The following is a guest post by Kathy, from Walkabout Wanderer.
When looking for a city break over winter, look no further than Valencia. With its Mediterranean climate, you can easily sit outside in January without a jacket. But being able to ditch that jacket shouldn’t be the reason alone that you choose to go to Valencia this winter. There are many more reasons to go during its low season.
As the weather in Valencia cools down, most sun seeking tourists will have left, which is a bonus. However winters in Valencia are very mild. December, January and February are the coldest months with the temperature averaging 17 °C during the day and 8 °C at night. It is a coastal city with beautiful beaches and you will still find many locals on the beach, during the weekends, although the sea at approximately 15 °C and is too cool to swim in. So visiting in winter, rather than summer, means you avoid the crowd and get to experience this beautiful city as a local.
Valencia has some of the most striking architecture in the whole of Spain. With its Gothic and Renaissance buildings and monuments, wandering around the city is full of surprises. In the summer with temperatures averaging 30 °C, it can be a little warm to sightsee. But in the cooler weather it is perfect to explore the city and stop off at little restaurants for tapas and coffee.
What to see in the city of Valencia
The Heart of the City
Valencia has a historic centre made for wandering. With lots of must see areas so close to each other, I highly recommend you spend some time on foot, seeing the heart of the city. Get lost in the maze of little streets and make sure you jump into artisan shops and explore little markets.
Valencia City Hall
The City Hall in Valencia is a major landmark of the city and has several architectural styles. It has a breathtaking interior, a central clock tower and a balcony which opens up to splendid views of Valencia. Within it there is a historical museum which documents the history of the city. The City Hall opens Monday to Friday: 8am till 3pm
City of Arts and Science
This ultra modern building is a great place to visit if you are unlucky to be in Valencia during one of its 47 days of average precipitation. However it is also a must see place at any time of the year. This crazy space-like building has everything you need to spend a day there. It hosts attractions such as L’Hemisfèric, a planetarium, IMAX Cinema and L’Umbracle and a botanical collection of plants. The highlight is its breathtaking oceanarium with animals from 500 different species. To find out the opening times and prices for each attraction then head over to the City of Arts and Science website.
If you are interested in street art then Valencia is a great place to visit. Just wandering around the city you can find many great pieces in El Carmen, an area of the city that’s north east of the Old Town. However, if you want to take a more in depth tour, then a quick online search will bring up many tours.
What to do only in winter:
There are many reasons to visit Valencia in winter, but there are a few reasons to visit only in winter. Spain is known for its many festivals and there are two major religious festivals held in January in Valencia. The Three Kings Parade is held on the night of the 5th of January where men dress up as the three wise men and give sweets and gifts to the children. Another festival is San Vicente Mártir Festival, which is held to remember Vicente the Patron Saint of the city. On the morning of the 22nd January a procession dedicated to him is centred around Valencia Cathedral.
Additionally, Valencia is made into a fairytale city in time for Christmas. On December 1st it is turned into the city of lights. Most buildings have their beautiful facades lit by the spotlights, making the city light up by night.
If you are still planning to take your break in March then try your best to get there between the 15th to 20th, when the Fallas festival is held. The central streets and squares will be full with the crackle of fireworks even by day. The night of the 19th March is the climax, with the burning of satirical effigies of celebrities and politicians, on huge bonfires.
Heading out of the city
The surrounding area round Valencia is a beautiful place to see. Try renting a car or taking a taxi for the day to head out into the countryside. There are many quaint villages in the area. Alternatively, why not grab a guide for the day who can take you to the best places in the surrounding area. I went on the hot spring tour run by Valtournative, which I highly recommend. They also run other tours in the area and within the city.
Tips for winter in Valencia
- There is a small chance of rain during the winter in Valencia so make sure when heading out for the day that you take a waterproof jacket or umbrella.
- It can get cold at night so bring warm clothing.
- If taking part in things like the Free Walking Tour, book in advance as things may not be running as frequently since there are fewer tourists.
- If you are planning on seeing a lot of attractions and using a lot of public transportation then consider getting the Valencia Tourist Card. There are one, two and three-day options. They also offer discounts for all over Valencia, in addition to free transportation and free entry into certain attractions.
Valencia really is a great city to visit all year round but really should be added to your winter destination list. With cheap flights from most European countries, make sure you add it onto your itinerary.