Alice and Stephanie not only share the same profession as well as having been friends for years, but they also share a passion for Valencia, the Mediterranean metropolis. Alice once spent six months in the Spanish harbour town improving her language skills, and loved it from the very first minute. "She was always talking about the city and its flair, so much so that I became more and more curious about it," says Stefanie. SWISS flies to Valencia (VLC) daily from Zurich (ZRH).
Valencia is the third largest city in Spain. Whether spring, summer, autumn or winter, it's always well worth a visit. "The weather is usually good, although it's generally very busy in spring, because that's when the annual Fallas Festival takes place." And although it can get pretty hot in summer, the sea is excellent for cooling down, and not far away. The temperatures are very pleasant in autumn, and perfect for a sightseeing trip. Even in winter, when it’s an average of 18 degrees, it's the perfect destination for a city trip. There's so much to discover in Valencia.
The first sightseeing spot is perfect for exploring by bike. "Valencia is definitely a city that is ideal for exploring on a 'Valenbisi' bike." This system is available in many of the major cities, and the principle behind it is really simple: all you do is help yourself to a bicycle, and later on return it to one of the appropriate stations. "Sightseeing is even more fun this way!" First stop on a bike tour of Valencia: the Torres des Serranos! One of the most important entry points to late-medieval Valencia, and part of the old city wall. The gate consists of two five-cornered fortified towers that are linked together over an arched doorway. "An amazingly impressive façade!"
One sporty activity is instantly followed by the next – but this time without a bike. An impressive 207 narrow steps lead up the El Miguelete bell tower on the Plaza de la Reina. "The rewards for this effort are breathtaking views of Valencia. Simply brilliant!"
"The sight of this large fountain surrounded by magnificent buildings is like something out of a picture book, and a veritable treat for the eyes!" The Plaza del Ayuntamiento is well visited, not just because it is so lovely, but it is also well known for 'Las Fallas'. The Valencian festival that takes place every spring delights locals and tourists alike between 15 and 19 March. The highlight of the festival is the settling alight of vast figures made of papier maché known as the Fallas.
People who love markets will be bowled over by Mercado Central. The impressive Art Nouveau market hall houses vast quantities of tasty treats. "Whether fish, meat, cheese, fruit, nuts or spices, they are all here, waiting to be discovered!" It's well worth visiting just before you return home: "You can buy some really fabulous culinary souvenirs to take home for your loved ones," advises Stephanie. But be warned! Get there in plenty of time, because the market closes at 3pm.
Another place that's well worth visiting while hunting for specialities is the well-known Horchateria de Santa Catalina. This institution is dedicated entirely to Valencian specialities, and especially – as the name implies – to "horchata". This refreshing Valencian drink with almond milk is not only extremely popular, but also very good for you. Every horchateria has its own recipe, so no two will ever taste the same. "It's lovely with warm fartons, fragrant pastries, dipped in it. Really delicious!" enthuses Alice.
After this refreshment, it's time for some more amazement. Valencia delights not only with its historic buildings, but also with its modern architecture. "You simply have to see the buildings in the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias!" They are absolute masterpieces, both on the outside and on the inside. While one has a planetarium, 3D cinema and three-storey museum, another is home to Europe's biggest aquarium, an opera house and a music hall.
In the afternoon, the visit continues with a stroll along the beach promenade Les Arenes. "Close to the promenade are numerous bars, restaurants serving fresh fish, tapas, and great places to shop." And there are almost always various skilfully created sand castles to see along the promenade.
Time to cool down! And the best place for this is on Valencia's best-known and biggest beach: Playa de la Malvarrosa. "The sandy beach is very wide and clean. It's a meeting place for tourists, students and locals." People who prefer something smaller and cosier will like the Playa Patacona. "However, our ultimate secret tip and dream beach is the Playa del Saler, but shhhh ...!"
"As the crowning glory to an eventful day, enjoy a tasty Paella Valenciana with rabbit and chicken – or, alternatively, the Paella Marisco with seafood." A visit to the restaurant El Rall is recommended. The establishment is well known not only for its fabulous paella, but also for the cosy ambience and delightful courtyard. "The perfect end to the perfect day. Valencia is simply brilliant!"