Two days in Valencia is enough time to explore the highlights of Spain’s 3rd largest city whether you’re planning a short city break or a longer trip around Spain. Located on the South-East coast, the port city of Valencia has become a popular international destination over recent years and offers tourists the best of both worlds with a well preserved historic centre full of Gothic buildings plus incredible modern architecture and interactive museums in the city of Arts and Sciences, located in the new part of Valencia.
A first-timers itinerary for 2 days in Valencia
2 days in Valencia: Day One
The Central Market of Valencia
Housed in a beautiful Art Noveau building, Mercado Central or Mercat Central as it’s otherwise known is one of the oldest operating markets in Europe. With 8,000 square metres of floor space to cover which equates to more than 1,200 stalls along with food stands , you will find all sorts of fresh produce for sale including fruit and veg, meat and fish (don’t miss seeing the live eels!), cheeses, spices, nuts, olives, bread, wine and so much more to tempt your taste buds!
Opening Times: Monday-Saturday 7.30 am-3 pm
La Lonja de la Seda (The Silk Exchange)
This striking Gothic-style building has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built between 1482-1533, it might look like a castle from the outside but it is actually the historic center for commerce, originally used as the Silk Exchange. Step inside the contract/trading hall and marvel at the grand architecture of the 15th-16th centuries with all the columns that support the domed ceiling before you head outside to see the walled orange patio garden.
Opening Times: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-2pm and 4.30pm-8.30pm. Sunday and holidays 10 am-3 pm
Plaza de la Virgen
One of the oldest squares in the city, Plaza de la Virgen is ideal when you want to rest your feet for a while, enjoy a drink and snack at one of the street cafes, people watch and soak up the beautiful architecture that surrounds the square. Enclosed by the cathedral, the basilica, and the Palace of the Generalitat, this square contains the Turia Fountain which features a sculpture of Neptune surrounded by 8 naked ladies. Be sure to visit here during the day and at night to take photos and see how the vibe changes.
The beautiful Metropolitan Cathedral–Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia, otherwise known as Saint Mary’s Cathedral, dates back to the 13th century and features Gothic, Baroque, and Romanesque architecture. An audio guide is including in the entrance fee so you can learn all about the history of the cathedral as you move around the impressive interior.
Opening Times: January-March and November-December Monday-Saturday 10 am-5.30 pm. April-October Monday-Saturday 10 am-6.30 pm and Sunday 2 pm-6.30 pm.
Torre del Micalet (The Bell Tower)
The Micalet Tower is a 14th-century octagonal bell tower that stands next to the cathedral. Together with the more recent belfry it measures 63 meters tall and invites visitors to climb its 207 spiral stairs to reach the top where they can admire the views across the city.
Opening Times: Monday-Friday 10am-6.30pm, weekends 10am-7pm
Torres de Serranos
Serranos Gate, otherwise known as Serranos Towers is the largest Gothic gateway in all of Europe. Dating back to the 14th century it is one of twelve gates that, along with city walls, formed the fortification of Valencia. Used as a defensive structure, prison, and triumphal arch, today visitors can climb up to the top to take in the view with the river and the city spread out below.
Opening Times: Tuesday-Saturday 10 am-7 pm. Sunday and holidays 10 am-3 pm.
Plaza del Ayuntamiento
This square is dominated by the neoclassical Town Hall and is the main square of Valencia ensuring even more people-watching opportunities along with photo opportunities of the various Spanish architectural styles. Usually filled with flower sellers, the square also contains the Central Post Office – write your postcards here so that you have an excuse to step inside the modernista building to admire the baroque-inspired interior!
Torres de Quart
These twin defense towers and city gates made up part of the city walls and date back to the 15th century. Used as a defense measure as well as a prison, the towers were originally known as the Limestone Towers (Puerta de la Cal) not due to what they were built from but because all of the limestone entering the city for construction work had to pass through these gates. As you stand to look up at the towers stop to notice the damage done to the exterior, this was caused by cannons in the War of Independence against France.
Opening Times: Tuesday-Saturday 10 am-7 pm and Sunday 10 am-3 pm
This unique and rather enchanting circular square was originally the location for the fish market but today is a hub of arts and crafts shops, souvenir shops, and tapas bars. After admiring the curved three-story buildings, explore the quaint backstreets of the Old Quarter that lead off from the plaza.
