3 days in Valencia is the perfect amount of time to explore Spain’s third-largest city behind Madrid and Barcelona. It’s one of those places that really does have it all: beautiful weather, delicious food, incredible scenery and a list of things to do as long as the Túria River Gardens (9km if you’re interested!)
It’s that combination that has made it impossible for me to stay away. As soon as I step off the plane at Valencia airport, you can’t wipe the smile off my face until it’s time to leave. The place just feels so much like home, and I am totally, completely and utterly head over heels in love with it. So much so that my husband is getting jealous.
If that’s not enough to get you searching for flights, here’s my favourite 3 days in Valencia itinerary to whet your appetite even more.
The ideal itinerary for 3 days in Valencia
Day 1 in Valencia: Natural Valencia
9 am: Explore the Turia gardens
The Turia Garden is my absolute favourite spot in the city. Filling the gap left behind by the rerouted Turia River following disastrous floods in 1969, the garden is full of walking paths, palm trees, delightfully smelling plants and flowing water features. It’s a wonderfully serene area, and the trees offer some welcome shade from the stifling power of the sun. Visitors can rent bicycles or walk from the Old Town towards the coast, taking in the park’s natural sights, beautiful buildings and bridges along the way.
10:30 am: City of Arts and Sciences
Being a bit of a cultural hotspot, Valencia is full of museums, none more appealing than those at the City of Arts & Sciences. This is home to the largest aquarium in Europe, a fascinating science museum and a spectacular Opera House. They are all housed in real feats of modern architecture that would look more at home on a movie set than in an ancient Spanish city, but it works. The City of Arts & Sciences is one of the most visited attractions in Valencia, and it’s easy to see why. Even if you don’t go inside the museums, you have to at least see them.
1:30 pm: Lunch
There are plenty of bakeries and supermarkets in Valencia where you can pick up some snacks for a picnic in the park. Lay out a picnic blanket on the grass in front of the futuristic architecture of the City of Arts & Sciences and admire the view while you eat.
2:30 pm: Continue to the beach
After lunch, take a local bus to El Cabanyal. El Cabanyal is a coastal neighbourhood of Valencia, with Las Arenas beach boasting a 1km stretch of beautiful white sand just begging for your footprints. If you walk north along the boardwalk at Las Arenas, you’ll eventually reach Malvarossa beach, but it’s hard to tell when one ends and one begins. Luckily you’ve got time to enjoy them both!
There are parasols and loungers aplenty dotted out across both beaches, but if sunbathing isn’t your thing (I’ll be honest, it’s not mine either) there’s still lots to keep you occupied for the afternoon. Take advantage of the water sports, walk along the promenade or enjoy a drink at any one of the restaurants and bars along the boardwalk until it’s time for dinner.
9 pm: Paella at Pepica for dinner
La Pepica is a large seafood and paella restaurant along the promenade of Las Arenas beach. It is said to be one of Ernest Hemingway’s favourite places to eat paella in the city, thanks to the bright dining room and its delicious food. Where better to try the traditional Spanish dish than in the home of paella itself – Valencia?
10:30 pm: Head back to the hotel
From the seafront, make your way back to your hotel either by bus or tram. Enjoy a good night’s rest as you’ll need your energy for tomorrow!
Day 2 in Valencia: Foodie Valencia
9 am: Breakfast on Fartons
A traditional Valencian breakfast consists of fried dough sticks called fartons, and a delicious drink called Horchata, which is made of tiger nuts. There’s nowhere better to try it than the spiritual home of horchata in Valencia – the Horchateria Santa Catalina – a historic cafe decorated with ceramic tiles. You can either eat your breakfast inside or take your fartons and horchata out to the nearby square and enjoy them there as you watch the world go by.
9:30 am: Cathedral and Miguelete
With your belly full, the spectacular Cathedral should be next on your list of things to do in Valencia. Built in a Gothic style in the 13th century, it’s absolutely beautiful both inside and out.
Though impossible to prove, the Holy Grail – the cup from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper – is said to be in Valencia cathedral, in the Chapel of the Holy Grail. Visitors can see it hidden behind a pane of glass on walking tours of the cathedral itself.
If you’re brave enough (and have enough water with you – it’s hot!), take the 207 steps of the Miguelete tower all the way to the top. The views are stunning and definitely worth the climb – you could even spot the sea if you’re lucky. Just remember to hold your ears as the bell starts to chime – it’s deafening!
11 am: Explore the local backstreets
This circular square in the heart of the city is a great place to shop for traditional crafts, or simply people-watch in one of the cafes that line it.
Very close to the Plaza Redonda is La Estrecha (which literally translates as the narrow one) because it’s the narrowest building in Europe that has now been turned into a bar. While people come for the gimmick of trying to fit in, they stay for the delicious food and tasty drinks. Take the opportunity to get a snack now before your paella class starts. It’s a long wait until dinner!
