Wow, this post has been sitting in my drafts for far too long! Back in September mum and I jetted off to Valencia as a birthday gift for her, from my dad and me as her birthday present. Since I let her know in July, we had been planning and prepping some spots to hit. For us it was just to chill out a bit, explore the city and eat lots of food and catch up on life over copious cocktails.
I will start off by saying while Valencia was lovely, it really wasn’t one of my favourite city breaks. Madrid for me was a lot better but none the less it was a lovely four day break so let me cut to it.
Where to stay
We stayed at the SoHo Valencia, it was nice enough, pretty basic but it was reasonably priced for a spacious apartment. In hindsight if you are going to book make sure you book Malcom & Barret, I wish I had and it was cheaper and just stunning (silly me on this one). Soho Hotel is in the trendy Ruzafa neighbourhood, it is very hipster with the best street art and murals and is a close walk to everything.
The rooms as I said were apartment style, the bed super comfy, the reception staff very friendly. It didn’t have a bar, breakfast or a real area to sit back and relax in. The rooms were very quite considering the hotel is on a very busy main road. Great base for a reasonable price however like I said, I would have much rather stayed at Malcom & Barret, I thought it was too far when booking but really it is in a great location too.
Getting around the city
You can defiantly get around on foot a lot but I would urge you to download Cabify if you aren’t willing to walk 30/ 40 mins at a time to get from Ruzafa to the old town where we would say the best restaurants and bars are. There is a metro which I would have used normally but Cabify meant getting around the city was just as cheap really and more convenient for my mum. There isn’t Uber here so Cabify is your best option!
What to do in Valencia
Go to the beach – So there is a beach really not far away, however we didn’t go. I regret this but the weather was super temperamental and we had a lot of showers broken up by glorious sunshine but it made the beach seem a little pointless.
Visit the bio-parc (zoo) – This was such a weird thing for us to do on holiday but yes we went to the Zoo. It was expensive but weirdly a really nice day out! There is a real mix of animals in large enclosures and it is a zoo dedicated to helping sustain species, groups of species are together as they would be in the wild, coexisting in the same habitats of course away from predators but everything was large and open. The food here though is inedible so wait until you’re out to grab a bit to eat.
Jardin del Turia – An old river bed which is now a stunning park, it is so long and the beautiful manicured gardens seem to go on forever. You can even bike one end to the other!
City of Arts & Sciences – We didn’t end up going to this however it is supposed to be a must see. The architecture alone is jaw dropping and inside you can spend a day fully emerged in as the name suggests the arts and sciences.
Shopping – My mum and I both love to shop and we must say, Valencia was great for shopping both high end and high-street plus some fantastic Spanish brands too. I am glad I had room in my case for everything I purchased.
Where to eat and drink
Saving the best until last! My favourite part of city breaks is exploring the cuisines on offer. Now I started this post of with a disclaimer about how Valencia did disappoint a little, and for me this is why. The food was just not great, okay shoot me it is fine but I wanted incredible tapas, ground breaking paella and I just did not get it.
The Central Market – Very similar in size to the food markets in Barcelona you can buy all kinds of fresh produce, fruit juices etc. here. I wish I had one local to me because it is such a nicer way to shop however I kind of wanted the same vibe I had in Madrid where you can grab tapas from lots of vendors grab a beer and find a spot in the middle and just eat your way round. I did of course pick up some fresh orange juice because they are famous for it and that was just incredible.
Mercardo de Ruzafa – What a little gem set down the back streets of Ruzafa. It is a more local version of the central market. Same vibe but a slower pace of life and surrounded by the most adorable retro stores.
Bouet – This was our first stop, situated next to our hotel it was easy to pop in as we arrived before we could check in. We had some gorgeous food such as mini tacos, dim sum and I had a lychee cocktail which kickstarted my holiday mood. It is more expensive here than other spots in the city but it was really delicious.
El Camerino Taberna – I think every city break the first night you try and find somewhere good and end up wandering until your hunger and tiredness says fine let’s go here. We had their set tapas menu here for approx €21.50 and my gosh it was huge the portions of chorizo was a whole chorizo and the patatas bravas were humungous wedges. On a whole great value for ok food, I would have rather gone for lunch and shared or ordered less.
La casa Blanca – Cute little place with such eclectic decor. You can’t miss the giant Hendricks gin sign calling you in. Great cocktails at a good price in an easy to find location.
Horchateria Santa Catalinia – Horchata is famous in Valencia made of tiger nuts served with cinnamon. This milky drink is super sweet, served with fartons a really yummy flaky pastry. This place is hugely famous and the decor is so adorable, there is no menu so just go and have a look at the bar or have an idea of what you want before you go if you Spanish is not so great.
Resturant Taberna Jamon Jamon – I had to book us into this place as there are only two sitting an evening. I booked when I was in the UK still as we were recommended this place. Was really nice and their charcuterie board was delicious. We had the tasting menu for €22 per person, fantastic value for money.
Dulce de Leche – This is a little out the way but great for us before we headed to the Zoo. It was recommended by our hotel and we had pastries and coffee, there was cockroach which did put us off a little but it was very busy and warm in there so I am trying to put it down to it got stuck in there and nothing else.
Bluebelle Coffee Co – Needed a coffee and cake break on the way back to our hotel and found this little gem. I had an iced coffee and cake, but their brunches and food looked incredible and fresh.
Cafe de las Horas – This place stole our hearts we ended up here on our last evening. It felt like something out of Harry Potter in the middle of Spain, think grad decor and classical music. You can get the best cocktails here, we drank a number of frozen offerings plus some Agua de Valencia which is ‘the water of Valencia’ a mix of gin, oranges, vodka and cava. I will say that stuff comes in jugs and gets you very drunk, we know we were there and very drunk.
Cafe de las Horas – This place stole our hearts we ended up her on our last evening. It felt like something out of Harry Potter in the middle of Spain. You can get the best cocktails here we drank a number of frozen numbers plus some Agua de Valencia which is ‘the water of Valencia’ a mix of gin, oranges, vodka and cava. I will say thats stuff comes in jugs and gets you very drunk we know we were there and very drunk.
La Manera Coffee – On our final day we headed here for breakfast as our flight was later that evening and this place is just me. Delicious breakfast, coffee and the best vibe. In my books a must visit for any course and cocktails of course!
San Tommaso – OK this is the gem of the trip, in fact we came here for dinner twice. Either book ahead or get here early because this place is popular even with celebrities. An Italian gem in the heart of Spain, who’d have thought this would be the best Italian food I have had outside of Italy! The prawns are the best to start. I, on both days had the same main because it was just so well done. Simple pasta with garlic, chill and olive oil followed by such delicious deserts and of course Limoncello. They have a wonderful gin menu which we worked though a good part of. The service here though was just the best, so attentive (our waiter was very good looking which helped) but they make your cocktails at your table and no ask is too big. If you are in Valencia you HAVE TO go here!
So all in all, Valencia was good! Any holiday is in my books. Would I go back, no not in a hurry but was it worth it, certainly. There is so much to do, I also felt a little lost without Jonny taking charge and getting us round (that is his holiday input as I plan it all) but I didn’t fall in love with the city completely. A shame but now I think it is time to give Spain a break I have been every year at least once for the last 5 years and go further afield next year for our city breaks.
Have you been to Valencia? What did you think? Do you have any city break recommendations or posts for me to read?