1 Day in Valencia: A Realistic Itinerary (From a Local)
Wanna visit Valencia but only have one day to spend in this fantastic city? As Spain’s third largest city, you might think seeing Valencia in one day is not possible. But don’t discard it just yet. You can actually pack a lot in a 1 day Valencia itinerary.
With only one day to see Valencia, your time is very limited. But with a bit of planning and my insider tips you can do, see and try quite a few things.
Since this is a one day itinerary I included only the most famous attractions and essential experiences in Valencia. No, you cannot see all of Valencia in a day. But if you follow this itinerary, by the end of the day you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished a lot.
Here’s how to see the best of Valencia in 1 day.
About this 1 day in Valencia itinerary
This is a practical and realistic itinerary that you can actually do in a day. I know this because I followed this exact itinerary myself.
This Valencia itinerary starts from the premises that you arrive the night before and leave the morning after. So you spend a full day in Valencia. This means that you are have a little over 24 hours in Valencia.
I’ve designed this 1 day in Valencia guide with foodies as well as culture and architecture lovers in mind. It involves quite a bit of walking, but it also makes use of public transport for longer distances. This way you’re not exhausting yourself and you’re not wasting any precious time either.
Oh, and I’ve also included plenty of café and restaurant suggestions so you can recharge throughout the day. I hope you’ll find them useful.
Morning: Have breakfast at Mercado Central
Start your day with breakfast at Mercado Central. This is the most famous market in Valencia. It opens bright and early, at 7:30AM and closes at 3PM, so you have plenty of time to get here and explore it in all its glory.
I recommend you get a take away coffee from Retrogusto (they have absolutely wonderful specialty coffee), then walk around the market to take in all the aromas and colorful displays.
The Central Market is one of the most beautiful buildings in Valencia. It has impressive iron columns and a remarkable ceiling, so don’t forget to look up.
Have some fresh cut fruits or a smoothie from Frutas Virginia, a super popular stall in the center of the market, right under the dome. Or have a bocadillo (Spanish baquette sandwich) at Central Bar. This bar belongs to Ricard Camarena, a local chef rewarded 2 Michelin stars.
If you’d rather have a sit down breakfast in the sun, check out one of the bars around the market. For the best views, stop by Bar Boatella. This is one of the most popular bars in Valencia. It serves tapas, bocadillos, tortilla de patatas (the famous Spanish spanish omelette) and pan con tomato (tomato and olive oil toast).
The tomato toast is a local favorite. Most cafés in Valencia offer it as part of their breakfast deal and it’s sooo good! For a boost of vitamin C, order a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice on the side.
Visit La Lonja de la Seda
Lonja de la Seda (the Silk Exchange) is Valencia’s one and only UNESCO listed site. It’s an imposing building across the street from the Central Market and you should definitely take a peek inside.
The entrance to La Lonja is through a nondescript door on Calle de la Lonja. Climb the few steps between Bar Boatella and La Lonja, then turn left.
This current building dates back to late 15th century. In fact, construction of La Lonja started in 1492, the same year Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas.
In its hayday, La Lonja was one of the biggest silk trade centers in the world. During this time, Valencia one of the most influential cities in the Mediterranean.
La Lonja is organized around a courtyard with orange trees and a central fountain from where you can access the Main Hall. This is where the imposing palm tree shaped columns are and they are a sight to behold. Several other halls with out of this world beautiful ceilings are open to the public as well. There is no furniture in any of them.
The visit to La Lonja doesn’t usually take long. You can see it in 15-20 minutes tops.
Marvel at the heavily ornate ceiling of Iglesia de San Nicolás
Iglesia de San Nicolás is the most beautiful church in Valencia. It is often called the Valencian Sixtine Chapel and you should definitely try to squeeze it in your 1 day Valencia itinerary.
This church is located on Calle de Caballeros, a 5 minute walk from La Lonja. The entrance is through a narrow passage between a pub and a disco club so its really easy to miss.
Iglesia de San Nicolás dates back to the 13th century. It’s a Gothic church decorated in Baroque style, which is one of its peculiarities. It was recently restored and the beautiful frescos covering the walls and ceiling are now the main attraction.
The restoration work is considered to be one of the most important such work ever carried in the world due to its magnitude and the techniques used. Once the works were complete, the church quickly became one of the most popular attractions in Valencia.
There are a lot of details to contemplate here and you should take your time. Sit down and look up. The church can be visited with or without a guide.
See the cathedral
Continue your itinerary to Plaza de la Virgen. This beautiful square is a great place to relax and have a coffee with a view.
Overlooking the square is the Basilica of Our Lady of the Forsaken. This is another beautiful church that you can visit. Next to it is the cathedral of Valencia.
The cathedral has three gates. Personally, I believe the Gothic one, which is facing the Plaza de la Virgen square is the most beautiful.
Walk around the cathedral to the main gate. The Baroque facade here is quite impressive. Also, it’s facing Plaza de la Reina which was recently converted into a pedestrian area.
The cathedral’s interior is less impressive than Iglesia de San Nicolás and Basilica of Our Lady of the Forsaken. But it’s quite unique in the sense that it hosts what experts and the Vatican believe to be the Holy Grail. This elusive cup from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper is on display in a chapel inside the cathedral and it’s only an entrance fee away.
