10 Cool Things to Do in Valencia in Winter
Valencia is one of our favorite places to spend some time in winter. The city has it all: incredible architecture, splendid nature, lots of culture, delicious food, fun nightlife, and warm hosts. That’s why the third biggest city in Spain attracts people from all over the world.
Don’t get us wrong. Valencia is a great destination all year round. In fact, it’s one of the most visited places in Spain during the summer. Who doesn’t like spending time on a sandy beach? We’ve been to Valencia countless times, and in all seasons, and always had a blast.
However, we love traveling around the Mediterranean in winter. Unlike the rest of Europe, the weather is warm, and the sun always shines. Besides, there are fewer tourists. We are convinced you will have a great time in Valencia in winter and, just like us, you’ll be back every year.
Why Visit Valencia in Winter
Splendid Weather is Everything
Valencia in winter enjoys mild temperatures. If you come from northern Europe or North America, you won’t believe it’s winter! The average maximum temperature in Valencia in December is 62 F (17 C). The average minimum is 42 F (6 C). As if that was not enough, it only rains for 3 days.
Temperatures in Valencia in January and February are pretty much the same. The average maximum temperature for both months is around 61 F (16 C). The average minimum temperature is 43 F (5 C). At the most, it rains for 3 days each month! No wonder everybody envies the weather in southern Spain.
Things start to get even better in Valencia in March. The maximum average temperature is 67 F (18 C), while the average minimum is 45 F (6 C). It only rains for 3 days in March. You don’t even need a jacked during the day! At night, grab one and enjoy leisurely walks under the moon.
Approximately 2.6 million tourists visit the city each year. That’s how cool Valencia is! Fortunately, most of these tourists visit during the high season. That is, from June to September. July and August are the most popular months. Most Europeans take their vacation these months and flock to the Mediterranean.
We can’t tell you how crowded the city center can get during the summer. The streets in the Old Town are not that wide. Imagine thousands of tourists walking about the city’s isles and narrow streets in the middle of summer! As fun as it is, it can be too much.
Come winter, everything changes in Valencia. That’s why enjoying your space is what to do in Valencia in winter. You can actually see things! Besides, locals are more relaxed. The peak is over so you can meet people and get to know the local culture.
A bit over 86 million people visited Spain in 2019. We all know what happened next, so let’s not even mention it. The point is that the country went into a building frenzy to accommodate so many tourists. Valencia was not the exception.
Since the city is so popular in the summer, hotels can charge pretty much what they want. They are all full! Everything changes in winter. Hotels need to lower prices considerably to attract customers. We’ve paid up to 50% for the top hotels in the city in the winter months.
There isn’t much of a difference when it comes to restaurants, bars, and tickets to attractions. Expect to pay more or less the same all year round. However, you don’t have to queue or elbow yourself to eat at your favorite place. You will eat tapas in peace, together with the local crowd.
Things to Do in Valencia in Winter
Roam the Streets of the Old Town
Of all the things to do in Valencia in winter, roaming the streets of the Old Town is mandatory. The city’s historic core is like no other. We are talking about the area within the former city walls from the 14th Century. Locals call it Ciutat Vella.
The Old Town is one of the biggest and oldest in Spain. Dating back over 2000 years, the Romans, Visigoths, and Muslims occupied it at one point or the other. Walk without a plan and search for incredible architecture, atmospheric plazas, and lots of charm.
As old as it is, the historic core attracts a young and vibrant crowd. Especially after work, when locals flock to the center to have beer and tapas. In winter, you can have hot chocolate and churros. Visit also at night. The Old Town looks beautiful with the lights on.
Visit the Cathedral
The city’s Cathedral is between two beautiful plazas. Plaza de la Reina, Queen’s Square, is the center’s most lively, full of coffee houses and shops. The other one is Plaza de la Verge, Virgin Square, with several trees, a historic fountain, and no cars. Both offer fantastic views of the Cathedral.
Valencia’s Cathedral is from the 13th Century. As you can imagine, it incorporates several styles. However, it is considered a Gothic masterpiece. Notice the bell tower that towers above Plaza de la Reina. Built in the 13th Century, it wasn’t part of the Cathedral till the 15th Century.
