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It only takes a couple of days in Valencia to see the city’s main sites: the Cathedral, Central Market, the City of Arts and Sciences, the beach. So once you’ve finished with these big-ticket items, it’s time to head off the main tourist route to discover some of the more unusual and unique things to do in Valencia. And trust me, there are a few…
Witness the Tribunal de Las Aguas de Valencia
The Tribunal de Las Aguas de Valencia – or Water Tribunal of the plain of Valencia – is an ancient and unique Valencia tradition in which nine representatives from local farming communities meet in the city to settle disputes arising from the use of irrigation water in the wider region.
The tribunal takes place every Thursday at 12pm outside Valencia Cathedral’s Door of the Apostles.
Dating back over 1,000 years, the tribunal is believed to be the World’s Oldest Court and the oldest democratic institution in Europe. The tribunal has been respected as an ancient justice institution and has survived all legislative reforms over the years.
Today, the tribunal still runs in its traditional form. But with very few irrigation disputes to settle, it functions mainly as a popular tourist attraction.
The representatives meet outside the Cathedral doors for just two minutes, so it’s important to arrive on time to witness this ancient tradition.
Address: Outside Valencia Cathedral’s Door of the Apostles in the Plaza de la Virgen.
Experience the Fallas Festival All Year Round
Experiencing the famous Fallas festival is certainly one of the coolest things to do in Valencia. And something which is extremely high up on my European bucket list.
The unique festival, in which huge satirical puppets are paraded around the city and burned in a large fire on March 19th, was declared an Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2016.
But unfortunately, not all of us can make it to the Spanish city for the festivities in March. Especially with the increased demand and prices at this time of year.
Fortunately, there’s a way for everyone to experience the Fallas festival all year round – by visiting the Museu Faller de València (Fallas Museum).
The fascinating little hidden gem, located close to the City of Arts and Sciences, is home to a large collection of Fallas figures and memorabilia.
You can see over 80 of the best ninots (the Fallas puppets) saved from burning during the parades each year – a Fallas tradition. Some of the cool and unusual ninots date as far back as 1934. There are also posters and photos from throughout the years and plenty of information about the festivities and their history.
Costing just €2 for an adult and €1 for a child, the Fallas Museum is also one of the cheapest museums in Valencia. And well worth the entrance fee!
Interested in the Fallas festival? Check out this Valencia Fallas tour.
Address: Plaza Monteolivete, 4, 46006 Valencia.
Opening days: Tuesday to Sunday.
Try Horchata and Fartons in Santa Catalina
Paella isn’t the only dish Valencia is famous for. Horchata con fartons are another Valencian delicacy and a must-try on a visit to the Spanish city.
Horchata – Orxata in Valencian dialect – is a local soft drink made from tigernuts. It has a milk-like consistency, a sweet and refreshing taste, and is packed with iron, potassium, and antioxidants.
Legend says that James I of Aragon called the drink “pure gold”. Today it is still one of Spain’s most famous and popular non-alcoholic drinks.
Want to learn more about horchata? Check out this horchata bike tour of the northern farmland of Valencia.
In Valencia, horchata is commonly served alongside fartons. Fartons are sweet, spongy pastries glazed with sugar. They are specially baked in an elongated shape so they can be dipped into a cup of horchata.
Where to try horchata and fartons in Valencia:
For the best and most authentic horchata and fartons in Valencia, head to Horchatería Santa Catalina. The historic cafe dates back over 200 years, making it one of the oldest in the city, and is famed for its traditional Valencian pastries and drinks.
The cafe’s other speciality is its churros con chocolate, so make sure to try both while you’re there.
Address: Plaça de Santa Caterina, 6, 46001 València.
Visit Mercado de Tapineria
While most visitors to Valencia hit up the impressive Central Market – the largest fresh produce market in Europe – far fewer get to experience the charming Mercado de Tapineria.
Mercado de Tapineria is located in the heart of the Old Town. It is made up of two small pedestrian squares surrounded by two restaurants and two creative spaces; Espai X and the Mercado.
Espai X is a creative pop-up space that changes each week, with an array of shows, workshops, and events ranging across art, gastronomy, fashion, and more. Next door is the Mercado, a cool concept store that hosts a great selection of local traders selling unique, quality products.
The market also has occasional live music and dance performances which really brings the whole area to life in the evening.
For something a little different to do in Valencia, a visit to the local Mercado de Tapineria is a must.
Address: C/ de la Tapineria, 15, 46001 València.
Search for Street Art in El Carmen
Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m a sucker for some cool street art. There’s nothing quite like wandering around a new city in the sun, searching for colourful murals and graffiti.