For a bird’s eye view of Valencia, you can climb the cathedral’s bell tower. It has a whopping 207 steps so this will definitely give you a workout. The spiral staircase is pretty narrow and has steep steps. So it’s less fun to climb on a hot summer day but the panoramic views of Valencia from up there are the best.
Peek inside Palacio del Marquez de Dos Aguas
After seeing the cathedral, head to Palacio del Marquez de Dos Aguas. This is Valencia’s most beautiful palace and it’s less than 5 minutes away on foot.
In most travel guides and leaflets, this palace is listed as the Ceramics Museum. If you’re interested in ceramics, this will sound exciting. But if not, you might be inclined to pass. Which would be a mistake.
This is indeed the most important ceramics museum in Spain, so there’s a lot to be proud of. But the ceramics museum occupies only the second floor of the palace.
The first floor still pretty much looks like a palace with lavishly decorated living quarters and ballrooms. The current building dates back to the 18th century and the Baroque facade is the most impressive in Valencia.
So I recommend you not only snap a picture of the impressive facade, but also go in. I usually stay roughly one hour in here every time I visit, but you can spend more or less time. It’s up to you.
Lunchtime: Have lunch at Mercado de Colón
By now it’s probably time for lunch. You’ve already seen some of the most important attractions in Valencia and might want to sit down and unwind for a while. You’ve earned it!
For lunch, I suggest you head to Mercado de Colón. This is another beautiful market in Valencia, a 15 minute walk from the palace.
This Modernista market with huge icon columns and red brick facades resembles a cathedral. Originally, it was used as a fresh products market, but it underwent a complete restoration project some twenty years ago.
Now this market features several bars, cafés and restaurants complete with al fresco terraces. It’s also one of the most visually pleasing places to enjoy a meal in Valencia.
You can have a freshly made sushi at Momiji Atelier, authentic decolonial asian food at Ma Khin Café or treat yourself to some innovative Mediterranean cuisine at Habitual by Ricard Camarena.
As mentioned before, Ricard Camarena is a Michelin-starred local chef. His restaurant in Mercado de Colón is included on the Michelin guide but so far, it has not received any Michelin stars. For lunch, they offer a set menu where you can choose from a couple of rice dishes.
If you’d rather try a paella Valenciana (the original paella recipe that hails from Valencia), check out Suc de Lluna. This eco-friendly café serves paella and tapas, among other. You can also try the horchata (tiger nuts drink) here.
Afternoon: Wander around the City of Arts and Sciences (+ optional dinner)
After lunch, I recommend you take the bus, metro or taxi and go to the City of Arts and Sciences.
This futuristic architectural complex was designed by local architect Santiago Calatrava. Calatrava designed countless emblematic buildings around the world, but nowhere else has he undertook a project of these proportions.
The City of Arts and Sciences is made of six buildings and two bridges. It’s like a city within a city. The buildings are connected by pools of water and the whole park is surrounded by greenery. In fact, the City of Arts and Sciences is located in Turia Park, a former riverbed converted into a lush garden.
You can easily spend the whole afternoon here, especially if you want to check out any of the buildings.
The biggest attraction here is Oceanográfic, the largest aquarium in Europe. If you’re visiting Valencia with kids, you can also check out the Principe Felipe Museum, a fun interactive science museum. Or see a movie at Hemisfèric, an IMAX cinema with a huge concave screen where you can watch documentaries lying down.
There’s a lot to see at the City of Arts and Sciences and a lot is hidden to the naked eye. If you’d like to learn more about the architecture of this place as well as how it came to be, I definitely recommend you join this guided tour. The cherry on the cake is that the tour ends with a tapas dinner on one of the tallest buildings in Valencia. This way you can end your one day in Valencia with spectacular views.
Evening: Drinks (+ dinner) in the marina
If you’re not too tired (seeing Valencia in one day can be overwhelming), then I suggest you take a bus or taxi to the marina. This vibrant area of Valencia is packed with restaurants and bars. It’s also relatively close – 3.5 km (2.2 miles) away.
The marina is one of the best places to see the sunset in Valencia. Depending on your preferences, you can watch the sunset from the beach or from a terrace. Or even better, go on a sunset cruise and end your visit to Valencia with a bang.
This sunset cruise includes a drink on board, while this other one ends with dinner on the shores. Make sure you check them both.
If you haven’t had dinner yet, there are dozens of restaurants along the promenade. Many of them specialise in Mediterranean cuisines, such as rice dishes and tapas.
Facing the marina, there are several bars and clubs. They have blasting music and tend to attract a young crowd. If you’re visiting Valencia in your 20s, this can be a great place to dance the night away. Otherwise, there are plenty of other clubs in Valencia might be more your scene.
Final thoughts on seeing Valencia in one day
I normally recommend spending 3 days in Valencia. But if you only have 24 hours in Valencia, you can certainly make the most of your time by following this itinerary.
The attractions and activities I included in this itinerary are some of the most popular ones. You can, of course switch them with others that match your interests better. For further inspiration, see my list of the best things to do in Valencia.
If you want to learn more about your destination, see what Valencia is famous for and check out these fun facts about Valencia.