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Things to Do in Valencia, Spain on a Short Trip – A Practical Guide

What are the Best Things to Do in Valencia?

Valencia is a city filled with history, culture, art, good restaurants, and trendy bars.

But what to do in Valencia on a short visit? I have been living in Valencia for quite a while now so it is about time to share some of my tips!

Over the past 15 years I’ve visited Valencia many times and eventually decided I like this city so much that I should try living here. And it has been a great decision!

Valencia is Spain’s third-largest city and a lot has changed here in recent years. It has always been a beautiful city with a well-preserved historic center but in the past few years, it seems to have become more lively, more international and more popular amongst both tourists and expats.

Trendy coffee shops seem to open non-stop and cultural, food, and sports events or meetups are held throughout the city almost daily.

In this article I want to share my recommendations for what to see and what to do in Valencia.

Whether you are spending just one day in Valencia or a longer time, I hope my tips will help make it into a great trip!

I’ve written a lot more about Valencia. You can find an overview of all articles about visiting Valencia here – From where to stay and where to eat to using public transport, and more.

Things to Do in Valencia

1. Start Your Day with a Spanish Breakfast

a traditional Spanish breakfast - what to do in Valencia

The standard breakfast in this part of Spain consists of Pan con Tomate (bread with tomato) and coffee.

If you visit Valencia you should try this breakfast at least once. And it isn’t hard to find. Pretty much every cafe that is open in the morning will offer this breakfast.

And the best part is: the entire breakfast won’t cost you much more than € 2.50

It’s a nice way to start the day. And if you pick the right spot it will be perfect for people watching and to get a feel for how the Spanish start their day.

Tip: If you are not sure where to stay in Valencia, check out this article about the best neighborhoods & best hotels in Valencia

2. Check out La Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange)

Things to do in Valencia: visit Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange)

things to do in Valencia Spain: Lonja de la Seda (Llotja de la Seda)
La Lonja de la Seda – Things to do in Valencia

If you ask any Valenciano what to do in Valencia, La Lonja de la Seda will always be one of the first things they mention.

Built between 1482 and 1533, this group of buildings was originally used for trading in silk (hence its name, the Silk Exchange).

This set of Gothic-style buildings, which is called Llotja de la Seda in Valencian, show off the power and wealth of a major Mediterranean mercantile city in the 15th and 16th centuries.

It is well worth having a walk around these buildings as they are some of the most impressive buildings in Valencia’s historic center and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tip: You pay extra for an audio tour but it’s well worth it if you want to know more about the history and former use of these buildings.

Admission: € 2.00 (free on Sundays & holidays)

3. Cross the Street to Visit the Mercado Central (Central Market)

Valencia things to do: go to the central market

what to see in Valencia: the Merecado Central (central market)
What to do in Valencia: visit the central market

This market is high on most visitors’ lists of things to do in Valencia.

The Mercado Central, or Mercat Central in Valencian, is one of the oldest markets still in use in Europe. It has been declared a Heritage of Cultural Interest site by the Spanish Ministry of Culture.

Situated across the street from La Lonja de la Seda, in the heart of Ciutat Vella (the historic city center), the market is popular among tourists as well as locals.

With its numerous aisles filled with local products, it’s a lovely spot to immerse yourself in Valencia’s local culture and to find out more about Valencia’s local food.

Buy some snacks to eat in the park later, pick up a colorful fruit salad that’s ready to eat as you walk around, or stop at the cafe inside the market and just enjoy the atmosphere of this lively market.

This is without a doubt one of the main places to visit in Valencia!

The market is open from Monday to Saturday, from 7AM until 3PM

4. Be Impressed by the Valencia Cathedral and Climb the Micalet Tower

What to do in Valencia Spain: visit the cathedral

Valencia what to do: check out the cathedral

places to visit in Valencia: the impressive cathedral
Valencia Cathedral – Places to visit in Valencia

The Metropolitan Cathedral–Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia, also known as Saint Mary’s Cathedral or simply Valencia Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic church.

It is an impressive building that spans a variety of architectural styles, including baroque, Romanesque and gothic.

Built on the site of a Roman temple, which later became a mosque, the origins of the cathedral date back to the 13th century.

One reason why many people visit the cathedral is because there is a chapel here in which the Holy Chalice, a cup made of ancient gemstone, can be found. Some believe this is the Holy Grail.

