If there is one city where old and new come together, it’s Valencia. While its city center houses beautiful old and decorated buildings, right across the river a new city emerged. This contrast makes Valencia an exciting city to visit!
Valencia has a fascinating history that dates back to Roman times. The city’s architecture reflects a diverse range of styles, from Gothic to modernist. Its Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and mild winters, makes it an attractive destination for visitors year-round.
We’ve collected 10 things to do in Valencia to help you plan your trip. Don’t forget to try out local delicacies like Aqua de Valencia, paella, horchata, or bunyols at one of the many terraces scattered throughout the city.
TRAVEL TIP: Buy the 24, 48, or 72-Hour Valencia Tourist Card to enjoy free public trasnport and discounts on many attractions.
1. Jardín del Turia
Jardín del Turia is 10-kilomter long park in the heart of Valencia. The river used to run here originally, but it often caused problems during heavy rainfall. That is why the river has been routed around the city. After a few years of bickering, the riverbed has been transformed into this park.
The park has become a popular destination for locals who go cycling, running, and strolling through the gardens. It is divided into different themed areas, such as sports areas, children’s play areas, gardens, and cultural spaces.
Jardín del Turia is also home to a number of iconic landmarks, including the City of Arts and Sciences, Gulliver Park, and the Valencia Bioparc.
2. Torres de Serranos
Torres de Serranos is one of the two remaining city gates and was built around the end of the 14th century. There used to be twelve gates that provided access to the city. It is an important landmark and one of the best-preserved monuments of Valencia.
It was originally built with a defensive function. From 1586 until 1887 the towers were used as a prison for nobles. Since then, they have been used for different purposes, for instance for a wide range of official ceremonies and as a museum.
The towers have a rectangular shape and are made of stone. They are approximately 30 meters high and have a unique feature of a terrace that offers a panoramic view of the city of Valencia. The towers are decorated with the shields of the city and the Kingdom of Valencia, as well as other decorative elements.
3. Plaza de la Virgin
Plaza de la Virgin dates back to Roman times. In the center, you will find a statue, Fuente Del Agua de la Acequia, of a man who is supposed to represent the river Turia. The statues around this figure depict the tributaries.
Every Thursday at noon, the oldest tribunal in Europe meets on this square; the Water Tribunal. It is even said that this tribunal dates back to 960 BC. If there are problems and/or conflicts with the irrigation canals, people can raise them here. The decision of the Water Tribunal is binding and no appeal is possible.
All around the square, you will find restaurants and cafes with terraces. You will notice cables that have been stretched across the square. This is a way to create shade on those hot summer days for people attending the church service.
4. Cathedral de Santa Maria de Valencia
The Cathedral of Valencia, also known as the Saint Mary’s Cathedral, is a Gothic-style church. It was built between the 13th and 15th centuries on the site of a former mosque, and it has undergone several renovations and additions throughout its history.
The Holy Chalice is kept in the Chapel of the Holy Chalice. The chapel was built in the 14th century specifically to house the relic. The Holy Chalice has been the subject of much debate and speculation, with many scholars questioning its authenticity.
The Arm of St. Vincent is another religious relic that is kept in the Cathedral of Valencia. It is the arm of St. Vincent, who was a martyr and patron saint of Valencia. The arm is kept in a large silver reliquary and is displayed during religious festivals and processions.
5. Iglesia y Torre de Santa Catalina
Iglesia y Torre de Santa Catalina, also known as The Church and Tower of Santa Catalina, was built in the 13th century. Most of the interior was rebuilt after a fire in 1548 acquiring the baroque style. It has a 16th-century portal of classicist style.
Next to the church is the tower of Santa Catalina, which was built in the 14th century as part of the city’s medieval fortifications. The tower is a massive stone structure that is over 30 meters high and is one of the few remaining towers from the city’s ancient walls.
