Why Valencia? To eat oranges? Well, not just to eat oranges but mainly to explore this stunning and dynamic medieval city founded by the Romans in 138 BC.
Actually, we’re also meeting up again with our good friends Wendy, Gordon, and their pooch Cusco. Any excuse for a merry gathering and sharing of travel stories and woes.
Tip: This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.
After a wonderful 9 days in Cambrils, it’s time to head Reg down the highway towards the new destination for maybe a week or so – no plan really. Although there are a couple of campsites closer to Valencia, Bétera is a cheaper alternative as a base and only a 10-minute walk to the train station.
Expect to see lovely vistas of the Mediterranean Sea for most of the drive as the highway follows the coastline for most of the way.
Stopping for coffee between Exits 44 and 45 provides only a small stop with a machine coffee and not great – nowhere to sit either. Made a mistake. Instead, if you stop for a break between these exits, cross the overpass bridge to the other side of the highway as this is where a restaurant and other shops are so may provide a better alternative.
Roads: AP7, E90, E15
Campsite: €17/night including power (with ASCI Camping Card); stay 8 nights for an additional 10% discount.
Valencia Camper Park – Arriving just after 14:00hrs, reception is shut between 12:30-14:30hrs so checked out the facilities and walked around the small campsite. The pitches are narrow and think there are only 64, not all with power (4 Amp and 6 Amp available).
Excellent clean hot showers at the campsite and wth friendly staff. A little restaurant and bar on site serving homemade Tapas, Paellas, cakes, and other delicacies. Fresh bread is also available and €1/baguette.
Rocio at reception is super helpful, speaks many languages – not sure how many – attentive, and makes sure you understand everything including how to travel on the Metro; and she has the patience of a saint. You can buy a Metro card for €2 (refunded on card return), then this is loaded with €20 of trips. This get’s you around Bétera, into Valencia or wherever you need to go.
Drinking water is not free at this site but at €0.50 for about a 2-minute fill, it’s really not expensive.
Washing machine: €3 (warm water) or €6 (hot water)
4 days discovering Valencia
As the 3rd biggest city in Spain, there’s an abundance to discover in Valencia and 4 days is just not enough to do this amazing city justice.
I love this city’s vibe, the locals, and incredible sites.
Discovering the alleyways of the Old Town, stopping off for a Paella, pastry, café, or just a glass of wine to soak up the ambience, is a lovely way to explore the city.
Such a gorgeous city offering a plethora of activities and sites to experience.
Going halves on a car hire for 2 days was an excellent idea.
The boys picked the car up from Gold Car Rental at the airport near Valencia. The cost for 2 days is €17 – how cheap! Great little 5-door car and excellent for zipping around Valencia.
The SatNav’s English was hilarious. An English accent pronouncing Spanish roads very slowly: Cat-o-lick-a (Catholic)! Had us in stitches whilst driving around Valencia – much fun.
This city has a mental road system, especially if you’re trying to park near the marina/port area. After going around in circles, finally found the entrance and parked, but can’t complain as it is totally free – a pleasant surprise.
The walk around the marina and port are lovely. Whilst there, ogle at the Super Yachts and luxurious boats moored at a distance. You can’t get onto the marina for a closer look as it’s all security gated.
An easy walk down to the beachfront from the port, so Cusco could go for a run and play.
Try a coffee and Empanada on the seafront like the surrounding beautiful people are doing. The restaurants along the waterfront are very expensive and you’ll struggle to find an inexpensive café. The view is gorgeous so of course, everyone cashes in on this – same world over.
All roads seem mad in Valencia but drivers are even crazier.
Coming onto roundabouts, the lines disappear and it’s very much like a rally scrum to get to a lane at the other side – every man for himself.
The locals haven’t discovered the art of using indicators so driving becomes a guessing game. Staying abreast of an accident waiting to happen is only seconds away. But still, G managed marvellously under the stress of Spanish roads, roundabouts, wayward pedestrians, and drivers.
Decided to start earlier with the car on the second morning and found a car park in Valencia for €2.95/day – very cheap (can’t remember the name or where, sorry). It is an underground carpark and the narrow bays would barely fit a Fiat 500, let alone something larger, or a 4×4.
Valencia’s delightful back alleys also include Cathedrals and a Basilica. But as with most cathedrals these days, there is an entry fee – typically €5 or more.
