In recent years I’ve come to realise that I really enjoy city trips. A few years ago we spent our two week summer vacation in Barcelona (recommended!) and two years ago we spent two weeks of the summer in Porto. But I’m not only talking about long two week city stays, I enjoy midweek and long weekend city trips just as much! I even enjoy day trips, which is what we did in Valencia. I love the diversity that a journey of discovery on a city trip delivers; culture, bustling city-life, architecture, museums, people –watching and good food and drink. I really enjoy it! o, on this occasion I was on a week’s vacation with my family on the Costa Blanca, which is where I used to holiday when I was a little girl. It had been years since I’d visited Valencia, and seeing as it was just a 100km drive away, it was the perfect time to go there for a day.
VALENCIA BY BIKE
Cycling is the best way to explore and city. We’ve already discovered many cities by bike and I can thoroughly recommend exploring Valencia in this way. I rented our bikes at Bajabikes and ordered the bikes online the night before our trip. The next day we were up and in the car early, so I called to reconfirm the reservation on the way – and, yes, the bikes were ready and waiting for us. The bike rental system here doesn’t work with fixed parking places, you just get your bike, a lock and you’re free to go, stop and park wherever you like. It couldn’t be easier!
JARDÍN DEL TURIA
This park is located in a dry riverbed and meanders for 9km though the city towards the sea. What’s really handy is that the bike rental shop is situated right next to the park, so you can directly descend into the park to start your tour right away. The Turia River used to break its banks regularly, constantly causing considerable damage to Valencia. After a disastrous flood in 1957 which resulted in many fatalities, it was decided to divert the river around the city. It wasn’t until almost 30 years later that it was decided to use the dry riverbed to construct the park which eventually opened in 1986. Today the park is filled with gardens, cycle paths and running tracks, fitness zones, children’s playgrounds, a festival site and beautiful architecture. If you continue cycling in a south-easterly direction, you will eventually arrive at the harbour and the coast.
CUIDAD DE LAS ARTES Y CIENCIAS
In other words -The City of Art and Science. This phenomenon is an architectural wonder and a highlight that should not be missed on any visit to Valencia. These 6 buildings are surrounded by water and are a delight to photograph. They were designed by the world famous and controversial Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava – controversial because his projects often far exceeded their budget. In addition to this Valencian architecture he is also known for the Oculus, the building housing the subway station at the World Trade Center in New York, which, coincidentally, I visited last autumn during my city trip to New York.
The term “hangry” (hungry & angry) can sometimes apply to my teenage daughter until she’s had her breakfast. Fortunately we were able to solve this problem in no time at a real Valencian hotspot, La Mas Bonita. They have a huge choice of pancakes, omelettes, cakes and pastries , and the portion size is equally impressive. Everything is homemade and looks delicious, which makes choosing what to order difficult. This also goes for the juices and smoothies, by the way. The cakes can be found in display cases on the counter and also in refrigerated units and can be packed in the most beautiful cake boxes to take away. There’s a beautiful hidden garden at this branch near the beach. They have several other branches and also rent out apartments. Which are nicely furnished and are painted in the same fresh white and turquoise décor that you recognise from the café.
The great thing about Valencia is that – just like Barcelona – it is a city on the coast so that you can take in some culture as well as take it easy on the beach. Cities like this are ideal for longer stays.
AND MUCH, MUCH MORE
A longer stay would give you the time to visit museums such as the IVAM; to go shopping in the old town, where a visit to the gastro market is an absolute must to lie on the wide, sandy beaches and to spot graffiti and street art while wandering around the town – and you don’t have to try to do everything into one day like we did. The city made a good first impression on us, and I definitely would like come back again when I have a little more time to explore this multi-faceted city.