Looking to explore Valencia on a budget? Valencia is an affordable city to visit when compared to other destinations in Europe, and even Spain. If you’d like some insider tips on the best free things to do in Valencia I’ve got you covered. From meandering through medieval alleys to relaxing on golden sand beaches, here’s how you can experience the best of Valencia without spending a dime.
In This Article
1. Explore the historic center of Valencia
With narrow streets, medieval palaces, and charming squares, Valencia’s Old Town is one of the largest in Spain.
So of course, exploring it on foot is one of the best free things to do in Valencia. It’s the first thing I recommend you do as soon as you arrive, whether you visit Valencia for 1 day, 2 days, 3 days, 4 days or more.
This is where Valencia’s imposing cathedral and UNESCO-listed La Lonja are located. But also a great number of hidden gems and secret corners which makes this part of the city truly magical.
The Old Town also has a great number of cute little cafés, tapas bars, and sidewalk terraces, with some of the best being in Plaza de la Reina, Plaza del Negrito, and Plaza del Tossal.
If you don’t want to miss anything, you can book a free guided tour of the Old Town.
2. Marvel at Valencia’s Modernista architecture
Besides Valencia’s medieval legacy, its Modernista architecture adds the most charm to the city.
Modernista is the local take on the French Art Nouveau and German Jugendstil, a unique architectural style of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, characterized by the use of organic shapes and intricate details.
This style is so predominant in the city, that I often hear remarks about Valencia’s striking resemblance to Vienna. What a wonderful compliment!
Some of Valencia’s most important landmarks, such as Mercado Central, Mercado de Colón, and the old Estación del Norte were built in this style.
But there are many more beautiful Modernista buildings to see. A free guided tour of Valencia’s Modernista heritage will uncover architectural gems you wouldn’t easily find on your own.
3. Enjoy Valencia at night
Life in Spain has a different rhythm and Valencia is no different. While in other countries you’d have a 7 pm dinner and be tucked in bed by 10 pm, in Valencia, that’s when the fun really begins.
There’s so much life to live in Valencia after the sun goes down!
Because Valencia has some of the best weather Spain has to offer, the streets are packed with people enjoying a stroll or hanging out on a terrace until late into the evening, especially from March to October.
Not only is Valencia incredibly safe after sundown, but the street lamps illuminate the city’s buildings with a warm yellow light that is particularly magical.
However, Valencia wasn’t always the safe city it is today. If you want to learn the details of Valencia’s secret past and the mysteries that lurked in the shadows, there’s no better way to do it other than by joining a free night tour here.
4. Go street art hunting
The streets of Valencia are a feast for the eyes and not only due to the striking architecture. Street art is abundant too and strolling around the city can sometimes feel like going on a treasure hunt.
Valencia is home to a great number of street artists, and they don’t shy away from using the crumbling walls of the El Carmen and El Cabanyal neighborhoods as their canvas.
These two neighborhoods are like open-air museums, with bold murals, thought-provoking messages, and colorful designs.
But Valencia’s street artists don’t just use spray paint. Some use stickers, giant photos, and wool yarn to create embroideries as well.
Each artwork tells a story, reflecting the city’s rich culture, history, and contemporary issues. There’s always more than meets the eye, which is where this free street art tour comes in.
5. Admire the futuristic architecture of the City of Arts and Sciences
The City of Arts and Sciences is a jaw-dropping architectural complex just half an hour’s walk from the city center. It is one of the most impressive sights in the city and you can’t really say you’ve been to Valencia until you’ve seen it.
Entering the buildings is subject to a fee, but walking among them is absolutely free. The buildings host an IMAX cinema, an opera house, an aquarium, a science museum, and an exhibition center. But architecture-wise, their true beauty can be appreciated when admired from the outside.
Built by Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava, the City of Arts and Sciences is 2 km long and has an area of 350.000 square meters. So there’s a lot to be seen for free.
Walk along shallow pools of water, and admire the striking reflections and the masterfully done trencadís (a mosaic made with tile fragments). Strike a pose. And enjoy the Valencian sun.
6. Visit some free museums
One of the top free things to do in Valencia is to learn about the local history and culture by visiting a museum.
Valencia has many free museums, including Museo de Bella Artes, the second-largest fine arts museum in Spain.
But not all museums in Valencia are this big. In fact, most are relatively small and topical. But this doesn’t make them any less interesting.
Some of the best free museums in Valencia are Centre del Carmen and Museo de la Semana Santa Marinera.
If you’re visiting Valencia during the weekend, you’ll have an even larger selection of free museums to choose from, since many offer free entry on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.
7. Step inside a church
Valencia has a wealth of stunning churches that are worth visiting, regardless of your religious beliefs. Imposing on the outside, they tend to have even more interesting interiors.
Most of Valencia’s churches are centuries old and were built on top of former mosques soon after the Reconquista. They boast a skillful blend of Gothic, Baroque, and even Romanesque architectural styles, and are often adorned with exquisite frescoes.
However, do keep in mind that not all churches in Valencia are open outside of service hours. So, my suggestion is to seize the opportunity to step inside whenever you come across one that is open, as you never know what treasures you might find inside.
Three of the most breathtaking churches in Valencia that you can visit for free are Iglesia de Santa Catalina, Basílica de la Virgen de Los Desamparados, and Iglesia de San Esteban.
8. Stroll through Valencia’s beautiful parks and gardens
One free thing you can do in pretty much any city is to visit its public green areas. As you can expect, Valencia is no exception.
There are many beautiful parks and gardens in Valencia, but the most famous one is Turia Park. This is a green ribbon that snakes through the city from east to west, gently embracing the Old Town. It is the largest public garden in Spain and is divided into many different areas.
Other beautiful green lungs are Parque Central, Valencia’s newest park, and Jardines de Real. They are both sizable parks and are perfect for a leisurely walk among native plant species.
If you’d like a more intimate and artistic garden, then you have to check out Jardin de Monforte. Smaller in size, this garden has a beautiful neoclassical landscape, marble statues, and a fish pond.
9. Lounge on the beach
One free activity you cannot miss while in Valencia is a stroll down the beach. As a coastal city, Valencia has more picturesque sandy shores and idyllic promenades than most cities in Spain.
Valencia’s city beaches are Playa del Cabanyal, Playa de la Malvarrosa, and Playa de Patacona. Out of the three, two have Blue Flag status, which is to say they have clean waters, fine golden sands, and pretty much all the amenities your heart can desire.
Another free thing you can do here is exploring the nearby marina with its trendy beach bars and fancy yachts. Free concerts are occasionally organized here as well.
10. Cross Valencia’s bridges
Valencia has a whopping 18 bridges. This’s a lot of bridges for a city with no river flowing through it. But that was not always the case.
One of the most curious facts about Valencia is that in the 1950s the city council decided to divert the Turia River to the south in order to avoid further flooding and the old riverbed was transformed into a green area – Turia Park.
So these days, Valencia’s bridges are over this lush park instead of a body of water. Some of them date all the way back to the beginning of the 15th century. Others are only a few years old.
While bridges might not seem all that interesting in general, Valencia certainly has a few that break the mold.
I definitely recommend you add Puente de las Flores, Puente de la Exposición, and Puente del Mar to your list of free things to do in Valencia.