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
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
The Ceramics museum is housed in the Palacio de Marques de Dos Aguas. The exterior is covered with ornate marble decoration and the huge carved alabaster entrance was designed by Hipólito Rovira and alludes to the two rivers (Turia and Júcar) of the Marques' title. There's even a painted-gilt Cinderella coach to greet you in the entrance and the marble decoration continues inside as you walk up the stairs.
On the first floor of the Palacio you pass through room after room smothered with colourful plasterwork and marble decoration with enormous chandeliers sparkling in the gilded mirrors. The Palacio dates back to the 15th century but the exterior was remodelled in the 1740s and and the interiors redecorated in the rococco style in the 1850s. When you've progressed through the many delightful rooms and admired the beautiful paintings and decorations, you reach the ceramics collections themselves. The highlights for me were the colourful painted Spanish tiles and ceramics, including the replica of a tiled Spanish kitchen on the top floor, and there are also some plates decorated by Picasso.
The museum is free on Saturday morning and Sunday but otherwise it costs €2.40
You can see my review and photos on my blog;
Palacio de Marques de Dos Aguas, Poeta Querol, 2, 46002 - Valencia
If you enjoy street art, then take a walk around the area of the old town known as Barrio del Carmen.
The area is a well lived in and slightly scruffy old quarter of the city and the centre of the nightlife in Valencia. There is a lot of development going on and round each building plot you find cement walls, usually covered by some great street art. Take your time to wander round the area in the day, you'll find some nice street art round every corner.
You can see my review and photos on my blog;
There are lots of photos of Valencia street art on the Flickr Valencia graffiti pool.
After living here for the past 6 months I have discovered that Valencia offers some of the best mullet viewing in Europe, if not the whole world.
Anywhere in Valencia. If you see a tuned car with chrome wing-mirrors, you are on the right track.
Can't believe this hasn't been posted yet. Glad to be the one. Annual tomato fight lasting about two hours. The last Wednesday of August. About 10.30 in the morning. Bring old clothes, a change of clothes and a disposable camera. That's all I can say. Just go.
In the town of Bunol, about an hour west of Valencia on the train. Just get yourself to the train station in Valencia early in the morning. Follow the crowds;
Finally getting wise to Valencia’s burgeoning tourist potential, the city council has recently imposed charges on all of the formerly free monuments in the town centre. However, there are still no charges on Sundays. Take advantage of this and take your pick from IVAM (the modern art museum), the Botanical Gardens, the cathedral and more. But my favourite is the Torres de Serranos (Serrano Towers). Formerly a prison for noblemen, these squat, crenellated towers form one of the gates in the old city walls (the only other surviving portal is the Torres de Quart) and are one of Valencia’s most emblematic symbols. A short climb to the top of the battlements gives refreshing views of the snaking green river park in one direction, and the rooftops, tiled domes and spires of the old town in the other.
Calle Serranos / Calle Conde de Trenor
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