If you are visiting Valencia for the first
time or you've heard about this great city, the first thing that will call
your attention is the incredible light that reaches every corner, the
great weather lasting all year long, or the friendly nature of its people.
All this is true, as is the fact that together with Barcelona, these two
cities are the most important on the Spanish Mediterranean coast, and
within the last few years, Valencia has grown tremendously.
But perhaps what might surprise you even more is its incredible
diversity. Moving from one area of the city to another means being
surrounded by completely different urban landscapes; so much so that you
might even think you're in a different city altogether.
A good point to start a sightseeing trip through the city is without a
doubt the historic centre of town. The Ayuntamiento (Town council) and
Correos (Main Post Office) buildings stand out as some impressive
buildings worth visiting. If you head towards the Plaza de la Reina, this
large square introduces you into an older part of town with
turn-of-the-century buildings and just beyond that, the historic Old
Quarter and the Barrio del Carmen neighbourhood. Some of the buildings in
this area date from the period of Arab domination of the city and others
incorporate the old walls into their structure. The palaces in this part
have been restored and turned into luxury restaurants or official
government buildings. A walk along the narrow, cobble-stoned streets will
give you a flavour for the past, combined with the modernity that the many
bars, cafés and clubs of this area have to offer.
The new Town Council was built in this area as was Calatrava bridge. The
latter is an example of the innovative architecture found in Valencia. It
joins the two shores of the Turia river bed which has now been turned into
a fantastic garden and recreational area running through the entire city.
This area in fact, is almost like a triangle of modernity between
Alameda-Blasco Ibánez-Avenida de Aragón streets where you'll also find a
good part of the university campus in the city. It is also where you'll
find modern glass skyscrapers, some of the best restaurants, pubs and
night clubs in the city, together with the best parks and gardens, such as
the Jardines del Real o 'Viveros', Jardines de Monforte, or the Alameda.
It is here in front of the river Turia that you will find the Palau de la
Música, with its huge glass dome and main venue in the city for concerts
and all sorts of cultural events.
Classicism, harmony, good taste, luxury shops and restaurants, without a
doubt, that is what you will find in the Cánovas area and its streets
lined with turn-of-the-century buildings. This is the traditional
residential area for the Valencian bourgeoisie, and nowadays home to some
of the best clubs and high standard, quality restaurants in the city.
Bordering on the old quarter, you'll find Colón street, which has some of
the most elegant boutiques and shops in the city, and of course, the Corte
Inglés department store.
We cannot end without talking about the most characteristic feature of
this city, which gives it colour and life: the Mediterranean, of course.
That inseparable part of our culture is very easily reached, and if you
get to it by walking along the Avenida del Puerto, your efforts will be
rewarded. This last avenue is lined with typical and traditional
restaurants, some of them with the honour of having been visited by
Hemingway on one of his visits to Valencia. Others more recently opened
are a display of modern Valencian design, a city with a reputation for
The city's coast consists of three beaches: Las Arenas, la Malvarrosa
and Alboraya, in addition to the Cabañal neighbourhood, where the city's
fishermen once lived. If you are fit enough, try to walk along all three
in just one morning. If not, just enjoy the landscape and the sea breeze
while sipping on a refreshing drink in any of the open air terraces facing
This is Valencia in very general terms, but if you decide to get to
know it on your own, you will discover lots of details, beautiful plazas
and charming neighbourhoods that will probably have you back here again
and again to try to find even more.