Spain’s third-largest city, and capital of the Communidad Valenciana, has been firmly put on the map with the city playing host to the 2007 Americas Cup and the completion of the stunning Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of arts & sciences) in the old Turia riverbed just outside the city centre. It’s also the home of paella and has what’s regarded as one of the most spectacular festivals in all of Spain – Las Fallas.
Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of Arts & Sciences)
Completed in 1998 The Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of Arts & Sciences) is fast becoming one of Spain’s biggest tourist attractions with some incredible architecture and fascinating exhibitions. It’s a city within a city located just outside the historical centre of Valencia and can be enjoyed for free, simply by walking around the complex, or in more depth by paid entrance to one of the four main attractions. The ‘Hemesferic’ with a Planetarium and IMAX theatre, the Principe Felipe Science Museum which features an ever changing series of exhibitions, the Oceanarium – Europe’s biggest marine park and the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofa, with classic and contemporary art, music and theatre.
Valencia’s Mercado Central is one of Europe’s largest markets and features beautiful modernist architecture and is as lively and colourful as you’d expect. It opened its doors for the first time in 1928 and is an 8000 square metre expanse of steel and glass decorated with colourful Valencian ceramic tiles. The best time to visit is first thing in the morning when the array of fresh produce displayed is at its best.
Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno (IVAM)
IVAM, the Valencian Institute of Modern Art, has permanent collections and temporary exhibitions of twentieth-century art together with talks, courses and workshops.
The week-long Fallas festival is a tribute to St. Joseph, patron saint of the carpenters’ guild, but don’t let that put you off. It’s one of the most spectacular, wild and loudest festivals in Spain and runs the whole week from the 15th – 19th of March. The Fallas ‘monuments’ are tall wood and papier-mach sculptures made by the people of all the barrios (districts) of the city. The culmination of the festival comes at the end of a week of fireworks and general festivities with the burning of the sculptures in the city’s main square, the Plaza Ayuntamiento. Don’t expect a lot of sleep.
Semana Santa (Easter week) in March takes place mainly in the district of La Malvarrosa with parades and elaborate processions.
Feria de Julio
Feria de Julio is a month of various concerts, theatre, open air cinema, sports events, bullfighting and fireworks at venues throughout the city and throughout, as the name suggests, the month of July.
The summer months of July and August are the hottest, with average daily maximums of around 30C (86F)and high humidity. Winter gets cool but not cold with the average at around 10, though generally sunny. Rainfall is generally concentrated into Spring and Autumn and normally most prevalent in April and October when it can be torrential.
Getting around Valencia
Valencia has an integrated transport system including bus, tram and the metro network (lines 3 and 5 connects the airport with the city). EMT buses operate within the city, while MetroBus serves towns and villages outside. Trains run from Estacin del Norte to the suburbs and destinations all over Spain. One, two and three day travel cards are available from larger tourist offices.