“Travel the World. But spend the whole time choosing a filter that makes you look more tanned”
…Because priorities right? Okay so last week I shared my Travel Guide to Barcelona, Spain &, as promised, THIS week I am just the most excited to delve right into all things Valencia! Believe it or not Andrei & I actually both prefer the sleepy beach town of Valencia over it’s more well-known counterpart. Why? We found it to be a lot more relaxed, laid-back & less chaotic with just as much historical & cultural richness as you’d expect from a larger, more established European City. I mean… Valencia, Spain is the city that houses the literal Holy Grail – how much more historically significant can you get? Fun Fact: The Holy Grail is in fact not guarded by Killer Rabbits or Knights Who Say Ni as one would have naturally expected.
Travel Guide: Valencia, Spain
How to Get There:
Okay so first things first… how do you get there? Great question! To my knowledge you cannot catch a direct flight to Valencia from Toronto so the train from Barcelona is going to be your very best option! We travelled via Renfe & it could not have been a more positive, efficient experience!
Where to Stay:
We loved our AirBnb! It was a super short walk to the main squares in Valencia & literal steps from restaurants, cafes & cathedrals yet still managed to feel like it was based in a very quite neighborhood; it overlooked a tranquil, quite square! ZERO COMPLAINTS HERE! I mean if we were to visit Valencia again, we might look into AirBnb’s located right on the beach simply because it would have been nice to have a strictly beach-based vacation, mind you this particular AirBnb was only a short 15-20 minute tram ride to the beach. Not terribly far. For details click here!
What to Do:
The Beach – The beach in Valencia is beautiful! It has a fantastic boardwalk lined with great, local restaurants & is home to a steady stream of locals riding their bikes or rollerblading along the beach – I actually found it to be very reminiscent of the boardwalk down in Hollywood, Florida! Not to mention, the beaches in Valencia are very relaxed & laid back compared to those in Barcelona.
Stroll through El Jardin del Turia – I’m a little bit sad that we didn’t get to take advantage of this garden/park; we only got to stroll through it once over the course of our stay & it’s actually one of THE biggest parks in all of Europe so it’s a definite must-see! What’s interesting about El Jardin del Turia is that it’s very uniquely shaped – it’s long & linear & almost looks like it was once a river.
Mercado Central – Okay now THIS is a market! In comparison to Barcelona’s La Boqueria Market, Mercado Central in Valencia felt more like an authentic open Spanish Market where locals actually visit to do their weekly shopping. Envision rows upon rows of market stalls filled with fresh produce, seafood caught that morning, breads, meats, freshly squeezed juices.. I mean it was heaven.
Flamenco – I’m officially addicted to Flamenco. It is mesmerizing & something that you should absolutely watch if you ever happen to find yourself in Valencia. Andrei & I went to TWO Flamenco Shows – one that was a bit more affordable & intimate/underground while the other was a little fancier & more of an “event”. Here are our thoughts on both:
1. La Buleria Tablao Flamenco – Okay so this one is a little bit more on the formal side of things & I definitely recommend booking a few days in advance just to guarantee a table! At 45 Euros a person, the price is still absolutely reasonable considering this includes tapas, a salad, dinner, dessert & a drink… plus the actual Flamenco Show itself; the dancers are absolutely SO fantastic! The benefits of this particular performance was for sure the production value – ie. acoustics, lighting etc – & that you’re treated to a nice evening & sit down dinner!
2. Cafe del Duende – This show was en fuego. The space is SO intimate & you can really feel the pulse of the performance. I found that because the venue was so small, the audience was a lot more engrossed in the performance & you can truly feel the emotion of the dancers…. it gets hot in there people! The price is even better – 10 Euros a person & that includes a welcome cocktail! There are no reservations so I would recommend lining up about a half hour beforehand to get good seats (it is often packed to capacity). The benefits? It’s intimate/small & where all the locals go for an authentic, underground experience.
The Verdict: Honestly, if you have the money to do both then I would absolutely do both; they were both incredible performances & so different that it’s worth it! BUT I will say this. If you only have time or the money for one show… I think that you would truly be missing out on something if you didn’t go to Cafe del Duende.
Valencia Cathedral – If there is one museum or Cathedral to enter in Valencia then THIS would be the one! There is just SO much to see within this one Cathedral – like seriously give yourself 2-3 hours in order to fully take it all in & appreciate it in its entirety. It was originally built as a Roman Temple & if you take the stairs underneath the Cathedral you can actually see remnants of past Romanesque architecture along with grave sites. This Cathedral is also where you can find the Holy Grail. Totally worth a visit.
Climb Valencia’s Ancient City Gates – The views alone from these Ancient City Gates are SO worth it… it’s deceivingly high! Protective walls used to surround the entire city of Valencia over a thousand years ago & these gates are all of what’s left of them. It is so super GOT’esque.
Museo Taurino; Bullring Museum – Okay let me just preface this by stating that I am one hundred & twenty thousand percent against bullfighting. HOWEVER bullfighting is so ingrained into their culture & is such a rich part of Spain’s history that I did want to go to a Bullring Museum to understand the history & cultural significance behind it. To be honest the museum only confirmed my belief that it is quite a brutal, sad & horrific act & something that I would not be able to ever witness or buy tickets for in real life. I was interested in learning about arguably one of Spain’s most infamous & longstanding traditions (it’s been around since the Romans inhabited the region). We spoke with someone who works at the museum & they informed us that as of right now Spain as a whole is actually quite divided on the issue – in fact this person who works at the museum is quite against bullfighting – but they don’t believe that it will ever be fully banned throughout the country. I guess time will only tell…
Where to Eat:
Restaurante RiFF – This was our very first experience eating at a Michelin Star Restaurant… omg WORTH IT! It was truly like going to a show because the presentation & the way in which we were served was almost theatrical in the very best way possible. Not to mention the flavour & texture combinations of each & every single course was just so out of this world. We went for lunch & ordered the express set lunch menu – this is 38 Euros & comes with snacks, tapas, salad, two mains & two desserts. I mean for a Michelin Star Restaurant that’s kind of a bargain…
Valor – Churros & chocolate anyone? We asked a couple of locals where the best place was to eat Churros & they all directed us to Valor – it’s been around since the 1800s! We were a little bit disappointed to find out that this is a popular chain throughout Spain, but the Churros were outstanding nonetheless!
Bodega La Pascuala – When we asked around for food recos near the beach literally every single person directed us to Bodega La Pascuala; they’re infamous for their delciously HUGE sandwhiches & they have about one million options. Hot Tip: Grab a pitcher of sangria, split a large sandwhich & enjoy the patio sun!
Ever been to Valencia? What am I missing?!