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Valencia, the 3rd largest city of Spain
Plenty to squeeze from its juicy heart
When you venture into the city of Valencia, you will be met on both sides with the old and the new. As the capital of the region and Spain’s third largest city, it has managed to preserve a dense heritage and embrace modern landmarks. With the Valencia Tourist Card you have full access on Valencia’s public transportation as well as many free and discounted offers throughout the city.
Spain is known for its strange festivals (tomato throwing, anyone?) In the month of March, Valencia throws its own fiery festival. Las Fallas literally means "the fires.” The focus of the fiesta is the creation and destruction of ninots (puppets.) Some are cardboard, others wood, and all are extremely lifelike and usually depict satirical scenes and current events. On March 19th at exactly midnight, La Cremá (the burning) begins. One could say it’s a blast.
Arriving by train into Valencia Nord station from Madrid (in just under 4 hours) or from Barcelona (in just under 3 hours), this is an easy station to navigate. Built in 1917 with Neo-Gothic influences, this station hosts a caleidoscope of Valencian mosaics and ceramics, with themes of the city’s countryside. When you exit onto the outside plaza, be sure to cross the street and check out the adjacent bullring, Plaza de Toros. This bull-fighting arena has been in operation for nearly 150 years and resembles a miniature Roman Coliseum.
Valencia has had this drab, dull reputation, which is surprising when you consider the city hugs the coast on the Mediterrean. The sea’s bounty helped invent the first Paella here, which could be easily washed down with its eponymous orange. And yet, for years, the city sat without a spark of excitement.
That’s all changed now. In the last decade, there’s been a thrust toward tourism and innovation. It began with restoring old landmarks like the Serrano and Quart Towers and monestaries such as San Miguel de los Reyes. However, the biggest project to date is The City of Arts and Sciences. Designed by the world-renowned and Valencia-native Santiago Calatrava, The complex, which sits on what used to be the riverbed of the Turia river.
This “city” consists of many architecturally inspired buildings. El Museu de les Ciencies Principe Felipe is an interactive museum of science that resembles the skeleton of a whale. L’Oceanografic is the biggest aquarium in Europe, with a variety of ocean life from different environments. Calatrava has created a world of wonder, for Valencians, Spaniards and tourists who come to experience these buildings that move the mind and heart.
There are over 800,000 people who live in Valencia. They must be on to something. Come see this city that’s more than a metropolis. Underneath the rind, you’ll find a juicy interior. Get a Eurail Spain Pass and taste for yourself.
When in Valencia do not miss its paella, fartons, buñuelos, the Spanish omelette, rosquilletas and squid (calamares).
Do not miss the Central Market in Valencia, Calle Don Juan de Austria and Calle Colon.
The overshadowed L’Umbracle garden at the City of Arts and Science is definitely worth further investigation. The fantastic garden contains over 50 plant species and a fun promenade, known as ’a balcony on the future’.
Getting to and from Valencia
Trains are convenient way to reach any town and city in Europe. All main towns have a railway station, while major cities have more than two railway stations. Nearly all railway stations are located in the city centre. Check our map to locate railway station(s) in Valencia.