TURISMO VALENCIA is a non-profit Foundation with the participation of the Valencia City Council. Our goal is the strategic management and promotion of the city of Valencia in the tourism sector, with a professional focus which combines public and private interest. This blog helps you to discover what to see, what to do, the best places, where to eat and more.
Chufas (tiger nuts) are Valencia’s own superfood: a humble little tuber which is packed with nutrients and many other health benefits. This is, of course, the base of horchata, the refreshing Valencian drink which can be enjoyed all year round in the city. Right now, with the new crop of chufas ready to be used, the chance to enjoy the freshest horchata in the warm spring sun is not to be missed!
The fertile fields of the Valencian huerta provide the perfect soil and conditions to grow chufas. That is why this has become a quintessentially Valencian product, recognised with its own Designation of Origin label: chufadeValencia. The seeds are sown in April or May and the crop is ready to be collected between November and January. After being washed, the tiger nuts are left to dry for three months and… hey presto, they are now ready to be eaten raw as a snack or turned into horchata!
Visiting the chufa fields is a good way to learn more about this product, as well as a most enjoyable experience. Try the Horchata Bike Tour, which departs at 10:00 am on Fridays from the Tourist Information office on Calle de la Paz. A gentle ride into the heart of the huerta will take you to an alquería, a traditional Valencian farmhouse. Here, besides the educational bit, you will also be able to enjoy the most delicious glass of natural horchata with the traditional fartons (soft pastries) to dip in it.
And, if you are already a fan of horchata – or become one after this introductory tour – here are some of the many things you can do with this versatile product:
Drink it (of course)! Remember to always look for natural horchata, which will only lasts fresh for a couple of days. Bottled horchata is nowhere near as nice! There are many places to try it in Valencia, from the classic Horchateria Santa Catalina (Plaza Santa Catalina) or the Mercado Coon outlet of Horchateria Daniel to the Món Orxata mobile kiosks throughout the city to grab a glass of horchata to go.
Eat it: Besides making ice cream, horchata can be used as an ingredient to cook delicious dishes, mainly cakes and other desserts. Even the top chefs are using it in creative ways on their menus! Until Sunday 3 March, for example, you can try “Valencian lamb with horchata” at the Michelin-starred El Poblet, one of the special dishes created for this year’s gastro-festival, Valencia Culinary Meeting.
Party with it: How about mixing an horchata-based cocktail to get the party started? Try a “ronchata” with rum, a “chufa libre” with gin and a slice of lemon, or a “chufa colada” with pineapple juice, coconut cream and rum. Or simply let your imagination run riot…
Feel it: A product that is so rich in nutrients, oleic acid (like olive oil), antioxidants and also good to boost the immune system will do wonders for your skin too! Try an exfoliating horchata soap or an anti-age cream, for example, which you can easily order online.
There really is much more to chufas and horchata than meets the eye!
Valencians are counting down the days to Las Fallas, and mega-fans of Valencia’s most explosive festival are already planning their visit – you can download a new app (free on iTunes and GooglePlay) for that. But where do you begin if it’s only recently you have fallen for the charms of the Mediterranean city?
To help you out, here is a quick guide to everything you need to know about Las Fallas:
Las Fallas is Valencia’s ‘super festival’. Although the main event lasts for five days (15-19 March), some activities start as early as February. A ceremony called ‘La Cridà’ – literally, a call out for everybody to come and join in the fun – marks the official opening and is typically held on the last Sunday of February. There are some parades and plenty of colour everywhere, but Las Fallas is distinctively different from a carnival.
‘Fallas’ can be different things. Las Fallas is the name of the annual festival, held to honour Saint Joseph (the patron saint of carpenters). The actual fallas are the huge monuments set up on squares and crossroads (always a big adult falla and a smaller, children’s one by its side), which are burnt to the ground as the festival culminates on 19 March. Also, a Falla is the name of the committee – more like a social club – behind the planning, design and funding of each of the fallas monuments. There are around 400 Fallas committees which together have around 200,000 members – roughly a quarter of the city’s population!
But a ninot is not a falla. Each falla follows a theme and is made up of individual figurines or scenes called ninots (there can be up to 40 ninots in one falla, some small, some huge). Every year, only two ninots (one from an adult falla, one from a children’s one) will be saved from the flames, chosen by popular vote. A dedicated Ninot Exhibition with all the candidates runs from the beginning of February at the City of Arts and Sciences. The ‘pardoned’ ninots will remain permanently on display at the Fallas Museum.
