Valencia is Spain’s third largest city, it boasts beautiful architecture both old and new – the futuristic structure of the City of Arts and Sciences Museum is particularly impressive. The Turia Gardens, which was formerly the path of the River Turia until a devastating flood in 1957 resulted in a decision to re-route the river around the city, has been transformed into a spectacular park. The 9km long green river allows for walking, cycling and running, I was glad to have packed my running shoes! Follow the river all the way down and eventually you reach miles and miles of beach and which is one of the best places to get Valencia’s signature dish paella. Valencia definitely has much to offer and we were lucky to spend 3 full days there.
We stayed in the Russafa area of the city, known for being the hip and trendy side of the city. The streets are filled with independent bars, restaurants,and coffee shops. The area has a food market Mercat de Russafa which was quite perfectly positioned adjacent from the apartment we were staying in. If you are staying in accommodation that allows you to prepare food I’d thoroughly recommend visiting one of the food markets (there is also the central market too) and buying cured Spanish meats, cheeses, bread, olives and tomatoes and creating your own Spanish platter.
Our Airbnb host explained to us when we arrived “Spanish people only eat paella for lunch and never for dinner. Tapas is for dinner” we thought we better do it right, and after a long leisurely walk down the green river to the beach we sat down at a table in La Pepica. The family-owned for generations restaurant is not only known for its great food but it once was the place that Hemmingway frequently visited and dined at. The restaurant was huge and when we arrived at opening time (1pm) we were shortly followed by an influx of people, so it would definitely be worth placing a reservation or arriving early. Traditionally paella is made with chicken and rabbit, not the seafood paellas filled with shellfish that we usually associate with it. Although most restaurants will serve several seafood versions as well as veggie options. Steve did not fancy eating flopsy bunny so we went for the prawn, squid and fish. After finishing our massive pan of paella it all became clear why the Spanish are partial to an afternoon siesta! We also really enjoyed another lunchtime paella a few doors down at Las Carabelas, which dare we say it, was slightly nicer!
Before we visited Valencia we watch Channel 4’s Travel Man: 48 Hours in Valencia. Where they visited a very quirky looking bar called Bella de Cadiz and ordered 2 glasses of Agua de Valencia, a cocktail consisting of orange juice, cava, vodka and gin! As you can imagine after a couple of glasses they were well away! We were thrilled to find out that the exact bar they visited was only a short walk from our apartment – perfect stumbling home distance! We thoroughly enjoyed our drinks – think bucks fizz with a kick!
Another drink you should try whilst in Valencia is Horchata. It is a popular drink made from tiger nuts. The drink tastes sweet and milky and goes perfectly with a farton, which is a long sweet pastry. We visited the Horchatiria Santa Catalina next to the Santa Catalina Church.
Jose our Airbnb host recommended a tapas place not far from where we were staying called Cuinar-te. It had a really relaxed atmosphere and the food was great.
We also had another delicious tapas meal at El Camerino, we ate off their set menu for 2 people which was exceptionally good value. We had 6 tapas dishes with a glass of sangria, unlimited bread, dessert and coffee. Steve especially liked the thinly sliced fried potatoes with poached egg and serrano ham.
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Valencia, the weather was perfect for exploring, the food was great and in the 3 days we were there we felt like we really got to know the city.