Last week, ITTN’s Carrie Day and TTR’s Annette McCann (Visit Valencia’s representation in the Irish market), along with five agents, were invited to check out Spain’s third largest city, by the good folk at Visit Valencia, on a whistle stop tour. With direct flights from Dublin, Cork and Belfast, Valencia needs to be on your bucket list!
Taking off from a bustling Dublin Airport on Wednesday evening, Carrie and Annette were joined by Maura Doran (Best4Travel Wexford), Janice Keogh (Click & Go) and April Baxter (Cassidy Travel Swords) while Suzie Hennessy (Travel Counsellors) and Maria Boyle-Morgan (Lee Travel) took advantage of the direct flight from Cork Airport earlier in the day. Once landed, a quick 15-minute transfer to the city had us checking into the 5* SH Valencia Palace in no time! For customers on a budget, the metro is also an option and takes approximately 30 minutes, with a cost of around €5. The Valencia Tourist Card, which gives access to public transport, museums, and monuments, can be booked online, picked up at the airport and used on the metro and is a must-have when visiting Valencia. The card comes in 24-hour (from €13.50), 48-hour (from €18) or 72-hour (from €22.50) options.
The next morning, we were shown around our stunning hotel by Lorena Peris (Sales Manager). The SH Valencia Palace (part of the Singular Hotel Group) is a short 10-minute walk from the centre of the city, and a great option for anyone wanting to be outside of the hustle and bustle or those attending a Valencia CF match, as the stadium is also a 10-minute walk. The hotel has 239 beautifully decorated bedrooms, rooftop terrace, a small rooftop swimming pool and numerous meeting rooms with a focus on business travel.
Upon meeting Irma, our guide for the day, we strolled towards the centre, crossing the Pont d’Arago, which boasts views of the Turia Garden – a former riverbed, now public park, that stretches for 9km throughout the city and is home to footpaths, cycle paths, parks, fountains and palm and orange trees. It is easy to see why Valencia was chosen as the European Green Capital 2024 with so many public spaces and an emphasis on cycling and walking. Now is probably a good time to mention that Valencia is a very accessible city and a great option for those customers looking for a city free from hills.
Clocking up over 18,000 steps, we took in all the sights of Valencia including Mercado Colon (great for places to eat), Silk Exchange (UNESCO Heritage Site), the Central Market (traditional market still used by locals), Estacio del Nord train station (check out the beautiful mosaics) and the Cathedral (home to the Holy Grail) – and we did it all before midday! Once our all-encompassing tour was over, we met with Visit Valencia’s PR and Marketing Executive, Eva Fernandez, who took us to the exceptional 5* Las Arenas Beach & Spa Resort for a site visit and a beautiful seven-course tasting menu.
This amazing hotel, originally a spa for locals in the 19th century, is located 15-minutes from the city centre by taxi/ tram and unsurprisingly, sits directly on the beautiful Las Arenas beach, separated only by a wide promenade. This hotel is a fantastic option for a special occasion or those looking for a slice of luxury, boasting 200 standard rooms, split evenly between street-view and sea-view, 30 executive rooms, 8 suites and 2 presidential suites. Wandering back to meet our driver, via the marina, we noticed catamaran sailing excursions on offer from only €15, which would have been a nice option as the sun broke through the clouds.
In typical FAM trip fashion, a quick turn around at the hotel had us back out at the 5* Palacio Valier for a yummy cocktail tasting – a twist on the Aqua de Valencia (cava, orange juice, vodka and gin) and amazing rooftop views of the city. From here, we took a short stroll through the busy streets to the Caro Hotel – a 5* boutique hotel with 26 unique rooms and a plethora of Roman and Arab ruins throughout the hotel. We were treated to another 12-course tasting menu, as we visited during the Culinary Food Festival, sampling everything from eel to the traditional paella with rabbit and snails. It’s safe to say we didn’t starve!
Starting out another jam-packed day, we met with Eva after breakfast and travelled 20 minutes south of the city to Albufera Natural Park where we took a boat trip on the lake, which plays home to flamingos, ducks and their ducklings not to mention wonderful views of the city. With prices starting at €5 per person for a boat ride, this is a great day-trip suggestion for anyone wanting to get away from the city and is easily reached by public bus, which the tourist card covers
Arriving back in the city, the heavens opened, and Valencia was treated to it’s first rain in weeks – trust the Irish to bring the rain! Thankfully we were headed in-doors as we arrived at the City of Arts & Science, located in the Turia Garden, and is home to Caixa Forum (a multipurpose venue), the Umbracle (an open-air garden and nightclub), the Opera House, the Science Museum, an iMax and an Aquarium. First stop was the Science Museum which is filled with interactive exhibitions, sure to entertain both adults and children. It’s worth noting that this is a great option for a rainy day or a day out of the heat – but be sure to allow yourself a few hours to see and do everything the museum has to offer!
After, we strolled down to the Aquarium and basked in the sunshine as the rain showers had long since finished and from here, we made our way to the Fallas Museum. If you haven’t heard of it before, the Fallas Festival takes place from 1st to 19th of March, and local neighbourhoods come together to create props or mannequins known as fallas, which are judged and those who didn’t win are burned on the last day of the festival. The winners are brought to the Fallas Museum, and you can view the winning pieces from as far back as the 1930’s. After a quick hour of shopping, it was time to make our way back to the hotel, grab our bags and make our way to the airport for our evening flight home.
All in all, Valencia is an incredible city that deserves to be high on your Bucket List! You can easily spend a weekend here, or a full week with time dedicated to some beach days. It’s a great destination for couples, families or groups of friends – young or old.
Visit Valencia’s site is a wealth of information – make sure you check it out!