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Plazas | Day Trips | Restaurants | Festivals | Things To Do

Although sometimes it’s easy to forget, what with its liberal, anything-goes attitude to life, Spain is one of the most deeply Catholic countries on Earth. Valencia has an enormous number of churches, many of which have centuries of history. We’ve visited a lot of them, and have chosen the five which impressed us the most… in no particular order:

Colegio del Patriarca

The Patriarca was San Juan de Ribera, the influential priest who founded this church and seminary in the 16th century. The building hosts an excellent little museum, as well as a courtyard and a church. But the most curious thing is the crocodile, mounted on a wall over the holy water.

The Dragon of the Patriarch

Church of San Martín

Just meters away from the Plaza de la Reina, the Church of San Martín has centuries of history, and was recently renovated by the Light of the Images — a foundation dedicated to the restoration of ancient buildings and works of art. They did a beautiful job.

The Glory of the Baroque: The Church of Saint Martin

The Cathedral of Valencia

The epicenter of Valencian religious life, the Cathedral was a given on this list. The magnificent facade, the jaw-dropping interiors, the Micalet — and of course, the Holy Grail — all make the Catedral an absolute must for any trip to Valencia.

The Bells of the Micalet

Iglesia de San Esteban

Blue and gray are the dominant colors in this beautifully restored church in the quiet neighborhood of La Seu. The church was built over a mosque in 1472, and is one of the prime examples of the Baroque styles in Valencia.

More Information from the Light of the Images

Iglesia de San Juan del Hospital

Built around 1260, this is considered the first church in Valencia after the Christian conquest, and is the only medieval church to survive the years. With a small austere interior accessible through beautiful gardens, this is one of the city’s most impressive and somber places of worship.

- Hotels in Asturias

More of Hola Valencia’s Top Five
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We did a lot during our time in Valencia, but there were a few experiences that stood out among the rest. These are our favorite things to do in the city… the activities and excursions that we would recommend to everyone who visits Valencia.

Sunset Sailing

Especially on a clear summer evening, the sunset tour on board a catamaran is an unforgettable experience. While stretching out on the ship’s tarp, as they unfurl the sails and turn off the motors, you have a wonderful view of Valencia’s harbor and beaches, with the sun setting beautifully behind the city. And when they bring out the complimentary cava, an already unbeatable evening just gets better.

Sunset on a Catamaran

Soccer at the Mestalla

The days are numbered for the incredible Mestalla stadium, as construction on its replacement (the Nou Mestalla) is almost finished. But, if you can, make sure to visit the old stadium. With its dizzyingly steep terraces and superb atmosphere, it’s a great night out for even people who loathe soccer.

Mestalla – Go while you can!

Horchatería Daniel

An institution in Alboraya, the Horchatería Daniel is the most famous and best place to sample the most quintessentially Valencian treat: Horchata. The tasty drink made from tiger nuts is even better when accompanied by freshly-baked fartons. Daniel is an extremely popular, and very big, place. Perfect for a warm Sunday evening.

The Best Horchata in Valencia

The Bioparc

The Bioparc is easily the best zoo I’ve ever visited. The animals are free to roam huge grounds, with no cages or bars anywhere in sight. Elephants, lions, hyenas, rhinos… everything you might expect in a zoo is there, but our favorite was the Lemur zone, where the lively monkeys intermingle freely with humans.

Our First Visit to the Bioparc

The Ciudad de Artes y Ciencias

The outrageous architecture of Calatrava is collected at the end of the Turia riverbed, providing otherworldly backdrops for pictures. Walking along the paths, by the the crystal blue pools which reflect the sparkling white buildings, such as the Hemsiferic, the Opera House, the Science Museum and the brand new Agora, you’ll feel like you’re on some alien planet.

Photo Reportage of the CAC

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More of Hola Valencia’s Top Five
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Well, I bet you’ve already guessed one of the festivals on our list! Sorry, Assumption Day, it’s not you. Here are the five festivals we loved the most during our time in this party-loving city!

Fallas

Fallas is the Valencian festival, for an entire week turning the city into a exploding, singing, marching, crying, drinking madhouse. We love it. If you visit Valencia during Fallas, you will never, ever forget it.

Our Mega-Fallas Überpost

Wine Festival in the Turia

Not really a traditional festival in the sense of the others on this list, but a great time regardless. The annual wine festival in the Turia seems to grow in popularity every year and, why not? With an incredible selection of cheeses, sausages and wines, and a great atmosphere which seems to buzz with the joy of spring, this is an event which no one should skip. Unless you’re one of those teetotaling losers.

Heaven on Earth? The Wine Festival

Virgen de los Desamparados

Possibly even crazier than Fallas is the celebration of Our Lady of the Forsaken — Valencia’s patron saint. The Sunday morning parade is the shortest, most intense religious freak-out I’ve ever seen.

