What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Valencia? This gorgeous Mediterranean city is the third-largest in Spain, an expat hub, and the perfect year-round holiday destination. But what is Valencia famous for?
Valencia is famous for being the cradle of paella, Las Fallas festival, and the City of Arts and Sciences. Valencia is known as the City of the Holy Grail and the birthplace of several prominent figures. It is home to the largest fresh produce market in Europe and the largest producer of oranges in Spain.
Read on to discover what makes Valencia so special.
In This Article
Popular attractions Valencia is famous for
The futuristic City of Arts and Sciences
The City of Arts and Sciences is a futuristic complex in the Quatre Carrers district. It consists of six visionary buildings, including the largest aquarium in Europe. The organic architecture intertwines with Mediterranean elements, creating a fantastic space. For example, the science museum resembles the skeleton of a whale, and the IMAX cinema looks like an eye. This complex is the brainchild of famed Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava.
Las Fallas festival
Valencia is also known for Las Fallas festival, one of the biggest and craziest festivals in the world. This celebration takes place in March and lasts for 19 days. During Las Fallas, Valencia becomes the capital of firecrackers, bonfires, and music. Hundreds of colorful paper-mâché figures are built on every street corner just to be set ablaze on the last night of the festival. Las Fallas has been a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage since 2015.
La Lonja de la Seda
Another attraction Valencia is known for is La Lonja de la Seda (the Silk Exchange). This spectacular building dates back to the 15th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. La Lonja is a fine example of late Gothic architecture. Its Main Hall features majestic palm-tree-shaped columns, a symbol of power and wealth. At the time La Lonja was built, Valencia was one of the most important trade cities in the Mediterranean.
Mercado Central is the largest fresh produce market in Europe and one of the most beautiful covered markets in the world. It is housed in a splendid Modernista building with glass domes and majestic columns and has 1,200 stalls. Here you can buy anything from freshly picked fruits and vegetables to cheese, olive oil, and ham. Mercado Central is located across from La Lonja and it is popular with tourists and locals alike.
Miles-long urban beaches
Another thing Valencia is famous for is its miles-long urban beaches. Playa del Cabañal (also called Playa de Las Arenas), Playa de la Malvarrosa, and Playa de Patacona can all be reached from the city center in 20 to 40 minutes. These fine sand beaches are easily accessible by bus, metro, or bike and the best part is that they are super wide and rarely feel crowded.
The largest urban park in Spain
This might come as a surprise, but Valencia is known for having the largest urban park in Spain. Turia Park stretches from east to west from the City of Arts and Sciences to Bioparc. This park occupies the old riverbed of the Turia River, now diverted to the outskirts of the city. Along this unusual green lung are several attractions, including the Fine Arts Museum, Palau de la Musica, and Torres de Serranos.
Foods and drinks Valencia is best known for
Valencia is also known as the birthplace of paella. Not sure what is paella? Paella is the world’s most popular rice dish and one of the dishes Spain is best known for abroad. A lesser known fact about paella is that it was first cooked in the fishing villages surrounding Albufera Lake, a few kilometers south of Valencia. The original recipe calls for short-grain rice, chicken, rabbit, wide green beans, lima beans, snails, and saffron. This is called paella Valenciana.
The Valencia region is the largest producer of oranges in Spain. The local oranges are sweet and juicy, ideal for making freshly squeezed orange juice. Valencianos are super proud of their oranges and enjoy them for breakfast on a daily basis. Many local desserts are made with oranges as well. It is also common for the daily menu in restaurants to include oranges as a dessert option.
Agua de Valencia
Agua de Valencia is a potent concoction made with freshly squeezed orange juice, cava, vodka, and gin. It was invented in Cerveceria Madrid (now Café Madrid) in the late 1950s. This café, nestled away on a tiny street between Plaza de la Reina and Plaza del Ayuntamiento, is now a Valencian institution. Agua de Valencia is deliciously refreshing and ideal for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. These days, this is one of the drinks Valencia is best known for.
Horchata de chufa
Horchata de chufa is another popular drink hailing from Valencia. This sweet and refreshing beverage is made with chufa, a tubercule grown in the nearby fields. Thus, horchata is vegan and has a pleasant nutty flavor. Horchata is typically served with fartóns (elongated confectionary glazed with sugar). Horchata de chufa is not the same as Mexican horchata, which is made with rice. See where you can find the best horchata in Valencia.
Important people and brands Valencia is famous for
Valencia is the birthplace of painter Joaquín Sorolla
Joaquín Sorolla Bastida, known as the Master of Light, was born in Valencia on February 27, 1863. He was a prolific impressionist painter and created over 2,200 works of art during his lifetime. His most famous paintings depict Valencia’s beaches and people, as well as everyday scenes. Today, his works adorn the walls of the Hispanic Society in New York. In 2023 Valencia commemorates the centenary of his death with an epic immersive exhibition.
Valencia is also home to Lladró, one of the leading fine art porcelain brands in the world. This company was founded in 1953 in Almàssera near Valencia. The workshop later relocated to Tavernes Blanques, where it still stands today. The delicate Lladró figurines are made entirely by hand and are regarded as the pinnacle of quality. A Lladró boutique can be found on Calle Poeta Querol, 9 in the center of Valencia.
Other things Valencia is known for
Valencia is the home of the Holy Grail
Valencia is famously known for hosting the Holy Chalice (aka the Holy Grail), the cup from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper. This beautiful dark red agate cup is on display in a chapel inside the Cathedral of Valencia and is recognized by the Vatican. While Valencia is not a major pilgrimage destination, it does attract a number of faithful eager to lay their eyes on the mysterious relic. The Cathedral is awe-inducing as well, with an interesting mix of architectural styles.
Valencia has one of the most vibrant nightlife in Spain. In fact, the clubbing movement in Spain was born in Valencia in the 1980s when Ruta del Bakalao was considered the most cutting-edge clubbing scene in the world. The days of La Ruta are over now, but Valencia continues to party. Thanks to the long summer days and balmy weather, the streets of Valencia are lined with cafés, bars, and clubs.
Valencia is also famous for being super bike friendly. Over 150 kilometers of bike lanes spread like a spider web through all neighborhoods. Due to its flatness, pedalling around is super easy and pleasant and the mild winter temperatures make Valencia a bike-friendly city year-round. If you want to know more, read my guide to biking in Valencia.
Beautiful sunny weather and endless blue skies
Valencia is famous for its more than 300 sunny days a year and gorgeous sunsets. According to the latest data, Valencia has 343 sun hours per month and it ranks #6 on the list of the sunniest cities in Europe. But that’s not all. The sea here can be warm enough for swimming as early as May and as late as November. This makes Valencia the perfect holiday destination year-round. If you’re thinking of spending winter in Valencia, you should not second guess your decision.
Great expat community
Lured in by the pleasant climate, healthy work-life balance, and low cost of living thousands of expats have moved to Valencia in recent years. Not only that but they are also happy with their choice. In fact, Valencia has been voted “the most liveable city in the world” both in 2019 and 2022 according to a poll organized by InterNations.
Valencia is the World Design Capital 2022
After being chosen the World Design Capital in 2022, Valencia has become the 8th city in the world to receive this title. From the striking City of Arts and Sciences to the completely reimagined Turia Gardens, Valencia is proof that smart urban planning can improve quality of life. Add to that an old town that’s becoming increasingly pedestrian centered and you’ll easily understand why this Mediterranean city crowned the 2022 list.