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Valencia oozes history. A walk around the old quarter will transport you from the days of the city’s Roman foundation in the year 138 B.C., whose remains are preserved in the museum of the Almoina, to the times of El Cid and the Moors, witnessed by the medieval wall gates of Serranos and Quart, and beyond. The beautiful Gothic building of La Lonja (Silk Exchange) is a reminder of the city’s Golden Age in the 15th century, when Valencia was the heart of the silk trade. And you will also find jewels of Modernist art like the Central and Colón markets, as well as extravagant Baroque churches and palaces like the Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas, now home to the Ceramics Museum. But the city also has a very modern side, where you can spend the days in department stores or high end boutiques, and the nights sipping cocktails like the typical Agua de Valencia in the trendy bars of the bohemian Ruzafa district. The Turia Gardens were created on the Turia Riverbed after a disastrous flooding diverted its course in 1957, and are today lined with futuristic buildings. Here, the stunning City of Arts and Sciences, a complex designed by the renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, has become the city’s number one tourist attraction. Above all, Valencia is a city that embraces the sea and offers an authentic Mediterranean atmosphere. The beaches of Las Arenas and Malvarrosa are buzzing in the summer, and also at weekends throughout the year, as locals head for a stroll in the sun followed by a paella at one of the restaurants along the seafront. Nearby you will find the old fishermen’s quarter of Cabanyal, with its colourful tiled buildings and traditional tabernas. The Marina Real Juan Carlos I, revamped to host the America’s Cup in 2007 and 2010, is now becoming the new gastronomic and cultural hub of the city. One more thing is guaranteed in Valencia: wherever you go, you will find a warm welcome from locals who are immensely proud of their city and their traditions, and happy to share them with visitors.
With hundreds of events planned throughout the year, from boisterous festivals and religious celebrations to major sporting events and open air concerts, it's very likely you'll find something going on whenever you visit Valencia. Check the local press for what’s on listings or plan your trip around one of the key dates throughout the year.
Many of Valencia’s main attractions can be found within its old quarter, a compact area around the Cathedral which is best explore on foot or by bike. Buy a Valencia Card to get discounts at monuments and museums and free transport to reach some of the other key areas of the city.
Valencia is not just the birthplace of paella, but a city where you will find everything from Michelin starred restaurants to traditional bars specialized in local tapas. With plenty of fresh produce from the sea and the surrounding huerta, delicious local wines, and creative chefs, eating out in Valencia is a joy. Beware Valencians eat late and many restaurants won’t serve dinner before 8.30pm.
Valencian cafes are great places to relax and watch the world go by. Here you can also try some of the typical pastries or the Valencian tiger nut drink, horchata. The locals start the day with a milky café con leche for breakfast, and usually go for an espresso, a café solo, or a cortado – espresso with a drop of milk. In summer, order a café del tiempo, an espresso served with ice.
Many Spanish cities are often described as party destinations in foreign travel guides. But Valencia is considered to have the best nightlife of them all, even by the Spaniards themselves. This is partly because of the large, 100 000 strong student population. The locals go out late, usually after 11 pm, and most bars stay open until 3 am or even later. The city’s main party street is Calle Caballeros in the Barrio Del Carmen neighbourhood. Come here for a mix of tascas, bars, and clubs. You can simply ask around to find out which night-clubs are in vogue at the moment - but here's some recommendations.
Offering everything from big department stores, popular high street brands and luxury boutiques to quirky shops specialised on a single thing or retailers selling traditional crafts or local produce, Valencia is a shoppers’ paradise. The main shopping district stretches from the Colon Market to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, along several streets around Colon subway station. Look out for good quality leather goods and check out some of Valencia’s top fashion designers.
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