Valencia

For other places with the same name, see Valencia (disambiguation).
Panoramic view of Valencia from the Micalet tower looking south
Valencia city hall
L'Umbracle, City of Arts and Science

Valencia / València, pronounced [baˈlenθja] (bahl-EHN-thee-ah) in Spanish, and [vaˈlensia] (vahl-EHN-see-ah) in Valencian, is a charming old city and the capital of the Valencian Autonomous Community of Spain that is well worth a visit. It is the third Spanish city in terms of importance and population, and the 15th in the European Union, with 810,064 inhabitants in the city proper and 1,832,270 in the Metropolitan Area (INE 2008). It is on the Mediterranean Sea approximately four hours to the south of Barcelona and three hours to the east of Madrid. Valencia is famous for its Fallas Festival in March, for being the birthplace of paella, for hosting the "2007 & 2010 America's Cup", and for the massive architectural project by Santiago Calatrava called The City of Arts and Sciences.

The river Turia ran through the center of the city, but it was redirected a while back and replaced by a beautiful park. This is a very nice place to spend any free time you have in the city on a sunny day.

Understand

Valencia hosted to the 2007 & 2010 America's Cup. This fact, along with the construction of the "City of Arts and Science" by renowned architect and Valencian Santiago Calatrava have made Valencia a city in transition. Massive construction and transformation over the last 10 years have turned a once little-considered medium city into a meatier and more interesting destination.

Despite being on the Mediterranean Sea, even residents used to say that "Valencia has always lived with its back to the sea", meaning that the spirit and the core of the city is not necessarily integrated with its beach. The city center and the most visited neighborhoods are not particularly close to the beach. However, the construction of the city esplanade in the eighties, along with the marina, and the recovery of the tram to the maritime neighborhoods, have gone some way toward easing this stance.

Valencia was founded by the Romans and was held by the Moors from the 8th to the 13th century (with a short interruption by El Cid). In 1609, the Moors who had converted to Catholicism were expelled from the city. During the Spanish civil war in the 1930s, Valencia was the capital of the Republic, which eventually lost to Franco's forces.

Climate

Talk

Valencia's official languages are Valencian/Catalan, and Spanish. In the capital of Valencia, which is the third largest city in Spain, not many people speak Valencian, nor are they offended if addressed in Spanish. However, outside the capital, Valencian is often preferred. As in Barcelona, with Catalan, it helps to be sensitive to this language dynamic. However, the linguistic issue is not as controversial as in Barcelona and most people in Valencia speak Spanish as their first and often their only language. There are some Spanish language schools in Valencia, for example "Lingua Valencia". The English-speaking skills of the locals can be hit or miss. Most people under 35 speak some English and some quite a bit, but most would obviously prefer being addressed at first in Spanish or Valencian. French is also spoken or understood by some.

Get in

By plane

Valencia Airport

Valencia Airport (IATA: VLC) is 9 km from the city center. The bus to Túria station departs every 30 minutes and takes about 30–40 minutes. Subway goes directly to the town centre and links the Airport to the main train station, Estación del Norte (beside Xàtiva metro stop), running every 8 minutes and taking about 20 minutes.

A taxi ride from the airport to Calle de La Paz, which is in the heart of the historic city centre and covering a distance of approximately 11 km costs around €20-23 with an additional 'airport supplement' of around €5. The tarifs are on display in the taxi in Valencian, Spanish and English but are difficult to see. The same journey back from Calle de La Paz to the airport half the price! These fees are accurate as of January 2015.

Check for taxi rank location at Valencia airport. Pre-book a taxi by calling to a radio taxi company: Taxco: +34 902 024 972 Radio Taxi Manises: +34 961 521 155 Radio Taxi Valencia: +34963 703 333 Taxis de Valencia: +34 961 119 977 Taxi Valencia: +34 644 015 655 or book online at BookTaxiValencia website

Valencia is served by Iberia, Spanair, Lufthansa, AirFrance, AirBerlin, TuiFly, Ryanair, Transavia, Vueling, SWISS, and several other airlines.

By train

Estació de València Nord

Valencia is connected with Madrid by high-speed trains, that run over the Madrid–Levante high-speed rail line. The journey takes approximately 1 hour 35 minutes. Other major cities, such as Barcelona, are connected with Valencia by Euromed, Alaris, or Talgo trains. The journey to Barcelona takes approximately 3 hours.

The main train station,   Estació de València Nord (Estación del Norte / North Station), is in the center of the city, next to Plaza de Toros and near the Town Hall (Ayunamiento). The building itself is a well-preserved modernist structure from 1917. Facilities include a tourist information office, storage lockers, several cafés, and a car rental office.

