travelling in spain

Alternative things to do in Valencia

It isn’t always easy to find authentic and non-touristy things to do in a city. I’m going to show you my favourite alternative things to do in Valencia – the city famous for its moon, a wild night out and, of course, paella. 


The touristy things you should probably do anyway 

Things to do in Valencia - La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias
La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias

If you want to go to Spain’s third biggest city, there are lots of things you need to tick off your list before you start on more alternative things to do. One of the most popular is to visit the La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. An incredible collection of architecturally interesting buildings, including a planetarium, a botanical garden, science museum and IMAX cinema. Look out for the structure of the main building, it actually looks like the spine of a fish! This, along with Valencia Cathedral, shopping on the Calle Colón, visiting the gothic building of La Lonja de la Seda and seeing the old city gates are all must dos.

Where to go for the best Paella (and sunset)

Unusual things to do in Valencia - La Albufera at sunset
La Albufera at sunset

I want to show you an alternative Valencia. And where better to start, than with a traditional paella. Alternative because I won’t be taking you to the tourist beaches for one. So, head 15 mins south of the city to La Albufera, a fresh water lake which is especially beautiful at sunset. It’s obviously a bit of a hotspot for photographers, so try to ignore the uncomfortable engagement photoshoots going on if you can. All around this area you can see the traditional rice growing methods, which makes it basically impossible to find a bad paella. Head to close by el Palmar for a boat tour or some tomato eels (or just wait for the paella!).

From hot rice to refreshing horchata – a delicious milky rice drink served best with pastry fartons to dunk. One day I’ll be mature enough to ask for them without laughing. But they are the best, and the best in Valencia is Horchatería Daniel. But (second warning coming up:) don’t make the classic guiri mistake of presuming you drink cold milk and pastries in the afternoon (when the sun is up and it’s still hot)! This place comes alive between 8pm and 1am.


My favourite neighbourhoods in Valencia

Alternative neighbourhoods in Valencia - Barrio Carmen
Barrio Carmen

Just like most cities, Valencia is split up into different neighbourhoods – or barrios. My favourite being Ruzafa in the south east of the city. The beautiful earthy coloured buildings are decorated by the bright flowers hanging from all the balconies. The classic metal chairs of Spain spill out onto the streets offering you a cold beer or some tapas. If you’re stuck on where to eat (or drink) go to Bar Vermudez. Get yourself a vermouth (because it’s surprisingly delicious and a drink that is actually popular in Spain), and order the asparagus with truffle and jamón.

Another beautiful neighbourhood is Barrio del Carmen. Perhaps a little more touristy because its so close to the cathedral, but it’s rustic and covered in graffiti too. Make sure to look out for the enormous graffiti of Rosita Amores – a famous burlesque performer from Franco times. And yes, she is standing in a massive paella pan with nipple tassels.


The story of Mercado Central

Things to do in Valencia - Mercado Central
Mercado Central, Valencia

The final thing, for now, is to visit the Mercado Central. Not exactly alternative, and actually quite touristy and basically on every list of things to do in Valencia, but it’s still one of my favourites. It’s, surprisingly, located in the centre of the city and is such an impressive building. Sitting on top of the roof is an enormous green parrot with a golden ball in its mouth. Story has it, that poor parents from outside Valencia would bring their children to look at the parrot. They would tell them to wait for the parrot to drop the gold whilst they ‘went shopping’. The children would be left and hired as market porters. Not exactly a happy end to my recommendations of alternative things to do in Valencia, but the market is really worth a visit. Even if just to see the array of tomatoes.

For more info, images and videos of things to do in Valencia, follow @the.travelling.pot on Instagram!

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