1 pm: School of paella workshop
Paella is said to have originated in Valencia, and the School of Rice & Paella is one of the best places to learn how to cook it in the city. Lessons include a trip to the market to buy ingredients before you head back to the school for a paella making workshop led by a paella master. It’s one of the best things to do in the area, and should definitely be on your itinerary for 3 days in Valencia!
The lesson finishes at 5:30 with a group feast as you enjoy your creations. Buen provecho!
5:30 pm: Graffiti tour in El Carmen
Carmen is one of the best neighbourhoods in Valencia to see street art. Both local and international artists have adorned the district’s crumbling walls with incredible graffiti, and a walk around this area is a must-do for all visitors to the city.
7 pm: Dinner in the square
Although you might be full of all your snacks and paella, make a quick pit stop to Pico Fino, a lovely little tapas restaurant with a beautiful view of the cathedral. Tables flow out onto the street, giving it a lively and very Spanish atmosphere you won’t want to miss.
The best thing about tapas is that you can order as much or as little as you want, depending on how hungry you are. If you’re vegetarian, there’s only a couple of truly vegetarian options. Be prepared to ask for them to leave off some of the more meaty ingredients. That said, the patatas bravas and hummus are already delicious on their own!
9 pm: Drinks at Cafe de las Horas
Agua de Valencia is a traditional Valencian drink made from orange juice, cava, vodka and gin. It can be found all over Valencia, but there’s nowhere better to drink it than in Cafe de las Horas. This small cafe features opulent surroundings, with chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and red velvet curtains in the windows.
Order a small jug to share to start with and be careful – this stuff is dangerous! It’s incredibly drinkable and you don’t realise how much alcohol is in it until you stand up and try to walk back to your hotel.
Day 3 in Valencia: Traditional Valencia
9 am: Market
You’ll have been to the central market yesterday to buy your ingredients for the paella making workshop, but now it’s time to explore it for yourself! The Central Market is a beautiful art nouveau style building, filled to the brim with traditional food stalls, souvenir shops and places to eat.
It’s always full of locals buying groceries and fresh produce, but even if you don’t plan on buying anything, you could spend hours just browsing the stalls and soaking up the atmosphere as the locals bustle around you.
10:30 am: Ayuntamiento/Post Office
Valencia’s central post office is a work of modernist architecture, built in 1922. It’s one of the most photogenic post offices in the world, and you’ll want to do more than just send postcards here!
11 am: Station
Built between 1906 and 1917, Valencia’s central station is a work of modernist architecture. It’s a beautiful place to admire the intricately decorated walls and ceiling or simply watch the world go by.
11:30 am: Shopping
The streets between the station and your next stop, Mercado Colon, are a shopper’s paradise. You’ll find the typical Spanish department store, El Corte Ingles (make sure you go downstairs to explore the food aisles!) as well as numerous fashion brands and home stores.
Spend an hour wandering the streets until your belly starts to rumble.
12:30 pm: Lunch at Mercado Colon
Mercado Colon is one of the finest pieces of modernist and Art Nouveau architecture in Valencia, featuring arches, mosaics and a beautiful glass ceiling. As well as admiring the architecture, you can shop from the gourmet stalls, eat lunch in the plentiful restaurants or have a drink in one of the lively bars.
2 pm: Explore the Old Town
After lunch, head back to the old town to explore everything the area has to offer. I’ve given some ideas for places to visit below, but you’re free to spend the afternoon as you wish!
La Amoina Museum
Valencia was founded over 2,000 years ago, and it’s still possible to see the remnants of its original Roman settlement in La Almoina museum next to the cathedral. The museum houses artefacts from Valencia’s past, as well as the remains of baths, walls and other buildings from Roman times. Tickets to the museum cost just €2, but check opening times before you go: it’s closed on Mondays!
La Lonja (Silk Exchange) is one of the most impressive buildings in Valencia, both inside and out. Though it dates back to the 15th century, the building was only recognised as a worthy World Heritage Site in 1996. Since then, it’s been one of the top places to visit in Valencia for people wanting to admire its gothic architecture and its intricately decorated interior.
The Medieval Gates
There are a number of Gothic gates dotted around the city, which would have formed the corners of the city walls back in the 14th and 15th centuries. Both the Quart and Serranos Gates are open to visitors to climb and enjoy the city views from the top.
Botanical Gardens of Valencia
In the north of the old town, you’ll find the Botanical Gardens, which form part of the University of Valencia. They’re home to a collection of various trees and plants from around the world, including palm trees and desert cacti. It costs €2.50 to enter, and it’s a must-do for any nature lovers visiting Valencia.
6 pm: Tapas Tour
If you choose just one thing to do from this 3 day Valencia itinerary, make it this one! At 6 pm, join a tour to explore the best tapas places in Valencia. You’ll follow an expert local guide to try pintxos (tapas served on pieces of bread), more traditional tapas and a local liquor too. Along the way, you’ll find out more about the history and culture of Valencia as well as its people.
8:30 pm: Drinks/Ice Cream
If you’re still hungry after your tapas tour, you could pick up ice cream or gelato from one of the stands surrounding the cathedral. Otherwise, take a pew at one of the bars around the cathedral and enjoy a drink before heading into the north of the city for a flamenco show.
