One of the most beautiful cities in the whole of Spain; Valencia is also its most up-and-coming with an energy that sets it apart and a host of colourful festivals that will impress even the most experienced of travellers. While it might not be as famous as its sister cities of Madrid and Barcelona, Spain’s third-largest city Valencia more than holds its own when it comes to entertaining the many tourists that pass through its walls year on year. Best known for being the home of Spain’s most famous dish, Paella Valenciana, as well as the legendary El Cid, and the world famous Holy Grail – don’t question its authenticity, it is the real thing, honestly!
It’s also home to some of Spain’s most unique architecture with an old quarter complete with narrow streets and gothic buildings, a medieval fortification or two, museums, cathedrals, bars, cafes – we could go on. Valencia also has an ultra-modern side that boasts Spain’s second most visited tourist attraction; and no it’s not a mosque, or a cathedral, or even a palace. It is, however, the collection of some of Europe’s most mind-blowing architecture that makes up the City of Arts and Sciences – think organic-looking white spaceships and you’re on the right track. This ‘city’ not only houses a multi-functional arts and music centre, an interactive science museum, a planetarium and an IMAX theatre, but also Europe’s largest aquarium; truly a first of its kind in Europe and something that the locals are very proud of.
National Ceramic Museum (Museo Nacional de Ceramica Gonzalez Marti). Poeta Querol 2, Valencia 46003. While it might not sound like everyone's cup of tea, a quick tour round this unique museum is sure to raise at least a few gasps in awe of the craftsmanship. Even the entrance is stunning and worthy of a photo in itself. Tickets are €3.
As the sun goes down people start to congregate around the bars and ice cream parlours of Plaza de la Virgen to relax and plan for the evening ahead. Fantastic architecture, beautiful lighting and a water fountain depicting Neptune make for a particularly pleasing backdrop.
Jardines del Real (Royal Gardens). San Pío V, 46001 Valencia.
A palace used to be situated here many years ago but now the diverse park is home to both a Natural History Museum and elegant black swans.
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