There are so many amazing things to do in Valencia both within the city center as well as within the region as a whole.
I spent just over a month living in downtown Valencia recently and checking out all of the Valencia tourist attractions, cool museums, different neighborhoods, and a few off-the-beaten-path spots as well.
Whether you are here for the sun and sea, the historical sites, the paella, or the abundance of great museums, there is plenty to keep you busy on a trip to Spain’s third-largest city.
How to Get to Valencia
Being the third largest city in Spain means that Valencia is quite well connected to the rest of Spain and much of Europe.
While you likely won’t be able to get a direct flight from the USA or Canada into the small Valencia Airport, you will be able to fly into the Madrid Airport and then easily connect by fast train to Valencia.
Both Valencia train stations are located in the city center and you can walk, take a bus, or grab Uber in Spain to your accommodation.
If you are flying from the UK, Germany, France, or even smaller hubs around Europe, you will be able to get at least one flight per week if not more frequently (once a day from London) to Valencia Airport.
The Valencia Airport is incredibly well connected to Valencia city center. You can hop on the subway right from the main terminal and arrive in about 25 minutes to the center of Valencia.
Getting Around Valencia
Valencia city center is quite compact and easy to get around by foot. You can walk from one end of the city to the other in about 25-30 minutes, so if you enjoy walking, pack some comfortable shoes and you’ll be fine getting around the city.
If you want to get further afield or simply don’t want to walk in the heat of Valencia in August, then the bus network is the best option for getting around.
The EMT Valencia App allows you to put in the location of where you want to go and based on your current location it will tell you exactly which buses you need to take to get there. It will also tell you the timetables of those buses.
The EMTicket App, as the name suggests, is the app to use to purchase tickets. You don’t need this app because you can pay by cash or card on any buses in Valencia. However, if you are going to be in Valencia for a week or more and plan on taking the bus several times (it’s the best way to get to the beach!), then you will save a bit of money over the long term.
If you get on the bus and simply pay by cash or card, the bus costs €1.50. If you use the app, you can purchase 10 tickets for the price of €10, which means you are only paying €1 per ride. Only one person in the group needs to get the app because you can activate as many tickets as you want at once. Just show the driver the activated tickets when boarding the bus.
Awesome Things to Do in Valencia
Explore some of these fun and unique things to do in Valencia on your next trip to the city.
1. La Lonja de la Seda
La Lonja de la Seda is one of the most historical things to do in Valencia and one of my favorite places to explore in the entire city. It is one of the best-preserved non-religious Gothic buildings in the entire country.
Home to the old Silk Exchange, this building dates back to the late 15th century. It was built between 1482 and 1533. Walk into the grand Sala de Contratación or Trading Hall and imagine silk dealers discussing trade deals during the 16th century.
You can freely explore the different rooms of the building and inside several of the rooms are informational videos with English subtitles. You can also grab an audioguide which is included with your ticket during the week. If you visit on a Sunday when the museum is free, you will have to pay a ticket price if you want access to the audioguide.
You can learn more about the silk trade and take a tour around the historical areas of the city, including La Lonja, with a knowledgeable guide. Book that tour here.
2. Central Market of Valencia
If you enjoy local foods when you travel, you will not want to miss a visit to the Central Market of Valencia. During the summer months when the city is flooded with more tourists than usual (especially August), the market can perhaps feel more touristy that local.
However, during the rest of the year, you will find that many locals come to this market to do at least some of their shopping. It is not the cheapest place to get your groceries, but it does have some of the best quality produce and meat in the entire city.
If you are self-catering on your trip to Valencia, be sure to stop by some of the butchers and fruit and vegetable shops for top-quality Spanish produce.
I highly recommend coming for the cured meats, cheeses, and olives on offer at the different vendors. Stop by Benvolgut for locally made vermút and Manglano for their Jamón Ibérico. There is also a bakery with fantastic rustic bread which goes perfectly with the rest of your tapas selection.