Satire is in the heart of Las Fallas. Made of cardboard, wood, papier- mâché and plaster, the ninots traditionally depict satirical scenes, often inspired by current events, popular culture and global politics. From Donald Trump to Cristiano Ronaldo, nobody escapes!
Not all the fallas are the same. The monuments compete in different categories, basically depending on how much money was spent on them, and winners will be chosen for each level. The Special category includes the most expensive – and usually the biggest and most spectacular – fallas. There is also the government-funded falla del Ayuntamiento, set up in the City Hall Square, which will be the last one to burn (at 1am whilst the rest go up in flames at midnight on 19 March). You can book a unique guided tour of some of these, any time of day… and night!
If you love fireworks, this is the place to be. From the early morning despertá (wake up bangers) to the dazzling ‘Night of Fire’ extravaganza on 18 March or the final firework show with the burning of the fallas, the smell of gunpowder lingers in the air throughout the festival. The traditional mascletà, a pandemonium of noise, smoke and fireworks, beats out a unique sound every day from 1 to 19 March at 2 pm in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. Most people head there early to secure a good spot but you can also watch it from ‘the best balcony in Valencia’, only 20 metres from the action.
Expect to see (and smell) thousands of flowers. Head to Plaza de la Virgen on 17 and 18 March and you will witness an endless offering of flowers by men and women dressed in traditional costumes. Part of Las Fallas celebrations, the flowers are carefully placed to form a colourful outfit that ‘dresses’ a giant statue of Our Lady of the Forsaken, the Patron Saint of Valencia.
Las Fallas has its own must-try snack. The sinfully delicious buñuelos are golden-coloured doughnuts, traditionally made with a pumpkin paste, sprinkled with sugar and served piping hot in a paper cone. Freshly made, you can grab a bag from one of the many stalls in the streets. For the full experience, dip them in a cup of thick, hot chocolate – the combination is irresistible.
The Fallas Festival is so unique that it has been inscribed in UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It is definitely an experience to try at least once in your life. But with the new Fallas tour and the Fallas Museum recently renovated, you can get a taste of Las Fallas no matter what time of the year you visit Valencia!
Valentine’s Day is approaching fast. Being a working day this year, couples who can’t spend the day together may make alternative romantic plans for the weekend. In Valencia, it doesn’t really matter when you celebrate it. Love is always in the air and any day is a good day to enjoy the most romantic 24 hours you could dream of.
With a bit of imagination and planning, you could design your own Valentine’s Day any time of the year – though, of course, many places have special offers this month if you prefer to stick to the traditional date. In any case, these are our suggested 10 steps for the perfect 24 hours of love in Valencia:
1. Buy a present
Whatever your budget, you will find something special for your loved one in Valencia. Splash out with a beautiful piece of jewellery by local designer Rafael Torres, or Coolook, jewellers to Queen Letizia! If you prefer something sweet, Utopick has chocolate tablets with personalised messages, as well as some uniquely Valencian creations: chocolate masclet fireworks anyone?
2. Declare your love
Find a special spot to give your present, declare your love or even propose! What could be better than doing so with the whole city at your feet? The new Ateneo’s Viewpoint at the top of the historic Ateneo Mercantil building has mesmerising vistas extending from the surrounding mountains to the Mediterranean Sea.
3. A stroll hand in hand
This is a day to spend time together, talking as you walk hand in hand. And Valencia has so many beautiful corners for a romantic stroll! The Turia Gardens is a favourite place for that or, for a more intimate experience, head to the Jardin de Monforte, Valencia’s secret garden.
4. An aphrodisiac pick me up
It’s lunch time, and you will need something to keep you going, without ruining your appetite before tonight. How about a plate of fresh oysters with a glass of cava at La Ostreria (Plaza Mossen Sorell) in the Barrio del Carmen? They say it’s the food of love…
5. Relax together
If all that bubbly has gone to your head, maybe it’s time to go for a lie down, and enjoy a relaxing massage together in a romantic candle-lit room. Many of the best spas in the city offer special massages for couples. Try Balneario La Alameda (Amadeo de Saboya 14) or Caroli at the Westin Valencia.
6. Toast your love at sunset
The days in February are short and the sun will soon go down. Make sure you catch the last rays together, maybe with a cocktail at the Marina Beach Club or the rooftop terrace of the Barcelo Valencia, overlooking the City of Arts and Sciences. Alternatively, try a romantic boat trip on the Albufera lagoon at dusk for an unforgettable experience.
7. Book a show
This is no ordinary day, so why not treat yourselves to a night out enjoying one of the many shows on offer in Valencia? The Olympia Theatre offers discounted Valentine’s tickets for its new show The Hole Zero, celebrating disco music and the sexual revolution in America. Or how about a night at the opera? This year, the Palau de les Arts offers Carmen, the ultimate tale of love and jealousy.
