All things Europe, half the cost. Valencia is the artists dream, a historian’s playground, and a place to “tranquila” like no other. Here are 10 suggestions for tours and things to do in Valencia, the fact that they’re free is just an added bonus:
- LLADRO FACTORY TOUR AND SHOWROOM
This isn’t your grandma’s pastel-colored-parakeet Lladro – there are some really neat and modern pieces at Lladro that will blow you away. A free guided tour takes about 30 to 50 minutes and starts in the morning every weekday. You’ll get the history of the famous porcelain maker, a demonstration of the careful molding process, and meet the incredible artists who hand-paint details and flowers the size of a tic-tac.
Be careful bringing children under 5 as your free tour could quickly turn into 50k in breakable goods! The tour is either full because of cruise ships or completely private. Call or email to make a reservation as early as the day before using this link. If you require your tour in English – make sure to specify. The factory is in Alboraya – about 4 kilometers from the Valencia city center and is a quick taxi ride. Be careful putting “LLadro” in Google Maps as there are lots of Lladro retailers in Valencia…including a discount store if you don’t want to pay the prices at the showroom on Plaça Redona, 2, 46001 València, Spain
Mon-Fri: 10:00 – 18:00
Saturdays: 10:00 – 14:00 Sundays: Closed
2. CASA DE LAS ROCAS CORPUS CRISTI
In the heart of El Carmen, the Rocas museum is located on Calle Roteros 8 and allows visitors a chance to see Valencian “festivo” culture. The Rocas date back to 1355 and is celebrated the 8th Sunday after Easter but you can see the “Big Heads”, over 12 feet tall, and feel like you were a part of the festivities. This museum has a neat video on the 3rd floor and you can get through the entire museum in about 30 minutes.
This is only steps away from the Serranos Towers *see #5 and should be combined with an Acai bowl from the best people at Almalibre Acai Bar
Tuesday to Saturday: 10 – 14:00 and 15:00 – 19:00
Sunday: 10:00 – 14:00
3. BOMBAS GENS
This contemporary art museum, housed in a former factory from the 1930s, has an air-raid shelter (“refugio”) used during the Spanish Civil War, beautiful gardens, a 14th century wine cellar, and a 2 star-rated Michelin restaurant: Ricard Camarena
Book a free guided tour here in English of the Art, cellar, gardens, and shelter. The tour takes about an hour and takes you through the entire premise. Also note that ONCE a month the gardens are open to the public.
Make sure you make a reservation ahead of time and note that this museum is a bit north of the old city – about a 20 minutes walk.
Monday and Tuesday – Closed
Wednesday – 11:00 – 14:00 and 16:00 – 20:00
Thursday to Sunday – 11:00 to 14:00h and 17:00 to 21:00h
4. PICNIC IN TURIA PARK and WALK TO ARTS AND SCIENCES BUILDINGS
If you only have one day in Valencia – this is how spend it. Formerly a river bed, Turia Park is a 10k/6mi park that runs through the city with unique and gorgeous bridges about every 200 yards. Go to the Central Market (see #6) and get some fresh cheese, fruit, wine, and jamon and have a picnic in the Turia. A 20 minute walk will take you from the old town/El Carmen all the way to the Arts and Sciences buildings. You won’t need a map, just follow the many tree-lined walking/biking trails and enjoy a beautiful stroll to the futuristic and iconic buildings, built by famed architect Santiago Calatrava. They are beautiful on the outside and a bit pricey on the inside. Enjoy walking around the pools and under the Umbracle for free.
This complex houses an IMax (Hemisferic), Aquarium (L’ Oceonagrafic), and the Arts and Sciences building with rotating exhibitions. Don’t feel like you are missing out by not buying the entrance to the building…it’s impact is best felt strolling the grounds.
5. CATHEDRALS and ANY MUSEUM ON SUNDAY!
All city-owned attractions are free on Sundays! This includes the iconic Towers: Torres Quart and Torres Serranos. Built in the 12th Century, the towers are a cool way to learn the layout of the city and see the famous Turia River park from high above the city. You only need to plan about 30 minutes at the towers in order to climb up to the top and get a great aerial view of Valencia. If you are afraid of heights, skip this. If it’s blazing hot – make sure to do this first thing in the morning. If you’re choosing between Torres Quart on the west side of old town or Torres Serranos on the north side of old town, they are really similar.
Monday do Saturday: 10:00 – 19:00
Sunday: 10:00 – 14:00 *FREE
Here’s a long list of all of the fabulous city-run museums, monuments, and parks that open their doors for free on Sundays, and are not expensive Mon-Sat – usually only 2 euro. I recommend the Fallas Museum to learn about one of the most special and grand celebrations in all of Europe!
6. CENTRAL MARKET
Dating back to 1839, the Mercado Central is always a great place to get some fresh-squeezed Valencian orange juice and anything else you’re in the mood for. The building itself if a stunning mosaic of colors and detailed tile work and the hustle and bustle of the market is always invigorating. If you can get up early, you’ll see the locals buying produce and restaurants curating their menus. After 10am the crowds of tourists start to roll in.
Don’t forget to visit the fish section so you can watch what really fresh eel looks like as it’s pulled from the water and decapitated. eek. Plan your visit because it closes at 3pm.
Monday – Saturday: 7:30am to 15:00
7. GUIDED WALKING TOUR
The orange vest and umbrellas mean you’ve got the right tour. These can be booked here and there are THREE different and awesome tours to take! Mornings are the “Valencia essentials” and afternoons are the “Valencia Emblematic”. The El Carmen neighborhood is famous for it’s street art and there’s a free “Street Art” tour in the afternoons too! Each tour is 2 hours and 30 minutes and you must make a reservation ahead of time online.
The licensed guides are knowledgeable and work on tips so be sure to bring some euro to show your appreciation for a job well done. These tours are rated #1 on TripAdvisor. Don’t miss!
Monday – Sunday: 10:30am and 12:00pm
Enjoy the sun, food, and sand on the beaches of Valencia. There are a few sections of beach to choose from but if you’re looking to add a little culture to your beach day, head to the Cabanyal neighborhood. Famous for the colorful Spanish-tiled building facades, this old fisherman’s neighborhood includes a local market and is worth a stroll before you unpack your beach towel. Read more on Cabanyal here.
9. WANDER THE STREETS OF EL CARMEN or RUZAFA NEIGHBORHOODS
A combination of grit, street art, and European charm the neighborhood of El Carmen is a labyrinth of eye porn. Local street art will surprise you at every turn so spend at least 2 hours getting lost on the small streets of El Carmen. Stop by Plaza Tossal, Plaza del Carmen (see #10) and get a daily “menu” for under 8 euro.
Ruzafa also has a local market with its own boho flavor. Delicious cafes, great nightlife, and unique shopping make for a fun afternoon wandering the streets of this trendy neighborhood.
10. MUSEO DEL CARMEN
Formerly a convent and school to famous Valencian artists, the Museo del Carmen houses multiple rotating art exhibits. The courtyard and building itself is worth popping in and you can stroll through this museum in 20 minutes or get lost for hours. This museum is very close to the Torres Towers *number 5 and Rocas Museum *number 2. If you want to get off of the tourist path a bit, this is a great plaza that’s a bit off of the tourist loop. Check out Museo del Carmen at night too for great concerts in a 14th century courtyard. There’s no shortage of bars surrounding for a pre-party drink or 5.
Thanks for reading amigos!