Inside the Central Market of Valencia is a budget-friendly tapas bar that offers Michelin-star chef quality at a fraction of the price. Inside the market is Central Bar, a small tapas bar by chef Ricard Camarena. His main restaurant which is simply called Ricard Camarena Restaurant, has two Michelin stars and a tasting menu that costs over €200 per person.
At his tapas bar, you can sample some fantastic Valencian-inspired dishes with top-quality ingredients from a menu designed by Camarena. You can’t book, simply get in line with everyone else and wait your turn to enjoy a few delectable bites.
3. Valencia Cathedral
Officially called Metropolitan Cathedral–Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia, the Valencia Cathedral was built between the 13th and 15 centuries in a Gothic style. However, like many cathedrals around Europe, due to how long it took for the cathedral to be finished, many other different styles are mixed in as well including Romanesque, Baroque, and Neoclassical.
Entrance to the cathedral requires a fee of €9 and while inside you can take a look at several 15th-century paintings as well as what is believed to be the original holy grail used by Jesus during the Last Supper. Housed inside one of the chapels in the cathedral is the Santo Cálizor the holy chalice.
If you would prefer simply to climb up to the top of the cathedral’s tower, you can enter the main door of the cathedral and walk to the left (away from the ticket counter) and instead pay €2.50 to climb up the ancient stone steps to the top of the 63-meter (206 ft) Miguelete Tower. These are some of the best views back over the city.
4. Church of Santa Catalina
Located just around the corner from the Valencia Cathedral is the Gothic Church of Santa Catalina. You might spot the stunning minaret-looking bell tower as you walk through Plaza de la Reina.
Santa Catalina was built in the early 13th century on the site of an old mosque. After a fire in 1548, much of the interior of the church was rebuilt in a Baroque style.
The current bell tower sits on the site of the old mosque’s minaret. Unfortunately, the original bells that were installed in the bell tower were melted down and sold off in 1729.
It’s well worth simply wandering the inside of the church which is free to visit, but the outside is the most historical part and the bell tower, the most interesting (in my humble opinion).
5. Valencia Institute of Modern Art
One of the best museums in the city and one of my favorite things to do in Valencia is to visit the Museum of Modern Art.
Located just on the edges of the popular del Carmen neighborhood, it’s easy to reach this using the C1 bus that circles the city. It stops directly outside of the museum.
If you are staying long term in Valencia, this is a fantastic museum because the exhibitions are always changing. So you can revisit several times a year and see completely different works of art.
I know contemporary art isn’t for everyone, but if you do like it, this is one of the best that I’ve been to anywhere in Spain (and that’s after visiting the Guggenheim in Bilbao!)
You can visit on a Wednesday afternoon or any time on Sunday to explore the museum for free. Both free and normal tickets can be secured through the IVAM website.
6. Barrio del Carmen Street Art
Barrio del Carmen or the del Carmen neighborhood, is one of the coolest neighborhoods in the city. It has old charm, tons of history, great bars and cafes, and while it used to be one of the cheapest places to live is now undergoing quite a lot of gentrification.
This includes old derelict buildings getting facelifts via local artists. Wander the side streets of this neighborhood to discover tons of fantastic street art. My personal favorite murals are around the Arab Gate.
You’ll also find plenty near the Culture Center in del Carmen and the largest collection of them around the Red Cross building on the edge of the neighborhood.
You can see a full map of all of the street art around Valencia on this map.
7. Contemporary Culture Center of del Carmen (CCCC)
As if del Carmen wasn’t cool enough, this completely free museum is housed in an old monastery. The building itself makes it worth visiting, but there are also two floors worth of different rotating exhibits that are fun to discover.
During my recent trip to the museum, they had an exhibit that dug deep into the history of the Valencian language and what people are trying to do within the region to keep both the language and culture from being lost.
Sometimes there are photography exhibits, and other times illustrations from Spanish book illustrators. The beauty of this museum is you’re never quite sure what you might discover. You can check out what’s on at the museum on their website, but it’s only available in Spanish and Valencian.
There are also plaques all over the museum offering information about the history of the monastery and what each of the rooms you’re walking through was used for. Head out to the courtyard on a sunny day (of which there are many in Valencia), to simply sit back and chill out in a quiet and peaceful setting.
