10 Best Things to Do in Valencia, Spain in 2023
Valencia is a vibrant and culturally rich city located on the east coast of Spain. Known for its stunning architecture, delicious cuisine, and beautiful beaches, Valencia offers a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages and interests. From exploring the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences to sampling local delicacies at the Central Market, here are the best things to do in Valencia.
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 and an IMAX cinema. 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.
Best City of Arts and Sciences tours and tickets:
- 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 beluga whales at the largest aquarium in Europe
Situated in the dry bed of 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 a home to the only beluga whales in Europe as well as 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 dedicate it anything from 2-3 hours to half a day, 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 programme 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. Also, Valencia 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 by bike are the Old Town and the Turia Park. This 9 km (5.6 miles) long park in the old Turia 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, also known as El Carmen, is one of Valencia’s most atmospheric areas. This charming and historic neighborhood is filled 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 Central Market, the largest fresh produce market in Europe. Sip a refreshing agua the Valencia cocktail in one of the many delightful plazas. And visit the Silk Exchange, an imposing UNESCO listed building.
Overall, Valencia’s Old town offers a glimpse into the city’s rich history and culture. It is a neighborhood dotted with museums, colorful street art and cute little shops. It is also known for its vibrant nightlife, trendy restaurants and relaxing terraces.
El Carmen 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, snails and vegetables. Seafood and vegetarian paella 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 devour 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. A show and dinner package is 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 performances, 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 change 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 without a worry in the world.
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 enjoy a glass of horchata accompanied by 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 or beer tastings and visits to local artisanal food shops.
9. Take a dive into the art of porcelain making at 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 first hand 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
For football fans, the Mestalla Statium is a must visit in Valencia. This has been the home stadium of Valencia C.F. since 1923 and a few yers 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 at one of the matches. However, if no match is played during your visit, taking the 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.