One day in Valencia – might not be enough time to discover everything this Spanish city has to offer, but you will be surprised to find out how many local landmarks one can actually visit in one single day. Let me share with you this ultimate 1-day itinerary for Valencia.
My love story with Valencia
Valencia holds a special place in my heart: 15 years ago it was the first Spanish city I visited. Back then I was simply a teenager, obsessed with practicing my Spanish and learning more about local habits and culture. I had no idea that my destiny was literally waiting for me around the corner (a few years later, I met my Spanish husband at work and became an expat in Spain).
Looking back at those first trips to Valencia, I could state with all certainty that it had always felt very special and dear to my heart.
Lots of things have changed and evolved over my 15 years in the Valencia Region. Even though many still call Valencia one of the most underrated cities in Spain – I simply can´t agree with this statement. Back when I first visited Valencia it kind of felt like a hidden gem. But not anymore: these days Valencia in summer is packed with tourists. And even in the off-season Valencia is full of international travelers searching for the Spanish winter sun.
But all of this does not make Valencia any less unique or attractive. This city is full of history, unique landmarks, relaxing palm trees, and cute local cafes to enjoy a delicious breakfast.
What you need to know
Nowadays Valencia is one of the most popular cities to visit in Spain (after Barcelona and Madrid).
It was founded by the Romans in 138 BC, occupied by the Moors from the XVIII century, and liberated by King Jaime I in 1238.
Since Valencia is a port city, it might be a stop on many Mediterranean Cruises. So, no doubt that lots of international visitors will try to get a glimpse of Valencia in one day.
If you want to get some visual inspiration of top Valencia landmarks – check out my IG Highlight Valencia City.
What is Valencia known for
First of all, Valencia is internationally famous as the birthplace of Spanish paella, which is still a favorite meal for the locals on Sundays.
Secondly, Valencia was once the birthplace of a few famous Spaniards in history: painters Joaquin Sorolla and Vicente Benllure, the writer Vicente Blasco Ibañez, the movie director Luis Garcia Berlanga, and the composer Vicente Martin y Soler. Also, don’t forget the architect Santiago Calatrava (who created The City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia) and the Borgia family (check the full list of Valencia sites related to them).
Another unique thing you should know about Valencia is the fact that the city is home to the Holy Grail (the cup from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper) one of Christianity´s most elusive relics.
Beach lovers would be happy to discover that Valencia has the biggest number of high-rated beaches in Spain (marked with a blue flag – top local award). Some of the beaches are located within the city, like Playa Malvarrosa and Playa Cabanyal, others could be an easy Valencia Day Trip (like my favorite Benicasim).
Another unique feature of Valencia city is its globally famous Las Fallas Festival – one of the top Festivities in Spain (taking place every March).
How to get to Valencia
Valencia has a high-speed train connection with Madrid. Since it only takes 1h50 mins to get from one city to another, locals in Madrid often search for cheap train tickets to spend one day in Valencia, and vice versa. Actually, this is how our spontaneous getaway to Christmas Madrid took place last year.
The airport of Valencia is located in the nearest small town of Manises, famous for its ceramic heritage. There are international lots flights to Valencia via Lisbon (Portugal), Istanbul (Turkey), and Paris (France).
Also, Valencia is a 3.5-hour drive from Barcelona Airport and a 1-hour drive from Castellon Airport. Your visit to Valencia can be easily combined with a trip to the Alicante Region (since Alicante Airport is also located only 2 hours from Valencia).
How long to stay
Are you fully convinced that having one day in Valencia is not enough to experience the city? – Well, you are partially right.
Ideally, you should have at least a weekend in Valencia (although you honestly have plenty of things to see and do for a whole week in Valencia).
Nevertheless, one day in Valencia is still a great chance to experience the city´s most iconic landmarks and make your first impression of the Valencian Community Region (composed of the Provinces of Valencia, Alicante, and Castellon).
One Day in Valencia – Itinerary
Basically, there are two main areas of the city you can fit into any 1-day itinerary for Valencia: The Old Town and The City of Arts and Sciences. The first one will give you a brief overview of the traditional architecture, local history, and culture, and the second one – the modern appeal of Valencia.