8. Valencian Museum of Enlightenment and Modernity (MuVIM)
Known in Valencian as Museu Valencià de la Il·lustració i de la Modernitat, the name doesn’t give much away when it comes to what’s inside this modern building in the southern part of the city.
In the basement of the museum, you’ll find the ruins of a medieval tower with plenty of information about what they know about its use and what else they found during the excavation.
On the ground floor of the museum is a large replica of the city in 1704 which includes 50,000 trees and 450 blocks of houses, and all the buildings are carved and painted by hand.
Upstairs in the museum as well as outside in a separate building across from the main entrance, you will find different art exhibits that are on rotation throughout the year. My personal favorite was an exhibition about the art trade and the prevalence of fakes around the world.
The cost of the museum is €2, however, it is free on Saturdays and Sundays and on public holidays.
9. Turia Park
There was once a river that ran along the northern edges of the city known as the Turia. In 1957, the river overflowed and caused huge damage to the city and its residents.
So it was decided that the river would be re-routed to avoid future flooding issues. As the riverbed dried up, the city had to decide what they would do with this now desolate space. They decided to turn it into a huge city park.
Turia Park is not only the city’s largest park, but it is one of the largest urban parks in all of Spain. A former riverbed, the park circles the northern part of the city much like the river that flowed through it once did. It runs just over 9km or 5.5 miles in length where you’ll find sports fields, running paths, cycling and walking lanes, and workout zones with equipment for staying fit.
My favorite is the well-marked 5km running track that goes through the center of the park. I love coming here and knowing exactly how far I have run without needing any fancy equipment or needing to carry my phone with me.
There are 18 bridges, many of which are very historical, that cross over the park and where you can usually enter and exit the park. Many people rent bikes and take to the park to explore the different bridges and neighborhoods that surround the park.
10. Museum of Ceramics and Sumptuous Arts
If the name of this museum doesn’t entice you to visit, then perhaps the ornate exterior will lure you in. Sumptuous in name and appearance, this museum is housed in the Palace of the Marquis of Dos Aguas, and part of the museum is dedicated to preserving the history and memory of the family that used to call this palace home.
In addition to being able to explore the recreated rooms of the palace, you can also see ornate ceramics that were mostly made right here in Valencia over the last couple of centuries. There are also other decorative arts like an old painted ceiling and textiles that have been preserved from the last few hundred years as well.
11. Vivers Royal Gardens
If you want to go somewhere a little bit quieter than Turia, head off to the Jardins del Real Vivers. Located just north of Turia Park, it’s easy to get to and one of the most peaceful places to spend a sunny afternoon in the entire city.
Inside this beautiful park, you’ll find the ruins of an old royal palace (hence the name of the park) as well as plenty of paths for walking and plenty of benches for sitting.
There is a small duck pond area where you can sit and watch ducks, swans, and a few other birds who have shown up for the free food all interact. I went in the summertime and was able to see tons of cute ducklings paddling around.
The Royal Gardens are also home to a concert area where, throughout the year, there are live music events (usually free). There is also a natural sciences museum which should be on your list of things to do in Valencia with kids. Check out the museum here. It has a nice collection of dinosaur fossils.
12. Museum of Fine Arts of Valencia
The Museu de Belles Arts de València or Museum of Fine Arts, is home to over 2,000 works of art from between the 14th and 17th centuries. Most notably, there are pieces by Spanish artists Goya, Velázquez, and El Greco.
There is also an entire room dedicated to Valencian painter Joaquín Sorolla.
Like many Spanish museums of fine art, there is a lot of religious art here, with several rooms dedicated to Gothic art.
The building that the museum is in was once the San Pío Seminary College. The college was founded in 1683 by Brother Juan Tomás de Rocabertí, the Archbishop of Valencia.
It was designed by the same architect as the Valencia Cathedral, Juan Bautista Pérez Castiel. In addition to being a seminary college, it was also a military academy, a charity center, and a military hospital before it eventually became home to the city’s Museum of Fine Arts.
