Earlier in the summer myself and a few friends wanted a relatively cheap sunny getaway with something for everyone, sun, sea, beach, beer, and a bit of culture, Valencia is where we settled on. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect having not been to Spain all that much before, here's what we got up to.
Where To Stay
Air BnB, obviously.
Jokes aside, I really really rate Air BnB. I'm yet to have a negative experience and it's the first place I look for accommodation when I'm planning a getaway, it's like I've forgotten anything else is an option and it's just a given I'll stay in an Air BnB.
This time was no exception, a lovely apartment in the district of El Carme, really very central just up from main market. We were surrounded by wonderful tapas bars, restaurants and little boutiques as well as being a short walk from trams and buses.
Our apartment was full of lovely little homely touches and nick nacks and everything we could need during our stay, extra towels, blankets, even suncream and make up wipes.
What To Do
There's so much to do in Valencia, but you don't have to spend money on attractions and museums and all sorts. Simply walking around and admiring the beautiful streets is enough. You turn a corner to a myriad of surprises, from street art to lovely squares, to the river bed turned parkland, castles, bridges, new, old, just brilliant.
This was definitely one of the selling points of Valencia. While a city break is great, it's summer and we all wanted to bask in the sunshine. It was a brilliant beach and the sea was so incredibly warm!! If you've read my facts about me post you'll know I'm a bit wary of the sea at times but I thoroughly enjoyed my swims there.
Each time we went we rented some parasols and put our towels underneath them because it was incredibly incredibly hot and at times the sand was unbearably hot to walk on so I really felt that was essential. It was about €4.50 -so not bad. On the last day we treated ourself to sun beds! (They were €3 or €4 each too) that was loovely.
A huuuge aquarium, splendid grounds with all sorts of different fish and creatures. Including dolphins, and they had a couple of dolphin shows which initially we were reluctant to go to but you didn't have to pay extra once you were in there and we figured that we'd already paid so it would be crueler not to go........ (lol that terrible justification tho..) Anyway, it wasn't in English and we couldn't understand a word of what was going on BUT what we think was happening was it was mostly educational and they showed you what to do with a dolphin if you found one washed up and what to do in a dolphin related emergency, which actually I thought was a lovely idea.. (still sad they're trapped but the same goes for all animals there really). A lot of the other exhibits were brilliant, my favourites were the walkways with the sharks and sting rays and things going over, and the tropical fish, they were brilliant. I wasn't a fan of seeing the Belugas, Walruses and Penguins because they all looked a bit miserable as they were in quite small not very stimulating areas, I don't know if they had bigger ones attached for them but they did make me a bit sad actually.. Saying that, it was worth going to and on the whole very well put together and we thoroughly enjoyed the day there.
We actually paid for a joint ticket that included the science museum next door but we completely wore ourself out at the aquarium and walked in a realised a) we were too tired to make it round and b) it probably wouldn't be as good as the one in London anyway (what terrible tourists we are - sorry Valencia)
This was also in the same area as the aquarium and the science museum, I think they call it the City of Arts and Sciences, it's a palm garden/walkway under a metal canopy, I don't even know but it looked pretty cool if nothing else.
This cathedral was beeeautiful! It was a real mixture of styles - gothic, renaissance, neoclassical, all sorts- and lots of weird and wonderful things. like. an. arm. .......a real million year old or something (probs a thousand) arm. an actual arm. and apparently the Holy Grail (I remain skeptical, every man and his dog claim they have the holy grail and I feel like in reality jesus drank out of some wooden cup not an elaborate golden jewel encrusted chalice). It was seriously stunning though and while many of the places in Valencia had no English information and descriptions, the cathedral had little headsets and you pressed the buttons as you go round for information about the origins of different parts and the design and the history it was brilliant.
The botanical gardens were probably actually my favourite (hmm actually though the beach and the cathedral..) definitely in the top top places we went. Probably because I am a fan of a good green space (here's where I plug my Garden's of London post) but it was a real hidden gem. Shaded and tranquil with an immense collection of mature plants of all kinds and family of cats! How caahyoooot. It was so calm and relaxed and we walked around a bit, sat in the shade, took pictures of the GIANT cacti, sat around a bit, it was fabulous. AAAND it was like €2! (compared to Kew Gardens' £15 BAARGAIN - it isn't anywhere near as big though). What I will say though, it's not obvious, it's not that central, it would be very easy to miss it if you're not looking for it but it's so worth a trip!
The Best Place for Breakfast
What could be better than some fresh local produce for breakfast? On our first morning some of the troops went out to gather some goods and returned with an enormous supply of fruit, which we turned into a fruit salad, and pastries it was the perfect fuel for exploring. Another day on our way to spend the morning at the Cathedral we popped in for a pastry and a juice to keep us going. It's absolutely huge with stalls of everything you could possibly need. Lovely fish, meats, cheese, bread, fruit, veg, nuts, you name it.
The Best Place for Lunch
Cerveceria 100 Montaditos
With goodies gathered from the market, make some little sandwiches to take out with you. Saves the pennies and it's just as delicious as buying out.
The Best Place for Dinner
Ocho y Medio
I was desperate to try a proper paella while we were there and we settled on this place as we spotted some people eating some rather delicious looking ones. It was perfect, it came in a maahoossive dish which 4 of us shared and we completely demolished it! We went for the crab and seafood version with a bottle of wine and it was fabulous. The restaurant itself was in a lovely little square with a church behind it, there was a wedding going on at the time and a horse drawn cart which was quite lovely.
Birra & Blues
We ended up here on our first night, we shared some tapas plates and a couple of pizzas, it was scrumptious! The highlight were definitely the 'Little Spicy Sausages From Hell' (they weren't thaaaat spicy - hardly hell) they were lovely, little chorizo type sausages in a tomatoey sauce with some toasted bread. So delicious, I could eat some of them now! It was great for beer too, with craft beers, I really have no idea what I'm talking about when it comes to beer, I won't pretend I do.. they seemed to have a lot and they looked cool and I think they were nice... (helpful)
The Best Place for
Drinks a View
Sky Bar Ateneo
To be honest, it really was not the best place for drinks, there were tons of great places for a beer or a sangria (everywhere we tried really), although we didn't manage to find a great cocktail place, disappointing for me because I love a good mojito but they were average at best each time. The place was pleasant, but it was all about the view really. We went up on our last night just for one drink and enjoy the view, because, well why not. Head up for a sunset drink, that would be fabulous!
Without any doubt, if you're off to Valencia you will have a fabulous time, there's so much more to do beyond what I've shared. I'd thoroughly recommend a visit, it's a very cool city.
I'm looking for my next destination now, I don't know where to go, anywhere you would recommend? Leave your ideas in the comments, hot or cold, city or not, wherever I'm interested!
Key: <£ (less than a pound/free), £ (£1-£9), ££ (£10-£99), £££ (£100+)