Greetings, Internet Stranger! So you want to know what to do with a one day in Valencia itinerary? Arguably Valencia’s most notable tourist attraction is its monumental complex of knowledge, the City of Arts and Sciences. The city (not actually an official metropolitan area) has a cinema, a science museum, an aquarium, and an opera house. Sounds impressive, no?
What if I told you that you could spend a wonderful one day in Valencia itinerary with the City of Arts and Sciences without even going inside a building? Don’t believe me, Internet Stranger? Just join me for a day of delicious food, stunning public art, and wacky hijinks while pretending to be an American college student. It all starts now!
One Day in Valencia Itinerary
Where to Stay?
Valencia isn’t as large as Madrid or Barcelona, but it’s still pretty spread out. You’re going to want to choose a centrally located hotel. I can’t recommend the exact hotel where I stayed (because it was not great), but I can recommend the location, near Valencia Cathedral. You’ll be right near all the main attractions for your one day in Valencia itinerary. I’m sure you’ll be able to find something charming in your price range. Valencia is not a crazy expensive city.
If you’d like to explore great deals on over 2000 hotels in Valencia, just click here.
One Day in Valencia Itinerary
What to Pack?
You’ll need comfy shoes for all the walking we’re going to do today around Valencia. It’s very frequently hot here, though not always, so it’s smart to wear sandals. I love my special pink Birkenstocks. These aren’t your grandpappy’s Birkenstocks anymore. They come in every shade, and I always get compliments on my electric magenta shoes.
Also, don’t forget the sunscreen! The sun can get scorching! My favorite is the Neutrogena spray bottle because it’s so easy to apply. And as a solo traveler, I can actually use it myself on my own back. I just put it in my purse and re-apply throughout the day.
Finally, since we’re going to be out all day, you’ll want a battery for your cell phone. I always use the Anker charger. It’s light enough to fit in even a small purse. You don’t want to sling a heavy bag all around Valencia. Plus the Anker lasts for several full charges of a phone, so you’ll never run out of juice!
One Day in Valencia Itinerary
Morning: Self Guided Valencia Food Tour
On this one day in Valencia itinerary, we’ll start by going to some of the best markets in Valencia and snacking our way through them. Allow me to present to you…
Approximately top 5: valencia food edition
1) The Colon Market
Our first stop is at the ornate Colon Market, pictured above for a light Spanish breakfast of fartons and horchata. Though those both sound vaguely like English curse words, they mean some pretty delicious things. Horchata is a sweet drink made from the chufa nut, and a farton is a long, thin sweet bun that you are supposed to eat by dipping it into the horchata. It’s kind of like dipping a dough finger into some milk and then…biting the tip of your finger off. But much tastier.
The horchata and farton I had eaten the day before were good, but these were better. The farton tasted fresher and the horchata wasn’t as sweet.
2) The Central Market
Our next stop was the Central Market, which I had also visited the day before. It is definitely worth a second visit because there is so much food here that you couldn’t possibly eat it all even if you spent a whole week here and you had four stomachs like a cow. My favorite part of the market is the fresh seafood stalls. You can get so close to the shrimp that you can look them directly in the eye.
Look at them!!! Look at their eyes!!! They really do not look very happy at all, but that’s probably just because they are dead and about to be eaten. If you come here on your own, you can ask one of the restaurants in the market to cook the fresh seafood of your choice for you. But we were not here for fruits de mer. We were here for jamon!
The fanciest of the Spanish hams is the Iberico and that the best Iberico is made from acorn-fed pigs. I scarfled this piggy goodness along with some less expensive serrano ham, aged goat cheese, and fine Spanish red wine.
I think Spanish ham is just the perfect food because it combines salt and fat in the most flawless way. Bravo Spain! The world forgives you for the Spanish Inquisition.
Not So Fun Fact
Actually one reason that ham is so popular in Spain is because neither Jews nor Muslims can eat pig meat. After the Muslims and Jews were expelled from Spain, you could test someone to see if they were Christian by trying to give them some ham. That’s the most depressing Food Fact I have ever heard. Food should never be used for bigotry, only for putting smiles on people’s faces.
3) Trufas Martinez
Our next stop is not at a market, but rather a tiny little family-run chocolate shop called Trufas Martinez. The current owner is the third generation of her family to run the store. They specialize in truffles, chocolate cigars (one of which is pictured above), and elaborate objects made out of chocolate–for example a high-heeled shoe. I got to taste a little chocolate cigar, which is a high-quality chocolate shell filled with praline.
It tasted so amazing that I needed to have more. My name is Stella Jane, and I am a chocoholic. So I got a bar of sea salt chocolate for the road, in case I was chocolate deprived and needed an emergency infusion of cocoa. (This tragedy ended up happening later on my trip when I had to take a bus from Marseille to Lyon with no food stop on the way. This chocolate bar saved me from dying of hunger. Thanks, Chocolate! You’ve never let me down yet.)
4) Russafa Market
Now, make your way to a more local neighborhood, Russafa, which is definitely off the tourist beaten track. And what better way to hang with locals than at their beloved local market? I think this Russafa Market might have been my favorite spot. There was just something so inviting and cozy about the place.
I paused at a wonderful stand that sells basically anything a Spanish chef could want: olive paste, jam, olive oil… We sampled both black olive paste and unripe olive paste. They were both delicious, but the unripe olive paste had a really special fresh taste to me. I could eat this every day.
