- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Go to Valencia, Spain
Valencia is the capital of the autonomous community of Valencia and the third largest city in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona.
Valencia was founded as a Roman colony by the consul Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus in 138 BC, and called Valentia Edetanorum. In 711 the Muslims occupied the city, introducing their language, religion and customs; they implemented improved irrigation systems and the cultivation of new crops as well, being capital of the Taifa of Valencia. In 1238 the Christian king James I of Aragon reconquered the city and divided the land among the nobles who helped him conquer it, as witnessed in the Llibre del Repartiment. He also created a new law for the city, the Furs of Valencia, which were extended to the rest of the Kingdom of Valencia.
Here are several reasons why you should visit Valencia.
Climate in Valencia
It doesn’t usually get too cold in winter in Valencia, and you can often sit outside during the day even in January and February. Spring and autumn are the liveliest seasons for cultural events and you are almost guaranteed warm temperatures and sunshine. At the height of summer it can get uncomfortably hot, but there are at least plenty of beaches right on the doorstep.
Though it’s usually seen as a city break option, Valencia has terrific beaches for those looking for a more traditional fly and flop holiday.
Closest to the city, and just minutes away by bus, tram or car, are the beaches at Arenas, with seven kilometres of cabanas, sun shades and loungers and backed by a lively prom with shops and restaurants.
The gates may be all that are left of the town’s 14th century defensive walls, but what a souvenir. Towering over the entrance to the city’s historic centre, they set the tone perfectly for the beautiful Plaza de Virgen, a pedestrian square just behind them. Its centrepiece is a fountain surrounded by eight women, representing the eight irrigation channels that have brought water to the city since Roman times.
Like many of the beaches around here, what’s most striking is how undeveloped they are, especially when compared with their Costa del Sol counterparts.
You’d have to be very immature to find the name of Valencia’s signature dish funny, but you’d be the only one laughing if you ordered a farton.
Everyone else is too busy stuffing their faces with these sausage shaped confections that you eat only after dunking in horchata, the city’s signature drink made of tiger nuts. A surprisingly tasty cold drink not unlike sweetened milk, it is reputed to have all sorts of health benefits, and even if it doesn’t, it’s the perfect way to cool down on hot days.
Take the Number 25 bus from the city centre and within minutes you’ll be transported into the wilds of Albufera Natural Park, home to the largest lake in Spain and one of the most important wetland areas on the whole Iberian peninsula.
Locals have fished here for generations, although mainly for eels. Today visitors can take utterly relaxing boat trips across the lake and feel a million miles from civilisation – but still within reach of a terrific restaurant.