The City of Valencia is one of the most charming in all of Europe, being the capital of the old Kingdom of Valencia. It is famous for its Fallas Festival (each year in March), for creating paella, the 2007 America’s Cup, and the Calatrava architectural project called The City of Arts and Sciences. Unlike other coastal cities, the spirit of the Port of Valencia is not tied to its beaches. In fact, the center of the city and its most popular neighborhoods are not even close to the beach.
The Barri del Carme (Spanish) is the old city center, a perfect location for walks where you can see both ancient and modern structures. The district contains outdoor cafes and hip shops as well as a diverse population. The neighborhood also has a lively nightlife.
The river was redirected around the city after a terrible flood, but it was replaced by a beautiful park. The park contains rugby and soccer fields, a boating lake, playgrounds, trails, and fountains. With many bike paths, it goes through many of the Port of Valencia’s neighborhoods, ending at the City of Arts and Sciences.
The City of Arts and Science (Ciutat de les Arts), located where the river used to flow, contains a science museum, a planetarium, an aquarium, and an IMAX cinema. It is most famous, however, for its architecture.
The Seu cathedral has doors from three different architectural periods and the Micalet tower with great views of the Port of Valencia. The Llotja building is located where the old silk trade occurred, and it is recognized by UNESCO.
The Torres de Quart is a medieval tower that was part of the Port of Valencia’s ancient walls. The nearby Torres de Serrano was also a part of the walls. The Serrano towers have been updated, but they are located near the park.
The Lladro Porcelain Museum and Factory, in the Tavernes Blanques suburb, offers scheduled visits where you can learn about the process of porcelain-making and see a $30 thousand collection.
The Port of Valencia’s Fallas festival, held each march, features huge satirical papier mache models for each neighborhood. There are also very impressive fallas in a Special Section. All of the fallas must be completed by March 16 to avoid being disqualified. Each adult falla has a kid’s falla, and each one takes a year to finish. Another favorite of the Fallas festival is the wonderful fireworks at 8 am, 2 pm, and 1 am every day. On the last night of Fallas, the Nit de Foc is the most impressive fireworks display. On the 17th and 18th of March, there are beautiful processions following two paths that take flowers to the Plaza of the Virgin. At the end of the festival, the fallas are burned.
Spring is the best time to visit the Port of Valencia. Cafes open their terraces, the streets come alive with activity, and the Fallas de San Jose celebrates the beginning of spring. September and October are good months for visits, as sidewalk cafes are still open and the weather still allows trips to the beach. In the winter, the temperatures are mild, but you won’t want to sunbathe on the beach. The worst time to visit is in the summer, especially in August when temperatures average from 30-40 °C (86-104 °F).
Travelers who want to visit the Port of Valencia by sea will find a comprehensive list of scheduled cruises at the Cruise Compete website.