Weekend In Valencia: Modern Architecture, Great Beach, & Tasty Paella

Valencia is a fantastic Mediterranean city located just a few hours away from Madrid or Barcelona, perfect for a weekend getaway.

It feels certainly less touristy and somewhat cozier than over-crowded touristified Barcelona. And it also has a better beachside and lower prices than the City of Gaudi. Do you have a couple of days extra? Spend that weekend in Valencia!

Discover Valencia

Valencia is Spain’s third largest city after Madrid and Barcelona and home to some of the most modern and trendy architecture in Southern Europe. Now take this and combine it with great weather, an awesome beachside, and fantastic food – at much better prices than Madrid or Barcelona. It’s a no-brainer.

Twenty years ago, Valencia was not able to really attract tourists compared to other popular Spanish cities such as Barcelona, Sevilla, Granada, or Madrid. However, the city was popular for its decent beach, quiet city center, and fantastic gastronomy.

Hence, the Spanish government saw an opportunity to create yet another tourist magnet and pumped in some serious money during the 2000s construction boom.

Huge investments lead to the construction of the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias and the F1 racetrack as well as the cruise-ship terminal. This in turn propelled Valencia towards the tourist frontline. Nowadays Valencia has become yet another tourist-infested Spanish city.

Walk around Valencia’s fantastic old town.

A Weekend In Valencia

Whether you fly in and out, or just take a train/bus from Madrid or Barcelona, Valencia is perfect for a short weekend trip. Or longer, many decide to stay a few extra days. Two days are enough to check out the basics.

Easy two-day itinerary in Valencia

Day 1:

Visit the city center in the morning. After lunch, when the sun is less punishing, head to the Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias. Finish the day with a dinner on the beachside or back in the old town.

Day 2:

After some nice breakfast in the center, visit a museum or two and after lunch head to the beachside.

What to do in Valencia? The Best Sights

Valencia is perfect for strolling.

Ciutat Vella (Old Town)

The old town is a very walkable area and possibly the nicest place to discover. Just get lost in its narrow streets, and have a beer here and there. Maybe a tapa or two. And repeat. Beware of some tourist traps, but still pretty authentic. The best part of it is actually getting lost in its labyrinthic streets.

If you just have a weekend in Valencia, spend the most of your time around here and the sights below.

Paseo de La Alameda / Jardins Del Turia

On the northern side of the Old Town, this massive green area is the perfect place to chill when it is too hot or just to have a picnic or a few beers.

Valencia hosts a number of architectural masterpieces by Santiago Calatrava.

Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias

Since 1998, in addition to the Old Town, Valencia hosts a noteworthy, if also quite kitsch architectonic park. It is the Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias, which translates to the City of Arts and Sciences, and was conceived and designed by renowned Spanish architects Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela.

The City consists of the Palace of the Arts, The Hemisphere, The Museum of Sciences, the Oceanographic (largest in Europe), the Agora, and the 125m high ‘Assut de L’Or’ Bridge.

The complex – located about an hour’s walk from the center – makes a good afternoon visit, en route to the beach, for example. Of course can be accessed by public transportation as well, within about 15 min.

Valencia beach is generally dog-friendly.

The Beach

For a city of 800K inhabitants,  compared to similar European cities, Valencia has probably one of the best beaches in class. Jokes aside, even compared to Barcelona’s, Valencia’s beach is top-notch.

Ruzafa Neighborhood

Just south-east of the Old Town, nearby the old North Train Station, the Ruzafa area is a nice area with great cafes such as Ubik Cafe or Berlin Cafe, and some other great places to grab a bite such as Taqueria La Llorona or Hikari Yakitori Bar. Miss at your peril!

Musems in Valencia

IVAM – Valencian Institute of Modern Art

The Institut Valencia d’Art Modern is Valencia’s best modern art exhibition.

The Fallas: love it or hate it.

Las Fallas

Valencia is well-known for the Fallas celebration when the city is completely booked. The festival consists of an exhibition of cartoon-like figures made from carton and paper, which are eventually burned. A bit kitsch, yet a classic.

