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
One of best things about Valencia is the empty riverbed of the Turia, which has been turned into an 8km-long, twisting park through the middle of the city, with a lagoon, gardens and playing fields plus the amazing City of Arts and Sciences, an architectural wonderland.
You can cycle from the old town and through cycle paths in the park and on to the revamped port, seeing everything in half a day. Hire bikes (including tandems) at Cycletour, next to the fab Gulliver’s playground in the park, or in town at the excellent Orange bikes.
Orange Bikes Santa Teresa 8, Valencia (0034 96 391 7551, orangebikes.net).
Hire bikes for a morning (try Orange Bikes at Calle Santa Teresa, 8, in the Carmen) and take a leisurely ride though the Turia river gardens – it’s too far to walk the full 10km length. The river Turia, which used to flow here, was diverted around the city after a flood in 1957 that killed dozens of people. For a while, the city authorities debated whether to turn the dry riverbed, still with its grand bridges and embankments, into a giant car park. Thankfully, they opted for a more environmentally friendly option. Today, “el río” is full of beautiful and varied sights, from landscaped gardens to leaping fountains, childrens’ adventure playgrounds, grassy picnic areas and civic spaces such as sports fields and exhibition areas. Kids will also love the little white train that carries visitors to and from the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, at the river gardens’ end. (Resist the urge, if you have one, to take a pony and trap from the Plaza de la Virgen around the old town. Exposed for hours in the suffocating summer heat as they wait for punters, the horses are often visibly distressed, and you probably will be too after trundling around the dark and narrow streets of the old town inhaling petrol fumes.)
Buses: 95, 80
Valencia can be a sweltering, sun-baked city, so thankfully it is well served with parks and gardens. Of these, the Turia river gardens are the most extensive and prominent, but the Botanical Gardens, next door to a monastery, are a real oasis of tranquility in this noisiest of Spanish cities. Here you will find rare plants, medicinal herbs, shady palms and a cactus garden with some incredibly far-out specimens. Admission is a token €0.30.
Calle Quart, 80; Buses: 7, 81; www.jardibotanic.org/cindex.html
Los Viveros are probably Valencia's most beautiful gardens. There are plenty of fountains and sculptures dotted around to make for an interesting stroll. Visit on a sunny day and enjoy a drink in one of the park's outdoor bars.
Calle de San Pio V. Take the metro to Facultats, then walk a few hundred metres along Avenida Blasco Ibáñez in a westerly direction. The park can be found at the end of the avenida.
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