8. A romantic meal
No Valentine’s Day – or any other romantic occasion – is complete without a special candlelit dinner for two. Valencia certainly has no shortage of restaurants, and many really push the boat out for this date. Macellum offers a free bottle of wine with their Valentine’s menu and at the Hotel Las Arenas you can enjoy a dinner with live music by the Mediterranean sea.
9. Walk in the moonlight
If you dine and stay at Las Arenas, then a stroll on the beach after dinner is a must. Feel the sea breeze in your skin and listen to the waves as you share a kiss under the moonlight. Wandering along the quiet, narrow streets and alleyways of the old town can be equally romantic. A perfect end to a perfect day, before going back to your hotel.
Are you a keen Instagrammer who, when you see something beautiful, can’t resist the urge to take a photo and share it with everybody? You will truly be spoilt for choice in Valencia! Magnificent architecture, colourful markets, picturesque traditions, glorious food, or just happy memories of days by the sea… there is so much to photograph in the city! Add nice weather and the perfect Mediterranean light and you can see what makes Valencia theQueen of Instagram.
Valencia is full of memorable beauty spots. Of course, everybody will have their own favourite place, or may discover their own hidden gem as they walk around the city. But, for a start, here is our pick of the most “Instagrammable” places in the city – just don’t forget to add the hashtag #visitvalencia to your posts!
City of Arts and Sciences: A place that is often chosen by film producers and features in countless ads, has to be the number one choice for your Instagram pictures too. From the “skeleton” of the Science Museum to the “eye” of l’Hemisferic, whichever building and whichever angle you choose will produce great pictures. Catch the changing light shining on the trencadis mosaics at different times of day, or the mesmerising reflections of the white giants on the surrounding blue ponds. Simply stunning!
Old Town: Beautiful buildings at the end of narrow alleyways. Surprising urban street art on the walls of ordinary houses. Fabulous views of the city from vantage points like the Miguelete bell tower. Extraordinary details in the most famous monuments, like the gargoyles in La Lonja… A walk around Valencia’s old town will provide plenty of opportunities for that perfect shot.
Central Market: Look up and admire the spectacular dome with its mosaics and wrought iron structure. Look around you and select your favourite stall: piles of colourful fruit and vegetables at one end, glittering fish and seafood at the other… Catch the smiles of the local traders as they tempt you with their delicious produce. And don’t forget to shop in between shots!
El Cabanyal: The old fishermen’s quarter retains the atmosphere of yesteryear and provides a taste of authentic Valencian life by the sea. As you stroll along the narrow streets you will come across traditional tiled facades and art nouveau buildings as locals go about their everyday life, hanging the washing on their balconies or shopping in the market. Don’t forget to make a stop at Casa Montaña for a few tapas after a busy morning snapping.
Marina Beach Club: No visit to Valencia can be complete without a walk by the seaside. Make your friends jealous with gorgeous shots of palm-fringed golden beaches under a perfect blue sky, or cocktails leisurely enjoyed by the sea. The modern Marina Beach Club is a perfect spot to do both.
Albufera Natural Park: You don’t need to be an avid birdwatcher with a telescopic lens to capture the beauty of this natural paradise. A boat trip on the lagoon, particularly at sunset, will provide plenty of ideas for your Instagram shots: the silhouette of egrets or cormorants perched on posts, the reflection of the sun on the placid waters, the typical barracas, the view of the reeds as the boat glides by… magical!
Of course, it is not just the buildings and tourist sites in Valencia that you will want to photograph. Come during the Fallas Festival and you may soon run out of memory on your phone taking pictures of all the spectacular fallas monuments and their individual ninots, each one telling their own story. Or the beauty of the local girls dressed in traditional fallera costumes.
And if we talk about food – always a favourite subject for photos – then the undisputed Queen of Instagram has to be the traditional paella. Cook it, watch it being cooked or simply order it at a restaurant. Then snap, share… and enjoy the real taste of Valencia!
Everybody knows (or should know by now) that Valencia is the birthplace of paella, and the land of oranges and horchata. But the city is also home to creative designers, innovative producers and international brands. You can find delicious wines, gorgeous dresses worthy of film stars, and many other unique products, all Made in Valencia.
Here is our guide to some of the best Valencian brands:
The delicate handmade porcelain figurines, which often depict traditional Valencian scenes and pretty girls, are probably Valencia’s most famous export, and an ideal gift at any time. You can visit their shop on calle Poeta Querol 9, or take a guided tour of their factory and museum in Tavernes Blanques, just 15 minutes from the city.
