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The Spanish port city of Valencia is enjoying a Renaissance as it evolves past its drab industrial roots and pushes itself into a brave new future. There’s a deep sense of culture here, evident in its people and the festivals like Las Fallas. But mind-blowing developments, such as the City of Arts and Sciences, suggest Valencia is ready to incorporate technology into its rich heritage. As a bonus, the city’s location on the Mediterranean creates all kinds of daytrip opportunities for visitors that have their own wheels.
Who to Book With
International car hire chains are nicely balanced by local Spanish firms like AutoRent and Furgocar. You can find rental offices at the airport, the central train station and several locations around the periphery of the city. During big festivals like Las Fallas and the busy summer holiday months, it’s often hard to get a good rate on the rental of your choice. Try and book online as early as possible to avoid disappointment.
Best Time to go
Summers tend to be on the hot side in Valencia, but not totally unbearable if you’re staying along the coast. June through to August are the driest months and a busy tourist period. So if you want fewer crowds, try visiting in April, May or September, when the weather is pleasantly warm. Even winters are really mild in Valencia, with daytime highs averaging 17°C in January. If the beach is not a priority, the late winter months provide a superb time to travel.
Need to Know Essentials
Most rental offices require the following documents to pick up a vehicle:
- A valid EU or UK driving license or International Driving Permit
- A second piece of photo ID
- The credit card you used in the online booking
- A printed rental confirmation, if possible
As in most large Spanish cities, driving around the downtown area of Valencia is not very easy. Medieval streets, traffic congestion and a serious lack of street-side parking make for challenging conditions. There are a number of car parks located around the city centre, but many drivers prefer to use the city’s nine free park-and-ride lots that are connected to a metro subway station. Valencia’s centre is easy to walk around.
Outside of the city are excellent motorways and rural roads that are uncongested and easy to navigate. The E15 expressway runs south from Barcelona and north from Alicante, while the A3 heads straight west towards Madrid. The main expressways in the region, such as the E15, have a toll, which is around €22 for the journey from Barcelona to Valencia. However, there are no toll roads in Valencia itself.
Valencia has an excellent public transport network that involves a subway line and bus routes. The underground metro is particularly useful for downtown travel, with five lines and a nice tram that goes to the beach. Taxis are always available for quick trips, and can usually be found at the transport stations. Best of all, Valencia’s centre is ideal for walking, so drivers can park their cars and enjoy the city on foot and by metro.
You need separate tickets for the bus and the metro, as they are not integrated or transferrable. The metro uses a zone system to determine the fare, which is €1.40 for a one-way ride in a single zone. One of the metro lines doubles up as a tram to the beach and involves a separate fare. The best deal for those looking to travel a lot around the city is a Bonometro or Bonobus 10-journey pack of single-ride tickets for €7.20. Bus tickets costs around €1.50 for a single ride. Tickets can be bought at machines in each station or from most newsstands on the street.
The Valencia Tourist Card is another good deal for visitors who plan to travel a lot and go to the museums. It allows for free unlimited transport on both the bus and metro, along with discounted entry fees to the city’s museums and attractions. The card is valid for 24 (€15), 48 (€20) or 72 (€25) hours and can be purchased at any tourist office.
The metro provides the best way to travel around the centre of Valencia. Its five lines cover most of the important parts of the city for visitors, including a neat tram extension to the beach. The subway runs virtually around the clock and has several useful park-and-ride lots on the edge of the city for easy transport for drivers.
Taxis are easy to arrange in Valencia if you call for a pick up, but are not always easy to hail along the streets. They typically queue up in front of the train and bus stations, and of course are on hand at the airport. Sometimes they linger in front of big hotels and major tourist sites, but the easiest way to arrange one is to have your hotel call for a pick up any time of day.
ETA operates the bus system in Valencia. The routes cover every corner of the city and prove useful when the metro comes up short. Tickets, which cost around €1.50 for a single trip without a transfer, can be bought directly from the bus driver. The main bus station is at the Plaza de Ayuntamiento 22.
Valencia has a decent amount of sightseeing attractions, but this city also serves as a useful base for excursions along the Mediterranean coast and inland towards Madrid. The coastal route is lovely, with beautiful beaches and seaside towns like Benidorm and Torreblanca on hand in either direction. It’s even very feasible to drive to Barcelona or Alicante for an overnighter, while driving inland presents national parks like Alto Tajo and historic towns such as Bunol.
The Costa Blanca Coast - This is one of Spain’s finest stretches of coast, and Valencia lies right in the middle of it. Head north towards Barcelona or south to Alicante and there are a dozen or more towns, beaches and natural areas to enjoy. The driving is smooth and scenic, cruising along the E15 coastal motorway.
Cartagena - This is one of the most interesting historic cities along this part of Spain’s coast. A relaxing and very pretty drive south from Valencia brings you to this ancient seaport with its beautiful promenade, Roman ruins and wealth of ancient landmarks.
Cuenca - Offers a chance to get off the coast and drive inland through one of Spain’s least-developed and most historic regions. The UNESCO town of Cuenca provides an ideal day drive from Valencia, especially if you take the back road loop combined with the speedy A3 motorway. This whitewashed medieval town literally clings to the cliff, creating one of Spain’s most impressive destinations.