Valencia is the third largest city in Spain with a population of 1.7 to 2.5 million depending on how the metropolitan area is defined, and the Port of Valencia is the fifth-largest container port in Europe. All of this aside, my biggest regret from our trip along Spain's beautiful eastern coast is not allotting more time for the authentically, breathtaking city of Valencia, far different from the tourist-packed streets of Barcelona. For the one night we spent though, I'm glad we chose to make it a relaxing one including all the essentials: tapas, wine, and a wholesome breakfast the following morning.
Getting to valencia
We drove 3 hours down the eastern coastline of Spain from Barcelona to Valencia. Driving allowed us to see landscapes we otherwise wouldn't have, but I would strongly encourage taking the more scenic routes to avoid tolls. We ended up paying quite a bit on our way down, and it only saved us an hour. Plan ample time if you'd like to make the drive or stop half-way in between. On the bright side, driving in Valencia was pretty similar to Barcelona which meant it was manageable, but parking was hard to come by. Fortunately, our AirBnB host had given us instructions to a parking garage nearby. It really wasn't too bad, but it's something to be prepared for and research ahead of time!
" . . . I would strongly encourage taking the more scenic routes to avoid tolls. We ended up paying quite a bit on our way down, and it only saved us an hour. Plan ample time if you'd like to make the drive or stop half-way in between. "
After we dropped our luggage off, we were ready to explore. Valencia is one of those cities where you can stumble upon wonderful places. Cafe Infanta, the restaurant we found for dinner, proved to be just that with authentic tapas and deliciously cheap wine. We procrastinated planning the next day at a dimly-lit corner table surrounded by plenty of cinema memorabilia. After leaving, we stocked up on wine for the evening and walked back towards our AirBnB. To provide fair warning, the closed restaurants made finding our new place challenging. Restaurants with plenty of outside seating in front whose large, garage-like doors were previously open had now closed, and their tables stored for the night. With the corner restaurant on the street being the landmark we were searching for, it's safe to say we might have taken a few wrong turns. . . or several. I'd suggest making sure to drop a pin on Maps any time you're in a city with narrow, winding streets and sidewalks like Valencia has. That's just one more element of the adventure though!
Since we typically wake up early at home, we had a hard time sticking to the late-morning schedule of Spain. Luckily, El Mercat Central opens early, so we headed there to grab supplies for breakfast. The market itself is an architectural landmark of the city with its construction beginning in 1914 and completed in 1928. The first day of building and the day of opening both warranted large celebrations in the city of Valencia. If you go, I would suggest going early (around 8-9 am). You'll have the opportunity to see the many shop and restaurant owners opening up around this time; some of whom will be out with their soap buckets flooding their front sidewalk to clean it before their customers arrive. More importantly though, you'll have the benefit of freely shopping the many rows of fresh seafood, pastries, cheeses, smoked meat, fruits, and veggies.
"If you go, I would suggest going early (around 8-9 am)."
To see what I made with solely fresh ingredients from this market, check out my Quick & Healthy Omelettes recipe. While I didn't have time to make anything more interesting before heading off to our next city, it was so relaxing to spend the morning enjoying a home-cooked breakfast on the terrace.
When it's all said and done, I would've planned more time in Valencia if I would've known how much we'd love the town, but it was a perfect stay either way. If you're planning on visiting there and have any questions about my post, please reach out to me! I'd love to help give you suggestions for your trip.