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3 days in Valencia for a great long weekend in Spain’s hidden treasure

Valencia is really an unsung hero of Spain. Most travelers have visited Barcelona, Madrid and Costa Brava, but some of the other Spanish Cities, like Valencia and Malaga, really caught me by surprise with their wonder. We spent a week in Valencia exploring this beautiful city but highlighting the best parts in a perfect 3 days in Valencia Itinerary below.

Valencia is so much more relaxed than the other Spanish cities. It is quieter, less touristy, and has so much to offer from Paella to Flamenco, from the wonder of a walkable old town to the incredibly modern City of Arts and Sciences. This city has everything: delicious food, beautiful beaches, a pretty old town, and lovely people. Valencia is the third-largest city in Spain and one of its oldest cities.

Medieval castle in Valencia with a flag and a cloudy sky

Day One of 3 days in Valencia: Explore Old Town, including Mercado Central, Paella, & Flamenco show

old town square of Valencia with people walking around and eating at a patio with a old church in the background

Valencia’s old town is like you want every Spanish old town to be. A cluster of alleys and side streets. Every corner has something new to explore, whether a unique shop or a fancy café. Churches that only show their real beauty inside and sometimes even a real treasure. El Carmen is a neighborhood full of lovely old plazas, the Valencia Cathedral, and Mercado Central. Stroll around on your own or take a walking tour of the old city.

Mercado Central is definitely worth a stop! I love authentic markets, especially if you get the feeling, it’s a REAL market and not only for tourists. Mercado Central de Valencia is one of these, where you can watch Spanish bargaining, and merchants loudly praise their goods. Plus, it’s located in an amazingly pretty old building. Pick up some of the strange fruits or deliciously smelly cheeses.

Geometric Patterned Ceiling at Mercado Central to see on 3 days in Valencia

The area surrounding the Mercado is lovely to get lost and explore. Stop by the La Lonja de la Seda to see a UNESCO World Heritage Site from 1482, which was used as the financial center of Valencia for merchants to negotiate contracts for silk, oil, and agriculture. The admission is only 2 euros, so it is worth stopping inside to explore more of the building, or it is free with the Valencia Tourist Card.

Stop for lunch and enjoy the local dish, Paella! Masusa was our favorite, but there are plenty of options throughout the city. It is always good to participate in local customs and take a nice siesta in the afternoon. If you still have energy, explore some of the street art in Valencia‘s other neighborhoods.

After lunch, make your way to the Valencia Cathedral, famous for possessing the Holy Grail! Believed to be the cup used by Jesus during the Last Supper. The holy grail is renowned throughout history and from Hollywood. Even if you do not believe the mystery, the cathedral is worth visiting and seeing the grand treasure.

Old Cathedral with bride walking into the door with her father, large columns on both sides of the bride

In the evening, check out a local Flamenco show. The passion of these musicians and dancers overwhelms you from the first note. This show was fantastic and authentic and will undoubtedly blow you away. The 1 hour show at Café del Duende! The show was terrific, and the cover was only 15 euros and included a drink. There are live shows at 9 and 10:30, but make sure you arrive early as it fills us quickly.

Day Two of 3 days in Valencia: Explore the City of Arts and Sciences, the central park

City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia; two large modern domed building with water below

Valencia doesn’t only have the charm of an old Spanish city but also the flair of a cultural metropolis, especially around the City of Arts and Sciences, an architectural masterpiece of Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela. The entire complex makes you feel like you are in 2300, with a futuristic building straight out of a sci-fi movie.

If you stay in Old Town, walk or bike through the La Turia park to the City of Arts and Sciences. The massive 9km park was rebuilt on top of the old river that ran through town. Due to flooding in the 1900s, the city redirected the river and put a magnificent park in its place. Make sure you leave some time to appreciate this beautiful park and all the flora and fauna. It is a great for a bike tour!

Outdoor picture of Oceanographic Valencia with a building, water and flamingos

Oceanogràfic is one of the main attractions of the City of Arts and Sciences. It is the largest aquarium in Europe. The indoor/outdoor museum is an excellent attraction for all ages! Explore the amazing marine life from all over the world with over 45,000 individuals of 500 different species. Each area is completely memorizing as you see the wild variety of marine life from all over the world.

large aquarium with colorful fish swimming with coral in the background

Day Three of 3 days in Valencia – Take a day trip to explore the beautiful surrounding nature!

After 2 days in the city, it is time to escape into nature and enjoy some of the unbelievable waterfalls and thermal baths of the surrounding region. We took a day trip to visit 5 natural wonders of the region, including the waterfall of Navajas and the thermal waters of Montanejos (aguas termales). The tour was a small group run by a very charismatic guide who taught us about the region and gave excellent recommendations for the rest of our time in Valencia. He also loved photography, so we got some great photos. 

Canyon surrounding crystal waters of the thermal baths of Montanejos with blue sky

Are you staying longer in Valencia? Here are even more things to do in Valencia with your extended vacation!

Where to stay for 3 days in Valencia

  • Mon Suites Catedral is an excellent option with a fantastic location in the heart of the old town next to the Valencia Cathedral.
  • Fetén is another excellent, very central option. Some rooms have a small kitchen to cook breakfast in the morning.
  • Atico Tapineria is a more budget-friendly option. It is also in Old Town with private rooms with private bathrooms.
  • The River Hostel is amazing option if you are looking for the most budget friendly option.

When to visit for 3 days in Valencia?

Valencia is a great destination year-round, as the winters are very mild, and the region gets very little rain. Even in November, December, January, and February, the high temperature is around 15C-18C (60F-70F), making it easy to explore around without the crowds. The summer months can get warm but not as warm as the south of Spain.

Getting around for 3 days in Valencia

Valencia is a very walkable city. We stayed in an old town, which made it easy to walk around. The City of Arts and Science is the main attraction that is a bit farther from the old town, but the walk is through the beautiful park, so it is delightful to walk through. This Full City Guide to Valencia helped me understand more.

things to do in Valencia

Where to eat for 3 days in Valencia?

Restaurants:

  • Shahla’s Bistro (persian restaurant)
  • Masusa (paella) closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays
  • Salsavanna (Cuban restaurant)
  • Tanto Monta Monta Tanto (Amazing tapas)

Brunch and Breakfast places:

  • Blackbird
  • Bluebell Coffee
  • Cult Café 

Bars:

  • Barcelo (Great Terrace)
  • Gran Martinez (Great Cocktails)

Where to see live music in 3 days in Valencia?

  • If you have never seen Flamenco before, make sure you check out Café del Duende! The show was unbelievable, and the cover was only 15 euros and included a drink. There are live shows at 9 and 10:30, but make sure you arrive there early as it fills us quickly.
  • Marino Jazz has live Jazz every Thursday night.
  • La Vitti has live music every Monday Night.

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