Once known as the ugly sister of Barcelona and Madrid, this up and coming tourist destination is becoming popular as a summer and winter sun destination, it has truly blossomed as a tourist destination and is still one of Spain’s best kept secrets.
Valencia is the third largest city in Spain and is one of the oldest established cities in Spain, it was known as “Medina al-Tarab” or the “City of Sand” and was founded in 138 BC by the Romans. Under Islamic rule, Valencia became a commercial hub with traders flocking to Valencia to sell paper, silk, ceramics and leather goods. In the 15th century the city had its golden age, during the kingdom of Aragon, there was an explosion of wealth and culture. Valencia has its very own language, Valencian that is spoken alongside Spanish.
With its beautiful beaches, historic city centre with a port that plays host to the America Cup yacht race, colourful cuisine and its famed regional dish, Paella, Valencia surely has something for everyone.
This guide is perfect for those who only have 48 Hours in Valencia – A 2 Day Itinerary. We will show you what to do in Valencia, where to stay, what to eat and how to get around.
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The Best Time to Visit Valencia
The best time to visit Valencia is in May, June or September. The temperature in May is in the mid 20 degrees Celsius range and temperatures rise to 30 degrees in June and September.
Most tourists travel to Valencia in the summertime so the costs of hotels and rentals are much higher and beaches are crowded with tourists both international and Spanish who flock there for their summer holidays.
Another time to avoid is in Fallas, which is one of the largest street parties in Europe and is a festival of fireworks and firecrackers. This is the most expensive time to visit Valencia but if you want to experience the mayhem of the local festivities, then this is one party that you don’t want to miss. Be prepared to pay more than double the normal costs of accommodation and book early as Valencia becomes booked out during Fallas week.
How to get around Valencia
Valencia has its own international airport situated just 8 km West of the city, the centre is accessible by metro via lines 4 and 5 and is a short 25 minute journey for only €2.10 per person. The best metro stop to get off in the centre is Xàtiva or Colón.
You can obtain a Valencia Tourist Card at the airport tourist office which gives you 48 hours of unlimited access to public transport and admission into some museums for only €20
Where to stay in Valencia
Valencia offers reasonably priced hostels from €21 per night and budget hotels ranging from €55 per night. Here is a selection of the best budget hotels in Valencia.
Hotel Alkazar – From €66 per night – Though this Hotel only possesses one star, it offers a more luxurious experience than its rating suggests. It is located in the centre of the city and has stylishly decorated rooms with air-conditioning and even boasts its own seafood restaurant.
Hostal Antigua Morellana – From €55 per night – This hotel offers one of Valencia’s best budget stays, it is located in the Centre in the middle of the old town and has a lot of character and friendly staff. The only down side is that it is often fully booked so make sure you book early!
Hotel Malcom and Barret – From €69 per night – This executive style hotel offers cosmopolitan comfort with airconditioned rooms, wifi, onsite restaurant and bar and a 24-hour reception. Best of all it is just a short walk from Valencia’s old town.
Ad Hoc Carmen – From €60 per night – This modern hotel in the heart of Valencia dates back to the 15th century and each of the rooms are original, some of them have wooden beams and other period features, some have terraces and others mezzanine bedrooms.
Things to do in Valencia Spain
Take in the panoramic views of the city from the Tower of Micalet
Visit the cathedral and climb up the 207 steps of the Cathedral tower to get views of the entire city of Valencia for an additional €2.
To visit the Milla de Oro or “golden mile” you can window shop in the designer shops on Calle Poeta Querol, here you can also visit Lladró, Calle Poeta Querol 9, to pick up an expensive porcelain figure made in Valencia region.
If you want something more affordable, you can pop into the newly revamped Ruzafa district, just east of the Estación del Norte, which is a trendy area full of bars, Latin American eateries and vintage clothing shops.
This sweet treat hails from Valencia and is made from tiger nuts, which the Moors brought with them to Southern Spain and is still widely cultivated to this day. A cool glass of horchata is usually served with fartons, which are traditional biscuits to be dunked into the horchata and eaten and one of the best places to try this local treat is at Horchateria Santa Catalina, Plaza Santa Catalina 6.
Sip on Agua de Valencia
This cocktail blended from cava, gin, vodka and the juice of Valencian oranges is a local favourite. You can sip on a cool Agua de Valencia on a hot day and watch the world go by from the terraced bars of Plaza de la Virgen.
Visit the Central Market
This 1920s market, situated in Ciutat Vella or the old city is one of the oldest running food markets in Europe. Admire the glass domes and mosaics and the bustling crowds where you can sample local produce such as Jamón, artisanal cheeses and is the perfect place to grab a freshly-squeezed Valencian orange juice.
If you can make it to the beach of Malvarossa you can enjoy views of the coast while eating an authentic paella on the beach, to get there you can take the metro/tram from Colon, take line 5 towards Maritim-Serreria and then change to line 8 and get off at Marina Reial Joan Carles or take line 6 towards Tossal del Rei, stop at Les Arenes or Eugenia Vines. It’s said you can get the best paella in Valencia.
If you are short on time here is a selection of the best Paella restaurans in Valencia old town.