Church of San Nicolás
The Gothic-style Roman Catholic church is an architectural delight known as ‘the Sistine Chapel of Valencia’ due to its baroque interior with the ornate main altar and stunning wall frescoes. These restored works of art by Antonio Palomini and his apprentice show the lives of St Nicholas of Bari and St Peter Martyr with further scenes of childhood, miracles, and death covering an area of almost 2,000 square meters.
Opening Times: Tuesday-Friday 10.30am-7.30pm, Saturday 11am-6.30pm, Sunday 1pm-7pm.
Church of the Saints John (Los Santos Juanes)
Classified as a National Historic and Artistic Monument, this Catholic church is the oldest church in Valencia and features an iconic triangular bell tower adorned with statues of saints. A mixture of Gothic and Baroque architecture, it features stunning 17th-century frescoes by Palomino inside along with a beautiful domed ceiling. Be sure to walk around the exterior of the church to admire it from all angles!
Opening Times: Monday-Saturday 10am-7.30pm, Sunday 1pm-7.30pm
Col·legi de l’Art Major de la Seda (The Silk Museum)
Discover how silk shaped Valencia giving it a golden era The Silk Museum is housed in the same 15th-century building where the first silk and velvet factory was established by El Gremi de Velluters which later became the Higher Art College of Silk. Learn how silk was discovered, how it’s made from the breeding of the worms to the looms, and see some of the finest silk garments of the time.
Opening Times: Monday 10am-3pm, Tuesday-Saturday 10am-7pm, Sunday 10am-3pm.
Save Money! Get access to the Church of San Nicolás, the Church of the Saints John, and the Silk Museum for a combined ticket cost of 10 euros including audio guides for each.
Valencia Nord train station
You don’t have to be catching a train to go and admire this beautiful art nouveau building. Dating back to 1917, Valencia Nord train station is a work of art comprising of a cream modernista exterior with the attention to detail inside second to none. Don’t just admire this building from the outside, step into the entrance hall to admire the original wall and ceiling tiles, decorated pillars, and stained glass windows and you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported back in time, aside from the modern screens and ticket machines!
Eat Paella at La Riua restaurant
After a busy day of sightseeing, there’s only one meal that you should tuck into to satisfy those hunger pangs – paella! Enjoy the traditional rabbit and chicken paella at this authentic family-run Valencian restaurant decked out in quaint décor with plates decorating the walls.
Opening Times: Tuesday-Saturday 2pm-4.15pm and 9pm-11pm.
2 days in Valencia: Day Two
Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (The City of Arts and Sciences)
This spectacular cultural space contains 4 museums housed in modern buildings and combined, makes up the top tourist attraction in Valencia whilst being 1 of the 12 treasures of Spain.
Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe
The modern interactive science museum, housed in a building designed in the shape of a whale skeleton, shows you the evolution of life, science, and technology across 3 floors. Have fun in the TV studio, see the Foucault Pendulum, the 15 meters high DNA sculpture, and the interactive Zero Gravity display along with so much more – There are no ‘stuffy presentations’, this is a hands-on museum that kids and adults will both learn from and enjoy.
Opening Times: Daily 10 am-7 pm with late opening until 9 pm during the Summer months.
Be entertained and educated at this stunning venue with a 3 in 1 IMAX cinema, planetarium, and laser show. Built in the shape of an eye to represent the eye of wisdom you’ll be looking at 900 square meters of the screen! Choose from 3D or IMAX films or see our planet as never seen before with an astronomical projection.
Opening Times: Films shown Monday-Thursday on the hour between 11 am-7 pm and Friday-Sunday at 8 pm and 9 pm.
Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia
The Sydney Opera House might be known the world over but Valencia’s 70-meter tall opera house and cultural center is equally impressive with its avant-garde design. Take a guided tour to learn more about this iconic building whilst seeing the impressive 1,500-metre square stage and other performance venues before seeing where the artists and actors train.
Opening Times: Monday-Saturday 10.30am-2.30pm and 3.30pm-6.30pm. Sundays and holidays 10.30am-2.30pm.
This modern oceanarium is the largest aquarium in Europe and is dedicated to reproducing the world’s main marine ecosystems (the Mediterranean, Wetlands, Temperate and Tropical Seas, Oceans, the Antarctic, the Arctic, Islands, and the Red Sea) with 500 marine species including the only family of Beluga Whales in Europe. Watch the fish swim overhead as you walk down the longest underwater tunnel in Europe, visit the dolphinarium, watch the penguins, sea lions, and walruses, sea turtles and so much more with the chance to touch some of the creatures in the touch pool.