El Carmen is a historic neighbourhood in the northern end of Valencia’s Old Town. Once a run-down part of the city, the area is now known for its colourful buildings, bohemian atmosphere, cool art scene, and exciting nightlife.
It is also the best place in Valencia to find incredible street art.
On a wander around El Carmen, it’s not difficult to stumble across all sorts of quirky and colourful murals. The area is a hotspot for local and international artists, with people from all across the globe coming to leave their mark.
Simply spend a couple of hours wandering around the neighbourhood and see what you find. The pieces regularly change, so there’s always something new to discover.
If you do want a rough guide, check out this post on where to find the best street art in El Carmen.
Stroll around Valencia’s Hipster Neighbourhood of Ruzafa
Discover Valencia off-the-beaten-path by heading away from the touristy city centre and out to the local neighbourhood of Ruzafa – or Russafa.
Ruzafa is a cool, hipster neighbourhood of Valencia and certainly has a unique vibe compared to the rest of the city. It’s sometimes called the Valencian Soho, thanks to its alternative atmosphere and exciting nightlife scene. However, it’s an area that is far more frequented by locals than tourists.
On a walk through Ruzafa you’ll come across plenty of cute little cafes with alfresco terraces, international restaurants, indie boutiques, independent art galleries, and lots of buzzing late-night bars.
Don’t miss the large indoor market on Plaza Baron de Cortes. Ruzafa’s market dates back to 1957 and is still extremely popular with the area’s local residents who stop by for fresh produce each morning.
See the Narrowest House in Europe
Walk past this unsuspecting building in Valencia’s Old Town and you’re likely to miss it. That’s because it’s the narrowest building in Europe, making it incredibly easy to pass by without noticing.
Measuring just 107 centimetres from side to side, the facade is only slightly wider than the building’s front door.
The unusual Valencian building was home to a local family for many years. Today it belongs to the neighbouring tapas bar La Estrecha, which means “the narrow”. Many of the rooms have been connected to the adjoining building, so they’re no longer as compact as they once were. But the tiny building’s original facade remains at 107 centimetres.
Address: Pl. de Lope de Vega, 6, 46001 València.
Go Roller Skating in Turia Park
Another of the most unique things to do in Valencia is to spend an afternoon roller-skating through the city’s parks – a popular Valencian pastime. While most tourists choose to explore the city by bike, you’ll feel like a real local rocking a pair of skates.
Grab some rollerskates from a local hire shop then head to huge Turia Park, which spans from the City of Arts and Science to the Bioparc. You’ll get to experience a beautiful area of the city in a unique and exciting way!
Skating is so popular in Valencia that each year the city hosts the Valencia European Skate Open, with several days of competitions, workshops, classes, and performances. If you’re in the city during the open, don’t miss the fun nightly roller disco parties which are open to the public.
Skating not for you? How about a Valencia segway tour?
Visit the House of Cats
Valencia’s House of Cats is pretty much what you’d expect it to be… a house for cats.
Located in the quirky neighbourhood of El Carmen, the unusual Valencia attraction is a miniature version of a classic Valencian house. It stands at just a couple of feet tall.
No one knows how the house first got there. Local legend says it was built by a woman who used to live in the building for the many stray cats in the area.
Address: Carrer del Museu, 11, 46003 València.
Important to know: Google maps doesn’t take you right to the house. You need to walk back down the street and around the corner to find it. Look for the CCCC (Centre del Carme Cultura Contemporània) and it’s almost directly opposite.
Party in an Outdoor Sculpture Park
By day, L’Umbracle is a beautiful sculpture park and landscaped walk with plant species indigenous to the region. By night, it’s one of Valencia’s hottest nightlife venues.
Each Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, the unique Valencia venue transforms into L’Umbracle Terrezza, with epic parties that last well into the early hours. The unusual alfresco club hosts many international DJs and puts on regular themed events throughout the year.
Spend a night in Valencia partying under the stars surrounded by towering palm trees and twinkling lights that line the arched walkway. I can guarantee you’ve never experienced anything like it. It’s certainly one of Valencia’s coolest and most unique bars.
For just €20, you get entry to the venue and your first drink free. The club gets busy so it’s best to book tickets in advance.
Address: Av. del Professor López Piñero, 5, 46013 València (in the City of Arts and Science)
Take a Day Trip from Valencia
Sitting on Spain’s eastern coast, Valencia is in a prime location for exploring loads of other exciting nearby destinations.
With a coastline filled with picturesque towns and beautiful beaches to the north and south and mountains sprinkled with Medieval villages and ancient castles to the west, there are loads of great day trips and weekend breaks you can take from Valencia.
Check out 9 of the best day trips from Valencia.
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