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Hola Valencia’s Top Five: Things to Do

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

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

Visit Somiedo, Asturias

September 14, 2010 at 3:15 pm Comments (2)

Hola Valencia’s Top Five: Plazas

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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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July 24, 2010 at 11:43 am Comments (8)

Plaza Dr. Collado – In the Heart of the City

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If you’re meeting a group of friends in Valencia, there’s about a 73% chance you’ll be meeting in Plaza Dr. Collado (location). The reasons are many: the plaza is central, everyone knows it, there are plenty of places to sit for a drink, it’s relaxed and without major traffic.

On any length visit to Valencia, Dr. Collado (named after, I think, this guy) will be one of the plazas you find yourself in over and over again. Directly behind La Lonja, and within spitting distance of the Mercado Central and Plaza Redonda, it’s perfectly situated for a post-sightseeing caña.

Tourists mix with locals here, and the atmosphere is almost always festive. We enjoy watching street musicians fight for the right to play in the lucrative plaza.

One of the most striking things about this plaza is the number of abandoned buildings that surround it. Even while the plaza enjoys prominence as one of Valencia’s favorite areas to hang out, the city and landlords completely neglect its living conditions.

Back in the 70s, the Falla of Dr. Collado was one of the city’s most important — that decade’s Nou Campanar. Nowadays, it’s one of the most boisterous. During Fallas, this plaza rocks all night long, with live music and big crowds.

Location on our Valencia Map

July 24, 2010 at 10:42 am Comments (0)

Among Dinosaurs at the Umbracle

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As everyone knows, there is exactly one way to get children interested in the Natural Sciences: Dinosaurs. The bigger and scarier, the better.


Oh great, it’s Pipsqueak McGee, the neighborhood geek.

“My less enlightened peers may be impressed by dinosaurs, but my favorite creature of the past is the fascinating trilobite, with is easily fossilized exoskeleton.”

Shut up already, Pipsqueak. Nobody likes a nerd.

Luckily for all the cool kids in Valencia, the City of Arts and Sciences is not staging a year-long exhibit entitled “Among Trilobites”. Instead, visitors to l’Umbracle will find themselves Among Dinosaurs until May 29th, 2011. Entrance to Europe’s largest collection of mechanized dinosaurs will cost €6. Nighttime visits are possible until the end of August.


From the imposing Stegosaurus to the 27 meter Diplodocus, there are twenty-six robotic dinosaurs on display. Strangely though, no Tyrannosaurus Rex!

Haha, yeah right! Of course there’s a Tyrannosaurus Rex. There’s never been a dinosaur exhibit in the history of the world without one. That’s a fact, you can look it up.

More Information at

Prince Felipe Science Museum – Our Visit

July 15, 2010 at 7:51 pm Comment (1)

The Jail of San Vicente Mártir

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After leaving the Baños del Almirante somewhat disappointed, we decided to try our luck at the nearby Carcel de San Vicente Mártir, in the Plaza de la Almoina. And we found it a lot more interesting.

The building is near the cathedral, in one of the historical focal points of the city. Remains of civilizations stretching back to the Romans can be seen in this area, and the crypt contains an intact Visigoth chapel from the 6th Century. This basement is supposedly where San Vicente was held captive prior to being martyred in 304 AD. Although, when I pointed out to the guide that there’s another spot in Valencia that claims to be his jail, he readily admitted that no one really knows “for sure” where the jail was… but it certainly could have been here.

The basement ruins are interesting enough, but the best part of the experience is a very cool audio-visual guide that leads you through Valencia’s early history, from the Visigoths to the Moors, to the arrival of Christianity. It’s available in English and provides a fascinating glimpse into the city’s early days.

We loved this exhibit, and were shocked to be the only visitors at 18:30 on a Saturday evening in May. The entrance is free and well worth your time. You can probably get lucky with an English tour, like we did, but you might want to call ahead to make sure.

Archaeological Crypt of San Vicente Martír
+34 96 394 14 17
Location on our Valencia Map

Vicente Mártir Procession

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July 5, 2010 at 4:09 pm Comments (0)

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