Valencia (map) is the third largest city of Spain and has about 800 000 inhabitants, but somehow this city doesn´t seem to be on the map of many travellers.
We decided to go to Valencia for just a couple of days, during the last days of the German winter. When we looked for flights, we had to realise that getting to Valencia isn´t as easy as it sounds. In the end it was cheaper to fly to Alicante, hire a car and then drive 2 hours to Valencia, than actually flying directly to Valencia. Later we found out that many locals do the same, as it is much cheaper to fly from/to Alicante than it is to fly to/from Valencia.
We arrived in Valencia at around 2 a.m. and were really lucky that we had booked a flat via airbnb and that our host received us at this time of the day. Besides local secrets and tips of course, we believe that the check-in and check-out times of airbnb flats or rooms are one of the biggest advantages of this company.
The next morning, Valencia welcomed us with sunshine and 20 degrees. In search of a place to have breakfast, we found a beautiful little courtyard right next to our flat. It is called mercado de tapineria. There is a small café (with great croissants) and a restaurant which is specialized in Paella (they have huge pans).
Afterwards we walked around the inner city without a map and a real plan. We visited different churches and climbed on one of the old towers of the city wall (torres). We recognized that Valencia offers a huge range of old and beautiful buildings. A lot of them had been mosques during the muslim occupation of this part and had been turned into churches during the 13. century. Valencia is a very historical city with churches everywhere. The inner city part is surrounded by the old river bed which now appears like a green belt around the city, offering football pitches and playgrounds.
During the next days we found several other courtyards with cafés and restaurants.One of our favourite ones is called placa de lope de vega. You should definitely enjoy the typical tapas and the vino de la casa. We never really tried out main dishes, as we loved to try out different tapas in different restaurants. In general, we experienced Valencia to be quite cheap. Even though it does not feel like a poor city, Valencia has a very high unemployment rate. This somehow explains the prices. Besides these courtyards, we also visited the high-tech parc with its IMAX and the ciudad de la artes (very futuristic) and went to the beach. It´s not really close to the inner city, but you can still walk there. There are several bars and cafés at the city beach and a modern and stylish pier and marina.
We experienced Valencia to be a very lively and young city with a historic soul. Valencia offers many modern cafés, restaurant and creative grafitti as well as well-preserved historical buildings. Valencia plainly doesn´t have to hide behind Madrid or Barcelona.