designed more than 40 jaw-dropping buildings all over the world. None of them, however, has the grandeur of the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia.
I love walking among these buildings every chance I get. Their white reflection in the blue pools of water creates endless photo opportunities. It really never gets old!
- City of Arts and Sciences tour + wine and tapas on a nearby rooftop
- Principe Felipe Science Museum entry ticket
- City of Arts and Sciences segway tour
- IMAX 3D film ticket at Hemisfèric
2. See colorful fish at the largest aquarium in Europe
Situated in the dry bed of the Turia River, Oceanogràfic is the largest aquarium in Europe. It was designed by Spanish architect Félix Candela and is part of the City of Arts and Sciences complex.
The aquarium is home to the only beluga whales in Europe and 500+ other marine species, such as sharks, dolphins, sea lions, jellyfish, and oceanic sunfish.
Among the highlights are the underwater tunnels, the avant-garde architecture, the aviary, and the dolphin shows. The aquariums are filled with salt water pumped from the nearby Mediterranean Sea.
A visit to the Oceanogràfic is one of the best things to do in Valencia with kids, although adults might find it just as fascinating. You can spend anything from 2-3 hours to half a day here, but I’d recommend you plan your visit around the dolphin shows (usually at 11:45 am and 16:00 pm). Your admission ticket money helps fund the ongoing research program and conservation projects.
3. Explore Valencia on two wheels
Valencia is a blissfully flat city ideal for exploring on two wheels. Not only that, but it’s super bike-friendly with over 160 km (100 miles) of clearly marked bike lanes. This makes biking a safe and fast option for moving around and discovering the city.
Renting a bike is super easy and you’ll find quite a few bike rental shops throughout the city for as little as €10 per day. Valencia also has its own bike-sharing system called Valenbici.
Unlike northern European cities, Valencia’s mild Mediterranean climate makes biking pleasant year-round. Even winter in Valencia is never too cold and you don’t have to worry much about rain either.
Two of the most popular places to explore in Valencia by bike are the Old Town and Túria Park. This 9 km (5.6 miles) long park in the old Túria riverbed connects the city center to the City of Arts and Sciences to the east and Bioparc to the west. The park is just perfect for a leisurely ride and a great place for a picnic.
4. Stroll through history on the streets of the Old Town
The Old Town is one of Valencia’s most atmospheric areas. It’s made up of six neighborhoods with narrow cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and plenty of cultural landmarks.
Visit the Cathedral, which allegedly holds the Holy Grail. Eat your way around the impressive Mercado Central, the largest fresh produce market in Europe. Sip a refreshing agua the Valencia cocktail in one of the many delightful plazas. And visit La Lonja de la Seda, an imposing UNESCO-listed building.
Valencia’s Old Town offers a glimpse into the city’s rich history and culture. It’s an area dotted with museums, colorful street art, and cute little shops. It is also known for its vibrant nightlife, trendy restaurants, and sidewalk terraces.
The most famous part of the Old Town is El Carmen. This barrio developed between two walls, one Muslim and another Christian. It has been inhabited since the 8th century and it holds many, many secrets, which is why it is best explored in the company of a local guide.
5. Learn to cook a traditional paella
If you like spending time in the kitchen and impressing your guests with delicious foods inspired by your travels, learning to cook a traditional paella is one of the best things to do in Valencia.
Paella is often referred to as Spain’s national dish, but few people know that it was first cooked in the villages surrounding Albufera Lake, just south of Valencia. The original recipe calls for chicken, rabbit, and vegetables. Yes, that’s correct! One of the most surprising paella facts is the seafood and vegetarian versions weren’t invented until much later.
These days, restaurants in Valencia pride themselves in serving some of the best paella. But a few cooking schools in the city also offer paella-making classes. So if you are open to a unique and delicious way to experience Valencia’s culture and cuisine a paella cooking class might be exactly what you’re looking for.
During such a workshop, you’ll get your hands dirty in the kitchen while learning the secrets of the world’s most famous rice dish and devouring spoonfuls of it too.
6. Clap along to the beat at a dazzling flamenco show
If you’re looking for something a little different to do in Valencia in the evening, seeing a flamenco show can be a truly immersive and memorable experience.
A traditional Spanish dance and music style with fiery rhythms and passionate moves, flamenco originated in Andalusia but it’s super popular in Valencia as well.
Valencia has several venues that host flamenco shows. Most of them are intimate, traditional tablaos where the dancers are accompanied by live music played on traditional instruments. Show plus dinner packages are quite common.
The quality of the flamenco shows in Valencia is pretty high. The dancers are usually dressed in beautiful traditional costumes and you can expect a lot of hand-clapping and energetic footwork. Whether you go to a solo or group performance, what is certain is that you’ll enjoy a beautiful evening and a passionate art form at its finest.
7. Discover the wonders of Valencia’s coastline on a catamaran cruise
Valencia is a gorgeous city with things to do for days, but that shouldn’t stop you from hopping on a catamaran cruise along the coastline the first chance you get. I mean, does anything else scream “best vacation ever” more than sailing the Mediterranean with a drink in hand?
Whether you opt for a day cruise with a swim stop or a romantic sunset catamaran cruise, seeing Valencia and its coastline from the sea is a pretty unforgettable experience.