6. Llotja de la Seda
Llotja de la Seda, also known as the Silk Exchange, was built between 1482 and 1548. The building was designed by the Valencian architect Pere Compte, who created a unique and ornate structure that reflects the importance of Valencia’s silk trade. The Llotja de la Seda was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 for its outstanding architecture and historical significance.
The Llotja de la Seda is divided into three main areas: the Consulate Room, the Trading Hall, and the Tower. The Consulate Room is a large, rectangular space with a high ceiling and decorative columns, where trade negotiations were held. The Trading Hall is a two-story space with a magnificent ceiling that features intricate carvings and frescoes. The Tower is a 50-meter-high structure that offers stunning views of the city.
The building is also notable for its richly decorated facade, which features statues of mythical creatures and allegories of the trades and guilds that made up Valencia’s economy.
7. Mercat Central
Mercat Central, also known as the Central Market, is a large indoor market. The market was built between 1914 and 1928, in the Art Nouveau style, and is one of the largest and oldest markets in Europe.
The market building has a distinctive domed roof and a façade decorated with colorful tiles, intricate mosaics, and stained glass windows. The interior of the market is equally impressive, with a large central nave and dozens of stalls selling fresh produce, meat, fish, and other goods.
The market is open every day except Sunday, and it is recommended to arrive early in the morning to avoid the crowds and get the best selection of products.
8. Palacio del Marqués de Dos Aguas
Palacio del Marqués de Dos Aguas, which houses the ceramics museum, is a sight in itself. The most distinctive feature of the palace is its ornate façade, which is covered in intricate sculptures and carvings. The façade is considered one of the finest examples of Spanish baroque architecture
The palace was originally built as a fortified house and was owned by various noble families before being acquired by the Marquis of Dos Aguas in the 18th century. The Marquis commissioned a major renovation of the palace, transforming it into a luxurious residence that reflected the wealth and status of the family.
Today, the palace houses the National Ceramics Museum, which displays a vast collection of ceramics and porcelain from Spain and around the world. The museum includes exhibits on the history of ceramics, as well as displays of some of the finest examples of the art form.
9. Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències
Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències, or the City of Arts and Sciences, is a cultural and architectural complex. The complex was designed by the Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava and opened in 1998. It consists of a series of futuristic buildings that are home to various museums, exhibition spaces, and entertainment venues.
Parts of this complex are L’Hemisfèric, a large cinema, the Science Museum, Oceanogràfic, one of the largest aquariums in Europe, Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, a grand opera house, and Agora, a versatile event space.
Don’t forget to try out the whisper wall. If two people stand on opposite sides of the dome and whisper into the wall, they can hear each other clearly, even if they are standing on opposite ends of the dome, which is around 70 meters in circumference.
10. Puente de San José
The San José Bridge is located on the old bed of the Turia, today known as Jardín del Turia, between the Las Artes and Los Serranos bridges. This historic bridge was built to connect the Zaidia and Marchalenes neighborhoods with the city center.
Its origins as a wooden footbridge date back to 1383. After suffering the consequences of several floods, it was rebuilt in stone in the early years of the 17th century. It was then that it was given its baroque appearance and new materials, masonry, and thirteen arches were incorporated.
On its two cutwaters, there were sculptures of San Luis Bertrán and Santo Tomás de Villanueva, made by the Italian Jacobo Antonio Ponzanelli in 1693. Centuries later, in 1942 these sculptures were taken to the Puente de la Trinidad after passing through the Museum of Fine Arts of the city.
Share your favorite things to do in Valencia
That concludes our 10 things to do in Valencia. There is so much more to do in this city. Stay at least a day or 3-4 in this city to get a good feel of what’s happening and don’t rush yourself. Valencia is one of those cities you can visit all year round.
This list is not complete, there are a lot more fun and free things to do in Valencia. Please share your favorites in the comments below and let us know what we need to visit next time we’re in Valencia. We’d love to hear about your favorite restaurants, cafes, and hotels.
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