High-speed and Euromed trains arrive at the   Estació de València-Joaquim Sorolla (Estación de Valencia-Joaquín Sorolla / Joaquín Sorolla Station), 800 metres away from the main station. Facilities at this station include storage lockers, a café, and car rental office.

The national train company is Renfe. Tickets can be booked online on their website, where significant discounts ('Web' and 'Estrella' fares) are available for early bookings.

By bus

  Estació d'Autobusos de València (Estación de Autobuses de Valencia / Valencia Bus Station), Avinguda de Menéndez Pidal, 11 (Túria metro),  +34 963 466 266. A dozen bus companies operate here, with arrivals from almost every big city in Spain and most cities in the Valencia region. Ticket offices are located on the upper floor, as are a café and information booth.

By boat

Direct ferry routes exist between Valencia and Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca, and Mahon.

Get around

By foot

Aside from going to the beach and the City of Arts and Sciences, exploring the hub of the city requires no public transportation. Much of this city can be done walking, stopping for a coffee or a beer, and then walking more, all very leisurely. It's not necessary to have the mindset of mastering a complex public transportation system. However, for longer trips, see below for some pointers.

By public transportation

Travellers visiting for a short period may want to consider purchasing a Valencia Tourist Card, a one-, two- or three-day pass which allows for unlimited travel on all metro and bus lines, including to/from the airport, over a period of 24 hours (€15), 48 hours (€20), or 72 hours (€25). The card also includes free admission to public museums and monuments, discounted admission for other tourist attractions, and additional discounts at some shops and restaurants. The card can be purchased at any tourist office, including at the airport, or purchased online for a discount and picked up on arrival at a tourist office.

For travellers staying longer than three days, a rechargeable Bono transbordo card, valid for both metro and bus travel, provides a flexible means of getting around. The card allows for ten journeys, which include all transfers begun within an hour of commencing your journey. These cards are sold in ticket offices in metro stations, and as of late 2015 cost €9. There is an additional one-time €2 fee for the chip and plastic card. The cards can be recharged at any metro ticket machine.

The EMT (bus) website has a very helpful route-planner, useful for planning journeys not only by bus but also by metro, bicycle, and Valenbisi (see the bicycle section below).

By metro

Metro Valencia

The Metro Valencia consists of nine lines (three of which are tramlines) and connects the suburbs with the city. As of 2015, the one-way fare for a single zone is €1.50. The ticket itself costs an additional €1 and contains a rechargeable chip. This metro system is not extensive, but can get you to major points within the city. Make sure you keep your ticket as you must beep yourself out as well. If you want to take the tram, you have to buy a ticket from the machine, then validate it, before you get on.

If you use the metro a lot, you should consider getting a Bonometro, a rechargeable chip card, available at ticket machines in metro stations, which allows for ten rides and as of late 2015 costs €7.20. There is an additional one-time €1 fee for the chip and cardboad ticket.

Maps and timetables can be downloaded here.

By bus

EMT runs buses to virtually every part of the city, both day and night. A single ticket costs €1.50 (no transfers), payable to the bus driver on entry. For frequent travellers, a more price-effective option is to purchase a rechargeable Bonobús card, available in kiosks and tobacco shops, which will allow you ten rides for €8 (as of late 2015). There is an additional one-time €1 fee for the chip and cardboad ticket. These cards can be recharged at kiosks or online.

For travellers with smartphones, there is a very helpful official EMT app (iPhone and Android), which has a route planner as well as a QRT reader.

Most bus stops now have digital displays listing the arrival times for the next bus. At those stops lacking the digital display it is still easy to find out the next arrival times, by using either a QRT reader (like the one built into the EMT app), or by sending a SMS with the unique number of the bus stop to a number displayed next to the posted route plan.

By bicycle

Valenbisi station

Valencia is essentially flat, and cycling has become a popular way for visitors to get around. The city has established a comprehensive network of dedicated bicycle paths and lanes, and the Turia river park very conveniently cuts across the city, making it possible to get from one end to the other with minimal time in traffic. Drivers are now accustomed to interacting with cyclists in traffic, although pedestrians still occasionally wander into bike paths. Riding on sidewalks without demarcated bicycle paths is technically not permitted, but this is not enforced. At night lights are required, and a helmet and reflective vest are recommended. A bicycle route map can be downloaded here.

Since 2010 the city has operated Valenbisi, a popular bicycle sharing program, with 275 stations distributed throughout the city. No reservation is necessary – once you have a Valenbisi card, simply go to the interactive station terminal, follow the instructions in Valencian/Spanish/English, and choose a bicycle. You can return the bicycle to the same or any other station with available docks.

