Valencia is situated on the Mediterranean coast between Barcelona (north) and Alicante (south). It’s the capital of the autonomous community of Valencia.
In the past, I always thought that Valencia was quite similar to Barcelona. But that was only before I visited Valencia back in May 2012. Now I know that these two cities are totally different from each other. However, both of them have their very own charm. Do you want to know what I love so much about this city? Here you got a list of some unique places to visit in Valencia you shouldn’t miss.
Places to visit in Valencia #1 Horchata de Chufa
The Horchata de Chufa (in Catalan: Orxata de Xufa) is a traditional Valencian beverage made of tigernuts, water and sugar. It’s served ice cold and best enjoyed with a Farton, a delicious Valencian pastry. Before I went to Valencia, I had never heard or read anything about this drink. Now it’s one of my favourite summer refreshments. You can get a Horchata in most of the Valencian restaurants. But I recommend you search for a typical Valencian Horchateria, a Café where the focus is on making delicious Horchatas. The Horchateria Santa Catalina is an outstanding address in the city centre.
Places to visit in Valencia #2 Bioparc
I have a big heart for animals. I’m not a friend of zoos where animals are forced to live in small grey cages, removed from their natural habitats. I don’t support them and avoid visiting these kinds of parks.
There is a totally different kind of zoo in Valencia, the Bioparc. It’s a zoological park with a particular concept of a naturalistic zoo environment where animals live in their specific habitat. Therefore, sights and sounds from natural environments are reproduced and unnatural elements like buildings and barriers are hidden. In the Bioparc, you feel as if you would visit the animals in their natural environment. It’s the best zoo I have ever been to until now in my whole life.
Don’t leave Valencia without having visited the Bioparc.
Places to visit in Valencia #3 City of Arts and Sciences
La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias is a cultural and architectural complex designed by Calatrava and Félix Candela. The vast open space complex offers cultural and intellectual leisure and is the city’s most important modern tourist attraction. It’s made up of five elements:
- Hemisfèric: IMAX Cinema, planetarium and laserium.
- Umbracle: A landscaped walk and exhibition zone with vegetation of Valencia.
- Príncipe Felipe Science Museum: An innovative centre of interactive science.
- Oceanogràfic: The largest aquarium in Europe with over 500 marine species.
- Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía: An Opera house and cultural centre.
Places to visit in Valencia #4 Oceanogràphic
The Oceanogràphic is a significant element of the City of Arts and Science and was designed by the architect Félix Candela. It’s the largest aquarium in Europe. The park houses about 500 different species of the world’s main marine ecosystems and it’s divided into the Mediterranean, Wetlands, Temperate and Tropical Seas, Oceans, the Antarctic, the Arctic, Islands, and the Red Sea. The park also includes one of the largest dolphinariums in the world.
Honestly, I had mixed feelings about visiting the Oceanogràphic as I heard many negative things about aquariums. But my impression of this place was quite positive. I saw that the animals live in good conditions and are treated well.
The park has a research department and a conservation and recovery area for marine fauna named “ARCA”. The “ARCA” (Area for the Recuperation and Conservation of Marine Animals) was designed for the reception and recovery of turtles and dolphins.
Places to visit in Valencia #5 City Centre
Valencia has got a beautiful historic centre. In the city’s heart, you can find some true treasures of past times. Don’t miss to visit the following three places in the old town:
- Lonja de la Seda (The Silk Exchange): This building is an outstanding piece of gothic architecture. It’s one of the main tourist attractions in the city centre. In 1996, the silk exchange was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
- Mercat Central: The central market is one of Europe’s oldest and most significant. The stunning modernist building was built back in the year 1914. Inside the market, hundreds of selling stands offer fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, meat and more. It’s definitely worth a visit!
- Plaza de la Virgen and the Cathedral: The charming Plaza de la Virgen is one of the oldest squares in Valencia. In the middle of the small square sits a beautiful fountain – the Turia Fountain. Around the Plaza de la Virgen, you will find some emblematic buildings. I was impressed by the beauty of the cathedral and the basilica. The area is also an ideal spot to eat or drink something.
Whether you’re on a backpacking trip through Europe or searching for a destination for a weekend getaway, Valencia is an excellent place to spend some days.