Joanne Cowdery on 26 November 2022
Are you searching for a short break destination that’s easy to get to, with lots to see and do? Look no further than Valencia, which is a hidden gem of a city and perfect for a few days away, or a longer stay if you have time. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

Although less visited than Barcelona, Valencia has so much to offer. The city is a manageable size with wonderful architecture, shops, cafés, restaurants, monuments and museums, as well as a wide, sandy beach with promenade and harbour. The metro makes it quick and easy to get around and it’s reasonably priced, so you can pack a lot into a day’s sightseeing. (I’d also recommend using the metro for travelling to and from the airport because the service is extremely efficient.)

We went to Valencia recently for a 2-night stay and had a fantastic break. So what were the highlights of our trip? Well, the cathedral is certainly worth a visit because it’s not just a fascinating building but full of treasures as well. And if you’re okay with heights and climbing 207 steps, do pay the small supplement to visit its Miguelete tower for panoramic views of the city.

Walking around the old town was a wonderful experience. The area is full of beguiling little alleyways that lead you to fascinating buildings and places to visit. The Santa Catalina Tower is an easy landmark to find, and the nearby Horchateria de Santa Catalina is definitely worth stopping at. Try a horchata, a cold drink made of tiger nut that’s very refreshing. And while you’re there, treat yourself to churros, or Bunuelos de Calabaza (pumpkin doughnut) or even an artisan ice cream. You won’t regret it!

Valencia suffered catastrophic flooding in 1957, which prompted the government to divert the River Turia 3km to the south of the city. Since then, the old river bed has been turned into a park and gardens, with the City of Arts & Sciences complex near the end. It’s a fantastic location to go for a relaxing walk to admire futuristic architecture and visit some wonderful museums, or you can hire bikes or scooters to do your sightseeing a little more quickly.

The science museum (El Museu de les Ciències Principe Felipe) isn’t like a normal science museum, full of stuffy exhibits. Almost everything is interactive, designed to broaden the mind. From the hatching chicks display at the start, to the music room with its piano, to the space simulator, there’s plenty to do for a day. And outside there are all sorts of water-craft that can be hired to paddle around the lake. It’s perfect for adults and children alike.

If you feel like relaxing a little from sightseeing, Valencia has almost 20 kilometres of beach, many just a stone’s throw from the city centre. There’s a wide promenade and the area is full of restaurants and shops so you could easily spend a day enjoying sunshine and sea if you want to.

This was my first visit to Valencia and I really fell in love with the city. It’s friendly and so full of charm that we’d have happily stayed for longer if we’d been able to.

My Top Tips

• If you’re planning a visit to the science museum, book tickets in advance for the English-speaking Space Simulator to avoid disappointment.

• Friday and Saturday evenings are particularly busy for restaurants, so make reservations in advance if you can.

• Make sure you sample a real paella! We did at a restaurant called La Riuá, which is famed for its paella, and it was gorgeous.

• We also visited a fun juice bar called Zumeria Naturalia, which serves the most amazing smoothies – with and without alcohol.