Study in Valencia

Valencia has two decent public universities, the University of Valencia and the Valencia Polytechnic University. Both offer bachelor, master, and Ph.D. level education, as well as some courses/degrees in English. They also accept foreign students proficient in Spanish in their Spanish degrees.

Many tourists interested in learning Spanish find Valencia a great choice. Lower costs compared to Madrid, and Barcelona, as well as warmer weather and better beachside. During summertime, the city is full of Americans, French, Brits, and Germans trying to learn some new Spanish words while they down tasty sangria.

What to Eat in Valencia?

Eat paella.

Paella in Valencia

Valencia is the capital of the Spanish “Paella” (pa-eh-ya). So, make sure you try some decent paella during your visit. Also a decent destination for tapas, the classic Spanish tiny delicious dishes.

Daily Lunch Meals

Like elsewhere in Spain, Valencia boasts a myriad of low-profile restaurants that offer daily lunch menu deals.

The deal usually consists of a starter, main course, desert, drink, and coffee for a fixed price. It’s unbeatable, sometimes cheaper than McDonald’s.

Also, many restaurants offer Paella as one of the main dishes of the daily lunch menu, so you might sometimes get paella for super great prices!

Meal Prices

If you’re on a budget it’s fair to say that breakfast starts at 3EUR, daily menu lunch 8-12EUR (weekdays) and maybe up to 20 (weekend), and dinner more likely 12-20EUR in normal local places. Beer/Wine at 1.5-3EUR almost everywhere. 1-star Michelin starting at around 45EUR.

Restaurante Montes

Good quality traditional Spanish food focused on daily lunch menus (14EUR, and 20EUR). Good service, and accepts card payment. Listed as one of the best-value places to eat in Valencia by Michelin. Certainly recommended. Monday closed.

Restaurante Lienzo

Located at the ground floor of an elegant building, this modern-cuisine restaurant with a Mediterranean feel offers great value for your money. The daily lunch menu deal (20EUR, Tu-Fr) is a bargain. Monday closed.

Gourmet Restaurants in Valencia

For the real foodies, the city has a number of 1-Michelin restaurants: Riff, El Poblet, and Ricard Camarena. You won’t be disappointed!

Where to sleep in Valencia?

Now that you decided that you want to spend a weekend in Valencia, the next step is booking a place to stay.

Valencia has decent accommodation options, but can be pricey during local festivities and summer season.

Airbnb (35EUR signup voucher here) is also quite popular. Whatever platform you chose, book early to avoid pricey rooms!

The Best Hostels in Valencia


The River Hostel


The River Hostel is a decent large hostel near the Puente Real, just between the Old Town and the Alameda.
Book The River Hostel Here


Quart Hostel


The Quart Hostel is located in the Old Town, and features a modern setup, with nice dorms and privates, as well as helpful staff. Book Quart Hostel Here


Home Youth Hostel


This is one of the only hostels in town that offers single beds on the dorms. Centrally located, renovated recently, cannot go wrong with that! Book Home Youth Hostel Here.


Urban Youth Hostel


Located near the beach, this renovated hostel features nice dorms and common areas, even if the decoration is somewhat eclectic. Book Urban Youth Hostel Here.

How to get there?

By plane

Valencia hosts an international airport, with flights to most European capitals and main cities. It is also well connected to Spain with low-cost carriers such as Vueling or Ryanair.

From Barcelona

By train, head to Sants Estacio. Many trains running every day. Starting at 21.5EUR for the slowest 5h train.

By Bus, very easy aprox 4h. Book with Alsa, departing from Estacio del Nord in Barcelona, at least 6x per day, starting at 25EUR.

Final Notes

It’s a great idea to spend a weekend in Valencia. Even a one-day trip if you are short on time. Start with the cozy old town, enjoy a nice paella, and do not miss Calatrava’s fancy architecture in the Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias. Swim and tan on the beach and have some fun at night!

You’ll want to stay longer in Valencia!

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