48 Hours in Valencia

Situated on Spain’s south-eastern coast, the port of Valencia is a thriving city. Famous for its forward-thinking attitude, Valencia has seen wide-scale redevelopment, as well as a diversion of the river through the city. As a result, you’ll feel a strong sense of innovation during your time here, with contemporary architecture and experimental design that fuses with culture and tradition. Easily rivalling the likes of Madrid and Barcelona, there’s a lot to see in Valencia – but if your time is limited, here are four places to prioritise in and around the city.

City of Arts & Sciences

Set within a landscaped park is Valencia’s state-of-the-art science complex, a major tourist attraction built on what used to be the riverbed of the Turia. It’s a striking complex of remarkable architecture (designed by Santiago Calatrava) with some real futuristic flair, and the educational and entertainment offerings inside each of the buildings are remarkable too. Explore the endless blue of the largest aquarium in Europe at the Oceanogràfic, or be swallowed up by the concave screen at the Hemisfèric – a digital 3D cinema.


Barrio del Carmen

With narrow alleys, balcony-fringed buildings and curved streets steeped in history, Barrio del Carmen brings a taste of the traditional. Considered the soul of Valencia’s Old Quarter, this scenic area is peppered with cafés (perfect for a spot of people watching over a cup of coffee), and feels atmospheric both night and day. Notice the competition and contrast between the artistic graffiti and old architecture, as you explore the side streets and small boutiques.


Valencian Albufera Natural Park

Lying a short distance south of Valencia’s city limits, you’ll find the Albufera Natural Park. This freshwater lagoon is home to the largest lake in Spain, and is a place of special importance for both wildlife and traditional communities. Hire a car to get there so you can see rare species of wading birds stretching their wings and feeding in the shallow waters. Soak up the tranquillity of the Mediterranean pine forest stretching into the sky from soil. Boat rides to El Palmar (a fishing village in the centre of the park) are available if you’d like to explore more. Here the locals practice 750-year-old fishing traditions, and you can sample traditional dishes in the village’s many restaurants.



For a different pace altogether, head to bohemian Ruzafa, popular with young artists and locals looking for a good time. During the day it’s alive with independent art galleries and shops selling quirky wares, as well as cafes and bookshops, making it a revered cultural hotspot. During the evening, Ruzafa buzzes with the chatter of diners and drinkers in the bars and restaurants – the perfect place to make the most of the city’s nightlife.


48 hours may not seem like enough time in Valencia, but by taking your time and exploring these four places, you won’t feel rushed off your feet. In fact, you might even look forward to returning for a longer visit next time, now that you have a better feel for a city with as much dynamism and personality as Valencia.