Next to the main entrance you will find a baroque-style bell tower, the Torre del Micalet (the Micalet Tower).

This 13th-century bell tower takes its name from the main clock bell, el Micalet. 207 steps lead you up to a terrace area from where you have a lovely view over Valencia.

Valencia Cathedral admission: € 7.00

The Cathedral links two of El Carmen’s most iconic plazas – Plaza de la Reina and Plaza de la Virgen.

Both plazas are worth checking out and are good, albeit touristy, places for lunch or a drink. Don’t order a paella here though because you will be disappointed.

Instead, check out these places for the best paella in Valencia.

5. Climb One of the Old City Gates

Things to do in Valencia: climb one of the city gates

Valencia Spain things to do: climb the city gate

valencia what to see: view from the city's medieval gates
Climb the city gates – Things to do in Valencia, Spain

Valencia used to be protected by an impressive set of walls with 12 gates. Today, the medieval walls have disappeared, but two gates remain: the Torres de Serranos to the north, and the Torres de Quart to the west.

The Torres de Serranos formed the main entrance to Valencia. This is the gate through which the royal processions of visiting kings would enter.

The Torres de Serranos, built in the late 14th century, is considered to be the largest Gothic city gateway in Europe.

During the Spanish Civil War, the towers protected works of art that had been rescued from the Prado museum.

And today, this is where Valencia celebrates la Crida, which marks the start of the famous Fallas festival.

The second remaining gate, the Torres de Quart, was built in the 15th century. The most interesting aspect of this gate are the still-visible bombing marks from the Siege of Valencia by Napoleonic forces in 1808.

From 1586 until 1887 the towers were used as a prison for nobles.

Both gates are impressive and remarkably well-maintained. You can climb to the top of either one of them and both give a similar view of the city center.

So I would say, just pick the gate you happen to be closest to, but definitely add climbing one of them to your list of things to do in Valencia.

Admission: € 2.00 (free on Sundays & holidays)

6. Visit the Bullring & Adjacent Bullfighting Museum

What to do in Valencia: visit the city's bullring

A weekend in Valencia: visit the city's bullring

Valencia city break: go to the bullring
What to see in Valencia: the bullring & museum

This is a controversial one and it took me a long time before I finally visited Valencia’s bullring, the Plaza de Toros. Because yes, Valencia still uses it for bullfights.

But, thankfully you can visit the bullring when there are no bullfights. So I eventually decided that even though I am VERY MUCH AGAINST bullfighting I do want to know more about it. Even if it is just to be able to have a better-educated discussion about it.

And I have to admit, the building is impressive! It makes such a great place for concerts and other events not harming animals…

Anyway, my personal opinion aside, the Plaza de Toros is one of the main places to visit in Valencia.

The bullring is a neoclassic building built between 1850-1860. It is 18 meters high, has a diameter of 52 meters and can hold around 12.000 people.

Right next to the bullring you’ll find a small bullfighting museum.

The museum was founded in 1929 and is one of the oldest and most important bullfighting museums in Spain, holding historical objects from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. It also shows a video of what happens during a bullfight. If you have a weak stomach or hate seeing animal cruelty you might want to give this video a miss.

The main bullfights take place during the Fallas festival and at the July Fair.

Also Read: Interesting Facts About Spain

Tip: the entrance to the bullring and the museum is a bit tricky to find since it is in a side street. Check out the map here, or type in Museo Tauri in Google maps.

Admission: € 2.00 (free on Sundays & holidays)
The bullring and museum are closed on Mondays.

What to do on a short trip to Valencia: visit the central train station

When you are here, also check out the impressive central train station, Estación del Norte (Estació del Nord in Valencian) which is located right next to the bullring.

It’s a beautiful building and the square in front of it is often used for entertainment such as live music, groups of dancers, etc.

7. Be Amazed by the Architecture of the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias

What to do in Valencia, Spain: Visit the City of Arts & Sciences

 City of Arts & Sciences

What to do in Valencia, Spain: visit the City of Arts & Sciences
What to do in Valencia, Spain: visit the City of Arts & Sciences

The Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, or City of Arts and Sciences, is a collection of ultra-modern buildings housing several attractions.

It has become the icon of the city and is featured in every guidebook, blog, and Youtube video about what to see in Valencia.

The City of Arts and Sciences is the most important modern tourist destination in Valencia and one of the 12 Treasures of Spain. Originally budgeted at €300 million, it has cost nearly three times the initially expected cost.

