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Valencia is on the east coast of Spain and offers a lot to keep the the travelling family happy as it has something for everyone. As Spain’s third largest city, it offers a unique blend of historic and modern architecture as well as lovely beaches. We only had a few days as we combined our trip here with a visit to nearby Mallorca. However, there is a lot to see and do in Valencia and I would definitely would love to come back.
Here are some suggestions for when you visit with the family and the kids. The historic centre is a great place for walking around. Many of the plazas are close by and you can comfortably walk around the city enjoying each of these locations. However, one of the major tourist attractions in Valencia is the stunning City of Arts and Sciences which is in the photo above.
For a taste of historic Valencia, head straight to the city centre with the kids. This is where you will find beautiful plazas- town squares. Plaza de la Virgen is the location of Valencia’s cathedral (formal name Metropolitan Cathedral–Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia.) It has a special chapel dedicated to the Holy Chalice or Holy Grail. Whether or not the chalice is authentic is still not completely known; however, the chalice has a long and special history dating back to the beginnings of the Catholic church. Within the church there is also a minaret that you can climb, which is from when a mosque stood here. As in many other places in Spain, you will find churches that became mosques that were then later changed back into churches.
Plaza de la Reina
On the other side of the cathedral is Plaza de la Reina (the Queen’s plaza). This plaza is known for its great cafes and restaurants. There is also a parking garage under the centre of the plaza - which we and the kids found quite useful thanks to its central location.
The other plaza worth seeing is Plaza de Ayuntamiento. This is Valencia’s main square and where the impressive town hall is located (town hall is ayuntamiento in Spanish). This is where the large celebrations of Las Fallas happen every year. A little more on that festival further down. There is a museum in the town hall, if you want to have a little look inside the building.
Torres de Serranos
Venturing a bit outside the main historic centre of Valencia and you’ll be greeted by one of the old city gates. Historically it served as gateway to the city but at other times it was a prison for noblemen. These days the gate is now open to the public and you can get some wonderful views from the top.
Gonzalez Marti National Museum of Ceramics and Decorations
This museum is housed in an ornate palace! It’s beautiful and has much more than ceramics. The kids will probably enjoy the regal “Cinderella” carriages on the ground floor the most though.
The Mercado Central is a great place to see and taste produce from Valencia with the kids. The market building is full of light and is one of the oldest in Europe. It’s definitely worth taking the time to come here and experience a daily shop in this great market.
It’s also conveniently across the street from another wonderful place to visit- La Lonja de la Seda (Llotja de la Seda) This structure built in the late 1400’s was a centre of silk trading and showcases beautiful Gothic architecture. It has beautiful ornate ceiling and pillars in the main trading hall. However, there is also an amazingly pretty patio (inner courtyard) called the Patio de los Naranjos (Orange tree patio).
Venturing a bit outside of the historic centre of Valencia and you can visit the incredible futuristic “City of Arts and Sciences”. By “city” they mean a series of modern buildings that are all built on the location of a former river bed. This area is considered to be one of the 12 treasures of Spain and when you visit, you will understand. It is such a great place to visit with kids. We missed out on some of the old city because we couldn’t pull ourselves away from this incredible area. It is made of five buildings and a garden walkway that is on top the parking area.
Starting with Umbracle- this is large garden area mingled with temporary art installations. It sits atop the City of Arts and Sciences parking lot. It has a wonderful selection of plants and trees. We really enjoyed our walk around here as the palm trees are lovely and they are a lot of native plants used in the gardens.
Next, is the first building of the area- The Hemisferic. It is basically built to look like an eye, and symbolises knowledge. It is home to an IMAX and planetarium. They have multilingual headsets and the majority of the shows are geared towards kids.
Science Museum (Principe Felipe Science Museum)
We really enjoyed the many levels of the science museum. It’s very interactive and the kids didn’t want to leave. There was also an indoor play area within the building that catered to younger kids.
This is Europe’s largest aquarium and was such a fun place to visit with the kids. It has different zones dedicated to different environments. You can see everything from belugas to tortoises. It also has dolphins, sharks and a butterfly house.
The Arts Palace is an arts centre for opera and ballet shows while the Agora is exhibition building. Check their websites if you are interested.
All along these buildings are shallow pools of water. They also offer the option of some water activities such as waterballs.
Las Fallas- Valencia’s incredible festival
Nearby the City of Arts and Sciences there is small museum dedicated to Valencias annual March festival called “Las Fallas.” The festival is dedicated to St. Joseph and is a way for Valencians to welcome springtime.The main celebrations of Las Fallas happen over a one week period, but there are events leading up it. As part of the festival different communities within the city create statues made from burnable materials. These statues can be like a masterpiece. Some are small, but others can be as tall as a building. On the final night of the festival, these amazing displays are burned and create an amazing pyrotechnic show.
Each year some of these incredible works of art are saved and put in a museum dedicated to Las Fallas - Museo Fallero. This is a great place to visit to understand a bit more of Valencian culture and their unique festival. You can view the museum online as well. . For more information about the festival, visit this great website dedicated to everything you need to know about Las Fallas. Just so you know, the museum is close to the City of Arts and Sciences.
Valencia has wonderful beaches. Visit Playa Malvarossa (Valencia's local beach) to enjoy a wonderful day at the beach and then eat some wonderful paella at one of the many beachside restaurants. If want to venture out of the city then I would recommend Port Saplaya Beach. It has a beautiful beach, but it also has a wonderful old port. We did a lovely evening walk around the marina which was lovely.
Valencia has a lot to offer families and is a big city without feeling too overwhelming. Hopefully, you can start planning a trip to this sunny city!
FYI- Flights to Mallorca are super easy from Valencia. We combined Valencia with a visit to Mallorca.
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