Adoration 4 Adventure’s 2 day itinerary for Valencia, Spain.
Valencia is a Spanish city located on the eastern coast, around four hours by car from Barcelona or Madrid. It is most known for its Valencia oranges and as the original birthplace of paella.
For me, Valencia was a tranquil and charming break from the pulsing energy of the bigger cities. A place to take your time, have daily siestas and multiple cafe breaks. I spent a large part of my time wandering around with a serene smile, stopping to take photos whenever I felt like it or just sitting down in the plaza to people watch.
In total I spent two and half days in Valencia, however, it could easily be fit into two days without rushing.
Here is my two day itinerary for Valencia, including budget breakdown.
Plaza de la Virgen and free walking tour
A great way to get orientated and learn the basic history of a destination is to go on a free walking tour. Most cities will have at least one walking tour, which you can find by asking your hostel or hotel reception desk, or by searching online. The free tours are on tip basis, so you pay what you think it is worth. I have also found this to be a great way to meet other solo travelers, making friends on previous walking tours in Barcelona, Porto and Amsterdam.
The free walking tour that I took in Valencia started in Plaza de la Virgen. Luckily for me, it was just a few minutes walk from my hostel. The guide led us around the center, showing us the main attractions and giving a brief overview of Valencia in two and a half hours. The pace is quite relaxed and overall we didn’t do that much walking (the center is quite small). I started chatting to another girl from Seattle and we decided to go exploring after the tour ended.
The walking tour included a stop in the central market of Valencia, however, I think that it is worth a trip (or two!) on its own. Many major cities around the world have these public food markets. They can be really fun to explore and get an idea of the local produce and cuisines.
The typical Valencia snack to purchase here is horchata and farton. Horchata (orxata) is a local drink made from ground tiger nuts. There are similar versions in Latin American countries. The farton is a sweet pastry which tastes somewhat like a doughnut. The custom is to dip your farton into the horchata, however as I am not a big fan of horchata, I had mine with coffee instead.
Plaza de la Reina and Torre de San Miguelete
A short distance from Plaza de la Virgen is Plaza de la Reina. This is a busier square with more restaurants and traffic (both pedestrian and vehicles) but it still retains that relaxed vibe. Rising above the square is the San Miguelete Tower and Santa Maria Cathedral. Both require a ticket to enter. If you are really into churches and don’t want to pay then you can visit the cathedral in Plaza de la Virgen for free.
The cost to climb San Miguelete tower is only two Euros and definitely worth it for some amazing views of the city.
El Carmen street art
When I had arrived the previous night by bus from Barcelona, I couldn’t help but notice all the street art I saw while walking to my hostel. This area is called El Carmen and is a maze of decorated alleys close to Plaza de la Virgen. There are also a ton of cafes and restaurants littered throughout this area. A Spanish friend of mine who lived in Valencia told me that this is where she used to go for drinks.
At the time that I was in Valencia, the place to go drinking seemed to be Ruzafa. So much so that I actually ended up here two nights in a row. There is a range of bars from craft beer to jazz clubs, and I tried to visit as many as possible on a crazy pub crawl.
One famous Valencia drink is “Agua de Valencia”. This is consists of cava or champagne, vodka, gin and orange juice. Usually served by the glass or in a jug. I bought a jug to share but have to say that it was very overpriced. The Agua de Valencia I tried was similar to a mimosa which is very common in the USA and Australia. Apart from that, the drinks are generally well-priced starting from €1 for a tap beer.
Bluebell Coffee Co.
While in Valencia, I upped my caffeine intake. It wasn’t to stay awake (I was still having daily siestas) but rather for the taste and pleasure of sipping on the hot beverage in between my leisurely strolls. The only issue was all the milk that I was drinking. I suffer from a lactose sensitivity, which means that I can’t consume dairy in large quantities. With all my coffee breaks, I really needed to switch to something light for my stomach.
Do you have a sensitivity or preference when it comes to food? Read my tips for traveling with a food allergy.
For those who have lactose sensitivities or prefer their specialty coffees, this can be a little tricky when traveling in Spain. Most cafes will only serve the standard types e.g. cafe con leche (coffee with milk) or cafe negro (black coffee). And if you are after soy milk, forget it. There more expensive options available are Starbucks and Costa Coffee, however, I tend to get sick of visiting chain coffee shops and crave the experience of an independent cafe.
And that’s what I found in Bluebell Coffee Co. A quiet and cute cafe with specialty coffee and fresh breakfast options.
When I asked a friend of mine what I should do in Valencia, she enthusiastically responded “Go to the river!”. The so-called river actually no longer exists but has been filled in and covered with a beautiful parkland that extends from Parque de Cabecera, in the west, almost all the way to the ocean in the east.
The park is full of people exercising, walking or just taking a relaxing. There is also a huge children’s playground in the shape of Gulliver from the book “Gulliver’s Travels”. I would recommend hiring a bike for a day and riding the entire length of the gardens to the sea. If you do go by foot, be aware of the different paths for cyclists, joggers, and walkers. I was almost run down when I didn’t look before stepping out onto a bike track.
Ciudad de las artes y las ciencias (CAC)
The City of Arts and Sciences is a huge complex of futuristic buildings within Turia Gardens. Each building is unique creation and contribution to the education of arts and sciences. There is an entrance fee to the science museum, aquarium, and 3D cinema or you can just wander around gaping at the science-fiction type architecture.
Playa de la Malvarrosa
If you bike east through the length of Turia Gardens then start to head north after the City of Arts and Sciences, you will find yourself at the sea! I actually walked the distance from Plaza de la Virgen to Playa de la Malvarossa and it took over an hour (I got the bus back).
The area around the beach is quite nice with a harbor, walking paths and Rollerblade park. The beach itself is calm and wide. Restaurants are lined up behind the shore and there is a feeling of merriness in the air. Especially if you visit on a sunny day like I did.
Budget breakdown: Valencia
All costs are quoted for two people and in the local currency (EUR). See below for the average daily spend per person including currency conversion to USD and AUD. I always try to find and negotiate the best prices to share with my readers. If you know of a better deal, tell me about it in the comments below.
Accommodation: 2 nights’ in a 6-bed female dorm (€22.20).
Food: My hostel provided free breakfast with tea and coffee however as the quality wasn’t very good, I bought my coffee and breakfast out of the hostel.
Day 1 – Coffee and farton at Mercado Central (€2.20), lunch and a beer (€6.40), latte with soy milk (€3.30), slice of pizza (€1.50), icecream (€1.50), beers in Ruzafa (€6.00).
Day 2 – Breakfast and coffee with soy at Bluebell Coffee Co. (€6.50), 1-liter bottle of water and bag of candy (€2.40), little sandwiches and fries at 100 Montaditos (€4.50), latte with soy milk (€3.30), slice of gourmet pizza (€2.50).
Activities: Tip for the free walking tour (€10), entrance to Torre de San Miguelete (€2).
Transport: Bus from Playa de la Malvarrosa back to Turia Gardens (€1.50).
Average daily spend: €37.90* ($40 USD and $52.14 AUD as of 22 February 2017).
*This daily amount could be reduced by cooking your own meals or sticking to drinking more water.
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