Things to do in Valencia in 2 days
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We started our five-day trip in August 2021 from Málaga straight to the city of Valencia. Upon arrival to Valencia the city delighted us with a light rain and a 30ºC warm weather. In Valencia we stayed for 3 nights at the Hotel Malcom and Barret. The hotel has a good location. There are plenty of free parking spaces on the street if you don’t want to park in the hotel’s underground garage (10 € per night). In our case, there were no free park spaces in the garage. The hotel was full In August. You can reach the city center by bus for only 1.20 €, and you can walk to the City of Arts and Sciences in 20 minutes.
City of Arts and Sciences
Our first day in Valencia we spent in the City of Arts and Sciences. We reached the destination by walking, having breakfast in the first bar we came across on the way. A visit to the City of Arts and Sciences can be divided into three parts: a visit to the oceanographic aquarium, the cinema where 3D documentaries are shown and the museum of science. You can buy a ticket, for example, here. We bought a ticket at our hotel to the oceanographic aquarium, as the price was the same. I recommend you to book your ticket in advance, as the cinema in the city of arts and sciences is a must-see building, only because it is the largest cinema in Spain with an excellent sound and video quality.
The Hemisfèric Cinema Building is a unique and impressive building, designed by Santiago Calatrava and built in 1998, was the first building of the City of Arts and Sciences, which opened its doors to the public.The building reminds a human eye, the eye of wisdom, which symbolizes observing the world that visitors discover through amazing audiovisual projections.
Oceanographic aquarium of theThe City of Arts and Sciences is the largest aquarium in Europe, which represents the main marine ecosystems of the planet. Each building represents a different aquatic environment: the Mediterranean, wetland, temperate and tropical seas, oceans, Antarctica, the Arctic, islands and the Red Sea, and the dolphinarium.
Keep in mind you must spend at least 4 hours at the Oceanographic of Valencia, including an hour you spend at the dolphinarium (including half an hour of waiting for the show).
Palace of the Arts of Reina Sofia, an opera house designed by Santiago Calatrava, is also a part of the City of Arts and Sciences. The concert schedule can be seen on the official website.
In the evening of the first day we went for a walk to the port of Valencia, but we never got to the beach, as it wasn’t our primary goal. They say that you can taste authentic Valencian paella in the beach area, but we decided to postpone the search for paella to the next day.
Things to see in the center of Valencia
The second day in Valencia we spent exploring the central zone of the city. We got there by car and parked for free behind the bridge next to the Serranos towers. The entrance to the towers is free. It is worth going up: a beautiful view of the city opens up from the towers.
Historical facts about the Serranos towers
- The Serranos towers or gate is one of the twelve gates that formed part of the ancient wall of Valencia. This is the largest city gate of the Gothic period in Europe. The construction of the gate began in 1392 and ended in 1398.
- For a long time, the Serranos towers served as defense against any attack of the city, but mainly they have been used for ceremonies and official entries of ambassadors and kings, and are still considered as the main entrance to the city.
- In 1586, after the city fire, the towers were turned into a prison for nobles and knights.
- During the Spanish Civil War, the Serranos Towers served as repository for pieces of art evacuated from the Prado Museum.
- In 2000, the wall stone was cleaned and the gate obtained its current appearance
The next one on our way was a visit of the exhibition and cultural center Centre del Carme Cultura Contemporània, located in the building of a former monastery of the 13th century. It contains exhibitions of the contemporary art. The entrance is free, the visit didn’t take more than half an hour.
The last museum we visited was the prehistoric museum of Valencia. For those, who wants to dive into the prehistoric times and explore archaeological findings, this is a must-see museum. The entrance costs only 2 € and the visit could last one hour.
In lunchtime, we went to a recommended by a person in the museum restaurant to taste a good paella, but the restaurant was completely reserved, and we just entered to the first restaurant we came across, where we experienced a huge disappointment when we were served a seafood paella that contained only four large shrimps and… that’s all. Be careful with your restaurant choice, I suggest you check out the photos of dishes on Google Maps first.
Where to eat in Valencia
In the evening we were more lucky, we went to the Albufera Natural Park to visit the lake (just a lake), and by accident we ended up discovering the village of el Palmar, where you can’t go on purpose, because there is absolutely nothing special about this place, but! We had a really great dinner there, and if you go by, make sure you stop for a paella or a version of paella fideuá (pasta instead of rice) at Llar de pescador – extremely delicious, a warm welcome included! (price 10 euros per person).
If you want to cook fideuá yourself, check my recipe out.