The third-largest city in Spain, Valencia is a cultural wonder that’s just bursting with incredible places to explore. Known for its innovative City of Arts and Sciences, graceful Turia Park, and some of the very best festivals in all of Europe, you’ll never be at a loss for cool things to do in Valencia!
Despite its impressive modern look and progressive spirit, there’s still plenty of history to be found in Valencia. The city’s historic center is teeming with ancient plazas that look like they haven’t changed in centuries and artisan stores selling homemade goodies you won’t find anywhere else.
If all the Valencia sightseeing gets to be too much for you, you can head to one of the city’s many nearby beaches and take it easy for an afternoon. While you’re relaxing, be sure not to miss the chance to dive into the city’s remarkable food and wine scene!
With such a huge choice of things to see and do in the city, it might feel impossible to get started. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the absolute best things to do in Valencia. Add these attractions and activities to your Valencia bucket list, and you’re sure to have a fantastic time discovering one of Spain’s most fascinating coastal cities.
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15 Incredible Things to Do In Valencia
1. Start the Day with a Bocadillo de Morcilla
It’s not for everyone, but if you’re up for trying something new, have a bocadillo de morcilla for breakfast. This dish is made up of a small baguette filled with a lightly spiced blood sausage and scrambled eggs.
It sounds unusual, but the taste and flavor combination is amazing! It’s the perfect thing to fuel a day of sightseeing in Valencia.
You’ll find this classic Spanish dish available from tons of different cafes from around 10 am onwards when locals enjoy a snack to tide them over until lunch. One of the best places to try the specialty is at Central Bar in Mercado Central.
Here they add pickled peppers into the baguette. They provide the perfect contrast to the spicy sausage and creamy scrambled eggs. They’ve also got a small range of great tapas dishes and local wines – so it’s definitely worth stopping by this place for a casual lunch or dinner, too!
2. Explore the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias
One of the must-do things in Valencia on your first day is to explore the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. The name translates as “City of the Arts and Sciences,” but it really doesn’t do the place justice.
This part of the city is almost like an open-air museum, brimming with ultra-modern buildings and ingenious attractions. A walk around here feels like you’re on another planet, as the area has an almost ethereal quality caused by the many surrounding pools reflecting images of the avant-garde buildings.
The major attractions of the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias include an aquarium, opera house, IMAX theater, science museum, art gallery, and multipurpose plaza. There’s so much to explore that you could easily spend your entire vacation here!
Even if you don’t go inside any of the buildings, the area is still fascinating. Take a look at the different structures and see what they make you think of. We thought one looked like a giant eye and another like the skeleton of a whale!
3. Check out the Largest Aquarium in Europe
The highlight of Valencia’s Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias is Oceanogràfic. As the largest aquarium in Europe, this attraction is a must-visit if you’re traveling with kids. Even if you’re visiting the city with a group of adults, it’s still a great day out that you’ll be talking about for ages.
Here you can stroll through Europe’s longest underwater tunnel and meet the only family of beluga whales that exist on the continent. But for an experience you’ll never forget, we recommend signing up for one of their shark sleepovers.
This activity is available for families as well as couples and includes a treasure hunt-like game in which you’ve got to decipher hidden messages. It also covers dinner and, the most exciting part, the chance to sleep under the shark tunnel!
You start the next day with breakfast and, after that, you’ll have a chance to explore the aquarium on your own.
All of the animals here are very well cared for. They’ve got huge, clean aquariums and successfully reproduce almost every season. They even have fresh seawater pumped into their habitats from a nearby beach.
4. Gaze in Awe at La Lonja de Seda
One of the best sights in Valencia can be found at La Lonja de Seda. The silk exchange building was constructed in the late 15th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The majestic construction is a monument to the city’s remarkable Golden Age when thousands of people used to trade and socialize in Valencia every day. Although the traders exchanging goods discovered from all parts of the world have since been replaced by tourists, the attraction is still a must-see.
With the intricately carved details on the façade, the outside of the building is simply stunning. But step inside, and you’ll be blown away by the main hall. Featuring delicate twisting columns and lofty vaulted ceilings, La Lonja de Seda looks more like a palace than a place to exchange goods.
If you get carried away and want to buy some silk fabric yourself, you’re in luck! There are many stores in the surrounding area selling quality silk for reasonable prices. Take a stroll, and see what treasures you can find!
5. Wander around Casco Histórico
If you love walking around with no real itinerary, head for Casco Histórico. As the historical center of Valencia, stepping into this part of the city is like stepping back in time.
All the main sights and attractions are within easy walking distance, so you can fit a lot in during a single day. From the magnificent cathedral and a regal palace to the bustling market and modern art gallery, you’ll never be stuck for something to do here.
