It is time for ‘carpe diem’. The value of great moments has taken on a new dimension and we are looking for that change of scenery that our body and soul are demanding from us. A nearby and accessible place; a destination with sea, open and sustainable green spaces; a Mediterranean city, dynamic and authentic, healthy and safe. It is the time of Valencia, in Spain. Feel again in the city that represents a whole lifestyle. Enjoy the Mediterranean Sea, the sunsets of the Albufera Nature Park, the terraces, the taste of real paella, its more than 2,000 years of history. It is the time of Valencia. Read 7 reasons why.
1. You’ve never seen a river turned into a garden
Bike, run, play, walk or picnic. These are some of the plans that can be done in the Jardin del Turia, 9 kilometres across the city from west to east offering play-grounds, cafes, cycle and running tracks, picnic areas, woods, green areas and rugby, football, athletics, baseball or skating tracks.
After the floods in the late 1950s, it was diverted the course of the river to the south of the city and began to reconvert the riverbed.
Since the late 1990s, the eastern end has been occupied by the City of Arts and Sciences, an architectural complex by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava that has become one of the most representative images of Valencia. 300,000 m2 of leisure space gathered in an IMAX cinema with 3D films and a planetarium, the Museu de les Ciències, the Palau de les Arts and the Oceanogràfic, the largest aquarium in Europe. On the west side is the Bioparc, an animal park that recreates in 100,000 m2 the wild nature of the African continent.
2. Take a deep breath: You are in the Mediterranean
There are times when life asks you to break with routine and take a deep breath. Valencia is the perfect place for these moments. You just have to get to one of its beaches and get away to be enveloped by this magical light – this light of Sorolla’s paintings on the seashore. Valencia has 20 kilometres of beach where you can enjoy.
The Marina de Valencia has become a reference point for the leisure time offering one million square metres of space, with about 20 restaurants and bars and three piers. All year round there are also open-air concerts and the possibility of renting boats and jet skis, water sports, such as surfing and sailing, but also Paddle surfing or flyboarding.
3. L’Albufera: a huge lagoon under the open skyare in the Mediterranean
Only 10 kilometres from Valencia is a true jewel, a natural park of more than 21,000 hectares with natural dune beaches, Mediterranean forests, rice fields and Spain’s largest lagoon: l’Albufera. There is no rush, no stress, it is the ideal place to relax and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings. Moreover, the peaceful waters of the lagoon reflect traditions so alive that it may seem that the journey is actually a time travel. 68 The possibilities to discover the nature park still consist of a boat trip on the lagoon in traditional boats of the area, observing the more than 350 species of birds that nest in the wetlands and, of course, tasting the typical dishes based on local fish and rice.
4. Walk through a huge outdoor pantry
You’ll be amazed at the freshness of the vegetables you eat in the city’s restaurants. Valencia is lucky to be surrounded by more than 23,000 hectares of vegetable gardens where many of the ingredients you will see in the dishes you try on your trip to Valencia grow. Irrigated by the Turia River, the Huerta de Valencia is a work of engineering that allows for a perfect irrigation system designed in the 8th century by the Arabs. The Huerta extends over a dozen municipalities around the city, within a radius of 10 kilometres, and 50 types of vegetables and some fruits are grown there.
A cycle path that starts in the city and goes through the northern part. On its fields you will mainly see onions, artichokes, pumpkins and lettuce. Take advantage to try the horchata, a drink made from the tigernuts grown in the Alboraya region, in one of the farmhouses in the area.
5. Valencia on two wheels
Nothing can give you a greater sense of freedom. No rush, no time pressure, at your own pace and without leaving carbon footprints. Of course! We talk about the bicycle! A visit to Valencia on two wheels is ideal. From the hotel where you are staying, or everywhere in the city you will find shops where you can rent bikes by the hour or by the day. With or without basket, with child seats, in child size, whatever you need. Valencia was one of the first cities to rely on cycle paths, and today it has more than 150 kilometres of cycle paths criss-crossing the city.urbe.
6. Enjoy art more than ever
The coronavirus brought changes to everything, including museums. Now that social distance is so important to avoid infections, walking around the museum halls is an intimate experience to enjoy art slowly. Remember that the mask is mandatory in all museums. You will find hydro-alcoholic gel to disinfect your hands and recommended itineraries to walk around the spaces. For your peace of mind, capacity is limited in all the city’s museums.
Let’s go over a few milestones in terms of art. Valencia has what was the first museum of contemporary art: the IVAM. Today it houses a permanent collection of more than 10,000 works and is the second largest art gallery in the country in terms of modern and contemporary art. Check out their temporary exhibitions before you come. For sure they are worth it! For lovers of the most classic art, the Museo de Bellas Artes is also the second largest art gallery, after the Prado in Madrid. Its collection of medieval altarpieces, as well as the rooms dedicated to Sorolla or Goya and the unpublished work of Velázquez, are some of the works you should not miss.
A former convent is home to the Centre del Carme, home for contemporary art lovers. And another example of change of use: that of an former hydraulic pump factory transformed into an art centre specializing in photography. 111 We are talking about Bombas Gens, the opening of the private collection of the Per Amor a l’Art Foundation to the public in the factory buildings, next to a medieval cellar and a beautiful Art Nouveau garden where you can admire a sculpture by Cristina Iglesias.
7. Terraces lighting up your day… or your evening!
There are more and more pedestrian areas in Valencia, perfect for enjoying them from a terrace where you can taste the local gastronomy, typical cocktails like Agua de Valencia (champagne with orange juice, vodka and gin), artisan beers or your favourite coffee.
In the centre, the Plaza de la Virgen, overlooking the Cathedral and the Basilica; the Plaza del Patriarca square, the Plaza del Carmen square or the Plaza de los Fueros square, are meeting points for enjoying the peace. Take a break on the terrace of the Café de las Horas to taste its Agua de Valencia or try the rice dishes and the tapas of La Lola in the most charming narrow streets of the old town.
Nearby, the Mercado de Colón is an enormous open-air terrace for the most demanding gourmets. Coffee, horchata, Mediterranean cuisine, Burmese, tapas, drinks… all in one modernist place available almost anytime.
In the City of Arts and Sciences, the Contrapunto Restaurant offers the best views of Calatrava’s work on a terrace in the shadow of the imposing Palau de les Arts.
By the sea, the entire dock of the Marina invites you to sit on its terraces, just like the Paseo Marítimo next to the Malvarrosa beach. It will not be easy to choose just one The best view of the Jardín del Turia Park is from the terrace of the Àtic. Have a drink, lunch or dinner in one of the hottest places in town.