A catamaran cruise is a great opportunity to get a glimpse of the nearby beaches, coves, and dramatic cliffs. These cruises typically include snacks and drinks on board, so you can enjoy the beautiful views in style.
8. Eat your way through Valencia’s tapas bars and markets
Ah, paella! Can you really say you’ve been to Valencia if you haven’t scraped off the socarrat on the bottom of a paella pan? Yes, paella is Valencia’s most famous dish, but there are so many other delicacies you should sample.
With a rich culinary heritage, Valencia is quickly becoming a major foodie destination in Spain. No visit to Valencia is complete without eating your way around the Central Market or enjoying a glass of horchata with fartons.
Of course, you can venture on your own and find the best food in Valencia. But if you are the kind of person who likes to learn about the history and cultural quirks behind each dish you try, then joining a food tour is the right thing to do.
A food tour of Valencia is an immersive culinary experience that will take you on a journey through the city’s best restaurants, tapas bars, and local markets. Some tours also include wine tastings and visits to local artisanal food shops.
9. Take a dive into the art of porcelain making at the Lladró factory
Does the name Lladró ring a bell? If you are into the art of porcelain, it probably does. For everybody else, Lladró is a high-quality, handcrafted porcelain figurine maker and one of the many things Valencia is famous for.
Now, the only Lladró factory in the world is situated in Tavernes Blanques, on the outskirts of Valencia. So this is a unique opportunity to see firsthand how their intricate figurines are made.
The demonstrations are super educational and also touch upon the history of the brand and the family who started it all. The visit concludes with free time to marvel at their historic porcelain collection as well as their newest pieces. They also have a shop on the premises. If you end up purchasing a bigger figurine, they will take care of the shipping for you.
While a tour of the Lladró workshops is one of the most fascinating things to do in Valencia on your visit, keep in mind that the factory can only be visited upon request.
10. Watch a game or tour the Mestalla Stadium
Are you a football fan? Then you must visit Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium. This has been the home stadium of Valencia C.F. since 1923 and a few years ago it came in second on The Telegraph‘s list of greatest football stadiums in Europe.
Valencia’s iconic stadium has a capacity of nearly 50,000 people and has hosted many important matches and events throughout the years. Giants such as Maradona and Pelé run on its lawn. And UEFA classifies it as a Category 4 stadium (the maximum category).
Visiting the Mestalla Stadium is a must-do for football fans, especially if you can get tickets to one of the matches. However, if no match is played during your visit, taking a guided tour of the stadium is the next best thing you can do.
The tour takes you around the stadium’s most historic places, such as the trophy room, the VIP box, the changing rooms, the press room, and the pitch. It’s a great way to soak up the atmosphere of the stadium and see the stands with your own eyes.
11. Head to the beach
Spain is renowned for its golden sands and crystal-clear waters, but few cities other than Valencia have three picture-perfect urban beaches that you can easily reach from the city center via public transport.
An interesting fact about Valencia is that you can sunbathe as early as April and swim in the sea as early as June. Also for water-sport enthusiasts, there are a myriad of things to do in Valencia, from paddle boarding to jet skiing and windsurfing.
Don’t like any typical beach activities? No worries! You’ll likely find something fun to do in Valencia by the beach anyway, even if it’s only strolling along the charming palm tree-lined promenade. Also, some of the best paella restaurants in Valencia can be found here.
The beach is the place to be in Valencia, especially during the summer months. Here you can witness some of the best sunsets in Valencia. Also, June brings the lively celebration of San Juan, where bonfires are lit along the beach, marking the beginning of summer. Definitely one of the top festivals in Valencia and one you cannot miss.
12. Discover Valencia’s beautiful Modernista architecture
Barcelona might steal the spotlight when it comes to Modernista architecture due to all the gorgeous buildings designed by Gaudí. But Valencia is often considered Barcelona’s little sister for a reason.
Valencia has plenty of Modernista buildings as well. Some of the most obvious ones are the Estación del Norte train station, Mercado Central, Mercado de Colón, and Banco de Valencia. But if you like this beautiful architectural style inspired by Art Nouveau, there’s so much more to see.
Some of the best places to see Modernista architecture in Valencia are Plaza del Ayuntamiento, Calle de la Paz, Calle de Cirilo Amorós, and Gran Via del Marqués de Túria. Outside of the city center, you’ll also find Modernista architecture in the Mestalla and El Cabanyal neighborhoods.
If you’d like to discover Valencia’s Modernista architecture with a local guide, you can book a free guided tour here.
13. Celebrate the arrival of spring at Las Fallas
In a city known for its lively fiestas, Las Fallas really takes the torch. Held annually from the 1st to the 19th of March, this UNESCO-listed, dazzling celebration captivates locals and visitors alike with its meticulously crafted art installations, known as fallas.
Made out of expanded polystyrene on a wood structure, fallas are massive satirical representations of current events, mythical creatures, and historical figures. So, of course, seeing fallas is one of the best things you can do in Valencia.
During the festival days, the streets of Valencia come alive with music, dances, firecracker shows, and fiery parades, igniting the city with an explosion of color, art, and passion.
As the days unfold, the excitement reaches a crescendo, culminating in the awe-inspiring Cremà, the act of setting ablaze the beautiful fallas amidst what’s considered to be the biggest street party in Europe. It might sound crazy, but it’s quite an experience, and I highly recommend you see Las Fallas at least once.