Medieval landmarks stand side by side with modern icons in the Spanish city of Valencia. This thriving and welcoming city has one of the largest historic centres in all of Spain; combined with a packed social calendar, Valencia draws visitors from near and far who are keen to explore this destination.
Day trippers arrive every morning from the popular holiday resorts on the Costa Blanca and depart each evening, though this does nothing to affect the city's night-time vivacity - it just makes sightseeing a bit easier early in the morning or late into the day.
And there's plenty to see in lovely Valencia. Grab your camera and check out Mercado Central, Valencia Cathedral, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Oceanogràfic aquarium, and the beautiful gardens that have grown out of the dried river bed of the Turia. Or you could take a towel and sun screen and hit the city beaches, dipping your toes in the blues of the Mediterranean.
Hotels in Valencia are mostly located in the city centre, which features the Old Quarter at its historical heart. This area is bordered by the gardens of Turia and there are some wonderful hotels overlooking the lush parkland.
In Valencia, hotels boasting four and five stars are commonplace and range from those in grand historical buildings to those in modern skyscrapers, where floor to ceiling windows offer terrific views of the city.
There are some central budget hotels, which get booked up fast, and a few more a little further from the main attractions. It's best to stay as centrally as possible to make the most of things to see and do, though Valencia is an impossibly pretty place and pounding the pavements is a constant pleasure.
Look out for some of the big brands that have hotels in the city. Pick from the likes of Melia, Sol, Tryp, Abba, AC Hotels, NH Hoteles, Westin, Holiday Inn, Eurostars and Best Western.
Valencia hotels are keen to fill rooms in the winter months, when average temperatures drop to 10°C and rain keeps the greenery lush; if you don't mind wearing a jumper and carrying an umbrella, you could find a bargain hotel in Valencia between October and March.
Top five attractions
Mercado Central (Central Market)
One of the most beautiful market buildings in the world, you can taste your way around Spain as you tour the enticing sights and smells of the stalls.
Also known as St Mary's Cathedral, this building features a unique blend of styles and a visit should be on any Valencia itinerary.
Museum of Fine Arts of Valencia (Museo de Bellas Artes de Valencia)
There's a heavy focus on local artists here, though you'll see many pieces from further afield. It's a relaxing place in which to cool off in summer.
Said to be the largest aquarium in Europe, the Oceanogràfic, or Oceanogràfic of the City of Arts and Sciences to give it its proper name, is vast and aims to represent all of the world's diverse marine environments.
Turia Gardens (Jardines del Turia)
A devastating flood in the 1950s saw authorities diverting the city river. The resulting public space is a belt of bridges, parks, playgrounds, fountains, and sports areas. It is simply stunning.
Fire Festival (Las Fallas); March: Figures known as “ninots” are set alight over five days of revelry around the region, though Valencia hosts the best parties, the biggest fires, and the most fantastic fireworks.
La Tomatina; August: Travel half an hour out of Valencia to Bunol and get involved in one of the wildest and wackiest events on the planet - the mass tomato fight that is La Tomatina.
Formula One Grand Prix; August: The streets of Valencia will host this motor race every two years, with Barcelona hosting in-between. Expect hotels to be in big demand and some city chaos, as the road network becomes the street circuit.