Valencia is the third largest city in Spain, and with only thirty raining days on average per year it was almost guaranteed to have great weather when I was there. Having three days of beautiful sunny days, as well as seven days of sun in Barcelona before getting to Valencia, had me convinced that bad weather didn’t exist in Spain. Originally I had decided to skip Valencia because other blogs had stated the top things to do as people watching and eating Paella. It turned out that going via Valencia to Granada would save me over fifty euros, so I decided to stop there for three nights. It ended up being a great decision, with plenty of attractions to fill my time, and a lot of green space to relax in.
After a four hour bus ride from Barcelona I set out to find the Quart Youth Hostel, which ended up being about two blocks in the wrong direction in Google maps. Eventually I found it and was so happy to have a gym at the hostel, as well as a super spacious room. I wasn’t there long before going exploring on foot to find food. I started at the Mercado Central which is famous for being the second oldest market in Europe. It was a stunning building, however I missed the stalls being open by about an hour and so couldn’t get lunch there.
Attraction: Mercado Central
Getting there: Many buses go here including 7, 27 and 81. Otherwise it can be reached by walking to the middle of the old town.
On I walked on a mission to the beach intending to get food on the way. My GPS took me the complete wrong way so I decided to search vegan restaurants instead. I was in luck and found Tarta de Zanahoria nearby. This is a small vegan restaurant and although I couldn’t speak enough Spanish yet and the lady couldn’t speak a lot of English we figured it out and I received a pasta type meal with vegetables, followed by tea and cake. I tried out my new words “chocolate caliente” and received several head nods, no hot chocolate.
My walk in random directions was good for me to get my bearings and discovering some beautiful buildings. The architecture was a lot more baroque style than Barcelona and I felt like I was finally in Spain. One place that shocked me was the Plaza De Toro – bull fighting arena. I was aware that these existed, however didn’t realise they could be in such a central part of a city like in Valencia. It is in the middle of the town and is still used for bull fighting. With all of the negative press associated with this activity I thought it would be more hidden. It was a very beautiful building though.
The next day I went for a walk to the City of Arts and Science which consists of many amazing and unusual buildings as well as a fantastic parkland. The park was filled with people exercising and enjoying the warm weather. I think this area will become more famous as it ages as the buildings really were incredible pieces of architecture. The Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia building reminded me of the Sydney Opera House in a way. I also went to the science museum, which was quite interesting, although I already had a fair bit of knowledge on much of what was in the museum. Regardless, I still enjoyed learning many of the science words in Spanish, as all of the displays had great explanations in English and Spanish.
Attraction: City of Arts and Sciences, including the Science Museum and Albereda park
Getting there: Catch the bus to “Institut Obrer de València” or Albereda and walk south east.
Cost: The park is free; the Science Museum was €6.20 for students or €8.00 for adults.
On my last day I was determined to get to El Palmar and to the Natural Park for hiking although my plans did not go exactly work out. The bus station wasn’t where I thought it was, so I took about half an hour trying to find it, missed the bus and had to wait another hour. Then, when I finally caught the bus it went to the wrong place. Luckily it wasn’t too far away and I managed to walk and hitchhike to El Palmar.
Attraction: El Palmar
Getting there: Catch bus 25 from “Navarro Reverter – Gravador Esteve”
Cost: €1.50 each way
Once I finally arrived in El Palmar I had no way to get to the trails in the natural park. I had a look around the channels and tried a few trails which ended either at fields or dead ends. Despite having a pretty annoying day as far as transport goes I have to say El Palmar was still a lovely relaxing place. The views were very nice of the rice fields and the boats bobbing up and down in the channels were a beautiful site. Waiting over an hour for the bus both ways made me remember how long I used to wait in Australia for public transport and I started to appreciate the great transport systems throughout Europe.
Valencia had a lot to explore, and looking back on it I realise that there was so much that I didn’t get to see. I never got to the beaches that Valencia is famous for and I didn’t make it to the Albufera Natural Park, which is known for having some of the best walking trails in the area. It was great to get a taste of this beautiful city and I am happy that I decided to detour through here.