Spain is renowned for its vibrant culture, stunning architecture, and captivating cities. When planning a trip to this beautiful country, Barcelona is often the first city that comes to mind for many travellers. However, hidden along the Mediterranean coast lies another gem that often goes unnoticed - Valencia. In this blog post, we'll explore why Valencia offers a refreshing alternative to Barcelona and why it should be at the top of your travel list.
Why Valencia? 🇪🇸 🍊 🕍
While Barcelona has become a major tourist hub, Valencia retains its authentic Spanish charm. The city is less crowded and offers a more immersive experience of the Spanish way of life, in addition to becoming a blossoming spot for digital nomads and expats. Whether strolling through the vibrant Mercado Central, enjoying paella at a local restaurant, or witnessing the lively Las Fallas festival, Valencia provides an intimate glimpse into authentic Spanish culture.
Both Barcelona and Valencia boast remarkable architectural wonders, but Valencia's history and architecture are often overlooked. Barcelona's iconic structures, like the Sagrada Familia and Park Güell, are undoubtedly awe-inspiring and on many tourists' bucket lists. However, Valencia's architectural treasures, such as the City of Arts and Sciences, the Valencia Cathedral, and the Silk Exchange, are equally impressive and offer a unique blend of Gothic, Renaissance, and modernist styles that are equally important to explore.
Where To Visit In Valencia... 🗺 🧭 👀
The Stunning Turia Gardens: One of the standout features of Valencia is the Turia Gardens, a lush green park that stretches for over 9 kilometres. This former riverbed, transformed into a vibrant urban park, is perfect for leisurely walks, cycling, or picnicking. It is a tranquil escape from the bustling city and offers a variety of attractions along its length, including sports facilities, museums, and beautiful gardens.
Beaches: When it comes to beaches, both Barcelona and Valencia have a lot to offer. However, Valencia's beaches are often less crowded and more tranquil than Barcelona's bustling beaches. The city's coastline stretches for miles, with pristine sandy beaches like Malvarrosa and El Saler that provide a serene escape for sun-seekers and water sports enthusiasts.
Holy Grail and Climb up the Miguelete: The Holy Grail, a legendary relic with deep religious significance, has captivated people's imaginations for centuries. Valencia, Spain, has a special connection to this mythical artefact, as it is believed to be the home of the Holy Chalice, considered by many as the Holy Grail itself. Nestled within the Valencia Cathedral, visitors can embark on a spiritual journey to witness this revered treasure. While in Valencia, another must-visit destination is the Miguelete, the iconic bell tower of the Valencia Cathedral. Climbing up its 207 steps rewards travellers with breathtaking panoramic views of the city's skyline and the surrounding beauty of Valencia.
The Museum of Arts and Sciences: Also known as the City of Arts and Sciences, this magnificent architectural masterpiece in Valencia deserves a special place on your itinerary. This futuristic complex, designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, is a true marvel that seamlessly blends art, science, and technology. As you approach the museum, you'll be greeted by its stunning white structures, resembling a futuristic cityscape. Whether you're a contemporary art lover, a science enthusiast, or simply seeking a unique cultural experience, the Museum of Arts and Sciences has something for everyone. From the awe-inspiring Opera House to the interactive Science Museum.
Indulge In Authenticity… 🍊🥘🎉
Paella, one of Spain's most famous dishes, originated in Valencia. For the ultimate paella experience, Valencia is the place to be. Indulge in the authentic flavours of this beloved rice dish, which is freshly prepared using locally sourced ingredients, including succulent seafood, aromatic saffron, and the distinctive Bomba rice. Valencia's beachfront restaurants are renowned for serving some of the best paella in the country.
While Barcelona hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, Valencia's festivals hold their own unique charm. The Las Fallas festival celebrated every March, is an explosion of colour, music, fireworks, and massive papier-mâché sculptures that are burned in a spectacular display. The Fallas festival is a must-see cultural event that immerses visitors in the heart of Valencian tradition and creativity.
Valencia oranges, famously known as the "queen of oranges," symbolise the region's agricultural abundance and are renowned worldwide for their exceptional flavour and quality. Grown in the sun-drenched orchards of Valencia, Spain, these citrus gems are cherished for their sweet, juicy flesh and vibrant, refreshing taste. Take a trip to one of the many orchard tours and tastings to sink your teeth into savouring a perfectly ripe Valencia orange, a true testament to the region's agricultural heritage and a citrus experience like no other.
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Want to explore other less-crowded cities? Take a look at our Alternative City Breaks series here.