Valencia, by The Travel Theory

Contributor Stories is a brand new way to get an insight into the mind of a traveller. The series will combine Featured Interviews with Blog posts, created by travellers from all over the world who want to share their stories with you.

The second in this series is a post by Maria Leonhard, a 24 year old traveller from Germany. After spending a period of time living and working in Valencia as a German teacher, Maria has some handy tips and insider knowledge of the city to share.

Maria Leonhard
Today I want to share with you my travel experience in one of my favourite cities in Europe: Valencia. Valencia is the third largest city in Spain and while it might not be as popular as Barcelona or Madrid, it is one of the best and most fun spots in the Mediterranean country. I was lucky enough to have spent six months living in this beautiful city whilst I was doing an internship as a German teacher during my studies. I had already heard of Valencia before, but to be honest I didn't really know much about it. And that is one of its perks. While Madrid and Barcelona swarm with tourists, Valencia is a much more tranquil city. However, that doesn't mean it's boring at all! Valencia manages to combine an amazing coast alongside enormous beaches with the life of a large and modern city, whilst at the same time, conserving the unique atmosphere of its beautiful old town. It's a city where you can easily get from A to B without much hassle, as the public transportation works great, and it's the perfect spot if you're looking for something both relaxing and metropolitan.

Old Town
In the heart of the city, Valencia offers a beautiful old town - it's not only interesting for people who love history. But because of the calm atmosphere, palm trees, the clear air and the beautiful buildings in this quarter of the Spanish city, the old town of Valencia is one of the favourite spots, both for tourists and locals. One of the most popular sights are the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, the square right in front of the city hall. From there you can walk along the small streets, and look for the Cathedral at Plaza de la Virgen. Right next to it you will find another famous square: Plaza de la Reina. It's a beautiful square covered with flowers, with restaurants and bars to sit down and relax. For those who don't want to spend a lot of money, I recommend to try "100 Montaditos". It's a popular food chain in Spain that offers little sandwiches with different fillings, and you can try some typical Spanish dishes like "tortilla de patatas", "lomo", or "pollo asado" for small prices. Also, on Wednesdays and Sundays there is a special offer, where everything on the menu is just 1€! If you want to have one of the best panoramic views of the old town, I recommend going up the 50 meter bell tower, El Miguelete. It's only a few euros, and even though it's a long way up, you get rewarded with great views from the top. Of course, there are tons of other things to see in the old town and it's always nice to get lost in the little streets. If you pay attention, you can also spot some cool art on some of the walls - if you look in the right places!
© Maria Leonhard, Valencia

© Maria Leonhard, Valencia

One thing I love most about Valencia is that it's located right at the coast. The city centre's beachside La Malvarrosa is one of the most popular meeting points. The beaches are wide and perfect for long walks, as you can walk alongside the water for miles. Even in summer, when there are a lot of people going to the beach, I've never really had the feeling of the beach being too crowded. If you walk a little further along the beach in direction to La Patacona, it will be even less full. The promenade is great for long walks and the bars and restaurants are perfect for a nice stop if you ever get hungry or want to enjoy nice Horachata (de Cufra), an ice-old served refreshment drink made from tiger nuts, water and sugar and that comes from Valencia - you should definitely try it!

Modern Architecture
Even though Valencia's old town is one of the most beautiful parts of the city, Valencia does not only offer insight into history, but hosts great modern art, too. Just a little bit from the old town, you can visit the great architectural construction complex designed by the architects Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela about 20 years ago: Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. This “Town of Arts and Science” consists of different modern buildings, all offering different cultural and scientific knowledge, as for example the planetarium, the biggest aquarium in Europe, or the Music Palace. There are also free events all year long and concerts taking place in front of it, so don't miss out! As the building is surrounded by an artificial pool, a great way to spend time there is also to rent a kayak to paddle around the water and enjoy the view.
© Maria Leonhard, Valencia

© Maria Leonhard, Valencia

Another great thing about Valencia is that the city never rests. There are several great quarters with lot's of cool bars and clubs you don't want to miss on a night out! Quarters such as Benimaclet, where there is one bar that offers free poetry and art perfomance nights, and another that sells the best Mini Pizzas in town for about 2€ (l'Olegari), or El Carmen, where there are great bars to hang out and clubs with Spanish music to dance to (Radio City is great!). Another popular club that includes a second club opening in summer time (L'Umbracle) is Mya. The cool thing about this club is the location, as it located right at the complex building of Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. If you are in Valencia in summer, I also suggest trying Aquarella. It's located right at the beachside, and most of the club is outside.

More tips: Albufera and Fallas
There is one thing I always recommend to see that is not in Valencia, but a little further away and that is the natural park: Albufera. The largest lake of the area is beautiful, and going on a boat trip just when the sun is setting is truly magical. The dune beaches, rice fields and countryside also give you a completly different view of Spain, and makes it enjoyable to spend hours there watching the wildlife and the beautiful nature. If you don't have a car, you can also easily take a bus for less then 2€ to the park.
© Maria Leonhard, Albufera

© Maria Leonhard, Albufera

This travel blog post wouldn't be about Valencia, however, if I didn't share with you the greatness of the most popular festival of the city: Fallas. Fallas is one of the biggest national festivals and takes place every March. Thousands of people come together to celebrate and honor the patron of carpenters, San José. It's the time of the year where fireworks are heard every minute of the day and massive colorful figures are built to later on be burnt down (La Crema), in order to crown a winner. La Mascleta is also a very impressive event that involves a concert of gunpowder, as hundreds of loud crashing fireworks fill the city in such a way that you feel as if the ground were shaking. It's a week of happiness and celebration, and it has been one of the craziest and most impressive things I've experienced.

How incredible! Thanks Maria, we really appreciate your insights into Valencia!

To follow Maria's journey, check her out on Instagram, @the_travel_theory!

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