With the limelight firmly planted on Barcelona and Madrid, Spain’s third largest city, Valencia, is too often overlooked. With its laid-back beach vibe, colourful festivals, medieval core and subtle citrus scent wafting from a multitude of orange gardens; you’ll soon find a vacation in Valencia is just as fabulous.
Things to do in Valencia, Spain
Begin your sightseeing in Valencia with a taste of life as an aristocratic nobleman as you climb the opulent marble staircase of the Valencia Town Hall, stroll through the ballroom and admire the meeting council room. An iconic building located in the beautiful Plaza del Ayuntamiento, the Town Hall and its accompanying plaza is the perfect place to enjoy the bustling ambience of the town.
It is easy to feel dwarfed and daunted by the gigantic 14th Century Serrano Towers in Valencia. The renowned medieval architect, Pere Balagner, built them in 1394 at the height of Gothic style and his distinctive touch is continued through the winding, ornate interiors of the towers. For magnificent views of Valencia, you can climb the elegant stairways of the Towers of Serrano and admire the city below.
Be sure to visit the Saint Mary of Valencia Cathedral; a gothic Cathedral famous for allegedly housing the Holy Grail! Even though many churches claim to possess the elusive holy chalice, Christian historians regard the cup in the Valencia Cathedral as the most convincing. The Saint Mary of Valencia Cathedral will leave you intrigued and dazzled for hours.
Unlike the Serrano Towers that were more decorative than defensive, the Quart Towers of Valencia certainly boasts the marks of war on its medieval façade. You can see the many places where the cannon balls of the Napoleonic wars of 1808-1809 brutalised the stone and pockmarked the surface. These sturdy towers might be bereft of ornate grandeur but they are certainly are a fantastic example of a practical military structure.
Just off the coast of Valencia and linked to the mainland by a thin strip of land, the Peñíscola Castle is the stuff of legend. Perched on the top of a rocky peninsula and surrounded by waves like the setting of a swash-buckling adventure novel it was built by the Knights Templar in 1294-1307. In a prime example of life imitating art, the castle was restored and renovated in 1960 by the film crew of El Cid directed by Anthony Mann. Peñíscola is popular coast for locals and tourists to gather and great place to laze on a beach and have fun. Sand, sea and an ancient fortress: who needs anything else?