Valencia is Spain’s third largest city, situated on the eastern side of the Iberian Peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a lovely mix of the old and the new and the town council is becoming more and more interested in making this a world-class city for visitors.
Founded by the Romans in 137 BC, Valencia’s old Barrio del Carmen district harks back to that ancient time, while the Cathedral is Gothic with Baroque and Romanesque add-ons, and the modernist Mercado Central (Central Market) is still one of one of Europe’s liveliest and most popular markets with tourists. In 2007, Valencia was chosen by landlocked Switzerland as the place to host their defense of the America’s Cup, and at least until 2014, the city is the host of the European Formula One Grand Prix.
How to Get to Valencia
Cruise ships dock about 2.5 miles (4 km) from the center of Valencia. It is walkable but some ships provide shuttles or taxis are easily found to take you to the central and picturesque Plaza del Ayuntamiento. Otherwise, you can stay in the docks area, which is a lively mix of old and new architecture, restaurants and bars.
One Day in Valencia
From well-preserved Plaza del Ayuntamiento you can wander the ancient streets of Barrio del Carmen, as well as visit the many museums and churches including the Cathedral in the Placa de la Reina, a visually-striking opera house and music hall, and the nearby Gothic Basilica of the Virgin in the Placa de le Verge.
The fabulous City of Arts and Sciences includes the aquarium L’Oceanografic - which is primarily under the sea and includes 45,000 creatures from 500 species in different habitats including whales, sharks, penguins and dolphins. The building itself is a very modern building designed by famed contemporary architect Salvatore Calatrava. The restaurant here includes a level below the sea where you dine next to the fish.
If you prefer to be above ground, head for the Turia Park, once the Turia River but now reclaimed as beautiful gardens with a trail known as Culturia, one of Valencia’s highlights. La Lonja is the old silk market declared a UNESCO world heritage site for its stunning and well-preserved Gothic architecture. Around the port itself is plenty to see and do with restaurants and shops and a good mix of eras from the Old Port’s traditional shipyards to the modern America’s Cup Port.
And of course, a short promenade away is one of Spain’s golden beaches if you prefer to just rest and sunbathe for the day. Malvarrosa Beach (Playa de Levante) is the closest, reachable along the bicycle path by foot or bike.
The language is Spanish but English is widely-spoken, especially in the more touristic areas such as near the docks and in the historic center. The currency is the euro. There is a tourist office open at the docks when cruise ships are in port.