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48 Hours in Valencia

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

I had the most magical 48 hours in Valencia, let me tell you all about it.

Firstly I have to say thank you for all the incredible recommendations I got from people who lived in the city. I thought it was only right to pay it forward, so here's my guide to a perfect weekend in Valencia.

We took the train from Barcelona, my first tip is to make sure you stock up on drinks and snacks for the journey. Although our train back to BCN had refreshments available to buy the (longer) ride on the way to Valencia had nothing and we were ravenous. Also worth taking a jumper or something to whack round your shoulders in case the air con on the train is cranked up. I ended up rocking socks and Birkenstocks and an interesting array of kimonos and headscarves to warm up.

Where to stay

I stayed in the Ciutat Vella which was recommended for a first trip to the city. Any of the barrios in the area would be perfect for a short stay, except for maybe El Carme, which is packed with bars and so would probably be a little noisy in the evenings.Russafa would be another great area to stay in the centre but a little outside the old town.

Where to Eat

I had some of the best food I've eaten for a while in Valencia.

On arrival for lunch we of course ate paella. We stumbled across a little restaurant in the old town called Ocho Y Medio, it's in a picturesque little square next to a church and has a large outdoor terrace. We were starving after the snack free train ride so didn't shop around or research much more then having a quick glance at the menu. The paella was good, for me not great and very expensive compared to everywhere else we ate while in Valencia which was all much better.

On our second day we grabbed lunch by the beach in Cabanyal at a little spot called La Cabanyita. The menu included Spanish, French and Italian inspired tapas, and lots of tempting cocktails (you're on holiday, lunch time cocktails is a given). The perfect spot for a casual, lazy lunch just a couple of mins from the beach with tonnes of veggie and pescie (pescy? Is there an official spelling?) options.

Russafa was the number one recommended neighbourhood for food so on Friday evening we walked there and decided to trust the process and find somewhere we liked the look of rather than booking ahead. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this approach, it may have been the time we went down but lots of the places that looked great were already full.

In fact, for us this worked out out perfectly because during our wander to find the perfect dinner spot, by chance we came across, Copenhagen ( )

a restaurant that had been recommended to me over and over again while planning our trip. I saw it as the ultimate law of attraction at work and ran in immediately to grab a table.

I couldn't recommend Copenhagen, it's food, drinks and mainly immaculate service more. We had the palomitas de coliflor to start which was my favourite, followed by the jack fruit tacos and Thai pasta which were both big hits. However, if you take one piece of advice from this blog, please visit Copenhagen just to order the cheesecake, one of the most mouthwatering things I have eaten, maybe ever. They also have a kids menu which you don't see often in Spain, handy for family trips.

On Saturday evening I mistakenly lead us to El Carme for dinner, where there are virtually no restaurants but tonnes of bars, do you research, kids. Luckily we persisted in our search to find food in the area because we came across the greatest Ravioli in my memory in a little restaurant called AmaMi ( ). Super cute and cosy a little terrace on the street and exquisite food and drinks. There service was perfect, even our sides were fabulous. Order the ravioli with sage butter, you have been instructed.

The first rule of Valencia is that you absolutely must sample the city's famous ´Agua de Valencia`, a more citrusy twist on sangria de cava. We sat on the pretty little terrace of Café Sant Jaume which was just two minutes walk from AmaMi and was the perfect end to the evening. Earlier in the day we had also seen Cafe de Las Horas which was also a top recommended spot to sample A de V, in another little nook in the old town and it looked equally gorgeous.

What to do

we had 48 hours to pack in the best bits of an entire city neither of us had ever been to before. I´m also a big believer in enjoying a city rather than racing from tourist attraction to tourist attraction. I adore galleries and museums, but for me they are something to indulge in when you have time, a city is there to be lived in, wandered around and soaked up. A weekend break should be an experience not a schedule so could we have crammed more into our itinerary?Sure, but we chose long lunches and long walks over site seeing buses so should you want to, there are tonnes more activities possible to squish into your weekend.

On Friday we spent our afternoon exploring Ciutat Vella, a myriad of quaint little streets opening up onto grand squares with beautiful architecture, fountains, crammed with parasol draped cafe terraces to sip coffee (or a caña) on. We had no route or map, just wandered around being pleasantly surprised beautiful views and buildings and finding ice creams and drinks when we fancied them. I like to google things when I get to them and offer snippets of historical knowledge because it makes be look insightful and also because I once caught out a tour guide in Rome chatting shit (about a period of history I studied at university) and so have forever since been put off traditional site seeing. It's not for everyone, but I find it a more organic and relaxed way to drink in a city.

Saturday we walked through Russafa and Parque Gulliver to Ciutat de les Artes I de les Ciencies. "New stuff" is not something I usually have much interest in spending my time hunting out but The City of Arts and Sciences came so highly recommended by almost everyone I spoke to (plus there was a lot of talk of it being wildly instagrammable) that I had to check it out.

It absolutely did not disappoint, the sheer scale of it is mind-blowing, it's a modern architectural masterpiece with a strangely organic quality, and a space ship that's crash landed, all at the same time.

And it's Instagram worthy backdrops? Confirmed!

We spent some time exploring the expanse of man made lakes and towering skeletons of buildings but decided against touring any of the exhibitions or museums in favour of a long lunch and a lazy afternoon of swimming and siesta-ing at the beach.

I had been told that the beach in Valencia itself wasn't an awful lot to write home about, which I can confirm is true.There´s nothing outrageously offensive about it, though the industrial docks at the end don't offer much in the way of natural beauty to the view. It's just reasonably bland and uninteresting.

Cabanyal, the little neighbourhood that surrounds it, however, is far from it. Swathes of Cabanyal feel more like a South American city than Spanish and it's packed with alluring bars, food courts, boutiques and restaurants. I would love to spend more time in the area if I were to visit again and I would really recommend doing the same.

Our final stop before we headed back to Barcelona, was an experience I wouldn't necessarily have added to my Valencia bucket list in other circumstances, or more accurately, with other company.

My excitement for a morning tour of The Mestalla was fuelled mainly an impressive sales pitch of how the tour would be steeped in historical knowledge, and also a little bit because how can you not be excited to watch the football fan equivalent of a kid at Christmas?

I hate to admit that I was pleasantly surprised, the stadium is the oldest in Spain and the tour itself was, in fact both engaging and full of stories about the history of the club and it's players and fans.

I don't know how much stadium tours usually are, but the tickets were around 11euros which I thought seemed quite reasonable and available in both English and Spanish.

I don't know how much stadium tours usually are, but the tickets were around 11euros which I thought seemed quite reasonable and available in both English and Spanish.

How to get there

We took the train from Barcelona which wasn't cheap (by Spanish standards although still much cheaper than UK trains) as we travelled in August and booked our tickets only a week before but was super convenient arriving right in the centre of Valencia only a few minutes walk from our hotel.

The airport is less that 10km outside of the city centre with bus and metro links. A taxi is around 20 euros.

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