After one month of living in Valencia, Spain through the Remote Year program, I believe that I could live here happily for years. But I also believe that one can visit this city for 5 days and really get a sense of the culture and flavor.
I know a few people who refuse to travel long distances unless they can stay for 2 weeks. THIS IS IRRATIONAL and usually just an excuse. Be brave, little Piglet. If you keep waiting until you have enough vacation days or until you have enough money to stay at that 5 star hotel, you’ll never make it. You’ll just end up using your days off to watch tv or run errands, and will spend your money on less meaningful vacations. Place more value in world travel. Take the red eye and get a move on.
So why do you want to follow my advice instead of just consulting Trip Advisor, Yelp, or Google? Cause I did it. I tried some really crappy places too – I went to overpriced tourist-trap restaurants by accident and even sat down to tacos and waited an hour before realizing that in fact, we did not communicate properly to not only say we wanted tacos, but that we’d like them today please. Gotta love Spain.
Here’s why I love Valencia:
- Manageable layout: Valencia is flat, big enough to have neighborhoods with different vibes but small enough to walk from end-to-end.
- Friendly locals: They may not know much English but they will work with you (with a smile) to get on the same page.
- Sunny and consistent weather.
- Great sleeping/eating patterns. 5 meals a day, sleep in, siesta, and stay out late. If you come from the east cost, you can just stay in that time zone without much jet lag.
A few notes:
- This itinerary assumes an overnight flight on Tuesday night.
- Breakfast:9am / Almuerzo (second breakfast): 11am / Lunch: 1:30pm / Afternoon Snack: 6pm / Dinner:9pm
- All shops and restaurants close between 2 and 5, and nothing is open on Sundays. Plan accordingly.
- Recommended hotel/hostel location: Either in El Carmen which is old city and near many plazas and cathedrals, or Russafa which is south of El Carmen and more trendy.
Arrive in Valencia in the morning, attempt to check in to hotel or just leave your bags at the front desk
Ease yourself in with a Paella de Valencia from La Lola. Note that Paella de Valencia contains chicken, rabbit, and sometimes snails. You can also order with just chicken, or seafood, or vegetarian. It’s okay if you feel super full afterwards – lunch is meant to be the heaviest meal of the day.
Dinner outside at La Plaza de la Reina – pick any restaurant that can seat you outside. Order tapas and enjoy the fact that it stays light until 10pm. Order an Augua de Valencia (local cocktail) and enjoy the sunset.
Breakfast @ Bluebell Cafe in Russafa – a fave of many Remotes, which has tasty coffee, smoothies, and mimosas, delicious chai bowls, and my fave: avocado toast on rye. Followed by carrot cake. And more coffee.
Walking tour! I didn’t do this til my last week and it was a blast. There are several options, I went through freetours.com for the Old City tour and saw the central market and Valencian cathedral among others. These tours are free but you should tip the guide at the end because most likely the tour was a combo comedy/history show. Absolute must-do.
Hungry for lunch? Check out La Papardella which serves Italian with a Spanish twist and has a special lunch menu. Only want a snack? Grab a Churro @ Valor in the Plaza de la Reina. Be sure to order with dipping chocolate.
Dinner – Picnic in the park (take the ramp down by Pont de Real and walk south). Grab a baguette, meat (jamon/ham or chorizo) and cheese and a bottle of wine and head to the park. Pro tip: bring a wine bottle opener and cups, and a big blanket to sit on.
Take the morning and explore the City of Arts and Sciences. Walk around the giant modern buildings, try the museum or the aquarium or planetarium.
In the afternoon, hit the Beach – hail a cab, ask the driver to drop you at Playa Malvarrosa. The blue and white huts along the beach serve Heineken and some snacks. Plenty of restaurants along the water to pop in for a late lunch.
Dinner at La Finestra – you have little-to-no control over what type of pizza you’re getting, but prices are amazing and the atmosphere is locals-only.
Umbracle – finish dinner around 12pm and walk over to the Umbracle, which is in the City of Arts and Sciences you saw this morning. You’ll find it has transformed overnight into a club scene. Note that locals don’t show up until 3am but if you want to avoid a line and the crazy crowds, it’s okay to arrive a little early and enjoy your drink before the music really starts pumping.
Pop into that pastry shop or cafe you’ve been eyeing all week for breakfast.
Head over to Carrer de Colon for a little shopping and exploring. Pop into Zumm Salads for a lighter meal (for a change).
Dinner @ Gordon 10 – this is a nice steak place disguised as an English pub. Order the price fixe steak dinner – you will not regret it. ~30 euro will get you multiple courses, steak, plus dessert plus a bottle of wine. Bueno.
Travel day, departure.
So there you have it. A solid long weekend in a beautiful city in Spain. Now get those flight alerts going and make it happen!