This restaurant situated just beside the Local Town Hall in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento serves up some of the best local dishes in town. Here you can try
arròs del senyoret, a rice dish with fish and seafood that is peeled for your convenience. Legend says that this dish was invented for spoilt children who did not want to get their hands dirty as “Senyoret” is Catalan for “master” and therefore everything is peeled and prepared for you. Another excellent choice is arroz meloso, or creamy rice, with rockfish or lobster. Prices start from €14.90 per person.
Offering one of the best paellas, here you can eat like a Valenciano and rub shoulders with the locals at the bar or choose table service. This place, which has been open since 1948, is reasonable and well priced with excellent high-quality seafood. Prices start from €30 per person.
This arroceria or rice restaurant is family run and has a simple, unpretentious atmosphere. Though it is unassuming it has been recognized with numerous awards for the best Arroz a Banda or seafood rice (1988). Prices start from €22 per person.
Places to visit in Valencia
The City of Arts and Sciences
The modern and ethereal structures reflected in surrounding pools seem like a scene out of a sci-fi movie. Built in the mid-90s, the final touches were added in 2005, this ensemble of buildings houses cultural venues, one of the largest aquariums in Europe housing more than 45,000 individual animals and over 500 species, an IMAX cinema and a planetarium. Booking ahead for entrances to the aquarium and planetarium are highly recommended. You can even find a tourist card starting from €74, which will give you, access over 72 hours to the Oceanogràfic, the Science Museum, Hemisfèric and Bioparc.
La Lonja de la Seda
This 15th century building is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a prime example of gothic architecture from Valencia at the time. It was once Europe’s main centres for trade and its name means “the Silk Exchange”, centuries ago traders from far-flung countries travelled there to sell and trade their products and this building is a tribute to Valencia’s golden age and is well worth visiting.
Valencia is home to a gothic cathedral dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries with elements of baroque, neoclassical and renaissance modifications that have been added over the years. Inside, you can admire the 15th century paintings from the renaissance by famous Valencian artists like Jacomart.
The Chapel of the Holy Chalice houses a chalice which dates back to between the 4th century BC and the 1st century AD and has been said to have been used by Jesus himself during the last supper to institute the Holy Eucharist. Entrance is free but to view the whole cathedral a ticket can be purchased for €5.
Just minutes by metro from the old-town is one of Valencia’s most stunning gold sand beaches, stretching for a kilometre. Malvarrosa is where Valencians go to sunbathe and you can enjoy the sun, sea and excellent paella at one of the popular beachfront restaurants.
Tours to do in Valencia
- Market visit and paella class – learn how to make Valencia’s most famous dish and visit to Central market for only €55 per person.
- Valencia Free street art tour – this free tour will take you around “El Carmen” neighbourhood where you can see the best street art Valencia has to offer as well as exploring a different side of the city.
- Albufera Boat Tour – Visit “El Palmar” fishing village situated in Albufera National Park, visit the marshlands and see the thatched cottages and enjoy a traditional meal. Prices start from only €13 per person.
- Wine tasting tour – Valencia produces four different types of wine: red, white, Moscatel and Rose. Moscatel is a special wine produced from local grapes that does not require a fermentation process, it is native to Valencia and should be on your list of things to try whilst you are in the City. This wine tour will take you through vineyards of a country estate and give you the opportunity to taste the different wines of the region. Prices start from only €30 per person.
48 hours in Valencia
Discover the old city on foot. Start your day on the right foot with a freshly-squeezed Valencian orange juice at Central Market, followed by a visit to The Silk Exchange. Head towards the Plaza de la Reina and spend some time exploring the Gothic cathedral and climbing the 207 steps of the octagonal Micalet tower, afterwards take a trip to see the church of San Nicolas.
After this you will have surely worked up an appetite, enjoy an authentic paella (paella is usually eaten in the daytime) and head to the City of Sciences where you can wander around an take in the incredible ultra-modern structures and buildings.
Finish off with bar-hopping and tapas tasting or head to the trendy district of Rufaza for dinner and drinks. Here you can enjoy Michelin fine dining at Canalla Bistro, run by the famous local chef Ricard Camarena, followed by drinks at a bookshop-slash-bar called Ubik Café and rub shoulders with the locals.
Head to Malvarrosa beach and enjoy a relaxing day sunbathing and enjoy the gastronomic delights of a paella served up fresh from the fire, taste a glass of local wine and take in the salty sea breeze at the same time. After strolling along the beach you can make your way to El Cabanyal, the old fisherman’s quarter.
Admire the yachts in the marina before heading back into the city centre to explore El Carmen neighbourhood where you can check out the street art and cool jazz bars, a perfect way to end your 48 hours in Valencia.
Recommend budget tours in Valencia
- Valencia: Food Walking Tour Including Mercado de Colon Visit and Wine Tasting
- Valencia Shore Excursion: City of the Arts and Sciences and Central Market with Rooftop Wine Tasting and Tapas
- Valencia Paella Cooking Class with Mercado Central Visit
- Valencia City of the Arts and Sciences with Rooftop Wine Tasting and Tapas
- Valencia Old Town Segway Tour
- Valencia Hop-On Hop-Off Tour with Optional Oceanographic Aquarium Ticket
- Valencia Tourist Card 24, 48 and 72 hours
- Valencia City Sights Bike Tour
- Old City of Valencia Private Walking Tour
- Valencia Bike Tour
- Panoramic City Tour of Valencia with Paella Cooking Class
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