Inside the different buildings that make up this futuristic complex you can find the following attractions to visit:

  • Oceanographic, Europe’s 2nd largest aquarium
  • Hemisferic, a 3D cinema
  • The Príncipe Felipe Science Museum
  • Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía; an opera house and cultural center
  • L’Umbracle; a sculpture garden and landscaped walk with plant species indigenous to Valencia

Apart from L’Umbracle, which is free to enter, all of these attractions are surprisingly pricey.

But, even if you are not willing to pay for any of these, do still visit the area. Stroll around, take pictures of the impressive buildings and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere while sipping on a refreshing drink at one of the outdoor cafes.

Tip: everyone I have spoken to seems to agree that the science museum is a bit of a letdown and not worth the money.

For more information: cac.es

And if you want to combine a tour of the City of Arts & Sciences with an incredible wine and tapas dinner on the highest rooftop in Valencia, I can highly recommend this tour. I had already lived in Valencia for two years when I joined this tour and still learned a lot. Plus the dining experience they offer is amazing!


8. Go for a Stroll or a Bike Ride in the Turia Park (Jardines Del Turia)

Things to do in Valencia: walk around Turia Park

Turia Gardens in Valencia Spain
Turia Gardens in Valencia, Spain

The Jardines del Turia (Turia Gardens) are located in the former riverbed of the River Turia.

The river, which was drained and rerouted after a catastrophic flood in 1957, ran around Valencia’s city center. The 9km long park that has since been created is one of the things many of my friends in Valencia love the most about this city.

The park offers a mixture of playing fields, cycling & walking paths, fountains, and gardens. It even boasts a bizarre looking children’s playground called Parque Gulliver.

Also Read: Things to do in Valencia With Kids

The Turia Gardens is one of the largest urban parks in Spain, crossed by 18 bridges full of history.

It forms a lovely green space that is easily accessible from anywhere in the city. People of all ages actively use the park and you can often find me here for an afternoon walk, a sports class, or a picnic with friends.

Tip: Go on a bike tour to see a lot of Valencia. Or check out this night bike tour to see Valencia by night!

9. Relax at One of Valencia’s Stunning Beaches

Valencia things to do: visit Malvarrosa beach

Valencia's main beach
What to do in Valencia, Spain – go to the beach

Despite being on the Mediterranean Sea, even locals say that “Valencia has always lived with its back to the sea”, meaning that the core of the city is not integrated with its beaches.

The city center and the most visited neighborhoods are quite far from the beach.

While Valencia is a very walkable city and most of its tourist attractions are within walking distance from each other, to the beach you probably want to take a bus, metro, tram, or taxi.

Or rent a bike and cycle to the beach.

Also Read: How to Use the Metro in Valencia the Cheapest and Easiest Way

La Malvarrosa is the name of Valencia’s main beach which most locals and tourists go to.

La Malvarrosa is a lovely long and wide sandy beach. It offers a few (beach) bars, numerous restaurants, and a long boardwalk; the Paseo Maritimo. It can get crowded here in summer but in general, it’s the perfect place for a beach day.

Although it looks like one long beach, La Malvarrosa is split up into different beaches. The three main areas are: Malvarrosa, Las Arenas, and Patacona. Patacona is the most Northern part of the beach and if you are looking for a quieter stretch of beach then this is your best choice. Plus Patacona has some lovely breakfast and lunch places that are well worth checking out!

If you enjoy watersports, you can take a windsurfing lesson, or go paddleboarding. I’ve done both activities in Valencia and do feel I should mention that the waves can make windsurfing tricky if you’ve never tried it before. 

10. Admire Some Great Street Art and End Your Day with Drinks in El Carmen

street art in Valencia

What to see & do in Valencia: explore the El Carmen neighborhood

What to see in Valencia: street art in El Carmen
What to see in Valencia: street art in El Carmen

You can find cool street art throughout Valencia but the neighborhood of El Carmen is one of the best places to wander around in if you enjoy street art. Additionally, this area also offers some of the city’s best nightlife.

Barrio del Carmen is peaceful during the day and very lively at night. It’s one of the most popular areas of Valencia’s medieval old town.

Barrio del Carmen is located in the northwest of the old town behind Plaza de la Virgin and near Torres de Serranos and Torres de Quart. El Carmen is famous for its many cafes, bars, and restaurants.

