6 Fun Things to Do in Valencia, Spain
Back in the summer of 2012, I spent 5 wonderful weeks studying abroad in Spain. While I was able to see many parts of the country, we were based in Valencia, on the east coast.
Valencia is one of the larger cities in Spain, with a population of about 2 million, and shares a lot of the same history, individuality, and grandeur seen in the likes of Madrid and Barcelona.
Believe it or not, but Spanish is not the one and only language spoken in Spain. Yes, the Castilian dialect of Spanish is the de facto official language, but you also have another language called Catalonian that is widely spoken in the northeastern region around Barcelone. On the north coast you have Basque, which is not only completely unrelated to Spanish but completely unrelated to any other language on Earth! Likewise, in Valencia (a region as well as a city), you have the Valencian language.
You will see street signs all around the city written in both Spanish and Valencian, and the cool thing is that if you can read Spanish, you can read Valencian. The two languages are very, very similar, they might just replace some d‘s with t‘s and some y‘s with i‘s. For example, “ciudad” (city) becomes “ciutat” in Valencian.
Read on for 6 Fun Things to Do in Valencia, Spain!
1. City of Arts and Sciences
One of the most striking symbols of Valencia is the City of Arts and Sciences, or as it’s called in the local Valencian dialect, Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciencies.
The City of Arts and Sciences is a series of massive museums and landscaped spaces housed in buildings that are themselves works of art. For example, the Prince Phillip Museum of Art is housed in a structure built to resemble a massive whale’s skeleton.
Among the many segments of the City is L’Oceanografic, the largest aquarium in Europe. But that’s just one other aspect of the City. You also have botanical gardens, sculpture gardens, an IMAX theater, and much more. You can easily spend an entire day in the City of Arts and Sciences, and it’s more than worth it.
2. Ciutat Vella
You can’t talk about many European cities without talking about their historic districts. After all, if there’s one thing Europe does well, it’s history.
Valencia’s birth dates back to 138 BC, when it was founded by Roman generals. Throughout its long life, it’s also seen heavy influence from Moorish invaders and Catholic royalty. The Ciutat Vella (Old City), bears witness to all of these influences. It’s probably the most photogenic district in the city, and holds many museums as well as the impressive Cathedral of Valencia.
3. The Beach
Valencia is situated on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, and as such enjoys wonderful beaches. Together with the rest of my study abroad group, we spent many wonderful afternoons chilling at Playa Malva-Rosa and eating elote fried up right there on the boardwalk.
They’re easily accessible by Valencia’s bike share program, Valenbisi, and by the bus system.
The Eixample is Valencia’s premier shopping district. Directly adjacent to the Ciutat Vella historic district, it shares a lot of similar architecture and grandeur. This is where you’ll find much of the city’s best shopping, as well as the main train station for traveling to other cities around the country.
As a European city, the inhabitants know how to have a good time. There are any number of good bars, restaurants, and clubs to enjoy in all areas of the city.
Two of the places we hung out in most often were Barrio el Carmen and Barrio de Ruzafa. Both of these areas offer myriad choices for bars and restaurants with plaza and sidewalk seating. Both of these places are in Cuitat Vella and you can find most any type of place you could possibly want.
6. Falles (March)
Falles is a world-reknown celebration that’s absolutely worth a visit if you can time it. Running from March 15th to 19th, Falles (also called Fallas in Spanish) is a major celebration commemorating Saint Joseph.
Think of Falles as a combination of Mardi Gras and Fourth of July. There are massive floats and statues that get pretty ornate, but then are burned at the end of the festival in massive bonfires.
Accompanying the creation and burning of the statues is the Mascleta, a spectacular fireworks and pyrotechnics show that actually runs every day of March up until the finale on the 19th.
Have anything to add? Let us know in the comments below! Valencia is a wonderful city and I look back on my time there fondly. Honestly, I can’t wait to get back.
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