For years, Spain’s third-largest city, Valencia has been overshadowed by the allure of Barcelona and Madrid. But now, travellers are starting to realise that Valencia is Spain’s best-kept secret. The birthplace of paella, Valencia is a bustling coastal city steeped in history. The locals are proud of their city and heritage, and you’ll find many people here choose to speak Valencian, rather than Spanish.
With vast beaches, a beautiful old town and a vibrant nightlife, it’s the perfect destination for a weekend away. This under-the-radar gem of a city is authentic and charming, without the crowds of tourists who flock to Barcelona each year. While many Spanish towns are seen as perfect summer holiday spots, Valencia is a city that’s buzzing all year round. So whether you visit in August or January, you’ll find plenty of things to do. This Valencia itinerary will show you how to make the most of a whirlwind 2 days in Valencia, so you can experience all that this city has to offer in just one weekend!
This article is written by Faraway Lucy writer, Robyn Hewson.
Day 1 of Your 2 Days in Valencia
Arriving in Valencia
Valencia Airport has fantastic transport links to the city centre. This means your holiday can get started as soon as you step off the plane! Head down to the airport’s very own metro station and hop on a train towards the centre. The central metro station is called Xàtiva, and this is the perfect base to start exploring the city.
As soon as you step out of the station, you’ll be thanking me for sending you to Valencia. The metro station is surrounded by beautiful buildings. Look out for the Estacio del Nord (train station) and the Plaza de Toros (bull ring)! Take a moment to take in your surroundings, then let’s kick off your Valencia itinerary…
Early morning: Breakfast at Bastard
Address: Carrer de Leandro de Saralegui, nº 1, bajo izda, 46021 València
Phone number: +34 961 07 18 47
Head to this unusually named café just minutes from Xàtiva station for a fusion of American and Mediterranean breakfast options.
Popular with students and workers, this uber cool, industrial café is unbeatable for brunch. They offer a choice of French toast, pancakes or waffles, along with freshly squeezed orange juice and a coffee, all for just €6. One thing I love about Valencia is that you can get mouth-watering meals for a fraction of the price of other major Spanish cities.
Late morning: Explore the Old Town
Once you’ve filled up on French toast, it’s time to have a look around. There is lots to see in the city centre, and it’s all within walking or cycling distance. Xàtiva is located on the new side of town, and from here, you can walk over to El Carmen, the old town. You could spend a day wandering these enchanting streets, but there’s lots more to fit in. So I’ll give you a rundown of the top sights to see here instead.
First, head to Mercado Central, a huge indoor market that’s full of fresh produce and open seven days a week. It’s super popular with the locals and offers a wide range of goods including tasty olives and fruit juices. Perfect for snacking on as you continue on your walk! After this, if you’re up for a climb, head to Torres de Serranos (Serranos Towers) for spectacular views of the city. Tickets are a steal at €2 and you can buy them online in advance.
And the last stop on your El Carmen walking tour is the famous Plaza de la Virgen. Situated next to Valencia Cathedral, this beautiful square is surrounded by bars with outdoor seating. If all that walking has got you feeling thirsty, I recommend ordering a jug of Sangria and some tapas if you fancy a bite to eat.
Afternoon: Head to the beach or go shopping
As I already mentioned, Valencia is the perfect all-year-round destination. With that in mind, the itinerary for your weekend in Valencia might differ depending on when you’ve decided to visit.
If it’s a warm, sunny day (which it is for the majority of the year), you can head to one of the three beaches on the outskirts of the city: Playa de la Malvarossa, Playa de las Arenas or Playa de la Patacona. All three are easily accessible by public transport. From the city centre, you can hop on a direct bus to the beach. Alternatively, you can get the metro to the charming neighbourhood of Benimaclet, and catch the tram to the beach from there.
Malvarossa is the most popular of the beaches. But luckily its large size means it never becomes too overcrowded. If you don’t feel like sunbathing, you can take a stroll down the promenade, lined with palm trees and paella restaurants. There are fantastic paella restaurants all over Valencia. But for me, the traditional seafood restaurants along the beach are the perfect place to try this dish.
If you arrive in Valencia on one of the few rainy days, you might want to give the beach a miss. Instead, I recommend heading to Colón, where you can sample Valencia’s fabulous shopping scene. Just a five-minute walk (or one metro stop) from Xàtiva, Calle de Colón is home to El Corte Inglés, Pull & Bear, Stradivarius and more.
Evening: Dinner and drinks in Russafa
With edgy bars and vintage shops galore, Russafa is undoubtedly the coolest neighbourhood in Valencia. It’s basically an Erasmus student’s dream! In the daytime, there’s a relaxed atmosphere here, with locals enjoying a coffee in the sun and young people trying out the shops. By night, Russafa transforms into a haven of inviting restaurants and quirky bars. But don’t forget, the laidback Spanish don’t eat until at least eight or nine, and a bar might not fill up until ten or eleven, especially during a weekend in Valencia!
Russafa is filled with amazing eateries. But the highlight for me is Restaurante Copenhagen, a sophisticated vegetarian restaurant serving dishes from around the world. This restaurant is very popular, so it’s a good idea to book in advance if you’re hoping for a primetime spot. Or, if you can’t decide what type of food you’re after, why not try the tasting menu at El Almacen? This rustic, independent restaurant serves up top-quality tapas at bargain prices.
