If you're looking to escape the touristy centre of Valencia (and the prices that come with it) or want to experience the 'pueblo' feel without having to leave the city, a day trip to Benimaclet would be worth your time. Benimaclet was originally its own village, separated by the river, but became merged into Valencia with the cities expansion. Despite this it has managed to maintain much of the original 'pueblo' feel, something you'd normally have to get out of the city for. The Plaza de Benimaclet is a 5 minute walk from the tram stop and on the way you'll probably notice many bars displaying 'tercio y tapas 1.50', prices that aren't found in the centre. Many of these bars have live music at night, details: . Once you enter the pueblo part of Benimaclet, it's easy to forget you're in a city owing to many car-less streets lined by idyllic little houses, especially if you stumble across the Plaza de Benimaclet complete with its own church. Once you've worked up an appetite by meandering around the streets, why not pick up a paella or other traditional Valencian cuisine from an asador - the cheapest way (around 3 euros for a portion big enough for two) to enjoy a home cooked paella. You could enjoy your paella sitting in the Jardines del Real, the main park in Valencia only a couple of hundred metres away.
From here there are three options (not including returning to the city centre). Firstly you could follow the Turia (the old river now converted into a park) down to the City of Arts and Sciences, one of Valencia's landmark features. On the way you'll pass the Palau de la Música and walk under many bridges each with its own feature.
Secondly you could carry on out of the city to Alboraya - the Spanish hometown of horachata, a sweet, milkly, nutty drink. I'd recommend the Horchateria Toni for the best tasting and value horchata in Alboraya.
My final option is take the tram down to the Malvarrosa beach (10 minutes away) and walk along the sea front or relax on the sand in the sun.
After doing all this you'll probably be ready to return to your hostel late in the evening, although Benimaclet is worth the visit, I'd recommend staying in a hostel in the centre for travel convenience.
A tip when travelling around Valencia - beware the road sign names. In the city the road sign names are in Valencian but on many maps they are written in Castillan, they are pretty similar but don't go looking for an exact name if you have the Castillan version
To reach Benimaclet - from the centre of Valencia take the metro (line 3, 9 minutes) or about 30 minutes on foot from Plaza del Ayuntamiento, crossing the river at Puente del Real and following Carrer de Cavanilles.
The Pueblo part is off to the right of Calle Emilio Baro (facing the direction of Alboraya)
To reach Alboraya - take the metro (Line 3, Rafelbunyol - Aeroport) to Alboraya or walk from Benimaclet (about 1km from the metro stop vía 'Calle Emilio Baro' which becomes 'Avenida de la Horchata')
This website has details of events in Benimaclet:
A gorgeous historic hotel, actually situated on the beach.
A local place to meet friends for a cerveza or tapas on the terrace. Also has a fine restaurant. The hotel balconies have hammocks to laze on, facing the blue Med. Bliss.
The location is absolutely perfect, just next to the Cathedral on the very central Plaza de la Virgen. Lots of quiet little streets and great restaurants in the vicinity, it is the ever charming Barrio del Carmen district.
The central B&B only has two or three guest rooms, which means the proprietors take an hour or so to point out their favorite sights and restaurants on a map.
Breakfast in this wonderfully restored Victorian townhouse is very, very rich and the variety is breathtaking.
Small touches that make a stay perfect: a bottle of champagne popped when entering the door, a selection of teas for the guests' convenience at all times, two large lounge rooms for guests, and beautiful art and antiques throughout the entire house. It is just lovely.
This is a very good chocolate shop and cafe. With a couple of famous names behind it - the brothers Albert and Ferran Adrià. I had a late lunch there - glass of wine, starter, sandwich and two tasting shots of chocolate, all for about £10. Then I went and bought a box of truffles to take home. The chocolate flavours are far from the ordinary as you might imagine! The place is great and somewhere very relaxing to spend an hour over lunch or coffee. It's near the Mercado de Colon which has lots of cafes - but save yourself for this place just round the corner instead. A nice surprise!
I was in Valencia last year in Valencia, and I fell in love with the place. It's very beautiful, and not so big like Madrid or Barcelona. I was doing a Spanish course in a school called Taronja. Very good classes, teachers, facilities. It's all decorated by Valencian artists that's why the school looks very different. I encourage you to visit Valencia and, if it is possible the school. It was a very nice stay. I really enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere.
I want to thank Marie-José, Adela (they were both great as teachers) and Fernando (for twice cooking delicious paella.)
calle Convento Santa Clara, 10, 1ª
+34 96 325 85 45
I was recommended Tailor-Made Tours by a friend. We have been to Spain quite a few times on weekend breaks but our weekend in Valencia was the best. We were met at our hotel by an English teacher who had been living in Valencia for five years. He took us on a great tour, telling us about the sights and answering our questions. We were taken down streets that looked like dead ends, he took us to some fantstic bars that we would never had discovered on our own. We were recommended places to eat in the evening and the insider information on the best, most authentic paella in Valencia.
