Last minute: visit Valencia in half a day or just one evening

posted in: Europe | 12

Last-minute trips with little organization have a particular charm. Today I’ll tell you about my improvised visit to Valencia, a half a day, or better, an evening in town booked the night before!

Why a last-minute trip? Is it worth it?

Anything is valid as a reason, or excuse, for a last-minute trip: a conference, a work meeting, a friend in the area, an event. In my case, it’s been a MotoGP race, one of my passions that has already brought me to various European circuits. But this was not just a race. It was the last race before Valentino Rossi retired from motorbike racing, I simply couldn’t miss it! I told myself for months that I would not be able to attend, and then the Friday evening I bought the tickets to the event, booked flights and accommodation and packed a small backpack. I spent the last hour before sleeping checking out the transportations between airport, town and circuit and dropped a few pins on my map to remind myself of interesting things to visit in Valencia the evening before the race day.

Last-minute organization can be obviously more expensive because there are fewer choices, but also because there’s less time to look for the best solutions and optimise the itineraries. But it’s almost always worth it, like for any other travel. You’re forced to train your improvisation skills and exit your comfort zone of a well-organized traveller.

Facade of the Palacio de Comunicaciones, the main Post Office in Valencia
Palacio de Comunicaciones, the central Post Office

Itinerary to visit Valencia in one day / evening

Having two evenings to visit the town, I obviously had to exclude any museum, guided tours and the Valencia beach from my to-see list. I focused on the architecture of palaces, churches and streets in general, enjoying walking in the pedestrian city center.

Lonja de la Seda (The silk exchange)

The Lonja de la Seda used to be the Silk Exchange and has been declared UNESCO world heritage sites in 1996. It’s a Valencian Gothic palace built between the end of XV and the beginning of XVI. It has the look of a medieval castle, with a squared tower and decorated battlements.
During the day it’s possible to visit the rooms inside la Lonja, while in evening you can appreciate the well lit facade of one of the most iconic buildings in Valencia.

Lit up faccade of Lonja de la Seda, the old silk exchange of Valencia
Lonja de la Seda

Central Market

In the same square of the Lonja, there’s the Mercato Centrale, the Central Marker. It’s one of the biggest fresh markets in Europe, it’s said to host more than a thousand stands!
The structure, a modern art nouveau building, dates back to the beginning of the XX, with stained glass, iron columns and ceramic tiles to decorate the inside walls.

Valencia Cathedral and the (presumed) Holy Grail

The Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia is a very peculiar church, with each element in a different architectural style. It has been built on a mosque that was previously an ancient temple. The core of the building is Gothic, from the XIII-XV century. The bell tower is called Miguelete, and its 207 steps are also in Gothic style. The main altar is Renaissance and each door belongs to a different time. The Door of the Irons is Italian Baroque, the Apostles’ gate is French Gothic, the Door of de Almoina is Romanic and it used to be the mosque entrance. The museum of the Cathedral hosts many interesting pieces of art, among which there are some of Goya’s paintings.
Last but not least, there’s the famous Holy Grail chapel. Tradition says that Jesus used this very cup during the last supper. Peter brought it to Rome where it stayed for years. Until Pope Sisto II brought it to Huesca, in the north of Spain, his birth land. During Muslim invasions, the cup had been hidden, until 1399 and it eventually made it to Valencia in 1437.

La Porta degli Apostoli e il Miguelete della cattedrale di Valencia illuminate di notte
La Porta degli Apostoli e il Miguelete della cattedrale

Ceramic Museum

The building that hosts the Ceramic Museum, the Marquese de Dos Aguas Palace, is one of the best baroque architecture examples in Spain. Here you can find a wide collection of both modern and ancient pieces, displayed in rooms with the original decor. There are statues, sacred objects, merchandise from the Silk Route, furniture, tiles and even an old carriage.

From the outside, the palace is breathtaking. Every balcony is decorated with statues and baroque details, and the cornices are richly carved and with fine ornaments.

Evening picture of the lit up facade of the Marquese de Dos Aguas palace, the Ceramic Museum, a must-visit in Valencia
Marquese de Dos Aguas palace

Plaza del Ayuntamiento

Many elegant buildings have their main entrance and facade on Plaza del Ayuntamiento, a busy and colourful square in the center of the town. This place is a must-visit for tourists in Valencia, with its many attractions during both day and evening, from markets to live shows.

Among the most interesting buildings, there’s certainly the Town Hall, called Ayuntamiento in Spanish. It occupies the old school (Casa de la Enseñanza) connected with a murderer wing from the beginning of XX. At the center of the main facade, the clock tower stands out, overlooking the entrance gate. During the day, it’s possible to visit the interiors of the Town Hall.

Main facade of the townhall palace of Valencia, with its clock tower: a must-see if you visit the town a day: the building, infact, is beautifully lit even during the evening, for a different night of tourism
Ayuntamiento of Valencia: the townhall

More or less facing the Town Hall, on the opposite side of the square, stands the central post office, from the beginning of ‘900. The building has been designed by architect Miguel Angel Navarro, who took inspiration from the Auytamiento to maintain a constant look between the two palaces. The 5 statues above the door represent communication around the world, therefore the official name Palacio de Comunicaciones, Communication Palace.

Between the palm trees and the flower beds, at the center of Plaza del Ayuntamiento there’s an interesting fountain. It has been by architect Vicente Caballer de Godella in 1963. It’s called Fuente Luminosa, “lighting source” because at night it lights up with colourful lights.

How to move around Velencia

For a quick day or evening visit to the city center of Valencia, I surely suggest walking. You can reach the old town with the metro line, the train or one of the many busses. From there, a nice walk will take you to the most interesting location to see in town.

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12 Responses

  1. Marie

    Valencia is so beautiful and calming. Definitely worth a visit even for a day. Thank you for your great tips and ideas 🙂

    • The Lady

      You’ve been there? I had the impression of calm and peace too! I was the one in a hurry 😛

  2. Nisee

    Awesome list of things to see and do. This is one of the spots on my bucket list. Can’t wait to visit and definitely saving this for later.

    • The Lady

      Thanks! I wish I had more time to explore the town better. Hope you enjoy it, when you go! 🙂

  3. Silvia The Food Traveler

    I’ve been to Valencia last November and I loved it so much that I’m planning to go back soon. It is not too big, so a couple of days are enough to get the hang of the city. You managed to see much more than I did – for example I didn’t have a chance to see the market because it was closed! One good reason to go back 😉

    • The Lady

      Yes, small but cute town to explore! I’ve seen a lot,n the super short time I had, but there’s so much more!!!

  4. Teresa

    I have never been in valencia, but I think a day is really a short time to visit it. They say there are so many things to be seen in this city!

    • The Lady

      And they are right! I just couldn’t stay longer, which is a pity. But already a blessing to have those 2 evening free, on such a short notice! 😉

    • The Lady

      I never had such a last-minute trip, so yes, VERY spontaneous! 😀 If you can, I’d definitely suggest you to visit Valencia. I want to go back myself because the town deserves a more in-depth exploration.

  5. Antonella

    I spent my Eramus in Valencia already more than 10 years ago! I love this city, it has so many stunning attractions and the people in there are so friendly and human! I will definitely be back one day…You were very brave in going for just one day, well done!

    • The Lady

      Brave, or a bit silly, I’m not sure! 😀 Erasmus in Valencia must have been very special! I hope you can go back. It’s always brilliant to visit a beloved place years later!

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