Valencia produces some excellent wines, from vineyards close to the city and on the high plains of the interior of the province. Look out for the two local D.O. (Denominación de Origen or protected designation of origin) applied to wines – D.O. Utiel-Requena and D.O. Valencia – and make sure you try the native bobal grape. Vegamar (shop on calle Colón 37)is one of the most famous local producers, but there are many more such as Vicente Gandia (Hoya de Cadenas), Pago de Tharsys, Dominio de la Vega or Vega Alfaro, to name a few. You can take the Wine Bus to visit some of the wineries and fill your bags with top wines.
Alejandro Resta: fashion designer to the stars
If it is good enough for Paris Hilton and stars from all over the world, why not treat yourself to one of the exclusive outfits designed by Alejandro Resta too? You will find them in the best boutiques as well as in fashion shows all over the world, or you can visit his atelier in Valencia (Almirante Cadarso 14).
Resta may be the man of the moment, but there are many other celebrated Valencian fashion designers. Francis Montesinos, for example, is renowned for his designs inspired by local traditions and the folk style of southern Spain. Alex Vidal offers a sophisticated, urban style, which you can find at his shop you can find on calle Sorni near Colon. At Tonuca (Felix Pizcueta 20) you will find practical, yet fashionable women’s clothing. Other top names to look out for include Noelia Navarro, with her NoNa brand, and Dolores Cortes (Conde Salvatierra 5), to name a few.
Boovier: quintessentially Valencian fashion
If you are just looking for something completely different, how about trying an outfit made with the same delicate fabrics used for the ornate fallera costumes? At Boovier (San Vicente Martir 66) you will find not only beautiful dresses, but also shoes, handbags and other accessories to make you feel like a true festival queen.
Vondom: enjoy life outdoors
With its mild climate, Valencia is a city to enjoy life outdoors, soaking up the Mediterranean sun. It is therefore no surprise that one of the most successful local brands should be an outdoor furniture designer. You can find Vondom’s avant-garde designs in many hotels and bars, but if you fancy some for your own garden, check out their flagship store at Avenida de Valencia 3.
Of course, if we talk about Valencian brands which are recognised internationally, we can’t forget the city’s top football team, Valencia CF, as well as football stars “made in Valencia” like Juan Mata. Check the fixtures when you are in Valencia to see them in action, or book a tour of the imposing Mestalla stadium.
And there is hardly a more famous Valencian than the architect Santiago Calatrava, who has designed bridges and stadia all over the world. His star project, though, has to be the stunning City of Arts and Sciences in his home town, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. What better excuse to celebrate the greatest designs made in Valencia?
Valencia is a city of multiple sights: historic monuments, futuristic architecture and vast green spaces, all framed by the blue of the Mediterranean sea and the mountains of the interior. And the best way to capture them all – unless you haven’t got a head for heights – is by enjoying a bird’s eye view from one of the vantage points in the city.
There is nothing like climbing to a high viewpoint to get your bearings when visiting a new city. Having a real, 3D map of the city at your feet, may help you decide what to visit next. And, in any case, it will make for some great memories and the best selfies! Here is our pick of the best viewpoints in Valencia:
The new kid on the block: The Ateneo
If you love panoramas, a new, 50-metre high mirador has now opened in the heart of the city, offering spectacular, 360-degree views of Valencia. Ateneo’s Viewpoint is located at the top of the historic Ateneo Mercantil building, with vistas extending from the surrounding mountains to the Mediterranean Sea. Open daily, the mirador does not close until 20:30h, so you can capture beautiful sunset shots of the skyline as it bursts with colour.
The classic one: El Miguelete
The iconic Gothic bell tower of Valencia’s cathedral is a classic reference point in the city centre. Climbing up 50 metres on its spiral staircase may make your head spin (and your legs wobble!), but the fantastic views of the old quarter and the Turia gardens from the top are well worth the effort. It is open daily from 10:00-13:00h and 16:30-19:00h.
The most romantic: Torres de Serranos
These imposing medieval gates once opened the way into the city. Nowadays, this is the place where the Fallera Mayor calls out to the whole world to come to Valencia and enjoy the Fallas festival at the Cridá. And it has also become a favourite spot for lovers. Who could say no to a romantic proposal from the top of the towers, with the whole city at your feet?
The coolest terrace: 270 Grados
The rooftop terrace at the Hotel Barcelo is a favourite spot for a late evening drink, or an oriental meal al fresco, during the summer months. As the sun goes down, watch the changing colours of the City of Arts and Sciences below with a cocktail in hand. Alternatively, you can enjoy the city lights from the hotel’s spa on the 10th floor (tip: you don’t need to be a guest to book a treatment!). Another popular terrace is the Sky Bar by Vertical on the 13th floor of the Ilunion Aqua Hotel – though the views from the hotel’s Michelin starred Vertical Restaurantare just as stunning.
