Valencia, a large city on Spain's eastern coast is well known amongst holidaymakers and expats as an under rated place. For decades, UK visitors to Spain's Costas only ever holidayed in the typical "bucket and spade" resorts up and down this wonderful region, however an increasing number of people are starting to discover Spain's cities and what they can offer too.
The plazas in Spain are like many European cities of this size and importance; tree lined, with gloriously cool shaded spots to escape the intense summer sun, and they are normally ringed with various lanes, access points and obscure roads, leading out onto different courtyards, and in some cases, even more plazas!
One of the ones that, for me, springs to mind, is the Plaza del Reina, or "Queen's place" in English, located in the old town area and a magnet for more or less each and every tourist that comes here, in fact that was me on my first visit to the city in 2007! Here's a nice shot of the plaza with a waiting horse taxi.
There is a another, more quirky plaza just off the Plaza del Reina, called the Plaza del Redonda which is a must see although it has become rather more tourist focussed of late with the completion of a planned works of regeneration by the city council, sadly resulting in losing some of it rustic charm.
One of the cities more controversial claims to fame is that it has what is supposed to be the Holy Grail, the actual cup that Jesus drank from at the last supper, although that claim is also upheld by several other places around the world too.
The cathedral is a lovely old place and well worth visiting, however the grail is one of the must-see attractions for those of a religious following, and the subject was recently covered very well in the excellent 24-7 Magazine which is published here in Valencia, of which I recommend you pick up a copy when you visit.
The authors David Rhead and Jose Marin looked in great detail at the story of the cup and suggested that the cup had travelled from Rome centuries ago, however when the Muslim rulers took over Spain, it was put into hiding for centuries and only returned to the city in 1427 by the gloriously named King Alfonso the magnanimous!
Whilst the prospect of wandering around a food market is not everyone' first choice of what to do whilst on holiday, the historic market in central valencia is a bit different and is actually well worth visiting. We did an article on it recently if you want to read more about the market.
It is somewhere where you, the visitor, can sneak a peek into the daily life of Valencianos. The market itself is divided into sections depending on the type of food available such as Fish, a meat section, a fruit section and so on. There are some really interesting stalls here and some of the fruit and the vegetables will look strange to you, as will the rather gory nature of the meat displays.
Many would say that a holiday in the sun is incomplete without a visit to the beach, so luckily the city has many beaches along it's coastline, most of which are unspoilt and undeveloped places to sit down and chill, and maybe take a dip in the clean blue sea here.
The city has an envious location beside the sea, and the beaches are wide and long, with clean soft sand, but a distinct lack of facilities compared to the resorts of the Costa Blanca a bit further south. Try the most popular beach, Malvarosa, which starts around the port area and is split into sections such as the Playa las Arenas and the Playa Cabanyal, and then eventually stretching up to the Playa de Patacona.
Like most large cities, Valencia has a lot of opportunity for some great retail therapy, and you will find all the major brands have a presence here, plus each barrio, or area, will have it's own street market once a week too. In the main central part of the city, the streets are wide and tree-lined, such as in the image below, and bordered with high rise buildings of quite beautiful architectural merit. Away from the brash high street shops, there are a lot more interesting and independent shops dotted around where you can get all manner of things, many with an international flavour and of course the now ubiquitous Chinese shops selling poor quality tat seem to be everywhere in Valencia nowadays, but they can be good for items that would be regarded as disposable.
* Full article read here www.spain-holiday.com/Valencia-city/articles/eight-really-cool-things-to-do-and-see-in-valencia