The Traslado de la Virgen

Corpus Christi

In May, Valencia’s second most important festival gets underway, with bizarre parades, towering dancing figures and la moma — the lady dressed in white. It’s all tied to religion, of course, but what a giant-headed dancing Moor has to do with the body of Christ is anyone’s guess.

Paseo de las Rocas 2010

9 de Octubre

Get out your Valencian flags and head down to the Ayuntamiento, where the city will be celebrating itself in a grand fashion. This is the most nationalistic of Valencia’s holidays, and there’s often trouble as black-clad (and perhaps slightly fascist) Spanish nationalists come up against Valencian separatists. A good time!

Separatist Shenanigans at the Lowering of the Senyera

Car Rentals Valencia

More of Hola Valencia’s Top Five
Plazas | Day Trips

This was a really difficult list to compile, as we’ve been to a lot of restaurants during our time in Valencia. We tried to get include a good mix, from traditional Valencian to sushi. We operate on a budget, so you won’t find any wallet-smashers on this list (nor, for that matter, anywhere else on our site!) If you’ve not visited any of our top five, wait no longer! Here they are, in no order:

El Albero

One of the first restaurants we discovered in the city, El Albero is a great place for dinner, serving up a huge array of Andalusian tapas. Always busy, the place is small but offers outside seating.

Calle de Ciscar, 12
Our Review of El Albero

Las Cuevas

Extremely popular with Valencians, the windy, dark interior of Las Cuevas does just to its name. They offer an interesting menú of tapas that combines popular favorites with other more unique items. Don’t miss the flaming rum-soaked chorizos!

Calle Samaniego, 9
Our Review of Las Cuevas

Ao Yama

Possibly the best lunchtime deal in the city, Ao Yama is a Japanese sushi restaurant, offering unlimited food for a small price. As long as you keep packing it down, they’ll keep bringing the sushi and other great dishes like chicken in orange sauce and grilled shrimp.

Calle Joaquín Costa, 3
Our Review of Ao Yama

Al-Balansíya

The best Arabian meal in Valencia can be found in the University district, in Al-Balansíya. The plates full of authentic and delicious Arabian food just keep coming in this popular locale. Baba ganoush… chicken tajín… groan.

Paseo de las Facultades, 3
Our Review of Al-Balansíya

La Utielana

Home Cookin From Mama! This restaurant, in the heart of the city, is so popular that you’ll have to take a number before getting your table. Incredible Valencian eats at outrageously good prices, with an open kitchen and a fleet of matronly waitresses attending to your every need. We’ve been back a lot.

Plaza Picadero de Dos Aguas
Our Review of La Utielana

- Suitcase Stickers For Fun Travel Time

The one thing Valencia has more of than church bells? Plazas! Every corner of the city is the Plaza de Somethingorother. Here are our favorite five, in no particular order:

Plaza del Ayuntamiento

Bounded by the city hall building, the post office and Valencia’s emblematic fountain, the Plaza del Ayuntamiento is the de facto gathering place for the citizenry, whether it’s to celebrate a mascletà or Spain’s World Cup victory.

Plaza del Ayuntamiento – Info & Pics
2010′s Final Fallas Masletà
Rodin in the Plaza de Ayuntamiento
World Cup Celebrations at the Ayuntamiento

Plaza del Patriarca

Orange trees are the dominating feature of this lovely plaza next to the old University building, La Nau. It’s named for the adjacent Colegio de Patriarca, a church & museum. On Sundays, the plaza fills with kids and well-dressed families.

Colegio del Patriarca – Introduction & History
Colegio del Patriarca Video – Bell Tower in Action
Oko Sokolo: Modern Gymnastic Theater in the Pl. Patriarca

Plaza de la Virgen

Valencia’s most famous, historic and heavily visited spot, the Plaza de la Virgen is the heart of the city. With the fountain of Neptune as a highlight, this plaza is adjacent to the Basilica and the Cathedral, and plays host to the famous Tribunal de las Aguas.

Plaza de la Virgin and Panoramic Views of Valencia
Traditional Dancing in Plaza de la Virgen
The Flower Offering to the Virgin

Plaza Dr. Collado

This cool little plaza is found right behind La Lonja, and is a favorite meeting spot for people. During Fallas, the commission always put up an interesting monument and rocks the neighbors with noisy concerts. A great place to grab a beer in the evening.

Plaza Dr. Collado – In the Heart of the City
Dr. Collado’s Café Lisboa – Meeting Spot Central

Plaza de l’Almoina

The central feature of this plaza is its large, glass-bottomed pool that shows off ruins from the beginning of Valencia’s history. From the ancient Iberians, through the Romans, Visigoths, Moors and Christians, the Almoina has always been at the center of Valencian civilization.

Museum of l’Almoina – Centuries of Ruins
Valencia’s Roman Origins

- Top 5 Day Trips from Valencia



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