It’s hardly surprisingly that Valencia is one of the most popular holiday destinations on the Mediterranean: not only does it have a charming, historic centre filled with museums and monuments, it also boasts a superb, contemporary cultural complex, the City of Arts and Sciences, which is home to one of Europe’s largest aquariums, the Oceanogràfic. And then of course there are the beaches – miles and miles of golden sand – and some of the best nightlife to be found anywhere in Spain.
Food & drink:
Paella, perhaps the most famous Spanish dish, comes originally from Valencia, and is traditionally prepared with the plump ‘bomba’ rice which grows in fields around the city. There is no definitive paella, which can be prepared with either seafood or meat, or even with both, but there’s nowhere better to try this classic dish in all its myriad incarnations than Valencia. Another local speciality is ‘orxata’, a delicious, creamy drink served ice-cold which is made with tiger nuts, which taste similar to almonds.
Off the beaten track:
The city beaches are great, but can get very packed, so head south (there’s a handy bus) to find the Platja de la Devesa, which is backed by pine forest and dunes and is rarely crowded. The beach is located just beyond the huge lake of Albufera, a wonderfully tranquil area on the fringes of the city, which is surrounded by rice fields and is home to a nature reserve and bird sanctuary.