Continuing with my exploration of Spain I decided on a trip from Madrid to the nearest coastal city, Valencia. I’d been to Barcelona in the past and loved it, but I didn't know much about Valencia, a city some 350km south of the Catalonian capital.
My girlfriend and I booked our return train tickets for €30pp (booking in advance via the Trainline website) and set off from Madrid Atocha train station. The train journey was just over two and a half hours and arrived into Valencia’s Joaquín Sorolla train station.
The metro service is very efficient in Valencia and we were soon arriving at our Airbnb in the Ciutat Vella district, a short walk from Colón Metro. That was the last time we used the Metro though, deciding instead to get our 10,000 (plus the rest) steps in per day.
Whilst Valencia does have a beach, it’s certainly not close to the centre of the city. However, don’t let that put you off visiting if you’re after a beach holiday as there are numerous ways to get to the coast. So, here are my recommendations for what to do in Valencia, including the best way to get to the beach…
Walk, taxi, cycle or train it to the Valencia Beach
Picking up the Jardín Del Turia trail close to the Colón metro stop, my girlfriend and I began our chosen method of transport to the beach, by foot. The Jardín Del Turia was once a river that flowed through the centre of Valencia, until, in 1957, a catastrophic flood devastated Valencia killing over 60 residents. Plans were then made to divert the river around the city and the Jardín Del Turia was born.
It’s a very scenic route through Valencia which has been landscaped and treated with care over the years. The walk to the coast from here is about an hour and a half, but you can also hire bikes along the way should you want to get there a bit quicker. We preferred the stroll, sit, coffee, stroll option. Alternative options include taxi or metro to the coast which are obviously the quickest options.
The walk to the beach, via the port in Valencia, brings you out on what was once the Formula 1 street circuit that’s now no longer in use, but a must see for any F1 fans. From there the beach is only a stones throw away. Once we got the beach the weather had tuned a bit (serves us right for walking), but the beach itself was fabulous (even if the weather wasn’t conducive to swimming or soaking up the sun).
We got a metro back (OK, so it wasn't quite the last time we used it) to Colón from Marítim - Serrería metro, which is only a short walk from the beach.
Visit the Science Museum in Valencia
One of the many positives about walking to the beach is that you walk past the impressive Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències (City of Arts and Sciences). This comprises of the Hemisfèric (planetarium), the Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe (the science museum) and the Oceanogràfic (aquarium). The Ciutat is impressive both inside and out and has numerous interactive exhibitions and scientific activities on display. Having once been a promising science student myself (before pursuing another, less-meaningful path) this was right up my alley. Ticket prices start from €8 per adult for the Science Museum, but combination tickets can be bought to access the other exhibitions too. Visit the official website for more imformation on this!
On a side note, give yourself plenty of time to visit these attractions as there is a lot to see. Also, to avoid disappointment, as some of the exhibitions have a limited capacity, it’s best to book in advance, especially during peak season.
Have a bite to eat at Restaurants Manyans
Spain is famous for many different types of food, but the Valencians are very proud of paella, which originated from the region in the mid 19th Century. So we found a lovely little outside terrace, in a cramped alleyway (surrounded by various other restaurants) and thought we’d test out their local delicacy. The restaurant, located on Carrerr dels Manyans, offered great service and lovely food. It didn’t disappoint and was great value for money. More-than-enough paella for two and a bottle of wine came to around €30. We were also not rushed out of our seats when we finished, which allowed us to soak up the vibrant atmosphere Valencia had to offer. Perfecto.
Having never been to Valencia before I wasn’t sure what to expect. It had some beautiful areas and was a lot larger than I thought it would be, meaning we didn’t give ourselves quite enough time to explore as much as we would have liked. The weather was also a bit temperamental so we were often running for cover (even though it was the height of summer). However, it’s definitely a city i’d like to explore more of in the future and hopefully we’ll be a little luckier with the weather next time!