The narrow, winding pathways that make up this part of the city are lined with charming cafes, excellent eateries, and artisan boutiques. They’re perfect for popping in when you want a break from sightseeing.
If you visit Valencia in the summer and need somewhere to cool off, head for Plaza de la Virgen. Here you’ll find a handful of cafes and bars which sell refreshing horchata.
Horchata is a chilled drink made of ground tiger nuts, almonds, and a selection of grains, all flavored with vanilla and cinnamon. It’s incredibly refreshing and gives you enough energy to carry on and explore more sights!
6. Transport Yourself to Africa at the Bioparc
One of the most fun things to do in Valencia is to spend the day at Bioparc. This giant wildlife park is home to more than 150 African animal species in cleverly-designed habitats that resemble their native home as closely as possible.
From Nile hippos and Savannah lions to Congolese gorillas and Madagascan lemurs, there are so many exotic creatures to admire here! The barriers between you and the animals are almost invisible, giving you an authentic-as-possible experience without leaving Europe.
Bioparc is spread out throughout Cabecera Park and is divided into four separate zones: dry Savannah, tropical Madagascar, humid Kitum, and forestal Equatorial Africa. The trees, plants, and flowers have all been imported from Africa, giving you a truly immersive experience.
When you need a rest, head to the amphitheater and see what show is on next. Alternately, head to the family leisure zone, where you can enjoy a drink and a snack while overlooking the African savannah zone.
7. See Giants Come to Life at Las Fallas
If you’re visiting in March, one of the best things to see in Valencia is Las Fallas. We think this is the biggest and most spectacular festival in the city. So much so that it’s worth planning your trip for March just so you have the chance to experience it!
The festival starts on March 1, with loud firecrackers being set off in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento around 2 pm. This happens every single day for the entire festival – all the way through March 19!
The most impressive part of the festival happens on March 15. On this date, locals have a single night to construct giant characters made out of wood and papier-maché. These colossal structures can be almost 50 feet high and can cost up to $140,000!
The characters are usually cartoon-like and make fun of local, national, international, and political events. So, even if you don’t know much about Valencia and Spain, you can still enjoy the fun.
Around 750 characters are on display between March 16 and 19, with only one declared the winner. The rest are set on fire each year on March 19, during one of the largest legal pyrotechnic events on the planet!
8. Be Left Speechless by the Palacio del Marqués de Dos Aguas
Palacio del Marqués de Dos Aguas is one of the most beautiful Valencia attractions that you’ve got to see during your visit. It dates back to the 15th century when it was built in a Gothic style. In the 18th century, the palace was renovated and given its Rococo look that you can see today.
One of the most exceptional features of the palace is its façade. Not only is it incredible to look at, but it’s also covered in symbolism. For example, the two men who flank the entrance represent the Turia and Júcar – the two largest rivers in Valencia.
If you’ve got time, it’s worth going inside. The first floor is fabulously opulent and decorated in a combination of Neoclassical and Rococo styles. Lavish rooms adorned with painted ceilings, antique furniture, and even a collection of Pinazo paintings can be found here.
On the second floor, you’ll discover a small museum that guards the most important ceramics in Spain. Here you can admire plates, tiles, and other ceramic artifacts that were discovered throughout history. The traditional Valencian kitchen that was reconstructed from scratch is amazing!
9. Visit the World’s Largest Miniature Museum
For one of the most unique things to do in Valencia, head to L’Iber. Known as the Tin Soldier Museum in English, this attraction is said to be the world’s largest miniature museum.
Set inside a beautiful 15th-century Gothic palace tucked away in the Casco Histórico, the museum proudly displays a grand collection of almost 100,000 tin soldiers. These are only the ones on display. In total, the museum owns around 1 million pieces!
The soldiers are used to replicate famous scenes from important battles that shaped the world as we know it today. There are recreations from countless events spanning all the way from prehistoric times up until today.
To make the museum a little more lighthearted, L’Iber doesn’t just offer war-related displays. They’ve also got a room with miniatures dedicated to various fashions and one on Star Wars.
It’s a fun way for a family to while away a few hours. But adults might find it more interesting than kids!
10. Get Back to Nature at Jardín del Turia
When you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, one of the best things to do in Valencia is to spend a few hours at Jardín del Turia. It may not seem like it, but this beautiful park wasn’t always a green space.
In the 1950s, the River Turia burst its banks and flooded the city. Years later, it was diverted to avoid another disaster. By the 1980s, the now-dry riverbed was transformed into the verdant Jardín del Turia that you can see today!
