Famed as both a city with a sensational nightlife and the kind of artistic scene that even those desperate not to fall into the tourist trap won’t be able to resist photographing, and a region that attracts beach lovers and those with Catalonian historical leanings, Valencia – the city and the district – is an enviable Spanish tourist draw.
Don’t tell that to the locals, though, who even to this day insist that their city is part of the ancient state of Catalonia (which also encompasses Barcelona and parts of Southern France) rather than a rightful Spanish region. Fiery politics aside, though (and you’ll soon forget them), this area is home to such striking beauty – both natural and unnatural – that many visitors come back year after year.
The architecture here sometimes seems to have been stolen from an alien landscape, with the stunning UFO-esque hemisphere of the Cuitat De Les Art I Les Ciencies a highlights, emerging from its watery base like a freshly arrived extraterrestrial. Other city draws – aside from the quite phenomenally lively nightlife – include a host of ornate old buildings circling around popular squares, the Cathedral home of The Holy Grail and The Gardens Of Turia, described by the city’s tourist board as ‘a city of green’, perhaps a slight exaggeration but its certain well constructed and colorful.
If you’re here in the summer, Valencia’s beaches are almost impossible to ignore, being the kind of wavy, sun-drenched strips of sand that attract countless red-tinged sunbathers. You can avoid the crowds by slipping slightly further from the city to locations like Playa de Patacona, or the daring can delve into the slightly uncomfortable world of the nudist beach at Playa Pinedo, where eyes are easily drawn away from the stunning seafront.
Valencia is a charismatic place, home to a culture that differs from most of the rest of Spain, reason enough to visit in itself. While you won’t find much in the way of bull fighting, sea food, beaches and stunning city centre sights should be enough to keep even the most demanding tourists busy for a few days.