Strategically located on the Mediterranean coast, Valencia is a constantly changing city. Having seen rapid development since its selection as the host for the 2007 Americas Cup and the construction of one of its main attractions, the City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia has cemented itself as a tourist hotspot. The busiest time of year here is in March, when the Fallas festival ensures the city is not just filled with tourists, but bizarre paper mch objects too.
History: once a Roman military colony, this leading Hispanic city changed hands between the Visigoths, Moors and Aragonese, which is evident in the mosques and churches which dot the skyline, many of which have served multiple purposes over the years. Valencia became a port of major importance in the 15th and 16th centuries, being home to the first printing press on the peninsula. Having recovered from the troublesome post-Spanish Civil War years, the city has continued to develop and is now a popular tourist destination.
Sightseeing: City of Arts and Sciences is Valencias premier attraction, built on the site of the River Turia, which was redirected some years ago. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the park contains an aquarium, art museum, IMAX theatre and a planetarium. Strolling through the Old Town, Barri del Carme, is a must with its busy cafs and shops luring in passers-by at all hours. History buffs will want to explore the Seu, a Moorish cathedral, and Torres de Quart, a medieval tower that once formed part of the city walls.
Shopping: Barri del Carme offers the best selection of shops, with everything from souvenir outlets to chain stores available. The harbour area and coast is being developed for the 2007 Americas Cup and now offers an increasing number of shopping possibilities.
Eating and drinking: as the home of paella, Valencia is the best place to sample this delightful rice-based dish which can be combined with seafood, chicken or rabbit. Popular places to dine include Malvarosa Beach and Barri del Carme, where youll find numerous high quality restaurants and late-night bars. Many of the establishments have outdoor seating and make the perfect place to soak up the lively evening atmosphere. A younger crowd can be found around the university area, while Cnovas attracts a more upmarket set.
Where to stay: Valencia has accommodation options for all budgets including inexpensive hostels in the city centre, self-catering apartments and numerous upscale hotels. Much of the accommodation is centrally located, with plenty of options near to the City of Arts and Sciences and an increasing number of choices springing up along the coast.
Getting there and around: those coming from outside Spain can arrive at Valencia Airport, just over five miles from the centre. There are frequent air connections with European cities, including budget flights. High-speed trains arrive from Barcelona (3 hours, 30 minutes) and Madrid (3 hours) several times a day at Estacion del Norte, Valencias main station. In addition, ferries run from the Balearic Islands to Valencia daily. Since the best beaches are quite a distance from the city centre, a hire car is advisable.