Also Read: Where to Find the Best Rooftop Bars in Valencia and The Best Tapas in Valencia

Keep in mind that the Spanish don’t have dinner before 8pm (10pm is a much more appropriate time) so save this area for the end of your day to really soak up the atmosphere.

a Valencia city tour with a tapas dinner
An old town tour with an incredible dining experience – by Sea Saffron

Tip: if you want to combine a tour of the old town with a unique dining experience, then I can truly recommend this tour. It shows you the best parts of the old town and then takes you to a unique location for a 10-course menu of local tapas paired with regional wines. Well worth it if you are looking for something special to do in Valencia!

11. Visit Some of Valencia’s Many Museums

museums in Valencia, Spain
the Fallas museum in Valencia, Spain

Valencia has a surprisingly large offering of museums. From art and history museums to a ceramics museum and a museum dedicated to the famous Fallas festival.

I’d recommend fitting in at least one or two museums during your visit.

Most museums are small so they won’t take up much of your time and most only cost around 2 euros to enter.

Check this link for a list of museums in Valencia.

12. Try an Authentic Valencian Paella

things to do in Valencia: try an authentic paella

Many people don’t know this but Valencia is the birthplace of paella. And the Valencians are very proud of this dish!

So you really can’t visit Valencia without trying paella at least once. For lunch, because paella is a lunch dish.

I wrote a separate article about the best paella restaurants in Valencia. I highly recommend visiting one of these restaurants, instead of going to the more touristy places in the city center that generally charge too much and don’t serve a good, authentic paella.

Other than paella, Valencia also has two local drinks worth trying: Agua de Valencia (a sweet, alcoholic cocktail) and Horchata (a milky drink made from tiger nuts).

Both drinks you can find throughout the city, but I’d recommend Cafe de las Horas for the best Agua de Valencia. Plus, it’s a really cool, quirky cafe in the center of Valencia.

Also Read: Famous Spanish Food You Should Try in Spain

How Much Time Do You Need in Valencia?

Of course, the more time you have, the more you can soak up Valencia’s culture. And the more hidden gems you can find, away from the touristy sights.

But, thankfully Valencia is a compact city so you don’t need a lot of time to see the main sights.

Most tourist attractions are within walking distance from each other and a weekend is enough to see the highlights.

3 days in Valencia is what I would recommend, but if you only have 2 days in Valencia you can also see most of the things listed above.

Other Things to Do in Valencia

If you have some time left after exploring the highlights of Valencia, check out this paella cooking class I did and can highly recommend!

Or stop for a drink at a rooftop bar in Valencia. Read all about the rooftop bars in Valencia and my opinion of them.


video created by Invideo.io

And, the area around Valencia is worth exploring as well if you have more time. Check out these day trips from Valencia to see some of the highlights of the region.

Tip: Vueling offers cheap flights to Valencia from many Spanish and other European cities. Alternatively, check out my article about how to find the cheapest flights for more tips.

Enjoy your trip, I hope you will love this city as much as I do and that this article gave you a good idea of what to do in Valencia!

Map of What to See and What to Do in Valencia

Also Read:

And check my other articles about Spain if you are thinking about visiting more than just Valencia.


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Valencia is a beautiful Mediterranean city and an increasingly popular destination for a city break. This is a practical guide with tips for things to do Valencia, Spain.


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Author: Sanne Wesselman
A traveler, wanderer, digital nomad, and entrepreneur. I spend most of my time living and working abroad and visiting destinations all over the world. I use this website to share "the good, the bad and the ugly" of traveling and living abroad. Visit the About Me page for more info.

23 thoughts on “Things to Do in Valencia, Spain on a Short Trip – A Practical Guide”

  1. Hi Sanne great info thank you, but I have a question about things to do in Valencia. I know Spain is open for tourists now, nice, because I’m overdue for my vacation, lol. Can you tell me If all the museums are open as well? my regards Sandra warren

    • Hi Sandra,
      Yes, museums are open. But, if you want to be sure you can get in on the day you want to, I would recommend deciding beforehand which museums you want to visit. Then either check out their website, give them a call (they will have someone available who speaks English), or visit one day prior, just to make sure they aren’t full or have any special registration policies.
      Enjoy Valencia! 🙂

  2. Incredible information. We will not need a tour book! Thank you. We are going to Valencia in April.

    John and Susan

  3. Great blog on Valencia travel and what to do, but the last thing I would want to do is pay homage to a place of abhorrent cruelty, the bullfighting ring!

