Fleeing the Dutch winter and cold doesn’t require a long flight, or even crossing the ocean. Last week I escaped to the south of Europe, to Valencia to be exact. The city is located on the east coast of Spain and has very moderate temperatures, with over 200 days of sunshine per year. With temperatures of 15-20ºC in February, Valencia is the ultimate winter escape and city trip to embark on in low season. Valencia has it all: a long-stretched beach, beautiful architecture and culture, tranquil parks, great food, and nice shops. (With Transavia you can book a return-ticket from Amsterdam for under € 120)
Where to sleep
I stayed at a design boutique hotel: the 5* Caro Hotel. The Caro Hotel is ideally located in the heart of the old city center, just steps away from the cathedral and main square. The Caro Hotel is unique because it is the only historical monument hotel. The hotel design is a mix of archaeological and historic features that were preserved and integrated with modern, clean lines and state of the art amenities and technology. More about this hotel in my blog post about the Caro Hotel.
Other hotels to consider are:
- Hospes Palau de La Mar (5* design boutique hotel)
- Vincci Lys (4*)
- the ABC You Bed & Breakfast (modern design B&B, budget)
- or the Valencia Lounge Hostel. (modern design B&B, budget)
How to get around
The best way to get around is on foot or by bicycle. You’ll only need a metro ticket to get to and from the airport. The arrival hall is just one escalator away from the metro station where you can catch lines 3 and 5 right into the city center’s main shopping street (metro station Colón). The metro ride will merely take 15-20 minutes. In Valencia you can explore the old city center and shopping areas on foot, and rent a bike to go to the beach, and the different parks and gardens. I rented my bike at Biciva, close to the Cathedral and the Caro Hotel for only € 15 for 48 hours.
What to see and do
There is so much to see in Valencia that it’s impossible to cover it all in just one blog post. Coming weeks I will share my personal favourites more in-depth, and hood by hood. Highlights are:
- The historical center – gorgeous courtyards, beautiful architecture, impressive churches and quaint streets lined with orange trees and pastel colored houses
- Mercado Central – a huge indoor hall with food stalls
- Turia Gardens – a 9 km park around the city
- Arts and Science museum city – an architectual state of the art museum complex
- Jardin de Monforte – a neoclassical style garden tucked away in the city
- Ruzafa neigbourhood – a lively, bohemian, and ecclectic neighbourhood with small independent shops and coffee places
- the train station – a visit to the train station is like stepping in a time capsule. Admire the historic hall and ticket offices
- the beach and Cabanyal neighbourhood – a long stretched beach adjacent to the old fisherman neighbourhood where houses’ facades are tiled and colorful
Where to eat
Valencia is boasting with restaurants and is most famed for its paella. You can find many good restaurants in the historic center in Calle Caballeros. For the best paella you go to El Rall where you can choose from many different paellas, e.g. with black rice, with seafood or poultry, lobster, or even vegetarian. I had an amazing paella with chicken en duck. El Rall has indoor and outdoor seating and is a real family restaurant. Besides the paella dishes there are typical traditional Valencian recipes on the menu. El Rall is located close to the Mercado Central in Carrer del Abaixadors no. 2
In the neighbourhood Ruzafa there are also many small restaurants. Canalla Bistro is said to be the best restaurant for modern cuisine (Calle Maestro José Serrano 5). For breakfast you go to Dulce de Leche (Calle Cuba 46) or Blue Bell Coffee (3 Carrer Buenos Aires). Great lunch places in Ruzafa are Blue Bell Coffee and vegetarian restaurant Copenhagen. Best coffee and pastries place is Dulce de Leche in the Ruzafa neighbourhood, or Santa Catalina in the historic center.