11 pm: Flamenco at Cafe Del Duende
Being Spain, there are flamenco shows popping up all over the city. Some shows are free at restaurants, but the best one I came across was Cafe del Duende – just 5 minutes’ walk outside the Old Town in Carmen.
For €10, you are treated to a 1-hour flamenco show and two drinks on the house. The performers are super talented and will completely shake the stereotypical vision of flamenco you have in your head. Above all, it makes for a really fun evening with a great atmosphere and is the perfect way to finish your 3 days in Valencia!
Where to stay in Valencia
There’s a huge variety of places to stay in Valencia, and somewhere to suit every budget. I think the best areas to stay in are the Old Town or Eixample as you’re close to everything and the streets are incredibly safe at night. Here are my top picks for a great night’s sleep:
Private apartments offer great value accommodation in the city, especially if you’re staying longer than just 3 days in Valencia. Citizentral Juristas offers stylish accommodation with up to 3 bedrooms, a private living area, bathroom and kitchenette. There’s also parking and a laundrette downstairs, plus a cleaning service every day from Monday to Saturday. Despite being in the old town, the apartments are in a quiet area away from the crowds, so you’ll still get a great night’s sleep! Apartments start at €56 per night.
For a centrally located budget hotel, try Cosmo Hotel. It offers a roof terrace, funky street-level bar and super stylish accommodation. Valencia’s central market is literally around the corner if you’re into your food, but the on-site restaurant also serves a top-quality breakfast and meals meaning you’ll never go hungry here! Rooms start at €49 per night for a comfy double room.
The Vincci Lys is a mid-range hotel set in a bustling area of the centre. It’s luxuriously decorated, the rooms are super comfy and the breakfast buffet is delicious too. It’s a bit more expensive than other hotels in the area at €xx per night, but it’s worth it for the location alone.
The luxury Palacio Vallier is easily one of the best places to stay in Valencia. The hotel lives up to its name, with opulent rooms in a palatial setting in the heart of the old town. Each room has air conditioning, a private bathroom, a flat-screen TV and a fridge, and most also have a balcony. The roof terrace on the 5th floor also gives 360-degree views over the city, while the restaurant and lounge bar downstairs offers even more reasons to never leave the hotel! Despite the incredible reviews and 5-star rating, the hotel won’t break the bank with double rooms starting at €120 per night.
Best Time to Visit Valencia
Now that you know what to do with your 3 days in Valencia, it’s time to work out the best time to visit. Valencia, just like any other Spanish city, can get blisteringly hot. But, thanks to the siesta culture, air-conditioned buildings and shady city centre, it can be comfortable to visit throughout the year. Here are my recommendations on when to visit:
Las Fallas Festival (March)
The city is famous for its Las Fallas festival, which sees the burning of pretty much anything Valencians can get their hands on in early March. It’s an awesome sight that I’m yet to witness yet, but I will do one day. If you want to visit Valencia during Las Fallas, be sure to book far in advance as prices are steep and availability is low.
May-June – To benefit from mild temperatures and sunny skies, visit Valencia in May or June. As it’s the shoulder season before it gets too hot and too busy in summer, you could find a great deal on flights and accommodation.
To avoid the crowds and serious sweat pools around your armpits, the best time to visit Valencia is in winter. Like Mallorca, it’s a great place to enjoy some winter sun whilst having your pick of the best accommodation and flight options as it’s considered the low season.
How to get around Valencia
Valencia is an incredibly easy city to get around. Most of the sights are in the Old Town, which is a neat and compact diamond in the centre of the city. Beyond it, Valencia’s residential neighbourhoods, beach town and remaining sights are all within easy reach thanks to the wide variety of transport available. Here’s how to get around Valencia:
In my opinion, the best way to get around Valencia is on foot. How else could you get lost in all the back streets? You can walk across the Old Town in less than half an hour, but with something beautiful on every corner, the city deserves a bit of a linger.
Valencia is incredibly bike-friendly. You can rent a bike from numerous points across the city with Valenbisi, and with cycle lanes all over, it’s a safe, affordable and healthy way to travel beyond the Old Town. The Turia gardens especially lend themselves to a bike ride as they’re flat and smooth, and make a great way to get across the city.
The metro trains are definitely the fastest way to get around Valencia, and the most efficient way to get from Valencia airport to the city too. A single journey will cost max. €4.90 (including a reusable ticket) but there are deals to be had if you buy multi-trip tickets from kiosks. All the trains and stations are clean, and the best part? They have air conditioning! Just be careful because you can’t get everywhere with the metro, but you can get close.
Best for the places you can’t get to by metro, buses and trams are a great alternative. You can get closer to the action, and with a single costing only €1.50, it won’t break the bank either. The only downside is that it can take a long time to get somewhere, the buses tend to be busy and really hot.
With so much to see and do in Valencia, 3 days might not sound like enough! But hopefully, this itinerary has shown you that it’s easy to squeeze plenty in.
If you’ve got any questions or recommendations, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!
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