What to see in Valencia in 3 days
Throughout the ages, Valencia’s light has inspired adoration in artists and merchants who discovered in this port a place where they could settle and build their palaces. Nowadays, the city has grown, and its dazzling array of monumental architecture is the framework within which life goes on calmly and pleasantly. The best way to get to know this city in just 3 days is to wander around its historic neighbourhoods and take a look inside its iconic buildings, such as the Cathedral, the Llotja de la Seda, and the Central Market.
Valencia is also a cultural destination, where adults and children alike can discover the magic of attractions such as the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències, and the unique spaces, such as the Bioparc, Albufera and the Oceanogràfic, where the secrets of the animal kingdom are revealed. Valencia’s geography has been blessed with fertile land and a mild climate which have provided the ideal conditions for the produce used by the top Valencian chefs to create genuinely delicious dishes.
If you follow this three-day itinerary, you will see that there are countless reasons to choose Valencia as a holiday destination.
Itinerary day 1
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
This magnificent Modernist market, with its characteristic wrought iron architecture, is considered to be the largest fresh produce selling space in Europe. Stroll among its 1,200-plus stalls displaying local produce, and immerse yourself in the flavours of the Mediterranean.
11:30 AM - 12:30 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.
1:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Following the restoration of the church of Sant Nicolau de Bari i Sant Pere Màrtir, a series of frescoes was discovered inside, earning the church the title of ‘the Valencian Sistine Chapel’. Go in and see it, if only for a brief visit.
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
The restaurant enjoys a privileged location in the La Seu neighbourhood, so that afterwards you can continue on your itinerary through the historic centre of the city. This Italian restaurant, with its retro appearance, is renowned for its risottos, pizzas and focaccias. It also has a good wine list.
3:30 PM - 4:30 PM
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 views from the top.
5:00 PM - 6:00 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 conceived as a defence for the city. For some time, it was used as a women’s prison.
6:30 PM - 7:30 PM
The Serrans Towers formed part of the city’s defensive system during the fourteenth century, but were rendered obsolete in 1865, when the city walls were demolished. 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. Check opening times.
8:00 PM - 8:30 PM
This Neo-classical building, dating from the mid-nineteenth century, is the work of the architect Sebastián Monleón Estellés. From the outside, you will be able to see that it has four arcaded floors, brick archways and stone balustrades. If you go inside, you will see that the seating is arranged in 24 tiers. The most famous bullfights are held during the festival of Les Falles and the Feria.
9:00 PM - 9:30 PM
We owe this beautiful Modernist building, which has been designated a National Monument, to the architect Francisco Mora Berenguer. It started out as a food market, but nowadays it includes flower stalls and excellent restaurants. This is a perfect place in Ruzafa to barhop for tapas.
9:45 PM - 11:00 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 - 12:00 PM
This avant-garde complex, the work of 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 comprises, amongst others, the Palau de les Arts, the Umbracle, the Hemisfèric, the Science Museum, and the Oceanogràfic.
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Located in the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències, it has one of Europe’s largest aquariums and dolphinariums. Ecosystems of seas and oceans from across the whole world are replicated in the buildings that make up this centre devoted to marine fauna.
2:30 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 - 5:00 PM
These gardens are considered to be the green lung of the city. This stroll runs for 9 km parallel to what used to be the bed of the river Túria. You can walk the route or cycle along it, as it is closed to traffic. The Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències is at one end, and the Bioparc at the other.
5:30 PM - 6:30 PM
It is worth visiting the marina, both to engage in water sports and to see the modern Veles e Vents building, where a wide selection of cuisine is on offer. This area was granted a new lease of life thanks to the 32nd America’s Cup regatta.
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Valencians’ favourite urban beach is Platja de la Malva-rosa, a lively area where you can go for a swim and have something to eat and drink on one of the terraces. Next to Platja de la Malva-rosa is the Platja del Cabanyal beach, another great cove where you can continue your walk or wait to see the sunset.
9:30 PM - 11:00 PM
Having lunch or dinner in Valencia’s Marina Real while being fanned by the breeze coming directly off the sea is a unique experience. Add to this a world-class cuisine based on freshly-caught fish and seafood, and all kinds of Valencian rice dishes, for a truly sublime experience.
Itinerary day 3
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
The boundaries of this innovative zoo are almost invisible, so that the visitor has the feeling of being totally 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.
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Reserve a couple of hours on the last day to explore 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 and sail in a boat on the Albufera lake.
2:30 PM - 4:00 PM
This restaurant, situated on the Platja de l’Arbre del Gos beach (next to the Platja del Saler beach), offers a wide selection of Valencian dishes, including titaina, blanquet [white sausage] and, of course, Valencian paella, seafood paella, oven-baked rice and their “meloso de pato amb fesols i naps” (with duck, beans and turnips).
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
This long, wild-looking beach stretches for 2.6 kilometres. It is located in the heart of the Albufera Natural Park, between the beaches of l’Arbre del Gos and La Garrofera. Thanks to its beauty, on public holidays it is one of Valencia’s most crowded beaches.
6:30 PM - 7:30 PM
This is one of the best art museums in Valencia and, indeed, in Spain. It is located in a fine monumental edifice that was once a seminary, and houses a wide-ranging collection of works by the Valencian painter Sorolla, and other internationally renowned artists.
8:00 PM - 9:00 PM
If you’ve left it until the last day of your trip to buy souvenirs or to go shopping in Valencia, don’t worry, because in Carrer Colom you can find absolutely anything. In this thoroughfare can be found any number of shops selling fashions, accessories, beauty and décor products.
9:30 PM - 11:30 PM
Dinner at Quique Dacosta’s restaurant is the perfect finishing touch to a trip to Valencia. The ethos of this three-Michelin-star kitchen is characterised by its respect for locally-sourced raw ingredients. You will need to reserve in advance.