13. Visit the Beaches in Valencia
One of the things that makes Valencia stand out as one of the best cities in Spain is that you have all of the amenities of a city like Madrid, the history of a city like Seville, and the beaches of somewhere like Malaga all wrapped up into one.
It’s not as big as Barcelona, which I see as a positive, and the beaches are indeed more beautiful and a touch less industrial than the country’s second-largest city (although not by much).
Rent a bike or grab some running sneakers and enjoy an endless boardwalk that covers the length of several kilometers starting at the marina and heading north.
There are three city beaches located within a short distance from downtown Valencia. Besides a small parking lot in between, it really is just one very long beach, but they have three names. Click on the names to see the locations on Google.
- Las Arenas Beach: Also known as Playa Cabanyal, this is the closest beach to the city center and the easiest to access by bus, tram, and train. This means it is also the busiest beach, especially on the weekends.
- Malvarossa Beach: The next beach along the coast to the north of Las Arenas, this is a slightly quieter option where you will find plenty of places to grab food or drinks on the beach as well as several beach volleyball courts. If you want to play some games on the beach, this is one of the best beaches in Valencia to come to.
- Patacona Beach: My absolute favorite of the central city beaches, this is the furthest from the city, but still very easy to get to by bus. Because of its distance from the city and because it’s not close to tons of restaurants, it is generally one of the quieter beaches to enjoy. There are still beach shacks called chiringuitos where you can buy drinks and food as well as a few restaurants along the boardwalk, but not nearly as much as around Las Arenas.
14. Port Saplaya
Located about 15 minutes away from the main beaches of Valencia, this could be a fun day trip from Valencia, but it’s close enough to come just for the afternoon and check it out as one of the fun things to do in Valencia.
It’s a great option for a beach day, but the main draw to this cute town is the colorful buildings. The city has nicknamed this the Venice of Valencia thanks to the waterway that winds its way through the town (it’s just a port though, there are no canals).
To get here you can either take a taxi from one of the beaches or you can take the 112A or the 112 B bus from the city center. The closest bus stop to the center is located here. It runs roughly every 30 minutes during the day, but you can always check on Google Maps for the next bus time.
The bus to Port Saplaya is not part of the EMT Valencia transport network, so you cannot use the EMTicket app to purchase your ticket. Simply pay in cash once you get on the bus.
15. Eat Paella
You cannot come to Valencia and not eat at least one plate of paella. Valencia is the home of paella and while you will no doubt have seen it at restaurants all over Spain, you won’t want to miss having the original.
While most paella around the country tends to be seafood-focused, the original Valencian paella doesn’t have seafood in it at all.
Valencian paella is made with chicken, rabbit, butter beans, and sometimes even some snails. It was a dish that was made by rice farmers who didn’t have a lot of money for fancy ingredients.
Check out my full guide to the best paella restaurants in Valencia so that you can choose a great spot to enjoy it. If you would prefer to cook your own and sample it that way, you can take a paella cooking class here.
16. Parc Central
Just south of the Valencia Nord train station is the Parc Central or Central Park. It is a wonderful little local gem that most tourists don’t bother visiting.
If you want a quiet place to relax, a nice place to stroll surrounded by flowers, or you have a little bit of time to kill before your train and you don’t want to wait in the always-under-construction train station, you should head to Parc Central.
17. Serranos Tower
My apartment in Valencia was located just outside of this tower. I got to open up my balcony doors each morning and look out at this stunning tower and it’s huge stone bridge.
The Serranos Tower, also referred to as Serranos Gate, is one of 12 of the original gates where you could enter through the city walls. It was built between 1392 and 1398. Most of the ancient city walls were pulled down in 1865, but the Serranos Tower is one of the few parts of the wall that still remains.
Walk across the bridge for the best view of it and then head inside and up to the top for some even better views down over Turia Park. You can walk across the bridge for free, but there is a small fee to go up to the top of the tower.
If you are visiting during the hot summer months, avoid going up the tower during the middle of the day. There is absolutely no cover or shade up there and it can be intensely hot up there.
