The third largest city in Spain, Valencia’s roots lie as a Roman settlement in 138 BC. A curious blend of influences, the city is fast becoming a cosmopolitan alternative to Madrid and Barcelona. The city comes alive with traditional festivals, features many UNESCO recognised buildings and monuments and has an abundance of green gardens and parks, hence the nickname the City of the Flowers.
Shop at the Central Market
Situated at the Plaza del Mercado, the Mercado Central is adjacent to the Silk Exchange. Built in 1914, the market is one of the oldest still active in Europe. Inside the market, there are many restaurants, shops and tapas bars. There are also sellers who specialize in fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood. The market is massive, consisting of some 8,000 square meters of open space and businesses. Stop awhile, enjoy a coffee and soak up the local history and culture contained here. It is accessible by the local metro or bus system.
Explore the Fallas Museum
Every March, the Spanish Fallas Museum comes alive with a huge Fallas party in the streets of Valencia. Individual barrios make model heads and parade them through the neighbourhoods. In the end, in celebration, the heads are burnt in a climactic finish. During the year, the museum displays the heads that are to be burnt in the coming year. Keep in mind, if you are a primary an English speaker, all of the museum displays are in Spanish.
Visit the Bioparc Valencia
The Bioparc is an expansive outdoor zoo that is spread over 25 acres. It is a zoo but not in the traditional sense. It provides more of an outdoor, safari type atmosphere with a large assortment of fauna from Africa. Rather than separating the animals by barriers or fences, they use natural barriers like rocks and water. While you are there, do not miss the cafe experience where you can enjoy coffee and pastries whilst watching the wildlife up close. It’s a great family experience that provides entertainment and affordability.
Experience the Formula One Valencia Grand Prix
Each year the streets of Valencia come alive as the European Grand Prix rolls into town. This year the Formula 1 Street Circuit is being held on 24 June 2012 and will cover some 192 miles (309 km) over 57 laps. Held here since 1983, a semi-permanent circuit has now been constructed around the Juan Carlos 1 Marina and port areas. Immerse yourself in the exciting atmosphere, deafening roar of the engines and watch the twists and turns.
City of the Arts and Sciences
Comprised of five central buildings, the City of the Arts and Sciences is an architectural masterpiece created by the famous Santiago Calatrava. It consists of an opera house, an IMAX theatre, an interactive science museum, the Agora sports complex and The L’Oceanografic, which is considered to be one of the best aquariums in the world. Due to the expanse, prepare to make this an all-day adventure. There are ample restaurants and parking available.
Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas
Located near the Patriarch Church, this is a must see for people who love architecture and palace type museums. Inside the palace there is a ceramics museum with rotating exhibits. Admission is no charge on Sundays. The Valencia Tourism Card also provides free admission with purchase at certain times of the year. It is also a great location for taking photographs.
Antiguo Cauce del Rio Turia
If you enjoy parks and water, this a wonderful place to visit. After the flooding of the 1950′s, the river was diverted around the city center. The old river beds are now used for cyclists, joggers and walking paths. There are also the famous dancing fountains and orange trees of Valencia in the Antiguo Cauce del Rio Turia. It is centrally located next to the City of Arts and Sciences and Bioparc. It is a wonderful place to sunbathe and escape the winds of the beach.
By Julie Bowman