Valencia, historic city with an edge

This summer my family and I did a house exchange with a lovely family in the city of Valencia, Spain. It is a fantastic city for families with children and there is plenty to see. So what to do in Valencia?

what to do in valencia

Renting bikes and cycling through Turia park to the City of Art and Sciences

 


Valencia seems to be a city of many layers. At first sight, it’s just like any other big city: lots of high-rise buildings, busy traffic and not an awful lot of beauty about it when you first arrive on the outskirts of town. It is after all Spain’s third largest city and has just under one million inhabitants. But when you dive into it and stroll around – or rent a bike – you discover a wonderful, laid-back, colourful place full of art, parks, cafe culture and last but not least…the beaches. Oh and also plenty of vintage shops. Did we love it? Oh yes, we did.

Street Art in valencia

The Ciutat Vella, including Barrio del Carmen, is the old town. Now as any old town this one too has plenty of little streets, old buildings, cathedrals and historic squares, but what makes Valencia different is the street art. What? Graffiti and historic buildings? No way! Yup. And it looks pretty good. Definitely a big hit with my 5-year old who loves drawing (why are they allowed to draw on walls, mummy? Erm…).

Now I would use all of my own photos in this blog, but unfortunately my dear husband left our camera on the plane to Madrid. Ouch. Fingers crossed we’ll get it back. In the meantime, you’ll get my iPhone shots and some beautiful images I found around the net.

 

what to do in valencia

The mural in the image below must have been one of my son’s favourites. “It’s a mummy! Did you now that mummies have toilet roll wrapped around them?” Image: Travel and Lust


what to do in valencia


City of Arts and Sciences

The City of Arts and Sciences is a world in itself. This impressive part of Valencia, whether or not you end up actually going inside any of the buildings, is worth visiting. It consists of the Oceanographic (Europe’s largest sea aquarium), The Science Museum, the Palau des Arts and the Hemispheric. Plenty to keep you occupied. More info here: www.cac.es

what to do in valencia

The City of Art and Sciences is an amazing complex of white contemporary architecture (by Calatrava) and blue shallow water all around the buildings. The kids couldn’t wait to get their clothes off for a dip after a visit to the Science Museum!


science museum valencia



Turia gardens in valencia, great for bikes and kids

Rerouting the river Turia and turning the old riverbed into a 9km long park must be one of the best decisions ever made by city planners. What an asset to have for the people of Valencia. Full of play parks, fountains, cultural events, free outdoor gym equipment and cycle and footpaths. We rented bikes from Valencia Bikes (although there are many rental places everywhere) which kept us entertained all day and was great to move around quickly from A to B with the kids. Valencia is super kid-friendly by the way. Mini play areas next to the cafe terrace, why doesn’t anyone else think of that as standard?

what to do with kids in valencia

 


discover The beaches in valencia

One of the great things about Valencia is the proximity to the beach. Different from what most people think when they hear the words ‘beach’ and ‘Spain’ in one sentence, the ones in Valencia are nothing like the package holiday type. We experienced some fantastic beaches, quiet and more lively, but never overcrowded or lined by tacky bars and souvenir shops. A breath of fresh air. You can easily reach them by public transport, bike or car.

what to do in valencia

Valencia has some great beaches all along the coast, many of them quiet. This is the beach at El Saler, just south of the city. It’s 8.15pm…kids still playing. Spanish routine!


what to do in valencia

A little gem of a place on Patacona beach is La Mas Bonita, cafe and beach bar. Fantastic food and stunning location.

 

One thought on “Valencia, historic city with an edge

  1. Marina Sanchis says:

    Great post Nina! Being the other half of the house exchange Aberdeen / Valencia, I feel entitled to say that the home swap was fantastic and we also fell in love with your part of the world.
    I have really enjoyed your fresh vision of my hometown. You lose perspective after so many years…so thanks for that way of presenting my city in a new light!

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