Really it was more that a tour as it was an introduction to Valencia by someone who knows it like the back of his hand. We were told where to go and when to go there. Some streets that looked dead during the day were full of life and bars in the evening.
Great value for money as it really made our weekend.
Valencia is perfect for budget travellers - most of the best sights and most impressive buildings are free to poke around, so you can conduct your own architectural tour, with plenty left over for some paella!
Start at Valencia Cathedral, a mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles (with the 'Holy Grail' tucked inside!), and then head to the Palau de la Generalitat, a Gothic palace used by the local government, with elaborately tiled floors and frescoed walls.
Other must-see sights include La Lonja, a grand Late Gothic hall filled with grisly gargoyles and other grotesqueries, and the Colegio del Patriarca, a 16th century seminary adorned with religious frescoes.
Valencia Cathedral, Plaza de la Reina,
Palau de la Generalitat, www.gencat.cat/generalitat/eng/guia/palau/index.htm
La Lonja, Plaza de la Virgen, Valencia
Colegio del Patriarca, Nave 1, Valencia 46002
Looking for something free to do? Valencia has several large public parks and gardens which are great places for a quiet stroll or a scenic picnic.
The pretty Jardin Botanico is home to 7,000 species of shrubs and trees, and the Italian-style Monforte Gardens are filled with marble statues and beautiful flowerbeds. The Jardines de Rio Turia was once a river, but is now a strip of gardens, sports fields and playground, with a world-class concert hall smack bang in the middle.
Monforte Gardens, Plaza de la Legión Española, Valencia, V 46010 Spain
Botanic Gardens, Calle Quart 80, Valencia 46008
Jardines de Rio Turia, Antiguo cauce del Turia
Forget forking out for the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, this cathedral is free to visit and is just as much of an architectural jumble.
Work started on the cathedral in 1262, resulting in a building that ranges from Romanesque to Gothic, so it's a fascinating place to wander around. Take a trip up the Miguelete Bell Tower, a city landmark, or check out the a cup believed to be the Holy Grail.
These aren't the most scenic beaches in Spain; two former fisherman’s districts transformed in the 1960s into a slightly ugly urban sprawl - but there's still plenty of sand, a promenade of palm trees and the deep blue sea.
There are still a few traditional houses tucked along the mile-long esplanade, and the Paseo de Neptuno is a great place to pick up some cheap Paella.
For a quieter beach a little further afield, try Saler.
Take the tram from Pont de Fusta (opposite Torres de Serranos in Barrio del Carmen).
The Museo De Bellas Artes is a great free museum. Tucked away in the 19th century suburbs of the city, it costs nothing to gawp at 2,000 paintings by artists such as Goya, Velazquez and several other important Valencian artists from the 14th-19th centuries.
The building itself, a former seminary built between 1683 and 1744, is also pretty spectacular.
Calle de San Pío X 9
46017 Valencia, Spain
+34 963 870 300
Valencia manages to be both super chic and cheap, with a glut of boutique hostels and budget accommodation in the city center.
But the ABC B&B is no backpacker's crash pad; me and my partner stayed in this small bed and breakfast run by a young couple, and the rooms are minimalist and super modern - all whitewashed brick walls, futuristic furniture and plasma TV screens on the wall. There was even a mini Apple Mac in our room!
Despite the super-cool exterior, the owners have just returned from travelling as a couple, and so offer a load of homely extras perfect for a budget romantic break, like breakfast in bed and a bottle of Cava in your room. The original building is also a beautiful old apartment with huge balconies overlooking the city.
It can be difficult to find somewhere cheap and romantic, but the ABC more than delivered. There are only a couple of rooms, so it's easy to get to know the other guests, and you're just around the corner from one of the main squares.
Calle del Taquígrafo Martí 10, Valencia, Spain 46005
The place is a small guest house, but newly renovated and with character. It is right in the centre of the city, pretty cheap, the owner is a real character, very friendly, as well as a qualified (and Napolitan) pizza chef.
The email address is:
Benicassim is a must for a festival-goer, particularly as you are almost guaranteed great weather, an excellent line-up, access to the nearby beach, and festivities continuing late into the night.
If you aren't lucky enough to book one of the apartments in the local area (they are often booked up months in advance), then the camping areas have blackout awnings set up to protect tents from the early morning sun. My main advice to anyone going would be to get to the campsite early enough to bag a spot under the awning if you don't want to be woken up by the blazing heat shortly after you have headed back to your tent! Remembering to pack an eye mask and some earplugs will help you get some sleep.
Avon's Skin So Soft Dry Oil body spray is also supposed to be one of the best insect and mosquito repellents around, so it could be worth stocking up on this before heading off.
If you're over 25 and like to party hard (festival starts at 8pm, winds up around 5am with the main acts on at 1am) but still value a few good hours shut-eye do yourself a favour and rent an apartment. They're not cheap for what they are - approx 200euros each for a week in Beni for a two twin bed, one lounge apartment with sofa bed and a balcony. However you won't regret it because;
1) day time temperature regularly tops 35/38 degrees. No one can sleep in that, especially under canvas in the sun.
