¡Hola! My name’s Rafa and I have been working in Ryanair for nearly 10 years.
I come from Valencia which is known by locals as The City of Light as we have over 300 sunny days a year!
Valencia is a vibrant Mediterranean city which has managed to escape the popular mainstream tourist circuit, so its community feel and authentic charm remain intact.
El Carmen is the old town and within its labyrinth of small streets, you can take it easy and relax while enjoying the magnificent architecture.
Make sure you visit El Miguelete (Valencia’s cathedral bell tower), La Lonja (the Silk Exchange), El Mercado Central (a modern public market), the Church of San Nicolás and Las Torres de Serranos (the old city entrance).
La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias is a cultural hub with a futuristic look designed by Santiago Calatrava. One of the 12 Treasures of Spain, you’ll find the Science Museum resembles a whale skeleton and includes a planetarium, an oceanography park, an opera house and more.
In the afternoon, head to Ruzafa which is a hip and trendy area, and home to endless restaurants and bars. Here you can mingle with locals and practise your Spanish and Valencian.
Valencia is by the seaside and our beach is called Malvarrosa. It inspired many of Joaquin Sorolla’s beautiful paintings, so be inspired too and enjoy a stroll along its 2km of sand, or take a dip in the ocean and watch the locals play volleyball.
In the late 1950's, Valencia suffered a catastrophic flood when the Turia River overflowed. As a result the government created a plan to re-route the river outside of the city.
The old riverbed is now an amazing park that crosses the city. You’ll find playparks for kids (check out Gulliver Park), the local zoo, a track and field stadium, a concert hall, football pitches, and just about everything else you can imagine.
Rent a bike and enjoy the 10km of green space and nature-fuelled activities.
So you might think paella is a Spanish dish — the truth is it’s Valencian! A true Valencian would not dare eat paella outside of the region and we are so proud (and strict!) with regards to how it’s cooked, and most importantly, the ingredients that are used.
Chorizo and onion in paella are BIG NO-NOs, so if you ever see a chorizo paella on a menu you should grab your things and run away — it can only be a tourist trap!
Overall, Valencia is not only the home of paella but of many Spanish rice dishes. Once you have tasted a traditional ‘paella valenciana’ (made with chicken and rabbit), and if you happen to be feeling adventurous, I recommend ‘arroz negro’ (includes squid, squid ink and alioli), ‘arroz al horno’ (baked rice with sausage, black pudding, pork and chickpeas) and ‘arroz del señorito’ (fish and seafood rice with all ingredients peeled and ready to eat), which means ‘the lord’s rice’. ¡Buen provecho!
So, where to eat paella?
One of the keywords you should be looking for is ‘arrocería’, which indicates a restaurant that specialises in rice dishes. Take this as a quality guarantee, although not all restaurants that serve amazing paella use the term.
Another key term to look out for is ‘wood fired’. I have two recommendations: Casa Carmela and Casa El Famós.
Valencia has two native drinks and I definitely recommend you try both.
‘Horchata’ is similar to sweet soya milk which is drank very cold or nearly frozen, and also perfect for dipping an amazing pastry called ‘fartón’ into it too.
This is perfect as a fresh afternoon snack. Both Horchatería Daniel and Horchatería Santa Catalina are renowned spots to drink it also.
The second drink is called ‘Agua de Valencia’, made with natural orange juice, cava, gin and vodka. As Valencia is also the home of the most beautiful and delicious oranges, it’s only natural that we came up with a tasty and refreshing cocktail using freshly squeezed orange juice. The cocktail was invented in Café Madrid and so there’s no better place to enjoy it.
Everything in Spain happens later, but especially clubbing. A lot of the dance bars (we call them pubs) and clubs are located in Ruzafa, so if you’ve had dinner in the area you could carry on there for the rest of your night.
XXL and Barberbirborbur are a good option for ‘early’ drinks and a dance (from 12.30am to 3am). For clubbing you need to be patient and wait until quite late into the night. Don’t bother going to any clubs before 2am, ideally aim for around 2.30am.
Piccadilly is a fun one with a wide mix of music including pop and some reguetón, and in the area you can also go to Oven and Play (both play indie and electronic music).
If you are looking for a fancier experience, head to Umbracle and Mya in Ciudad de las Artes.
If you’re looking for a day experience, it sounds like you’ll enjoy the Marina Beach Club.