A short-term subscription costs €13.04 and gives you access to unlimited use of the bikes for 7 days; the first half-hour of any journey is free, then €1.04 is charged for the first two additional half-hours, with €3.12 charged for every additional hour. However, if you park the bicycle in an available dock before the first half-hour is up, you can take out a new bicycle and reset the clock for no additional fees.

Weekly cards can be purchased at any station terminal with a credit card. For periods longer than one week, an annual subscription is necessary and costs €27.12, with reduced tariffs for each additional half-hour. These cards must be purchased online and are sent by mail; however it is possible to bypass this hassle and attach your Valenbisi subscription to a valid Bono transbordo card (a combination bus/metro card) – see the website for details.

There are also a number of bicycle rental shops in town, with most charging around €10-15 a day, depending on season.

By car

In the city, especially the centre, having a car is more of an impediment than an advantage, and visitors may well find it easier to simply park it and walk.

See

Monuments and architecture

aerial view of the City of Arts and Sciences
Palau de les Arts and L’Hemisfèric, in the City of Arts and Sciences
L’Oceanogràfic in the City of Arts and Sciences
Capella del Sant Calze with the Holy Grail
Saló Columnari (Hall of Columns) in the Llotja de la Seda
Torres de Serranos
Banys de l'Almirall (Almirante Muslim Baths)

Museums

View of the cathedral, with the Centre Arqueològic de l'Almoina in the foreground
Façade of the Palau del Marqués de Dosaigües, now the Museu Nacional de Ceràmica
Museu d'Història de València, in a 19th-century reservoir

Art museums and galleries

Museu de Belles Arts de València
Casa-Museu Benlliure
Centre Cultural La Nau

Parks and gardens

Parc Gulliver
Jardí de Montfort
Walk-in lemur exhibit at Bioparc Valencia

Neighbourhoods

Other

Tribunal de les Aigües

Do

Fallas

Fallas 2006, before igniting the papier-mâché models

The origins of the Fallas Festivity go back to an old tradition of the city's carpenters, who before the Festivity of their patron Saint Joseph, burned in front of their workshops, on the streets and public squares, their useless things and other wooden utensils they used to hold the candles that gave them light during the winter season. This is the reason why the night of the cremà (in which the Fallas monuments burn down) is always on March 19, the Festivity of San José. In the 18th century, Fallas used to be piles of combustible materials that were called "Fallas" and were burnt the night before the day of San José.

These Fallas evolved and acquired a more critical and ironic sense when showing in the monuments reprehensible social scenes. Around 1870, the Fallas celebration was forbidden, along with Carnival. In 1885 this pressure created a movement that defended typical traditions by awarding in the magazine "LaTraca" the prizes to the best Fallas Monuments. This competition, which began to be popular among different neighbourhoods, brought about the creation of the artistic Falla, where critique was still an important element together with aesthetics.

In 1901 the Ayuntamiento de Valencia awarded local prizes to the best Fallas. This was the beginning of the union between the people and the political power. This relationship has greatly developed this popular festivity in its structure, organisation and size. In 1929 the first poster contest for the promotion of the Festivities and in 1932 the Fallero weekend was established. It what then, when Fallas became the Mayor Festivity of the Region of Valencia. Today, more than seven hundred big and small Fallas are burned in the city of Valencia.

Valencia has a fantastic festival each March called Fallas, in which local areas build big papier-mâché models. They are mostly of a satirical nature and can be as tall as a few stories. Fallas are constructed of smaller figures called ninots, Valencian for "dolls". The fallas take a whole year of planning and construction to complete. Each neighborhood has a falla, but 14 fall into the Sección Especial category and these are the most important, expensive, and impressive. Each falla has an adult falla (mayor) and a kid's falla (infantil). It is best to arrive by 16 March, as all of the fallas are required to be finished or they face disqualification.

Another feature of Fallas is the fireworks. It's like the city's a war zone for a week! They wake you up early in the morning and go on through the day. Every day, there are three fireworks events, la despertà, la mascletà, and el castillo. La despertà occurs every morning at 8AM in order to wake you up. At 2PM in the main square of the city, the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, there's a thing they call Mascletá. This is 120 kilos of gunpowder translated into a lot of noise. It has to be experienced to be understood. This is very popular and you should arrive an hour in advance at least. Every night between midnight and 1AM, there is a castillo, a fireworks display. The last night it's called la nit de foc, the night of fire, and this is the most impressive. This is also very crowded and you need to arrive early to be able to see it. Along with these displays, people set off fireworks all day, making it very difficult to catch any sleep.

The days of 17th and 18 March is La Ofrenda. The falleras from each falla take flowers to the Plaza of the Virgin. These flowers are used to construct the virgin. The processions are grand and very beautiful and worth catching. They follow two main paths: one down calle San Vicente and the other down Calle de Colon.

