Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville get much of Spain's high-profile tourism. But Valencia, the country’s third-largest city, on the Mediterranean coast, woos visitors in a quiet way offering no pretensions but plenty of fun and edge. It’s a livable, relaxed port that turns heads with pulsing nightlife and restaurants, stunning architecture, and a cutting-edge arts and music scene.
What We Love
City of Arts and Sciences: Don’t miss the space-age structures (one of them is shaped like an eye) of Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, designed by Valencia-born architect Santiago Calatrava. Situated on a verdant carpet of parkland, this enormous entertainment, cultural, science, and oceanographic complex is family-friendly, with a large aquarium and interactive exhibits for children.
Oranges: Valencia’s namesake citrus is everywhere — piled high at fruit stands and incorporated into restaurant dishes and cocktails. Purchase a few at the Central Market, then find a shady spot at one of many parks to savor the flavorful fruit.
Best Known For
Awesome Architecture: Valencia offers up both futuristic verve and Old-World grandeur: Modernista buildings, genteel mansions, and a labyrinthine Old Town delineated with medieval gates.
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Who It's Best For
Design Dynamos: From Moorish and Gothic to Neoclassical and contemporary, the array of building styles make wandering Valencia's neighborhoods a feast for the eyes.
Art Lovers: Valencia has more than 45 museums that you can tour. Eye the chefs d'oeuvre at Museo de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts), a spiffy shrine to Spanish masters El Greco, Goya, and Velázquez. Or ogle the collections at IVAM (Valencia Institute of Modern Art), with notable works from sculptor Julio González.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Hot Weather: Valencia has a long summer season and at its peak — in August— the heat and humidity can get oppressive.
Laura Manske is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Redbook, InStyle, and Cosmopolitan.