Plaza de Ayuntamiento / The City Hall
You should start your day in Valencia at the central square Plaza de Ayuntamiento.
It´s the heart of the political and economic life of the city, as well as the main spot during the traditional Las Fallas Festival. Here, you also find two local landmarks with a free entrance – Ayuntamiento ( e.g. The City Hall) and the central post office Palau de Comunicacionses (often housing free exhibitions). Both could be a great match for those visiting Valencia on a budget.
Ceramics Museum / Museo Nacional de Ceramica
Valencia is one of the main places to visit in Spain for ceramic enthusiasts.
Within the city center, you will find one of the most beautiful ceramic museums in Spain – Museo Nacional de Ceramica, set within Marques de Dos Aguas Palace. It houses the largest national collection of ceramics in Spain, dating from the 18th century to modern times. The museum´s exposition also includes a selection of pieces from the nearest ceramic artisan hubs – Alcora, Paterna, and Manises.
Valencia Cathedral / La Seu
As I have previously mentioned, Valencia is home to the Holy Grail (the cup from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper). Since it is one of Christianity´s most elusive relics, you can’t miss the Cathedral of Valencia. The Cathedral´s museum impressed me with its huge ancient books (similar to the ones I discovered on my Extremadura Road Trip) and the panoramic city views from the tower.
Nearby, you can try the famous Valencia drink – horchata. It is a plant-based drink made from soaked, ground, and sweetened tiger nuts. The original Horchateria Daniel is located in the nearest village of Alboraya, but they currently have a few smaller locations in Valencia City as well.
San Nicolas Church / San Nicolas de Bari & San Pedro Martir
The church of San Nicolas is Valencia´s Sistine Chapel, which displays one of the most impressive feelings in the city.
While it was founded back in 1242, at the very same place there was once a Roman-Hispanic temple (200-700) and even a mosque (in the XVIII-XIIIth centuries). The final restoration of San Nicolas church is quite recent: it was opened to the public with its current look back in 2016.
Valencia´s Central Market / Mercado de Valencia
You can’t visit Valencia without a glimpse at the city´s Central Market, located in one of the most emblematic modernist buildings of the region. The market of Valencia is one of the largest places selling fresh products in Europe.
Right in front of the entrance, you can also see the narrowest building in Europe – La Estrecha (107 cm/42 inches).
The Silk Exchange / Lonja de Seda
Right by the central market, you’ll find another architectural gem of Valencia – Lonja de Seda (e.g. The Silk Exchange or Market). Actually, Valencia´s history has always been connected to the silk industry (you can learn the details at Valencia Silk Museum). So, The Silk Exchange was built in the XVth century and served as the unique spot for mercantile transactions, vital for the city´s economy.
Quart Towers / Portal de Quart (optional)
If you have some extra time, make a stop at Portal de Quart – the medieval entrance of Valencia, built between 1441 and 1493. Here, you can also walk your way up to enjoy the panoramic views of Valencia.
The City of Arts and Sciences / Cuidad de Las Artes y Ciencias
During your one day in Valencia, consider spending an afternoon in the City of Arts and Sciences. Two top places to visit here are the museum Museo de las Ciencias Principe Felipe (an interactive science museum) and the aquarium Oceanografic Valencia. Both should be a must if visiting Valencia with kids. Although fully enjoying these two place in one afternoon is almost impossible. Nevertheless, you might try visiting one of the two.
Another alternative is simply having a nice stroll along the old Turia riverbed. This area is known for its 10 km of gardens. It´s a popular place to rent bicycles or have a picnic.
In case you plan to stay in Valencia for more than one day, check my posts Top Valencia Day trips, Best Valencia Day Trips by train, Top hikes near Valencia, Valencia Region Hidden Gems. More Valencia travel stories are currently in the works: Valencia with Kids, Breakfast in Valencia, Weekend in Valencia, One week in Valencia, Valencia on a Budget, Valencia without Tourists, Valencia Bucket List, Romantic things to do in Valencia.