Valencia welcomes spring with its most colourful and famous festival. Gigantic papier mache monuments, known as fallas, with effigies usually representing celebrities or politicians in a satirical way, are set up on streets and squares throughout the city, and burnt to a cinder in spectacular bonfires on the last day of the celebration. The Flower Offering to the Virgen de los Desamparados, when thousands of falleras and falleros in traditional costumes parade through the city, is also a sight to behold.
The whole month of July is a fiesta in Valencia. Concerts, al fresco cinema, stand-up comedy, fireworks displays, folk dances, parades, street markets… the programme of the Gran Fira (Great Valencia Fair) features more than 100 events at different locations throughout the city. Don’t miss the Battle of Flowers on the last Sunday, when brightly coloured floats and horse-drawn carriages parade through the city, with men, women and children in lavish, traditional costumes tossing flowers out into the cheering crowds.
Día de la Comunidad Valenciana, which commemorates the liberation of the city from the Moors, brings along one of the most peculiar and charming Valencian traditions. In a kind of “alternative Valentine’s day”, men give their loved ones a special gift of marzipan figurines of fruits and vegetables wrapped in a silk scarf known as the mocadora.
Opposite La Lonja, you will find the oldest food market in Europe, located in a fantastic building in a true Valencian style. The market is just as lively now as it was a hundred years ago, as if time stood still. This is a great place to buy some local delicacies and experience Valencia's daily life.
The Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, or City of Arts and Sciences, is a futuristic complex designed by Santiago Calatrava that has become the number one attraction in Valencia. Walking around taking photos of the stunning buildings is a pleasure in itself, and that does not cost anything. However, it is well worth the entrance fee to explore the various exhibits inside.
This small museum’s exhibits focus on Valencia’s huge Las Fallas festival. Las Fallas is a traditional celebration held every year in March, and people use this festive event to ridicule those in power. The term Fallas refers to both the celebration and the monuments created during the celebration. A number of towns in the Valencian Community have similar celebrations inspired by the original one in Valencia.
The L'Hemisfèric IMAX Cinema is part of the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. It is an impressive 3D IMAX Cinema that offers an appreciated rest for tired feet. Lay back in the comfortable chairs and enjoy your show of choice - all features are both educational and visually spectacular.
The Science Museum Príncipe Felipe is part of the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, here you get to use your brain! This is a science museum that will put your brain cells to the test more than once. Three floors with 26,000 square feet of exhibits will definitely keep you busy and fortunately you will not have put a leash on your curiosity - pull, twist and push – you are supposed to!
The Palacio de las Artes Reina Sofia Concert Hall is part of the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. This concert hall/opera house has four auditoriums dedicated to music and scenic arts. The great acoustics, location and surroundings are some of the reasons why this is becoming one of the most prestigious opera houses in Europe.
The Umbracle Greenhouse is part of the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. At this greenhouse you easily can spend three hours walking along the green promenade. Apart from the plants from all over the world, you will find "The Garden of Astronomy". This landscaped walk is free of charge.
It is a delicious initiative that debuted in 2009 and echoes New York and London’s Restaurant Weeks, when the city’s best restaurants offer exquisite tasting menus at irresistible prices. During the ten-day Valencia Cuina Oberta-Restaurant Week, Valencia’s most renowned establishments will prepare their gastronomic offerings for €20 for lunch and €30 for dinner (beverages not included). Valencia’s four Michelin-starred restaurants offer their menus for €35 for lunch and €45 for dinner (again, beverages not included). Valencia Cuina Oberta is a unique opportunity to enjoy haute cuisine at an unbeatable price twice per year (usually in April and October).
The best place to learn how to cook paella, in the very city where the dish came from. A great experience to enjoy with friends. The half day courses include a trip to the market, cooking tuition and a paella meal, and participants will get their own official certificate as Paella Masters.
The menu at Ricard Camarena Restaurant (Michelin Star and three Repsol Suns) is a successful combination of taste, absolute respect for the product, an understated creative cuisine grounded in tradition with cosmopolitan and Mediterranean influences and based on seasonal produce.
Café de Las Horas has a fascinating bohemian atmosphere and it's located in the heart of Valencia. From the outside, it looks like nothing more than an ordinary café, but the inside features an impressive design, lovely pastries and nice staff. It also hosts live music and theme parties inspired by victorian and retro movies.
Horchata is a Valencian speciality which some people like and others cannot stand - try for yourself in this characteristic central cafe. It is a drink made from the chufas root (tiger nuts) and sipped through straws from tall glasses. Locals also like to dip fartons (long doughnuts) in their drink. The most refreshing drink for the hot summer months!
Gastrobar was created by renowned chef Quique Dacosta, and it's a place where classic, historical tapas from the Valencia region are re-interpreted with respect, always with taste in mind. This is a fantastic modern tapas bar in the centre of Valencia, about a five minute walk from the Colon metro station.
This is claimed to be one of the best bars in the Barrio del Carmen. They offer a great atmosphere with tropical style and funky music. The tropical theme really makes it feel as if you are in the heart of a rainforest, although with all amenities such as luxurious leather seating, spectacular lighting effects and an entire bar made of Onyx (volcanic glass).
M.Y.A can be found below the L’Umbracle club and is claimed to be one of the essential night spots in Valencia, with its cool interiors and its beautiful outside view on the modern buildings of the City of Arts and Science. Here you can dance all night or relax in the outside lounge.
The history of this Spanish brand has its roots way back to the 1950's. Today there are shops all over Spain and also worldwide. The clothes, bags and shoes designed by Adolfo Domínguez are stylish and elegant and there are collections for both men and women, and kids as well.
Valencia Airport is located approximately eight kilometres west of Valencia. Bus line 150 departs to the city and the port, and the journey takes about 45 minutes. You can also take one of the two underground lines that connect the airport to the city, the journey takes about 25 minutes - more info at: +34 963 158 515 - www.emtvalencia.es +34 900 461 046 - www.metrovalencia.es The taxi stand is just outside the terminal, contact them at: +34 963 703 333 - www.radiotaxivalencia.es Car rental companies are represented at the airport. Find one of them at: www.avis.es
Spain can be visited visa-free for up to 90 days by citizens of most European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Israel, UAE and most countries in America. If you are unsure whether or not you need to apply for a visa, we recommend contacting the embassy or consulate in your country. International (non-Schengen) travelers need a passport that is valid for at least 3 months after the end of their intended trip in order to enter the Schengen zone. Citizens of Schengen countries can travel without a passport, but must have a valid ID with them during their stay.
April-June and September-October are the best months for a trip to Valencia when it comes to cultural events, as well as for the weather, which should be warm and mostly sunny. June and the first couple weeks of September are also good for beach holidays: the weather is still warm, but the place is less crowded and the prices lower. The high season at the seaside is in July-August, but the weather can get very hot then. Whichever dates you choose, don't worry about missing out on nightlife: Valencia is a lively university city, so something is always going on. Last but not least, take a look at the "Event" section of this guide if you haven't: many interesting festivals take place in Valencia during the year, and you might want to include one in your trip. Las Fallas in March is particularly popular - thus very crowded, but so very worth it.
The public transport system consists of a network of buses, underground trains and trams. It is easy to get around Valencia and the metro is both the fastest and the easiest. Ticket prices vary for a single journey. You can buy combination tickets that include all means of transportation. The Valencia Tourist Card is a good option for tourists.