    • Hi Jane,

      Yes it’s such a difficult one, which is why I pointed out my issues with Valencia’s bullring and the fact that it is still used for bullfights.

      But, I eventually decided to visit the museum. The reason for this is because I feel it helped me understand the tradition more and some of the BS excuses they use to justify bullfighting. So, if anything it made me even more against the whole thing. But now, when I have a conversation about it with Spanish people at least I am well informed: I know exactly what goes on inside the bullring, how bullfighters are trained, the history, etc. I hope this helps my debate and maybe I can get more people to understand why we really have to get rid of this ‘tradition’.

      For that the museum is really good: it is very informative and shows so much (crazy) pride…

      Anyway, that was my reason for adding the museum to this list, but I of course completely understand if you prefer to avoid the bullring altogether when traveling to Valencia!

  4. Hello Sanne, do you recommend the Tourist Bus for a two day stay? And what transportation would you recommend around the city? Thanks

    • Hi Aleksandra,
      Yes, the tourist bus is quite a good way to learn a bit more about Valencia. But if you just want to use it as a mode of transport there are cheaper options and most of the main sites are within walking distance.

      If you enjoy cycling, renting a bicycle in Valencia is a great option. Your hotel or airbnb will be able to tell you where the nearest bike rental place is.
      The city center you can easily explore on foot, for the rest you will mainly use buses, plus an occasional tram or metro. Just type in your destination in Google maps and check their public transport directions. Google works quite well in Valencia to tell you which public transport to use.

      And, if you just don’t want to deal with public transport (at night, after a long day, etc) taxis are cheap and you can easily find them all over the city. Or download MyTaxi (Valencia’s version of Uber) and order your taxis there.

      I hope this helps! 🙂

  5. We visited Valencia a few years ago and loved it. We happen to arrive during Columbus day and were caught in the middle of a parade. But it was fun and entertaining. The food was also great. We particularly loved the tortilla breakfast. But that “Pan con tomate” was indeed delicious. We have decided to retire in Spain but are looking more towards the northwest of Spain (A Coruña, Sanxenxo). There are many places on your post which we didn’t get to visit. Now we know. Thanks for sharing.

    • Haha Spain has so many holidays that it’s difficult to not arrive on a holiday 😉
      But I am happy you enjoyed visiting Valencia! I still don’t know the Northwest of Spain as well as I would like to but it’s definitely a beautiful region and I hope to visit more of it soon.

  6. Such a helpful guide! Valencia is on our list. For us, trying new things and explore a city is the best thing to do! We will use your tips when we’re visiting Valencia!

  7. Oh my goodness I absolutely ADORE Valencia! I’m so jealous you moved there, as we were thinking of doing the same thing! What made you make the move and how was it finding work?
    Even though I’ve visited quite a lot, there’s still a few things on your list I haven’t done but need to do! Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Anna, Valencia really is a great city to live in! I had lived in Spain before not too far from Valencia and always liked the city. Then a friend of mine moved to Valencia and had a spare room for rent so I decided to just give it a try!

      I have an online marketing company and can work from anywhere so that made the move a lot easier. Finding a job in Valencia unfortunately can be difficult. Many of my English friends here teach English. There seems to be enough work in that and it pays better than many other local jobs.

  8. Excellent article and really useful. I shall forward it to friends who want to visit us here but haven;t quite booked yet. This will give them an idea of what they are missing.

  9. I lived in Valencia for a year and a half and it is also on top of my favorite places to live. Cannot wait to go back and see my old friends there.

    • Hi Cyril, that’s interesting, I never knew they had different names for it in different parts of Spain! (I clearly didn’t eat out for breakfast when I was in Malaga last month…)

  10. You are so lucky to spend so much time in Valencia 🙂 I could visit Mercado Central in every Spanish city 😀 and the one in Valencia looks amazing.

  11. Valencia is the city where I studied and one of my favourites in Spain. Its a perfect mix of culture, food, climate, people and beach 🙂 Very nice post, thank you for sharing¡

  12. For us, one of the joys of travelling is trying new food & regional specialities. Paella originates in the Valencia region, so when we were there last October we decided to do a Paella making experience. We spent a fun half day with a paella master learning the secrets of authentic Paella Valenciana.
    Now we’re hooked and look to do at least one cooking experience in each city we visit. Recently in Barcelona we did two. It’s so much fun, and you get to meet some really fab people.


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