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Valencia is Spain’s third largest city and a firm contender for anyone taking a flight to Valencia or just looking for an exciting destination with plenty going on. Its Old Town contrasts brilliantly with the ultra-modern City of Arts and Sciences, the white buildings of which reflect beautifully on surrounding pools of tranquil water. The two areas are connected by the Turia River Bed Gardens, where lush planting has replaced the former route of the river.
The cuisine is also well worth visiting Valencia for, as the city is known as the home of the paella. Be sure to try other rice dishes and the traditional drink made from tiger nuts referred to as horchata, which also originates in Valencia. The Horchateria de Santa Catalina has been serving it up for over a century and displays a beautiful tiled interior.
May: May sees a celebration of the city’s patron La Gerepudeta. Expect music, dancing and fireworks.
June: St John’s Day falls on midsummer’s eve in June and is celebrated at the beach with bonfires, music, dancing and night swimming at the beach.
July: Valencians celebrate Feria de Julio, a month-long celebration and it culminates with a majestic float parade and a monumental flower battle.
August: Though strictly not in the city, in August the world famous La Tomatina Festival is held in Bunol and is the world’s biggest food fight and you can get there easily on the train.
In Valencia’s Old Town there are beautiful examples of historic architecture and museums everywhere you look. Be sure to stop by the institutions dedicated to fine art and ceramics, as well as the cathedral and the Church of Saint Thomas and Saint Philip. Wandering around this part of Valencia, you’ll also come across the market, former silk exchange and towers that once acted as entrance gates to the city.
At the other end of the spectrum is the City of Arts and Sciences, which is a homage to a new age. The architecture is stunning on its own, but inside you will find an interactive science museum, aquarium, IMAX cinema and a number of opera and concert spaces. Be sure to wander amongst the buildings and take in their designs from every angle, while discovering the latest events going on inside.
Like many Spanish destinations, Valencia has an extensive programme of festivals throughout the year. The biggest of these is known as Las Fallas and involves papier mache figures being paraded through the streets in honour of St Joseph. On the last day of the festival, which occurs in March, these creations are set alight at midnight.
Despite offering all the wonders of a world-class city, Valencia also has spectacular nature on its doorstep. The Albufera National Park is an important wetland area and home to the biggest lake in Spain and consequently, many wading birds and other forms of wildlife. Take a boat ride on the lake as the sun is setting or seek out one of the beaches that lie within this area.
The small town of Buñol is also within striking distance of Valencia. Although it is most famous for its annual tomato-throwing festival, there are attractions to visit year round. If you’re interested in seeing what everyday life is like and taking in views from the hilltop castle, Buñol is well worth a day trip.
*Prices updated every 24 hours, subject to change. Limited availability.