24 hour treasure
My favorite, favorite thing I ate in any of the markets was this bell pepper jam. It perfectly captured the essence of sweet, freshly roasted peppers. I really regret not buying any. I bought some fig jam instead because the pepper jam jar was too big to take on an airplane. Soon I shall come back to you, Valencia!! And I shall eat all of your bell pepper jam!! ALL SHALL BE EATEN!!!
5) El Huerto
Our last stop is for a sit down lunch at a local restaurant called El Huerto. I treated myself to two appetizers: a refreshing and shocking pink beet gazpacho…
and some chilled scorpionfish tapas. These were served with a creamy aioli and black salt on top. I had never eaten scorpionfish or black salt before. It tasted pleasantly shrimpy. Do you know how some people don’t like to eat animals like rabbits or deer because they are so cute? You will not feel that way about the scorpionfish. Observe:
I feel zero guilt about eating that miserable looking MF. Suck it, scorpionfish!!!
24 hour treat: arroz meloso
It was then time for the main dish, a fascinating creation that looks like paella, but is not paella. You might be expecting paella because that delicious homage to the humble rice grain is native to Valencia and you can find it all over the city. But this is another dish. You can tell because it’s soupier than a normal paella. I believe it’s called arroz meloso.
The AM was made with duck, mushroom, and yellow rice. The rice was perfectly cooked and the dish was full of duck fat, and as far as I am concerned, duck fat makes everything better.
One Day in Valencia Itinerary
Afternoon: City of Arts and Sciences
Friends, do you like Star Wars? Did you ever think Star Wars would be better if only it had more flowers? Then the City of Arts and Sciences is for you! As I mentioned, the City of Arts and Sciences is full of attractions, but my favorite thing to do at the City of Arts and Sciences was just wander around outside and boggle at all the strange and fantastic sculptures and buildings. I leave you with…
THE APPROXIMATELY TOP 5: THE CITY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
1) Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man
When you arrive at the City of Arts and Sciences, don’t miss this metal man who is tragically trying to walk through a lake. Water is not good for metal, Iron Giant! Didn’t anyone tell you that?
I think this metal woman has a much better idea to dance in the sunshine. She’s less likely to rust this way.
Any City of Arts and Sciences that has flowers is aces in my books. I’m terribly girly, so I think pink flowers are always welcome.
3) darth vader’s helmet
The City of Arts and Sciences also has this helmet that looks like it’s going to try to play a giant harp. I don’t know how that’s going to work, helmet! You don’t have hands!
Oh no! I’ve made the helmet angry and now it’s going to attack. Farewell, cruel world!
Here’s a giant hamster ball, but no hamster. Why does the City of Arts and Sciences have a giant hamster? Did the giant hamster get out? Is it standing behind me ready to eat me? Farewell, cruel world!
5) A useless swimming pool
The City of Arts and Sciences also has a pool with some giant golden rods sticking out of it. I don’t like to criticize art, but what is the purpose of having giant metal rods sticking out of a pool? It seems like it would make it harder to swim.
6) Gargoyle bridge
If you don’t think I’m going to get excited about a bridge guarded by a pair of gargoyles, you have never read this blog before, Internet Stranger!
7) an evening of culture
When evening comes, be sure to check out one of the performances available at the City of Arts and Sciences. You can always check here to see what is playing at the Palace of the Arts, but I was lucky because I made some friends who invited me to join them at a free outdoor concert that evening right by the pool at the City of Arts and Sciences.
The concert was given by students at the Berkeley Music School, and it was mostly memorable to me because of the quality of the sunset in the background.
Just look at those colors! Sorry, student performers! You were very good, but who can compete with Mother Nature?
24 hour tip
I didn’t actually go inside any of the museums at the City of Arts and Sciences because they are pricey and I was having more fun playing outside, but supposedly the Aquarium, aka the Oceanographic, aka a pair of giant evil owl eyes rising out of the pavement, is the Must See attraction here. If you want to go inside, go there straight away after the food tour so you’ll have as much time as possible to see it before it closes.
One Day in Valencia Itinerary
Evening: Red Cup
Our group was not very hungry after the food tour, but we still wanted to get a drink and a bite to eat in the evening. So we went back to the Russafa neighborhood to hang out at the super authentic Spanish bar Red Cup!
I kid because Red Cup is an American-themed restaurant. But that doesn’t mean that its target audience is Americans. The people here seemed to be mostly Europeans and Aussies who wanted to Party Like an American College Student, which of course means drinking out of a red cup.
As an American, I never realized there was anything unusual about drinking out of a red Solo cup until I went abroad. But apparently it really is just something that American high school/college students do so no one can see what liquid they are drinking. In the rest of the world, no one cares if high school or college kids have a beer.
24 hour treat: tapas, American-style
The restaurant also serves “American tapas”, so we got to snack on chicken wings, onion rings, French fries, and nachos. They were really tasty! I was impressed that they got the right kind of plastic cheese for the nachos. But I guess the one concession to being in Europe is that the food was served with a spicy barbecue-like sauce instead of ketchup. You can’t be an American-themed bar if you won’t serve the people ketchup, Red Cup! That’s just science.
This nice Australian couple happened to have some American baseball caps, so they thought the photo would be better if they put them in with the food. I’m sure this made the caps feel less homesick for the United States.
That’s a One Day in Valencia Itinerary!
What would you do with a one day in Valencia itinerary? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Valencia right now? Have you ever eaten scorpionfish? What would you do if a harp-playing helmet-building attacked you? Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY have a one day in Valencia itinerary . If you want to add another one day in Valencia itinerary, try this itinerary! And if you can add 24 hours in Madrid, try this itinerary or this itinerary.