September is the perfect month for a sunny city break. The peak season’s over (thank god) and so is the blistering heat. Valencia is one of my favourite after-summer destinations because it has everything I like: Colourful little streets, beautiful weather, a great beach and – most importantly – amazing food, lots and lots of it. Here are my 5 Valencia must do’s.
1. Hop on a Bicycle
Once upon a time… there was this river called the Turia. It meandered through Valencia until a dramatic flood in 1957. After that, the authorities decided to split the river and change its course. The now dry riverbed then transformed into the pride of the Valencians: the Garden of the Turia.
For me, the best part of this 120 hectares of green space is its cycle path. It leads you all the way along the former river, past the City of Arts & Sciences, and continues almost right to the sea. There are no cars so you can roam around freely on your bike, pure cycling bliss.
2. Stroll through the City Center
Valencia has a beautiful city center that is definitely worth a visit. Certain parts can get a little touristy, but early-ish in the day you should be fine. Stroll through the narrow streets, stop for a drink with a couple of tasty tapas on one of the many lively squares and soak up the local ambiance. Don’t forget to go for a bite inside the historic Central Market either.
3. Unwind at the Beach
The beach in Valencia is among the most beautiful ones I’ve seen in Europe (go here for my top 5 of European beaches). The good thing about a city trip to Valencia in September or early October is that you can actually enjoy the sun. It usually doesn’t get ridiculously hot and – as an added bonus – the beach is almost empty. What better way to relax after a busy morning of exploring than a lazy afternoon of listening to the waves, sipping on a cocktail?
4. Wander around Ruzafa & Benimaclet
Ruzafa and Benimaclet are two of my favourite neighbourhoods in Valencia. If you want to get away from the city center and go off the beaten path a little, this is where you want to go.
Ruzafa is one of Valencia’s hipper areas and it’s full of cool bars and great restaurants. We’ve had some of our best meals here. I wrote a post about 5 food gems in Valencia and two of them are in Ruzafa (go here for the full Food Guide).
Benimaclet is very different from Ruzafa. It almost feels as if the neighbourhood is a remote village and we hardly saw any people other than Valencians here. There was something very relaxed about the atmosphere in Benimaclet however, a bit like a pause in time. It’s also the area where we spent the best afternoon of our Valencia trip; sat in the window of a bar, sipping delicious local wine, playing cards and munching on Spanish delicacies. Loved it.
5. Eat as much as You Can
I’ve said it before, but the food in Valencia really is super good. For starters, it’s considered to be the home of the paella, so that’s a must-try for sure. And then there is the never-ending selection of finger licking tapas. Personally I love to hop from one place to another, have a drink with one of their speciality tapas to share and then go to the next place. There are so many (tapas) restaurants and so many different tapas to try, it’s a shame to stay in only one of them, if you ask me. You can find my 5 favourite Valencian food gems over here. Buen provecho!
Have you been to Valencia? I’d love to know what your must do’s are!
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