And with all the money you’ve saved on food, you can treat yourself to a cocktail or two at the ultra-cool Café Berlin. This modern bar has a great selection of wines, beers and cocktails for affordable prices. Popular with locals and tourists alike, Café Berlin gets very busy. You’re likely to see revellers spilling out into the streets! After Café Berlin, you can walk down the street to La Bella de Cadiz, a cosy bar filled with dolls, memorabilia and unique ornaments. If you’re feeling up to another cocktail, La Bella de Cadiz has a wide selection including a delicious mojito.
Day 2 of Your 2 Days in Valencia
Morning: Visit The City of Arts and Sciences
Address: Av. del Professor López Piñero, 7, 46013 València, Valencia, Spain
No weekend in Valencia is complete without a trip to see La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (also known as the City of Arts and Sciences). This futuristic architectural complex, designed by Santiago Calatrava, is one of the most breathtaking sights in the city.
Made up of six impressive buildings, including a science museum and an aquarium, you could spend the whole day exploring the City of Arts and Sciences. Even if you don’t fancy visiting a museum, it’s well worth a visit just to have a look around!
To reach the City of Arts and Sciences, you can get a bus or take the scenic route through the Turia, Valencia’s beautiful park on the site of a former riverbed. You can walk through the park, or make use of the city’s bike borrowing scheme, Valenbici, and rent a bike for a few hours.
Lunch: Return to Russafa
After a morning of exploring, it’s time to sit back and relax at one of Russafa’s many cafés. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you have to try Dulce de Leche, a boutique café with a mouth-watering array of cakes and pastries. Grab a coffee and a cake (or two) and make use of their outdoor seating, taking in the afternoon sun. Once you’ve filled up on cake, you can wander around the charming streets of Russafa, trying out the vintage clothes stores and independent shops.
If you’ve already shopped till you’ve dropped, you could head back to the Turia Gardens for a spot of sunbathing. And if you fancy a mid-afternoon tipple, Valencia’s own Turia beer, available in shops or bars, is the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon of soaking up the sun.
Early evening: Watch the sunset at Ateneo
Address: Plaça de l’Ajuntament, 18, 46002 València, Valencia, Spain
Phone number: +34 963 52 04 88
I know I said that a Spanish night doesn’t start until late. But you won’t regret an early start at Ateneo, the rooftop bar hidden in plain sight in central Valencia.
The drinks may be a little costly. But it’s more than made up for by the spectacular views of the city, which are extra special at sunset. To find this bar, head to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento (Town Hall Square), a five-minute walk from Xàtiva station.
Late evening: Dinner and drinks in the Old Town
Your 2 days in Valencia wouldn’t be complete without sampling the culinary delights of El Carmen, the old town. This part of the city is quiet during the week. However, it comes alive at the weekend. There’s a myriad of restaurants to choose from, but one highlight is San Tommaso, a charismatic Italian with bags of charm. There’s an Italian feel to the winding streets of El Carmen. And this exceptional restaurant will transport you right to Italy!
After dinner, take a walk through the bustling streets and try out one of the many café-bars. The main street in El Carmen is Calle de Caballeros, where you’ll find buzzing bars with a lively atmosphere. And a night out in El Carmen isn’t complete without a visit to El Cafetín, where you’ll find the best Agua de Valencia in the city. This innocent-sounding drink is Valencia’s signature cocktail, made from a delicious blend of cava, orange juice, vodka and gin.
The cocktail has been compared to a mimosa. But be warned: it’s much more lethal. If you’ve got an early flight in the morning, you’re going to want to give this one a miss. However, if you’ve got the morning to recover, go ahead and order a pitcher! If you’re in the mood for a dance, there’s plenty of places you can let loose on the dancefloor. Two of my favourites are Unic Daily Goodness (conveniently situated right next to El Cafetin) and Radio City, famed for its reggae nights.
Even later evening: Go clubbing
So far, I’ve only recommended bars in Valencia. But if you’re up for a big night, there’s also an incredible club scene in this city. The most popular choice with students is Mya, a multilevel club at the City of Arts and Sciences, which plays a mixture of pop hits and reggaeton. Another option is Akuarela Playa, a huge club right next to the beach. Both of these clubs are perfect for a summer night, and you can party here until 5 or 6 am!
A few more recommendations for your 2 days in Valencia itinerary
Following this itinerary should allow you to take in all of the sights and get a feel for the city, even in a short space of time. However, if you’re spending more than 2 days in Valencia, you might also like to check out:
La Fábrica de Hielo, a warehouse bar on the beachfront with live music and events.
Benimaclet, a quaint town outside of the city centre that comes alive at night. Head here for the best tapas in Valencia at El Carabasser, or try out the local bars like La Gramola or El Colmado, a beautiful hidden gem covered in mosaic tiles.
Marina Beach Club, a sophisticated cocktail bar with an outdoor pool, perfect for adding some glamour and luxury to your trip. Plus, it boasts stunning views of the harbour and beachfront.
La Albufera, a natural park with wetlands and freshwater lagoons, just outside of the city. Take in the wonder of the Spanish countryside while you explore the rice fields or take a relaxing boat trip.
Muerde La Pasta, an all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink Italian buffet near Xàtiva station with astonishingly low prices. If you’re short on funds at the end of your trip, head here for a cheap night of Sangria and pasta in a glamorous setting.
So there you have it: the ultimate 2 days in Valencia itinerary! If you try out any of the places recommended, make sure to let us know! We’d love to hear of any hidden gems or must-see sites you find during your 2 days in Valencia.