Valencia might be best known for its beautiful beaches, futuristic science parks and historic buildings, but it’s also an incredibly diverse city with an eclectic mix of neighbourhoods, or barrios, that provide perfect fodder for the urban explorer.
With everything from charming cobblestone streets to trendy hipster hangouts, there’s sure to be a barrio for you. This Alto Guide will shed light on the best areas to stay in Valencia.
Many of the buildings across Valencia are adorned with colourful ceramic tiles, but nowhere is this more notable than in the old fisherman’s quarter of El Cabanyal. This predominantly residential area provides an authentic taste of Valencian life by the sea, with traditional houses covered by tiles in an eye-popping array of colours.
Just a short tram ride from the city centre, El Cabanyal, which sits behind the wide and sandy Playa Las Arenas, is the perfect place to try some seafood paella in one of the small local restaurants while soaking in the charming atmosphere. Once a completely separate town, El Cabanyal has since been enveloped by Valencia’s expansion. Unfortunately, this has brought controversial plans for redevelopment, so make sure you visit this beautiful barrio while you can.
Located right in the middle of the city is the old historic district of Ciutat Vella. This maze of alleyways contains some of the city’s most interesting sights. That includes the famous Lonja de la Seda or Silk Exchange, which is one the best examples of Gothic architecture in the whole of Europe and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area’s winding streets and atmospheric plazas also feature the enormous Mercado Central or Central Market, where you can treat yourself to local delicacies like chorizo, cheese, hams, olives and saffron.
Other notable points of interest in this fascinating neighbourhood include the Torres de Serranos, the last remaining towers of Valencia’s 14th century fortified wall. There’s also the Portal de la Valldigna, the door that once separated the Spanish and Arab parts of the city.
From the old to the new, the literal translation of this neighbourhood is ‘the widening’, and L’Eixample is the ‘new’ extension of the historic Ciutat Vella district immediately to the north. Built in the 19th century, this mostly commercial district is home to many of the city’s more modern attractions, such as the Calle de Colón, a shopping street that’s packed with high street names and upmarket boutiques. At the end of the high street, you’ll find the Estació del Nord train station and the city’s Plaza del Toros, the magnificent bullfighting ring that still holds regular events.
If you want to get a taste of the city’s nightlife then head towards the Turia riverbed where you’ll find the lively Canovas neighbourhood, a fairly compact area with a clearly defined strip. Lacking the pretention of some of the city’s other nightspots, this is probably the friendliest of all the areas where you can party with visitors and locals in the many nightclubs and bars.
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