A Weekend in Valencia

Simon Wallace headshot
Simon Wallace
December 15, 2023
Valencia street 2

For being the third largest city in Spain, Valencia is surprisingly walkable, and you can wander throughout most of the city center within a couple of days without much effort. One way to see a decent chunk of the city is to walk the length of Turia park, Valencia’s narrow but lengthy park that stretches 7 kilometers through the city and ends near the beach. On your stroll through the park, you’ll pass various little playgrounds, gardens, fountains, and many passersby enjoying a weekend jog or picnicking in the grass fields.

At the southern end of the park, you’ll find the City of Arts and Sciences, considered one of the twelve treasures of Spain. More of an extension of Turia park rather than an actual city, this is a collection of several futuristic, utopian-like buildings, within which you can find a theater, a planetarium, a science museum, and a beautiful garden enclosed by a series of massive white arches. Each attraction will cost around ten to twenty euros to enter, but I highly recommend seeing the science museum and L'Hemisféric, which is the planetarium theater that holds various shows on various scientific topics such as dark matter, renewable energy, and the biology of the Amazon. While you’re at it, you can ride a motorized paddle board in a shallow pond located between these two attractions. You might not feel like paying for your time and/or money for the attractions themselves, but it’s still worth stopping by this area just to take in the architecture that is very much one-of-a-kind and honestly feels like it’s taken out of a sci-fi movie.

After walking through Turia park and the City of Arts and Sciences, you will likely have worked up an appetite. Sometimes while travelling abroad, it can be difficult to figure out what you should eat, but in Valencia there is one clear answer: Paella. Invented, perfected, and popularized in Valencia, Paella is a dish of saffron flavored rice mixed with various types of seafood (clams, oysters, squid, shrimp) and/or chicken. Usually slow-cooked over the course of several hours, it is made and served in a pizza-sized shallow pan, and you often share it with at least one other person. While I enjoy seafood, my favorite part was the savory, heavily seasoned rice, although it was quite salty compared to other rice-based dishes I’ve had. For a sweet refreshment after your paella, go for another Valencian original: Horchata. This a cold, sweet but not too sweet, vanilla and cinnamon tasting milk-like drink made from the tubers of the chufa plant. Many people enjoy it with a side of Fartons, a sweet pastry that you can dip in your horchata.

If you are interested in architecture, religion or both, another must-do in Valencia is seeing the Valencian cathedral, located in the heart of the city. This was originally a Visigoth cathedral that was torn down and turned into a mosque, and finally a Roman Catholic cathedral was built on top of the mosque in 1238. Because the cathedral has such a lengthy history, it is a blend of various architectural periods, including Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque. The cathedral can be toured and holds many works of art and religious artifacts, including the mummified arm of a Spanish priest from 303 AD. The main attraction of the cathedral though is without a doubt The Holy Grail. The Holy Grail is regarded as the cup Jesus drank out of at the Last Supper, and while there are multiple supposed “Holy Grails” found across the globe, the one in Valencia is widely regarded as the one most likely to be the actual Holy Grail. Because the stone of the Valencian Holy Grail can only be found in the same location that the Tribe of Judah (of which Jesus was a member of) was located, one art historian, Ana Mafé García, even claims there is a 99% chance that it is the original Holy Grail!

Only an hour and a half or so by train from Madrid, Valencia ended up being a great choice for a short two-day trip. Because of the compactness of the city, you can enjoy all of the famous gastronomy, unique history, and modernity of the city in a very short amount of time. To me, Valencia is a no-brainer weekend trip if you end up spending a semester in Spain.

More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs
Simon Wallace headshot

Simon Wallace

I'm from Williamsport, Pennsylvania and I am a senior at Penn State University studying computer science. I enjoy being physically active, whether that's organized sports, going to the gym, or just spending time outdoors.

2023 Fall
Home University:
Penn State University
Computer Science
Explore Blogs