2) In said temperature, a proper and private shower is a wonderful thing (albeit camping showers are remarkably good too).
3) you can chill your beer/water in the fridge/freezer.'Nuff said
4) you can relax in your own personal shade between festival/swims. If you camp, you need to find any bit of shade in town you can - you will see campsite refugees scattered in any bit of shade around parks/beach town.
5) you can make your money go further by cooking at home
If however you do decide to camp, bear in mind the following:
1) Buy a beach umbrella on the first day - approx 10-15 euros on the beach and will be a godsend - it can be errected by your tent for daytime snoozing, or on the beach to prevent sunstroke.
2) Campsite toilets are cleaned frequently and excellent compared with UK festivals
3) Take a couple of decent swimsuits/bikinis - easiest to have a shower in, and you will wear nothing but this in any daylight hours you're awake in
4) ear plugs. Get them free from the festival or bring your own unless you want Surrey's finest students keeping you awake all night
A final word on getting out of Benicassim. You need to fly into Valencia, Barcelona or Alicante and train/bus down. Highly recommend Valencia as closest with best connections. If you can, ensure you have one night in valencia on the way back. The bus (most reliable) is notoriously packed and it can take literally four hours to queue up to get on a bus to make the 40min odd journey. Don't even think about getting the train no matter how early - it's a massive crush, desperately hot and uncomfortable.
I highly recommend La Llantia Dorada (Golden Tear) for a relaxed and enjoyable evening of good interesting food.
Tucked on a little street just off the Plaza de la Virgen (blink and you'll miss it), the menu is an eclectic fusion of flavours, Mediterranean, Asian and Caribbean.
We went for the Menú Degustación, excellent value at 25€ a head (including an aperitif and a bottle of house wine per couple Monday to Thursday) six interesting and tasty courses started with a delicious little soup and then a salad whose main ingredient was a wonderfully smoky Tandoori style chicken. The main courses include such delights as a Caribbean style fish lasagna with vegetables and avocado, and a chicken dish with star anise and basmati rice. But each week brings new surprises.
The wine list is small but the house wine is very drinkable, and in addition to the free bottle offer, there is also the offer Monday-Thursday of you paying 2.50€ for your first glass and they keep topping you up throughout the meal at no extra charge. Minimum order is one main course per person. Thursdays there is live music to accompany your meal.
The lunchtime deal is an absolute bargain at 10€ a head (15€ on Saturdays) and in the evening there is not only the 25€ menú but a lighter meal (one less dish) for 16€.
From time to time there are themed dinners on offer - Jazz, Medieval, Renaissance, with live music and a menu inspired by the period and, as you would expect, ethnic evenings including Indian, Caribbean and Latin American.
C/ Hierba 4 (next to Plaza de la Virgen)
Reservations 96 391 2716
Lunch: Thursday-Saturdayday 14:00h-16:00h
Dinner: Monday-Saturday 21:00h-23.30h
Have a drink in Laboratorio before your meal - owned by the owner of La LLantia and of the wonderful Café de las Horas -
This lovely festival returns to Burjassot, just a short metro ride north of the city, for its fifth year. Music, theatre, dance, clowns and jugglers make up more than 30 mostly free performances throughout the ten days. There is also an excellent medieval fair that winds through the plaza Ayuntamiento and up to the Patio. Absolutely not to be missed!
Burjassot is about a ten minute journey on Line One (Yellow) of the Metro from the city centre. You'll find much more information on this and other great events - including restaurant reviews and listings for bars, clubs and restaurants at www.thisisvalencia.com
Extravàlencia is a comprehensive guide for long-weekend visitors looking to get the most out of their stay in the city. It includes listing of recommended hotels, restaurants, disco clubs, and info about all the attractions. The site is updated on a daily basis with the latest news of tourist interest.
This is a fantastic tapas bar in the historic centre of Valencia - great tapas including loads of veggie options (rare in Valencia!), wines by the glass and probably the best mojitos in all of Valencia (and the barman speaks perfect English).
It's a very modern, light, well-priced bar with great food and friendly staff.
Calle Cavallers 19
(next to plaza de la virgin)
Tapa2 is a new and funky tapas restaurant just north of the Central Market, in the old town of Valencia. It's not on a major thoroughfare, so there's less fear of it being mobbed by tourists, which adds to the charm.
On the basis of a tip left on this very website earlier this year, 11 of us descended on Tapa2 (a quick phone call secured a table which - given the size of the place - was a feat in itself) and the owner Eddie and his staff looked after us. On my table of seven we ordered food and wine with guidance from the staff. The recommended white wine we had was divine, as of course were the tapas. There were five different tapas to share (two servings of each), and we couldn't have had a bite more.
The kitchen is on display for all to see, and Eddie as head chef for the night demonstrated a true passion for his food. The tapas were absolutely delightful.
The whole meal came to just over €30 a head (+tip) which for us folk who currently live in Dublin was amazing value. The staff were even able to recommend night club spots (Radio City is around the corner) to continue our Saturday night in style.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Carda6, Barrio del Carmen, Valencia
+34 663 875 903
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