At the end of a week displaying the 'fallas' they are burnt. This is called la cremà. The fallas infantiles are burned at 10PM and the fallas mayores are burned anywhere from midnight to 1AM. The one at the town halls is burned last at 1AM. The most impressive to see are the fallas in Sección Especial, because these are the largest and most dramatic when they burn. These tend to be very crowded and one should arrive early.

Things one should do during fallas:

Things one should be aware of:

If you can't be in Valencia at the time of the festival, you can at least get an idea of what it's all about by visiting one or both the following museums: Museo Fallero Museo de Artistas Falleros

Cultural events

Beaches

Levante or Malvarrosa Beach

There are several city beaches, and three major beaches outside of Valencia. See

Playa de Malvarrosa and Playa e Levante o de la arenas are the most popular city beaches, just north of the port. To get there, take the metro or tram to Eugenia Vines or Arenas station, or take the metro to Maritim Serreria and continue with the tram to Neptu (all on one ticket).

El Saler is the nicest and best developed beach near Valencia. Devesa is undeveloped and has nice surroundings. At Devesa and Playa Pinedo there are nudist sections. These beaches are located south of the port. To reach them, take the Yellow Bus (operated by "Herca") from Calle Alicante near the train station, in direction "Perello". The trip takes about 30 minutes; the bus runs hourly 7AM - 9PM.

Learn

Buy

Plaça Redona (Plaza Redonda)

Eat

Tips on Paella

  • To recognize "real" local paella from tourist junk, avoid any places with large paella pictures on the door step. This is a sure sign for frozen/microwaved paella.
  • When possible, make reservations or arrive early (no later than 2PM), especially on Sunday, because these restaurants fill up quite quickly on the weekend.
  • Paella is typically eaten at mid-day (between 14:00-17:00), so many restaurants do not serve it at dinner. Be careful of those that do as this is not the custom here and the quality of the paella may be poor.
  • The paella pan is of a size that almost all restaurants require a minimum of two servings for an order. Restaurants that allow ordering one order are likely serving frozen paella.
Arròs negre

Budget

Tapas at Central Bar, in the Mercat Central
Mercat de Colom (Mercado de Colón)

Mid-range

Tapas at Bodega La Rentaora

Splurge

Paella at La Pepica
Ricard Camarena Restaurant

Drink

Traditional regional drinks

Café del temps

Wine lovers may want to explore the wineries of the Valencia wine region, including Bodega El Angosto, Bodegas Los Frailes, and Bodegas Murviedro.

Cafés and horchaterias

Horchata and fartons at Horchatería Santa Catalina

Bars and nightclubs

Barrio del Carmen is a major nightlife destination in Valencia. There are numerous restaurants, bars, and dance joints, which tend to cater to a youngish crowd, in particular along Calle Caballeros.   Plaça del Cedre (Plaza del Cedro) is a nice area where all possibilities are given to spend a night partly o complete in less touristic ambiance than in the center. Additionally there is typical Spanish nigh-life feeling on the plaza itself. Different kind of people enjoying the mild Mediterranean clime to sit outside talking, drinking and playing guitar often until the sunrise. Other centres of are night-life are   Plaça de Cánovas del Castillo (more upscale), along Carrer de Joan Llorenç (young also, less "alternative"), around the main campus of the University of Valencia (for students), and increasingly in the area near the beach and port.

There are many bodegas and tapas bars where you can get typical Spanish dinner for quite good prices. When you arrive early (the Spanish early) at about 20:00 they are usually having special offers like tercio y tapa for about €1. To find them orientate more to the parallel streets to Carrer de Doctor Manuel Candela. Later to drink something occupying the time between dinner and going out there are many bars with different kind of music present.

If you feel like dancing there are four famous pubs where especially at the weekends a lot young people can be found. The entrance is normally for free and they are almost neighbors all located in Calle Campoamor. The music is more alternative (Rock/Indie/Pop) than general in Spain but it changes depending on the DJ. So just have a look to all of them to find the one you like most. They are closing at half past three in the morning and if you don't want to be alone maybe the best time to arrive is between half past one and half past two.

Sleep

Staying in or near Old Town means you will hardly need transport, unless you go to the beach.

Budget

Hostels

Mid-range

Splurge

Connect

Internet

Internet terminals for 2 Euros/hour can be found at the main tourist information on the east side of the Plaza de la Reina in front of the cathedral, and at the cyber cafe in the Calle de Cerrajeros. 1 Euro/hour in the Chinese places in Calle de Pelayo, west of the train station. McDonalds on the Plaza de la Reina as well as many other restaurants and cafes offer free WiFi.

Go next

Outskirts

Further afield

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, April 03, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.