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Holidays to Valencia
Valencia - home of Paella.
Valencia is fast becoming a big drawcard amongst the uber-cool set. Its nightlife, outstanding museums and reputation for great food has it sneaking to the top of many must do lists, especially for an exotic European city break.
Valencia lies on the Mediterranean coast and is part of the Costa Blanca. The beaches may be the main draw card for most tourists (and they are indeed spectacular), but Valencia has much more than that going for it. Perfect for short breaks in Europe, Valencia is easy to get to and has plenty to do.
Like many Spanish cities you can have an absolute sparkler of a day by just wandering around the squares and neighbourhoods with a vibe. Barrio del Carmen is one such area. Stroll through the Jardines del Turia or find a seat to chill awhile in one of the many plazas. Preferably with a bottle of something cold.
Within the main Cathedral you'll find the Capilla del Santo Caliz, a chapel which supposedly houses the Holy Grail (the chalice used by Christ at the Last Supper). If only Monty Python had known. The Cathedral itself is a wonderful architectural treasure and it's free to get in (although the chapel is not).
Valencia is a bewitching place; utterly Spanish, yet a modern city that will suit anyone looking for cheap city breaks over winter.
Eating out in Valencia
Cheap, expensive and everything in between.
The Valencians invented the fabulous Paella dish we all know and love. Legend has it the Moors planted rice on the outskirts of the cities and the people of Valencia cooked it with chicken, rabbit and a whole lot more. The other thing of note is, like most of Spain, there appears to be 5 separate meal times. A light breakfast, a mid morning snack, a formidable lunch around 2.30pm, an afternoon snack and dinner at around 10.30pm. Sleep deprivation anyone?
The budget options - casual dining is easy in Valencia. Tapas bars are everywhere and will often have a 'special' advertised on the door. Look for the Dehesa Santa Maria chain. Mercado Central on Plaza del Mercado is a feast in every sense of the word with more than 1,000 stallholders selling everything, including food.
Mid price options - again this is quite easy as Valencians eat out regularly. Try Cafe Lisboa in Dr Cortezo Square in the El Carme-Colon area. If you want authentic paella head to Las Arenas just north of the port. Dozens of restaurants line the beach front area, most serving up a delicious dish of Paella in your chosen version. Cool your heels in the water and enjoy!
Splurge - for an unforgettable meal in Valencia, do as the locals do and splurge at Ca Sento on Méndez Nuñez 17. It's pricey, but top of the pile and serves up seafood in traditional recipes. The family-run restaurant is a spacious, beautifully decorated monument to good taste in every respect.
What to wear and when to go
Valencia is a warm Mediterranean city. You're good to go pretty much any time of year. July/August are around 25-26C and January is the coolest month at around 12C. The wettest month is October.
Valencia - a city of food, culture and architecture
This colourful and food-filled city should be high on everyone's list of places to see. Why? Because it has the lot - an incredible history, Moorish and Spanish architecture, a selection of Plazas to people watch in, food, tapas and sangria, museums and off-beat events. Plus one of Spain's great festivals; Las Fallas de San Jose. For an entire week in March the city reverberates to the sound of explosions and fire as neighbourhoods compete to create the finest effigies. The best are saved from the flames, the rest go up in smoke. It's an all-day, all-night party with music, stalls and drinking. Only in Spain.
Cathedral - this stunning piece of architecture is free to tour although you'll have to pay to visit the Chapel where the Holy Grail is kept. They say the Chalice from the Last Supper resides here, and indeed, it is an awe-inspiring sight. The Cathedral itself is everything you'd expect; ornate, huge and exquisite stonework. Climb to the top of the tower and get a lovely view of the city.
Mercado Central - the central markets is where Valencia shops. More than a 1,000 stalls will tempt you with objects d'art, luscious snacks and full-blown meals. Now this is a flea market on a grand scale set in a beautiful domed building. And when you've finished with the Mercado...
La Lonja de la Seda - check out the Silk Market building opposite the Mercado. The medieval street is one attraction, but this magnificent building is a gothic triumph hidden behind heavy doors.
Town Hall - the centre of Valencia is dominated by the wonderful Town hall, but the real attraction is the Plaza directly in front. Bells ring out the time and the buildings surrounding the Plaza are of equal stature and mark points in time of Valencia's history. A fountain is surrounded by flower stalls, and the streets leading away from the plaza house some of Valencia's most exclusive shops.
The must see - check out the City of Arts and Sciences as a remarkable contrast to the rest of Valencia. This modern building is a mind-blowing sight, even the bridge leading to it has been carefully considered. Surrounded by little lakes and Turia Gardens, the outside is spectacular enough, but the fun, of course, starts inside.