Opening Times: Sunday-Friday 10 am-6 pm with late opening until 8 pm on Saturdays and until midnights on selected nights during the Summer months.
Save Money with Combo Tickets! If you want to visit more than 1 of the museums of the City of Arts and Sciences, get a combo ticket. Options are as follows:
Oceanogràfic + Museu De Les Ciències Príncep Felipe: €32.20
Oceanogràfic + Hemisfèric: €32.20
Oceanogràfic + Hemisfèric + Museu De Les Ciències Príncep Felipe: €38.20
Hemisfèric + Museu De Les Ciències Príncep Felipe: €12.00
Playa de la Malvarrosa (Mavarrosa Beach)
Head to the beach if the weather is good enough whether it’s warm enough for sunbathing on this 1km stretch of urban beach or warm enough for a stroll along the sand. There are lots of activities to enjoy besides the sea and sand with exercise machines at the Healthy Park, play equipment for kids, and beachfront bars, cafés, and shops.
Festival Las Fallas de Valencia
Plan a visit to Valencia between 15th-19th March to see the fiesta of fire that takes place in the city each year to celebrate the arrival of Spring. A combination of tradition, satire, and art this festival is one of the most unique in the whole of Spain with fireworks and bonfires, parades, brass bands, firecrackers, dancing in the streets, and so much more.
How to get to Valencia
Direct flights are operated by BA, Iberia, Lufthansa, Air France, Swissair, KLM, TAP Air Portugal, Easyjet, and Ryanair fly into Valencia Airport (the 10th busiest airport in Spain) from Europe with long haul flights flying into Madrid or Barcelona where you can get a connecting internal flight. Prices start at €12-€25 if you book early enough with average flight times of 1.5-2.5hours depending on where you’re flying in from.
High-speed AVE trains depart multiple times daily to/from Valencia > Madrid or Barcelona. From Madrid to Valencia the journey time is 1.5 hours and from Valencia to Barcelona for about 3 hours. Train ticket prices start at roughly €12 but can rise to €100+ if not booked in advance.
There is a regular intercity bus (coach) service from Madrid and Barcelona to Valencia. Buses depart every hour from Madrid between 1 am-9.30 pm with a journey time of 4 hours at a cost of approximately €25. From Barcelona (both Sants and Nord bus stations) there are 30 buses per day between 12.15 am-8 pm with a journey time of 5 hours and prices averaging €30.
How to get to and from the airport of Valencia
Located 8km from the city center in Manises, Valencia Airport (otherwise known as Manises Airport) has transport options for all types of travelers whether backpackers on a budget or families just looking for the most hassle-free way of getting to the hotel as possible!
A company such as Welcome Pickups offer passengers a comfortable stress-free way of reaching the city center. Book online and a driver will be waiting for you at arrivals, ready to help push the luggage trolley to the car. The cost from the airport to the city center is around 21 euros.
Time: 20 minutes depending on traffic
Cost: From €25
The metro station is located on the ground floor of the regional flights terminal with trains running every 15-20 minutes from 5 am-11 pm Monday-Friday and from 7 am-11 pm weekends and holidays. There are 2 lines; line 3 (red) links Rafelbunyol to the airport and line 5 (green) links the port of Marítim Serrería – Torrent Av. to the airport. Both lines go to Xativa Station in the city center.
Time: 25 minutes
This is the express airport bus that has direct service between the airport and the city center with city stops at Av. Del Cid, Carrer Bailén, and Carrer Àngel Guimerà. It runs daily every 20 minutes between 6 am-10 pm.
Time: 25 minutes
Line 150 Bus
The intercity bus (Metrobus) makes 25 stops en route between the airport and the city center. Buses depart every 25-35 minutes between 5:25 am-10 pm Monday-Saturday but there’s no service on Sunday or public holidays.
Time: 40 minutes
Cost: €1.50 single
2 days in Valencia will allow you to whet your appetite for this beautiful Spanish port city whilst seeing all of the main highlights as you admire the Gothic and Modernista architecture, people watch in the plaza’s and visit the futuristic-looking museums. Pace yourself for the best experience being sure to indulge in siesta time before getting your fill of paella!