What to see in a weekend on Valencia
For an enjoyable weekend, there are few cities that can compete with Valencia. The capital of the Valencia region is the perfect size for leisurely sightseeing, while still being able to take in all its attractions. It is a pleasure to stroll through its historic quarters, visiting monuments such as the Cathedral or the Llotja de la Seda, getting a feel of the city’s everyday life at the Central Market, or admiring the work of Sorolla at the Museum of Fine Arts.
Fun and entertainment are also guaranteed in the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències, which houses such fascinating attractions as the Science Museum and the Oceanogràfic. Lovers of the natural world will particularly enjoy the Bioparc and the Albufera Natural Park. If we add to all this a generous dose of gourmet cuisine from renowned chefs, visitors have everything they could possibly need for a perfect weekend.
Itinerary day 1
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
This once-forgotten neighbourhood in the Eixample district has gained a new lease of life in recent years, and a pleasant cultural ambience now permeates it. It is a pleasure to visit the colourful Ruzafa Market, to go shopping in its historic shops and to eat in the most trail-blazing restaurants.
7:30 PM - 8:00 PM
This Neo-classical building, dating from the mid-nineteenth century, is the work of the architect Sebastián Monleón Estellés. From the outside, you can see that it has four arcaded floors, brick archways and stone balustrades. The most famous bullfights are held during the festival of Les Falles and the Feria.
8:30 PM - 9:30 PM
This beautiful Modernist building, which has been designated a National Monument, was designed by the architect Francisco Mora Berenguer. It started out as a food market, but nowadays it includes flower stalls and excellent gourmet areas where you can have lunch or dinner.
9:45 PM - 11:30 PM
In this restaurant located in the Mercat Colón, the renowned chef Ricard Camarena offers a menu based on Mediterranean flavours. His dishes focus on local ingredients and vegetables, which are supplied at their peak by a network of local farmers.
Itinerary day 2
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Despite its Gothic appearance, the Cathedral was built on the site of a Roman temple, and was also once a mosque. Inside can be found treasures such as the Holy Chalice, and the High Altar with its Renaissance frescoes. Visitors can go up the Micalet bell tower to enjoy the panoramic views from the top.
11:15 AM - 11:45 AM
This square is considered to be the heart of the historic quarter, and it is worth taking the time to appreciate its historic buildings (including the Cathedral), to do some shopping in the open-air markets or to sip an horchata [typical cool, sweet drink made from tiger nuts] on one of its terraces.
12:00 PM - 12:45 PM
This magnificent Modernist market, with its characteristic wrought iron architecture, is considered to be the largest fresh produce market in Europe. Stroll among its 1,200-plus stalls displaying local produce, and immerse yourself in the flavours of the Mediterranean.
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
This traditional bar is located in the Mercat Central, and is now run by the well-known Valencian chef, Ricard Camarena. Seize the opportunity to sample typical Valencian tapas, and you can then continue on your way without losing too much time.
2:15 PM - 3:00 PM
Designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, this is one of Europe’s finest examples of Gothic civic architecture. Its splendour is testament to the business bonanza experienced by Valencia around the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Don’t forget to visit the Saló Columnari [Columned Room], its garden and the orange-tree patio.
3:30 PM - 4:00 PM
What nowadays look to us like a gate are the towers built by Pere Bonfill, who took his inspiration from the Castel Nuovo in Naples. This late-Gothic structure had a military function, as it was built as a defence for the city. For some time, it was used as a women’s prison.
4:15 PM - 5:00 PM
Once a walled neighbourhood, the Barrio del Carmen is located within the Ciutat Vella district. Amble through its narrow streets, enjoy the Bohemian atmosphere of its squares, and visit one of its most iconic museums, such as the IVAM [Museum of Modern Art] or the MUVIM (Museum of Illustration and Modernity].
5:15 PM - 5:30 PM
The Serrans Towers formed part of the city’s defensive system during the fourteenth century, but were rendered obsolete when the city walls were demolished in 1865. They were used as a prison for members of the aristocracy between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. The interior of this Gothic construction is open to visitors, but only during the mornings.
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
The boundaries of this innovative zoo are almost invisible, so that the visitor has the feeling of being completely immersed in the animals’ habitat. Located close to what was once the bed of the river Túria, the zoo covers an area of 100,000 m2, within which African ecosystems are replicated.
8:00 PM - 9:00 PM
The best way to end the day is watching the sun set from one of Valencia’s beaches. Valencians’ favourite urban beach is Platja de la Malva-rosa, a lively area where, in addition to paddling in the sea, you can also have something to eat and drink on one of the terraces.
9:30 PM - 11:00 PM
This establishment, which has held a Michelin star since 2013, is a branch of Quique Dacosta’s restaurant in Dénia. We can particularly recommend the tasting menu, which enables you to try out a variety of creations by Luis Valls, who trained with Dacosta.
Itinerary day 3
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
This complex, designed by Santiago Calatrava, has become Valencia’s star attraction. It extends for about 2 km over what was once the bed of the river Túria, and it houses, amongst others, the Hemisfèric, the Science Museum, and the Oceanogràfic.
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM
The largest aquarium in Europe replicates the most important ecosystems of all the world’s seas and oceans. In the buildings that make up the complex, visitors can see the typical marine fauna of the Mediterranean, the Antarctic, the Arctic, and the Red Sea, among others.
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Quality ingredients, tradition and passion are the three elements that define this elegant restaurant located in Hotel Barceló Valencia. Its à la carte menu hits a perfect balance between the traditional flavours of the Mediterranean and the modern vibe of the local area.
4:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Sunday afternoon should be spent in the Albufera Natural Park, about 10 km from Valencia. This is one of the finest natural spaces in the region, and a paradise for birds. You can cycle through it, sail in a boat on the Albufera lake or stroll along the beaches of El Saler.
9:00 PM - 11:00 PM
With an updated image and a contemporary cuisine that is still mindful of tradition, this historic establishment is one of Valencia’s flagship restaurants. It is the perfect place to discover the world of the traditional local sport, the ‘pilota valenciana’, as some of the most important tournaments take place here.