With a country packed so full of culture, beauty, and delicious food, choosing where to visit in Spain can be quite the undertaking.
Barcelona will always be a top choice for tourists, and Madrid is not far behind, and therefore it’s common for other fantastic locations to get overlooked.
One such city that is often not included on a travel itinerary is the 2,000-year-old city of Valencia, located on Spain’s eastern coast in the center of the Gulf of Valencia.
As Spain’s third largest city, Valencia is not a typical Spanish city — with its own language, unique cuisine, and a blend of ancient and futuristic buildings. Some say that Valencia is not the typical idyllic Spanish town that certain travelers are looking for, yet its uniqueness is part of its charm.
Recently rated as the top coastal destination in Europe, Valencia has a lot to offer travelers looking for something a bit different. It won the top spot on the coastal cities list, especially for being peaceful and quiet, being a great value, and having many attractions as well as a beach.
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The city is still quite unknown to most American travelers, often losing ground to Barcelona and Madrid. But more international tourists are starting to realize that Valencia has all the architecture, culture, and food of the bigger cities, with a much lower price tag.
Here’s Why Valencia Has Been Rated A Traveler Favorite This Year:
Old Meets New
As one of Spain’s oldest cities, exploring the Old Town is a must-do when visiting. Valencia’s old town is compact enough to enjoy walking around without getting lost in the maze-like streets, lined with vibrantly hued buildings and narrow cobbled alleys.
Check out the colorful street art that the city is known for, enjoy some al fresco food and drinks, and people-watch in the many plazas.
With architectural styles such as Art Nouveau, Gothic, Moorish, Roman, and more, there is quite a melting pot of styles to enjoy as you walk around.
You can’t miss seeing La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, La Lonja de la Seda, or the 13th-century Valencia Cathedral.
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Did Someone Say Food?
While offered throughout many places in Spain, Valencia is known for their menu del dias. Usually available midday between 1-4 pm, most consist of a meal deal with a drink, bread, starter, entree, and dessert, all offered for a set price. Valencia is known by travelers as having a cheaper menu del dias than other major Spanish cities.
As the birthplace of Paella, Valencia is also known for its homegrown rice, a source of pride, as its unique taste is a result of the minerals in the water.
You can also easily spend a day eating your way through the popular central market, tasting local specialties from all over the region.
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Visit Valencia in the middle of March for the crazy spectacle of parades and fireworks known as Las Fallas, and enjoy the party atmosphere with the locals.
Or get outside and check out the nearly 10 km-long Turia Park, a must-visit if you like walking or running outdoors; some even cite it as one of the best city parks they have ever seen.
It also should go without saying that by choosing to enjoy Valencia for a holiday as compared to Madrid or Barcelona, you will be saving money. Some estimate that Valencia is nearly $40 a day cheaper than Barcelona, so take those savings and plan your next trip to another underrated destination!
Attention Beach Lovers
Valencia sees over 300 days of sunshine a year, which is perfect since there are over 12 miles of beach to enjoy near the city.
Las Areanas, La Patacoa, and La Malvarrosa are all the ones you can find closest to the Old Town, offering over 2 miles of the seafront to enjoy, with no end of bars and restaurants to watch the sea roll in after a full day of lounging under an umbrella.
While Valencia might be known as being the more livable and practical of Spain’s major cities, that’s not to say it is lacking in charm.
Come here for a sunny and fun time, take in the history of the area, enjoy the landmarks and the food, and don’t forget to give the beaches a chance as well.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com