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A sun-drenched port on Spain’s Mediterranean coast, Valencia has tradition etched into its heart and innovation on its mind. Home to a renowned food scene, a unique mix of architecture and some of Europe’s best urban beaches, a holiday in Valencia shows off every side of this diverse city.
Compact and flat, Valencia is best explored by foot or bicycle. The Turia Gardens, a dried-out riverbed that snakes through the heart of the city, is a great place to start. A roadmap to Valencia, the park stretches for nine kilometres all the way down to the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences.
Architecture that is more traditional can be found in the old town. The three main squares – Plaza del Ayuntamiento, Plaza de la Reina and Plaza de La Virgen – house some of the city’s main attractions, including its cathedral and city hall. Walk from one to the other before exploring the winding laneways of El Carmen, where you’ll find hip cafés and walls covered in street art.
When you’re feeling peckish, visit one of Valencia’s fresh produce markets to see why the city is famous for its food. Grab a table at a streetside tapas bar and go for local specialties like clochinas (mussels) and fried artichokes. Valencia is also the undisputed home of paella, but there are rules Valencians stick to: it should only be eaten at lunchtime and it’s a sin to include chorizo.
Work off lunch with a bike ride to Valencia’s sandy beaches for year year-round sunshine and a dip in the Mediterranean Sea. Or, head out of the city to the Albufera to see traditional barracas houses and the rice paddies that first inspired paella.
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