I think it’s wrong that churches are cashing in on tourists and charging to enter these days (free if there’s a service on). The Basilica even has one side as a free entry for an exhibition and the other side as €5 entry. Although when you wander into the free entry side, you’re confronted with a partition about 3-metres high, so you can’t take a photo.
Lunch at Taberna Sants Joan’s in the Place de la Companyia is quite expensive (€15 – seafood Paella for one or €11 – Valencia Paella for one). Although the seafood Paella is tasty, it includes only a few miserly bits of seafood and oily rice. I’ve had better and for cheaper but guess it’s the area.
Gorgeous buildings surround you on most of your walk around Valencia’s Old Town – will return on the weekend for a more detailed look and photo session.
Sadly, our travelling buddies leave for greener pastures today and heading further south to chase the ever-illusive warmth. Return the hire car today so back to the mercy of trains but push on regardless.
Decide to spend another couple of days catching the train back and forth to Valencia. At only €3 return trip and around a 25-minute trip from the campsite in comfort, why not?
Psiquiàtric train stop
Our train stop’s name is Psiquiàtric – no clues for what this means.
Just a platform, you need to wave the train down to stop otherwise the driver zooms past without a second glance.
The campsite is opposite the Psychiatric Hospital so be prepared to share this stop and the train ride with several patients. Sometimes, they may not appear to be ‘with it’ or walk around like the movie Shaun of the Dead – harmless enough but can be a tad disconcerting at times, especially the smiling stares.
The train journey runs through numerous expansive orange farms and picturesque olive groves, whilst snaking around the Mediterranean Sea the closer you near to the city centre.
Strolling around Valencia and its Old Town is wonderful for a photo shoot, as it’s such a gorgeous city but it’s Saturday so quite busy.
Today a wedding is on at the Cathedral next to the Basilica, so hanging around as this is great people-watching. So many impeccably dressed, upper-class wedding participants, it seems. Until, some stand around tiny high tables outside of the bar opposite the Cathedral sucking beer out of bottles like there’s no tomorrow…all class.
Jardi Del Turia
Due to flooding, Valencia diverted the river that ran through the city for hundreds of years.
After the great flood in 1957, which killed 100 people this river area was filled in and offers an excellent urban public parkland of about 270 acres and 9 kilometres long. This area attracts about 7 million tourists a year – locals also enjoy this brilliant space.
Expect to see many types of bridges, old and new. Some are more than five centuries old but often flood-destroyed then rebuilt later.
Whether you’re pro or against the river’s diversion, it’s still a very pleasant space and houses the amazing Science, Oceanic, and Arts’ museums – all exceptionally innovative buildings with a flair of the futuristic.
The pleasant park includes bikeways, many shaded areas for picnics, walking dog areas, family outing spaces, and also exercise machines are dotted throughout.
L’Umbracle – City of Arts and Science
Make sure you see the amazing futuristic L’Umbracle located where the old river Turia used to flow, which sadly, I only saw from the outside – too much to see and too little time.
The outside of this building is impressive also at 320 m long and 60 m wide. I’ve heard of the The Walk of the Sculptures inside, which is an outdoor art gallery housing sculptures from contemporary artists.
An easy way to get to the Jardines by train is to get off at the Alameda Metro stop. And, if you’re feeling energetic, then a 4-kilometre walk southeast from the station following the riverbed all the way takes you through the gardens until reaching a fence line.
This is the end of the gardens as the train line runs through this part. You can turn left if you want to walk further into other areas of the city, or if you’ve had enough, just walk back the 4-kms.
Estació del Nord
Sitting in the heart of the Old Town, this gorgeous building first opened in 1852 and is also Valencia’s main railway station.
If you’re feeling peckish, then graze at one of the many restaurants, fast food, or sandwich bars at the station for reasonably priced food.
Valencia offers a plethora of wonderful food.
Granier (Sans Vincente)
This chain of bread/pastry bakery is both delicious and cheap.
You can 2 coffees with milk and 2 pastries around the back streets of Valencia for around €5, although at the Granier, this costs only €3.20.
You know this is a great little find when you see a line up of locals every time you walk past the shop. My rule of thumb is if it’s good enough for locals, then it’s good enough for me.
Horno Y Pasteleria
Along Carrer d’Albacete 10, San Vincente, for great café (€1.30) and excellent freshly-made pastries at cheap prices, served by friendly staff.
Designed in 1914 but opened in 1928, make sure to experience this famous market place that houses about 959 delicious food stalls.
You’ll salivate at the freshest produce on offer…