Valencia is the third largest city in Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia) and we went there because it also has one of the largest historic centers in Spain.
There is the great ambiance of old, along with the new modern City of Arts and Sciences - a draw for photographers.
Valencia proper has a population of around 800,000 and the entire surrounding metro area is about 2.5 million. Despite the big size the place, it feels very comfortable in this historic center. Easy to walk and explore.
Valencia is an interesting city with a rich mix of old and new architecture. A year or so ago I was tempted to consider a photography workshop in Valencia. The draw was the City of Arts and Sciences. Valencia is a city with medieval castles and towers to modernist and art deco architecture. The best of both worlds.
Our apartment was located on the Placa de l'Ajuntament - the plaza where the beautiful City Hall is located. We picked and liked this particular location as it is centrally located this made getting just about everywhere very easy. A few blocks away is the Cathedral, the Central Market, easy access to the main shopping areas.
We really enjoyed our time here, and very quickly we found ourselves saying that this is a city we would like to come back to again.
The City of Arts and Sciences, Av. del Professor López Piñero, 7 is a must-see for visitors. It contains 6 distinct zones or buildings. There are buses but I just jumped in a cab.
The first one built, L'Hemisferic, was designed to look like a giant human eye. It offers, among other things, a 3D panoramic cinema, which is always popular with both locals and tourists.
Then we find El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe, or the Prince Philip Science museum. It has a program of changing exhibits at various times of the year and you don't have to be a science fan to enjoy it. It's very educational for children too, with plenty of activities inside to keep them entertained.
The other part of the complex houses L'Umbracle, which is completely free and is a landscaped walk of plants native to the area and various artistic and thought-provoking sculptures.
The L'Oceanogràfic, is a small version of Sea World, so expect to pay to visit. It’s not cheap, but it is well worth it for sure. They do a dolphin display and it has the largest glass water tunnel in Europe to walk through, directly underneath the massive fish tank, with sharks swimming a few meters from your face!
El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía is the next part, which is an impressive looking opera house and theatre.
The last and newest bit is L'Àgora, which is a covered exhibition space and sports arena with the shape of an ellipse.
Don't miss the Mercado Central, Plaça de la Ciutat de Bruges. Kng Alfonso XIII opened the market in 1928. Not only is it a great modernist building to admire, it is also somewhere where visitors get a closer insight into the daily life of the Valencianos.
The market itself is divided into sections, depending on the type of food available such as fish, a meat section, a fruit section and so on. There are some really interesting stalls here: some of the fruit and vegetables may look strange to visitors, and so may some of the traditional meat products which are still popular here but not in northern parts of Europe.
Even if you get bored, there are loads of traditional shops, bars and cafes around the perimeter of the building. It is a really nice area to stroll around.
Go in the morning, it is open from 7:30 am to 2:30 pm; closed on Sundays.
We also discovered the Mercato Colon at Carrer de Jorge Juan, 19. This was a former food market that was redeveloped and how houses a collection of bars and restaurants.
One of the restaurants we went to more than once was Ma Kin Kitchen. The food is fabulous.
We found this to be a scenic part of the city. Just walk and get lost among the old buildings, the artful graffiti, and drop by one of the numerous bars and restaurants.
We found ourselves at the Plaza del Carmen, and ate at the small outdoor restaurant, Maria Mandiles Carme, Carrer del Pare d'Orfens, 2.
Yes when people asked if you are searching for the Holy Grail, you can answer yes, and I found it!
Read about it and it appears to be a controversial claim but personally, I am accepting it to be just that. The Holy Grail is the cup Jesus drank from at the last supper. There are other places that also claim they have it.
The cathedral in itself is worth a visit. Climb the Miguelete bell tower for views of the city.
Dates back to 1483, this was the silk exchange. Admire the columns and the ceiling of the main hall.
A Roococo nobility palace which now houses the Museum of Ceramics and Decorative Arts. You will never forget the entrance to the palace. The rich ornamentation of the building is reason enough to visit. Inside, however, more marvel awaits you - the fully furbished interior of the palace and the best of ceramics that Valencia had to offer through the centuries. Located at Rinconada García Sanchiz, 6.