The 18 bridges, which originally crossed the river, still cross the park today. The oldest dates all the way back to the Middle Ages.
Take a stroll through the park, and you’ll discover all kinds of hidden wonders. From pine forests, palm trees, and orange groves to walking trails, bubbling fountains, and play areas, this is a great place to spend a quiet, peaceful afternoon.
11. Stumble across Amazing Street Art
Valencia is bursting with amazing street art that would look great on your Instagram feed! You’ll find the best works of art in El Carmen. This neighborhood was once a run-down area in the north of Casco Histórico, but today it’s a cool and offbeat place to hang out.
Here you can admire graffiti by Escif, the Spanish equivalent of Britain’s Banksy. There are also some remarkable Japanese-influenced pieces by Julieta XLF and many thought-provoking examples by Hope PichiAvo, Cere, and Blu.
Simply walk around El Carmen’s streets, and you’ll discover countless pieces of street art. You’ll find them on many old, crumbling buildings throughout the city, adding a colorful burst of life.
If you’d prefer someone to show you around, you can sign up for a street art tour. It’s completely free and takes you to all the most well-known street art hotspots in El Carmen. Your guide will also be able to take you to any new works of art that have recently popped up!
12. Dig into Paella Valenciana
When hunger strikes, one of the top things to do in Valencia is to sample an authentic paella. The iconic Spanish delicacy was created in Valencia, so there’s no better place to try it!
Unlike other types of paella, which often only include seafood, paella Valenciana uses snails, rabbit, chicken, and garrafó beans to make the dish. It was first cooked inland, where the rice paddies were found. Way back then, it was difficult to get seafood, which is why cooks opted for alternative proteins.
One of the best places to try a real paella Valenciana is Restaurante Levante. This restaurant dishes up paella Valenciana in the dish it was originally made in – just like it should be! The restaurant also has a superb cellar stocked with more than 10,000 bottles of wine.
Authentic house-made paella comes in large portions. The smallest serving size is usually for two people. So make sure your traveling buddy is up for it and show up at your chosen restaurant hungry, so you can make the most of your dining experience!
13. Work on Your Tan at Playa Malvarrosa
If you want a little bit of rest and relaxation during your vacation, grab your beach gear and head to Playa Malvarrosa. Just a short distance from Valencia’s Casco Histórico, this Mediterranean beach is the stuff dreams are made of.
The soft, golden sand stretches on for around one mile, so you’ll always find room to chill – no matter how busy it is. And thanks to Valencia’s temperate climate, the water is almost always warm enough for swimming.
Playa Malvarrosa has been awarded the Blue Flag for its fantastic amenities. As well as lifeguards, a medical station, and restrooms, you’ll also find accessible ramps, sun loungers, and umbrellas. Everything you could want for a day at the beach!
The promenade lining the sand is filled with convenience stores, cafes, bars, and restaurants. So, whether you want to enjoy a picnic on the beach or head to a restaurant for lunch, all your options are covered.
14. See Valencia in Bloom at the Batalla de Flores
If you visit the city in the summer, you’ve got to check out the Batalla de Flores. Held at the end of July, this event translates as Battle of the Flowers and is every bit as bright, colorful, and fun as you’re probably imagining.
On one summer day each year, elaborately decorated floats travel up and down the Paseo de la Alameda in the city center. The people riding the floats are dressed in all kinds of extravagant summer-themed costumes and toss yellow and orange marigolds to the crowd.
As the spectators throw the flowers back in retaliation, the people on the floats defend themselves with tennis rackets and other homemade shields. It’s so much fun to watch and looks like something you’d see in a children’s cartoon – not real life!
The light-hearted event marks the end of the July festival and is totally free to watch. The only exception is the seating that lines the parade route – you need to pay to use this section.
15. Eat Your Way around Mercado Central
One of the best things to do in Valencia for foodies is to sample all the goodies on offer at the famous Mercado Central. The city’s central market is tucked away inside an incredible Art Nouveau building and is where you’ll find some of the freshest and most delicious food in Valencia.
The colorful stalls are laden with fruit grown in local orchards, cured meats lovingly created by Valencian farmers, and fresh seafood caught that very morning. You’ll also find a fantastic selection of just-baked bread, flavor-packed aged cheeses, and wonderfully plump olives.
Hop from stall to stall, buying anything that piques your interest. Nibble at whatever you can now and take the rest back to your hotel room to make a real Valencian feast later!
Mercado Central is the largest covered food market in Europe. As it’s so popular with locals, it’s a great place to immerse yourself in Valencian culture and get a real feel for life in one of the most alluring cities in Spain.
There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Valencia. What’s your favorite thing to do in Valencia?
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