18. City of Arts and Sciences
One of the most photographed Valencia attractions, the City of Arts and Sciences or Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències in Valencian was started in 1996 and the most recent building was completed in 2009.
- L’Hemisfèric: The first building to be completed in the City of Arts and Sciences is now home to an IMAX, planetarium, and a laser light show.
- Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe: This building was designed to look like the skeleton of a whale and is home to an interactive science museum.
- L’Umbracle: This is an open structure that was built over the top of a stunning garden which you can (and should) explore. It is home to over 5,000 plants. There are also several spectacular sculptures located here.
- L’Oceanogràfic: Home to the largest oceanographic aquarium in Europe, it was built in the shape of water lily and is a great option for fun things to do in Valencia with kids.
- Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía: This a fantastic opera house where you can come not only for opera but for all different types of wonderful live theater events. Check the website for tickets to different shows.
- L’Àgora: A venue for sporting events like tennis as well as local concerts.
Grab a multi-ticket pass to all of the museums to save some money and enjoy exploring these incredible structures and what they hold within.
19. Valencia Nord Station
While I always think it’s fun to explore train stations around the world, especially in cities around Spain, this one is particularly wonderful.
The station isn’t hugely historical, at least it’s not quite as old as the churches or La Lonja scattered around other parts of the city. It was built in 1917 in a modernist style, but the tile work and design of the interior are truly special.
Enter from the front and take your time looking at the old-style ticket booths. Then head to the right before you enter the main concourse. There is a small waiting room which was created as an homage to the Valencian orange industry. There are mosaics everywhere, on the doors, on the walls, and on the ceiling.
20. Church of Saint Nicholas and Saint Peter the Martyr
Officially known as the Parroquia de San Nicolás de Bari y San Pedro Mártir. It was one of the original 12 parish churches of Valencia and was built in 1242.
It has been recently restored and while the €12 entrance fee seems quite steep, it assists with maintaining what is one of the most historical and beautiful churches perhaps in all of Spain. It also includes a very thorough audioguide.
The frescos inside were painted by Dionis Vidal and they depict the life of Saint Nicholas and Saint Peter. Be sure to look up at the ceiling which is breathtakingly ornate. The rose window, which was added during a 17th-century renovation also depicts scenes from the life of St. Nicholas.
21. Go to a Futbol Match
However, if its a great atmosphere you’re after, I highly recommend getting a ticket to a Levante match. I went to a match for each of the teams while I was in Valencia and I far preferred the atmosphere at Levante over the atmosphere at the larger Valencia stadium.
Tickets for matches can be purchased on the teams’ websites. They tend to become available for general purchase 2-3 weeks before the next game.
22. Dine at a Michelin Star Restaurant
Valencia is home to the above-mentioned Ricard Camarena Restaurant which has two Michelin stars. There are seven restaurants in total in the city of Valencia that hold at least one Michelin star and two restaurants that have two stars.
The other besides Ricard Camarena is El Poblet by chef Quique Dacosta who got his first star at his restaurant of the same name in Denia.
Both restaurants offer tasting menus with local seasonal ingredients and a delicious take on the Valencian cuisine. You can see all of the restaurants with Michelin stars in Valencia on the Michelin website here.
23. Valencia City Hall
The city hall building in Valencia which is called the Ajuntament de València in Valencian, is free to the public and a very cool little spot to visit.
The plaza where you find this building, the Plaça de l’Ajuntament is one of my favorite places in Valencia to simply come and people watch. It’s a busy plaza, but not so busy that you can’t find a place to sit or a spot to stand and admire the incredible architecture.
Inside the city hall, you can walk into several of the stately rooms as well as out onto the balcony that overlooks the plaza. Pretend you are a visiting dignitary and wave to the people below.
24. Take a fun Tour
As a popular tourist destination, Valencia has so many different types of tours to take. Whether you want to go on a food tour like this one, a bike tour like this one, a tuk-tuk tour like this one, or something completely different, you are bound to find something to suit your desires.
Check out all of the fun tour options available on GetYourGuide below.