5 Things To Do In Valencia, Spain

Drinking in Valencia in 2003 – old school camera!

I did the whole travelling in Europe thing when I lived in Northern Ireland and England, but it didn’t quite feel like I was travelling properly. I’ve been reminiscing recently about a trip that I did 10 years ago to the east coast of Spain. While most travellers going to Spain head to Madrid and Barcelona, I went and did my own thing instead, hitting up Valencia, Alicante and Torrevieja. It was a good mix of city, sea and countryside and today I’m bringing you 5 things to do in Valencia in Spain! A great city!

1. The Old City (Ciutat Vella)

After Barcelona and Madrid, Valencia is probably the third most important Spanish city and its history is clear to see, it dates back to the year 138BC. So you should visit the Old City while you’re there, known locally as the Ciutat Vella. The Barri del Carme is great for a leisurely stroll. It’s not over flooded by tourist either which helps you get a feel for the place and ultimately means cheaper prices than Barcelona! The ancient towers are worth checking out, there are two towers known as the Serrano and Quart Towers. You’ll also find the Cathedral (La Seu) is worth a visit and provides a decent view of the city. By the way I apologise for the lack of photos on this post – it was a while back and I had a 24 maximum exposure camera and only used 8 of them for Valencia, 5 for football alone!

A fountain in downtown Valencia.

2. The Mestalla (Football Stadium)

OK so I must be honest from the offset here and my real reason was visiting Valencia was just to see the football stadium! The Mestalla is a magnificent stadium and Valencia have been European Cup Finalists twice in the last 15 years (though they lost both times), but it was a bit of nostalgia from 1982 that led me there…

Northern Ireland forward Gerry Armstrong beats goalkeeper Luis Arconada to score the winning goal in the 47th minute of a first round match against Spain in the World Cup, at the Estadio Luis Casanova, Valencia, Spain, 25th June 1982. Northern Ireland won the match 1-0. (Photo by Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

This stadium, once called the Luis Casanova Stadium was the famous place where Northern Ireland beat Spain 1-0 in the 1982 World Cup. A complete shock result and one that is embedded into my country’s football history. The winning goal was scored by Gerry Armstrong and as a result, Northern Ireland WON the group and progressed to the Quarter Finals!

Loving my experience visiting the Mestalla while backpacking in Valencia back in 2003.

Loving my experience visiting the Mestalla while backpacking in Valencia back in 2003.

3. The Markets – Mercat Central

Mercat Central was the best market to hunt for food. Local specialities are available here. The usual top notch Spanish food – decent paella, cheese, olives as well as Fideua a local fish dish. It’s a great city to relax in and don’t forget to try some Sangria, and a beer.

Backpacking In Spain: Getting to know the best of Valencia for a Weekend

Early backpacking days in Valencia, Spain outside the Mestalla stadium where Northern Ireland beat Spain 1-0 in 1982.

4. La Tomatina Tomato Festival!

What? Yes a festival where people turn red from tomatoes by having a huge tomato fight and throwing tomatoes everywhere! This is held every August and while I didn’t actually attend it myself, I have checked out the pictures many times and often wondered how crazy it actually is! Their website has some great photos: La Tomatina.

la tomatina a lifestyle of travel

Things to do in Valencia – La Tomatina Tomato Festival is in Bunol nearby!

Though one thing is that its not actually in the city of Valencia – your hostel should have the details and you’ll need to head to Bunol which is a city close by. Definitely one for me to try when I return to Spain! 30,000 people attend it…complete madness!

5. Valencia’s Beaches

This was a bit of a beach holiday for me too. The two most popular in Valencia are Playa de Malvarrosa and Playa e Levante they are north of the main port.

Playa de Malvarrosa

The Playa de Malvarrosa in Valencia at its busiest but it’s a great place to relax!

Beachside bars and restaurants serve ice cold beers and cocktails in the shade. Don’t forget that everything shuts mid-afternoon for a siesta (sleep) which was the perfect time to lie on the beach.

I’ve decided to keep writing a mixture of old and new travel stuff over the next few months, this is my second post on Europe in two days! In terms of a chilled out city away from the tourist hubs of Barcelona and Madrid, I’d definitely recommend you to check Valencia out. The city is served by an airport just 9kilometres from the city centre and here’s a site for booking your accommodation if you plan to visit Valencia for a relaxing holiday.

OK and I’ve typed this up early afternoon in Asia so it’s time for my siesta, Valencia style!

The photos I took from Valencia that survive on this post were all taken by an old rewindable camera so apologies for the quality! I also took some videos in Valencia but they haven’t been converted for YouTube yet, they are on a video tape!! Stories for another day, safe travels!

Oh and here’s that Valencia football moment from 1982 that I spoke of…

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