And one for the future…
Amongst the new luxury hotels opening in Valencia this year is the first NH Collection property in the city. Due to open in the spring at the Europa building, the former headquarters of the Regional Ministry of Economy, Industry, Tourism & Commerce, by the Mestalla stadium, the new hotel will have an enviable rooftop terrace. It will also bear the signature work of acclaimed interior designer Lorenzo Castillo throughout.
Have you found your favourite view of Valencia yet?
Move over Madrid and Barcelona… with a series of new openings, key anniversaries, fascinating events and more flight options than ever before, Valencia is certainly one of the most exciting short break destinations you could visit this year.
If you are after fresh holiday ideas, here are our top ten reasons to visit Valencia in 2018:
1. More new flights from the UK
Valencia is easier to reach than ever before for British holidaymakers, as it will soon enjoy direct connections with nine UK airports! Ryanair will add a new service from Bristol in March 2018, whilst easyJet will start flying from Belfast in June. This follows the launch of new routes from Edinburgh, Glasgow and London Luton last year.
2. 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences
The striking City of Arts and Sciences, the work of Valencian starchitect Santiago Calatrava, was officially inaugurated in April 1998. L’Hemisfèric, home to the city’s planetarium, was the first building to open its doors at the colossal complex, which today also includes the Oceanogràfic, Europe’s largest aquarium, the avant-garde opera house of Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía and the impressive gardens of L’Umbracle.
3. An iconic cocktail finds its home at a chic new hotel
The city centre of Valencia will soon welcome a new luxury hotel, Marques House, which is scheduled for completion in April 2018. Featuring 32 elegant suites and a rooftop pool, the boutique property will also be the new home of the historic Café Madrid, a true Valencian institution where the celebrated Agua de Valencia cocktail, a concoction of cava, orange juice, vodka and gin, was reputedly created in 1959.
4. The latest arts hub comes complete with a Michelin-starred restaurant
A former hydraulic pumps factory houses Valencia’s brand new cultural centre. Bombas Gens is a striking example of 1930s architecture that has now been restored to its former glory. The modern art centre, which is also the new home of Ricard Camarena’s flagship Michelin starred restaurant, opened its doors to the public in July 2017, and its former Civil War air raid shelter can now also be visited.
5. Take in 360-degree views of the city’s skyline from a new ‘mirador’
Ateneo’s Viewpoint, a new, 50-metre high ‘mirador’, offers guests spectacular, 360-degree views of Valencia. With vistas extending from the peaks of Sierra de La Calderona to the blue of the Mediterranean Sea, it is located at the top of the historic Ateneo Mercantil building, in the heart of the city. Open daily, the ‘mirador’ does not close until 20:30, allowing for beautiful shots of the skyline as it bursts with colour.
6.More luxury hotels are in the pipeline
Besides the renovation of the SH Ingles boutique hotel, Valencia is set to have its first NH Collection property in the spring, featuring an enviable rooftop terrace and the signature work of acclaimed interior designer Lorenzo Castillo throughout. Myr Hotels also plans to open another luxury property in the city centre and work is underway on a new beachfront, five-star hotel.
7. A new exhibition puts Miró in the limelight
Calling all art lovers: with 2018 marking 125 years since the birth of Joan Miró, a new exhibition at IVAM, the country’s second largest museum gallery, will put a spotlight on one of the greatest Spanish painters of the 20th century. Bringing together more than 100 works by the artist from 15 museums and institutions, ‘Miró. Orden y desorden’ will run from 15 February to 17 June 2018.
8. Experience the explosive Fallas Festival – now protected by UNESCO – all year round
Rio is famous for its Carnival, New Orleans comes together for Mardi Gras… and Valencia has the Fallas, now inscribed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Huge papier-mâché sculptures take over the city every March before getting burned in a dramatic way – but you can get a taste of it any time of the year on a new Fallas tour that meets local artists and visits the now-renovated Fallas Museum.
9. A new lease of life for the ‘floating’ Veles e Vents building
Originally designed by prestigious architects David Chipperfield and Fermín Vázquez for the 32nd America’s Cup in 2007, a decade later the award-winning Veles e Vents building has reinvented itself as Valencia’s new gastro-cultural hub. Located at the city’s marina, it features three restaurants, including fine dining at La Sucursal, and hosts regular exhibitions, concerts and other special events.