For unbelievable views over the city, climb to the tower. It’s a bit hard but worth it. If you think that the temple looks amazing from the outside, wait till you get inside. The glass-stained windows are amongst the best in the world. Don’t forget to check the Holy Chalice Chapel.
Explore Local Markets
Valencia is famous around Spain for its art nouveau architecture. Two of the best buildings are lively markets that are pretty much alive. Locals visit to shop for fresh products, eat, refresh, and socialize. The biggest and most impressive is the Central Market, a couple of blocks south of the Cathedral.
The modernist building is the biggest fresh produce market in Europe. The smell of the fruits and vegetables is simply delicious. Construction began in 1914 and ended in 1928. The building is made of iron, wood, and local ceramics. Go inside and prepare to be dazzled. You can have paella inside.
The Mercado de Colon is a bit older and smaller but equally beautiful. It’s just off the Old Town, 15 minutes south of the Cathedral. It’s in the center of the L’Eixample neighborhood. That’s the fantastic modernist neighborhood. Today, some of the best restaurants and bars in the city populate the market.
Climb Historic Towers
Though not much of the ancient city walls remain, you can visit two sets of medieval towers built in the 14th Century. These mark the border of the Old Town. You can walk or bike from tower to tower. Another option is to zig-zag through the old town.
Since the towers are big, you won’t miss them. Begin your walk at Torres de Serrano, north of the Cathedral. The bridge in front is old too. It used to cross the Turio River, now a park. Climb to the top of the tower for memorable views over the city.
From there, walk southwest along the leafy Guillem de Castro boulevard to the Quart Towers. Go up the towers to enjoy amazing views. Our favorite park in Valencia is a block east. The Botanical Gardens of the University hold over 4500 plants from all over the world!
Get to Know the La Lonja de la Seda
Barcelona has the Sagrada Familia, Seville the Alcazar, and Valencia the one and only Lonja de la Seda. It’s one of the grandest medieval buildings in the world. UNESCO agreed with us and listed it as a World Heritage Site. You need at least a couple of hours to explore this beauty.
The Lonja is between the Central Market and the Cathedral. You have three buildings and a garden to explore. Don’t rush and look for intricate details and lavish decorations. Valencia was one of the richest cities on the planet during the late 15th Century.
The city’s merchants built the Lonja to showcase their power and negotiate with the entire world. The Contract Hall is the building with the two iconic twisted columns. Some of the furniture is original. The Pavilion of the Consulate was a court. The Sea Consulate built in the mid-16th Century is equally impressive.
Bike along the Former River
Valencia created one of the nicest parks in Europe out of a tragedy. Following a devastating flood in 1957, the authorities decided to drain the river and create a long green area. Today, the entire city visits to exercise, relax, and socialize! You can bike or walk for 3 miles (5 km).
The bike lanes are top-notch. There are several public bathrooms and fountains where you can refill your water bottle. You can bike at your own pace and stop whenever you want for pictures. Begin at the Ademus Bridge. There’s a coffee shop in the gardens. Walk if you don’t feel like biking.
Check out San Joseph Bridge. The original from the 14th Century was rebuilt in the 17th. Valencia excels in modern architecture too. Santiago Calatrava designed the Exposition Bridge. The next bridge is full of colorful flowers. Kids and adults love to play in Gulliver’s Park. The giant is awesome!
Taste the World Famous Paella
There probably isn’t anyone in the world that hasn’t heard about Paella. The epitome of Spanish cuisine is a local specialty. Everyone in the country knows that Valencian Paella is the best. You will see several restaurants offering the dish. Most are good, but just a few are fantastic.
Our favorite restaurant to have paella is Casa Carmela. We discovered the place by accident and then found out it’s 100 years old! Everyone in the city knows it. It’s next to the sea, north of El Cabanyal. Eat on the top floor terrace while enjoying sea views!
