The city famous for paella and oranges is a top choice for a weekend break from Glasgow Airport. Discover fantastic contemporary architecture, an atmospheric historic quarter and innovative restaurants, all with a distinctly laid-back vibe – after all, the city has its own beach.
The city that art built
Local boy made good, the world-famous architect Santiago Calatrava designed the futuristic spectacle Cuidad de las Artes y las Ciencias, or City of Arts and Sciences (Av. del Professor López Piñero 7). The complex houses a Science Museum, aquarium, planetarium and theatre, and is surrounded by vast aquamarine pools. The quirky L'Iber Museo de Los Soldaditos de Plomo, or Toy Soldiers Museum (Calle Caballeros 20-22) has fascinating miniature battleground enactments as well as scenes from pre-historic times and the Middle Ages; there’s also a Star Wars and fashion section.
Welcome to Valencian Country
The city’s charming medieval quarter, Barrio de Carmen, is a popular place to stay, eat and drink. Architectural treasures include the 13th-century Valencia Cathedral (Plaça de l'Almoina) which has Gothic belltower accessed via a spiral staircase that offers fantastic views, and the art nouveau Central Market, great for produce and people watching. Up-and-coming Ruzafa, formerly a shabby area next to the train station, now showcases the city’s creative side and is a hip nightlife hub. The tiny old fishermen’s quarter, El Cabanyal, with its historic buildings boasting authentic tiled façades, oozes character and has thus far escaped gentrification.
Everyone flock to the beach
Paseo Maritimo, a promenade with landscaped walkways, cycle lanes and restaurants, links the city to the local Malvarrosa and Arenas beaches. Wilder stretches of sand can be found at Albufera National Park, 10km south of the city (and said to the place where the first paella was concocted); a number more can be easily reached as a day trip.