In the city, we always go to Navarro. A local family runs this fancy restaurant. Though their paella is incredible, the rest of the menu on offer is superb too. We go there as much for the food as for the wine and drinks.
Spend the Afternoon in the City of Arts and Sciences
Fernando Calatrava was born in Valencia, studied architecture in the city, engineering in Switzerland, and then conquered the planet. He has projects all over the world, including museums, airports, and towers. He is famous for his bridges with one pillar and futurist architecture. As architects ourselves, we think he is a genius!
The City of Arts and Sciences is his biggest project. It is also our favorite. The massive complex took ten years to complete, from 1991 to 2000. The Opera House Queen Sofia part of the compound opened in 2005. With a height of 246 feet (75 m) is the tallest opera house in the world.
The buildings reflect on the water ponds that surround them. You won’t stop photographing them. Go when the sun sets to see it change colors. Go at night to see it illuminated in all of its glory. There’s an art center, a museum, concert halls, an aquarium, and an IMAX.
Spend Some Time on the Beach
We’ve been to Valencia with our Scandinavian friends, and they couldn’t stop bathing in the sea! We didn’t! Too cold for us. However, spending time on the beach is one of the best things to do in Valencia in winter. The weather is splendid, and you have lots of space to wander about.
From the Old Town to the beach is an hour’s walk. With public transport, less than half an hour. The first beach is Las Arenas. One of the best hotels in Valencia is here, Balneari las Arenas. The restaurants and bars next to Neptune Gardens are delicious. The America Cup Marina is to the south.
The next beach is el Cabanyal. The former fishing town next to the beach is still pretty rough, and we love it. Get lost, enjoy the vibe, and hang out with locals. From there, you can walk to Malvarrosa Beach and Patacona Beach along a promenade full of bars, shops, and restaurants.
Go on a Day Trip to Sagunto, Cuenca or Peñíscola
Due to its location, Valencia is the perfect place to base yourself and explore the area. Sagunto is only 20 miles (30 km) north of the city. Take a train from the center and be there in half an hour. Sagunto’s history goes back ages, including its jaw-dropping castle.
Peñiscola is so cool that Game of Thrones was filmed there. The fortified fortress overlooks the Mediterranean. The beach is gorgeous too. Peñiscola is some 90 miles (140 km) north of Valencia. Trains and buses take some 3 hours. Better spend the night at Blancos Room Hotel. The views will take your breath away.
For history and unbelievable nature, go to Cuenca. The UNESCO-listed city hangs on a cliff. You won’t believe your eyes. Cuenca is 130 miles (200 km) northeast of Valencia. We strongly recommend you spend the night at Parador de Cuenca. The former convent is now a luxurious hotel with epic views.
Where to Stay in Valencia
The best places to stay in Valencia are near the center. Our favorite hotel is The Valentia Cabillers, next to the cathedral. The units are huge, luxurious, and include a private kitchen. The views from the rooftop terrace are the best in the Old Town. It’s got a pool!
We love the local chain Vinci. Their best hotel in the center is Vinci Mercat in the heart of the Old Town. Considering its class and location, it’s great value for money. The rooms are super comfy. There’s a rooftop terrace with gorgeous views and a pool.
Hotel Puerta Serranos overlooks the medieval towers. The modern rooms have top-quality beds and balconies. The views from the rooftop terrace will leave you speechless. Be sure to ask for a room with views, and they’ll be happy to oblige. The service is impeccable. They’ve got onsite parking.
Moving Around Valencia
The best way of moving around the city is by walking. As mentioned, the weather is fantastic. Actually, we’ve been several times in the summer, and it was hard to walk during the day. It can be scorching hot in July and August. Especially with the streets packed with people.
Winter in Valencia is perfect for walking and biking during the day and at night. The city is super safe, so you have nothing to worry about. There are plenty of dedicated bike lanes. The city has a fantastic bike-sharing system with stations literally everywhere.
Like the rest of the country, Valencia has a superb public transportation system. You can take the metro, buses, and sub-urban trains everywhere. All are safe, spotless, and in great shape. If you are tired, hop on a taxi. Since the city is not that big, you won’t pay much.
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