What I love about Valencia is that it has this wonderful balance of history and modernity.
La Lonja de la Seda- A UNESCO World Heritage Site, representing late Gothic architecture. I absolutely fell in love with this building that once served as a Silk Exchange. Every place you look is decorated with a unique Gothic ornamental detail, and the outside is home to bountiful orange trees.
Valencia Cathedral- This church is also in the Gothic style, and boy do you get a lot of bang for your buck here. You can see the Holy Grail, St Vincent's arm, and Goya's "San Francisco de Borja." The painting was the main reason for my visit, but the Cathedral is impressive with many different and beautiful pieces of artwork, and whether you believe in it or not, it's still fun to see the supposed Holy Grail! They also have different holy relics like the diapers of baby jesus...
IVAM- Museum of Modern Art, which has some truly inspiring exhibits, and was not very busy during my visit, so I could really appreciate the work. It's free on Friday nights and all day Sunday. They currently have a really great exhibit on las ciudades (the cities), and artist, Helena Almeida, and a very moving exhibit: El Mundo de Pepe Espalú, "His work is thanks to one of the most profound conceptualizations of living with AIDS, which caused his death and which he boldly accepted on an artistic level and where he produced some of his most important works."
Museo Fallero- This is the museum that saves one figure from each Fallas festival, the most important festival of Valencia, but it also has many of the vintage posters from the festival, and that's what I really enjoyed seeing; Many include bats, the symbol of Valencia, and fire, used in the festival, so they create these striking images that are fantastic. The figures are not meant to be taken seriously and often represent how the people felt about politics and social situations during each year of the festival.
City of Arts & Sciences- If you are someone that loves to dream about what the future might look like, or what they thought it would look like in the 60's, then this is the place for you. The architecture is amazing! If I were you, I would bring a picnic, and just spend some time surrounded by the unique buildings, fountains, sculptures, and plants. Helpful hint: if you want to visit the Palau de les Artes make sure you look up the times/days in advance as they have limited visiting hours.
National Ceramics Museum- Part of the wonder of visiting this museum is that it's housed in an incredible palace from the 15th century, that was refurbished in the 1700's rococo style, so it is a work of art on it's own, and then you get to look around at ornate carriages, books, and ceramics. It's free on Sundays!
La Pepica- Of course you have to eat Paella in the city it was invented in. I read about this place that was known to be Hemingway's favorite, and more importantly, Hemingway ate at many places, known for some of the best Paella on the beach. I got the traditional Valencian Paella, which is made with rabbit and chicken, and because I was on the sea I had to try seafood too, so I had the grilled squid, which was delicious! The service was on point even though they were super busy, and I had a bottle of dry white wine to compliment the squid, and the atmosphere. You can look out at the sea while you eat, and then go for a walk along the beach. It's a wonderful place to have a rather large, boozy lunch. It's a short bus ride to get here from the city.
La Conservera- What do they serve? Delightful fish in a can! I had mine with some bread, and a bottle of wine, which is a perfect meal for me. It's a laid-back environment with great service. I love a place that has a limited menu in which they include only the best products that they believe in, and this is one of those places. An enjoyable place to make a stop off to enjoy some yummy seafood in a can.
Bar Central Cafe- A tiny tapas spot where the food is prepared to order. The bartender is friendly and an amazing multitasker; he makes the drinks, some of the food, and waits on the tables. I enjoyed the mushrooms, the Boquerones, and patatas, and I washed it all down with a refreshing cold beer. This is not the famous place inside the Mercado, Central Bar, but it's across the street. I wanted to try Central Bar in the Mercado too, but they were closed for some reason. This is more of a hole in the wall for locals type of place; I liked it! The type of place that I can't find a website for, so you will just have to go and check it out in person if you want to try it.
Café Infanta- A super cool bar/cafe with owners that really pay attention to detail. Every corner of every room has some kind of neat cinema poster, or historic memorabilia. They play silent black and white films in one room, and this is a place where you can get a good Agua de Valencia, an alcoholic beverage, or a coffee. They serve food too, but I didn't have any on this trip.
Ubik Cafe- Valencia has quite a few of these Library cafes, which is a lovely idea. I visited this one, and was very happy with the friendly atmosphere, good coffee, and selection of other drinks and snacks, while being surrounded by books.
Jimmy Glass Jazz Bar- You guessed it, they have live traditional jazz music here, but it's also a cool bar to hang out before the live music starts. Prices are reasonable, bartenders are nice, and the atmosphere is relaxed. The night I was there it was packed by the time the live music started, so you might want to get there a little early if you want to see the band that is playing that night.
Mercado Colon- A light and airy market, set in an original 1916 building designed by Francisco Mora, with tons of cafes to choose from. A great place to start your day with some coffee and maybe breakfast too, and get some writing done. If you've been dying for a Horchata they have many places here to grab one.
Cafe de las Horas- A gorgeous cafe/bar with good service that is a relaxing place to have a coffee or a drink mid-day (especially nice when other places are closed for siesta) or at night. They are also known for having a good Agua de Valencia.
Hotel One Shot Palacio Reina Victoria- This hotel is in a perfect location, and it's super comfortable. The wifi works good. The rooms are quiet. The bed is comfy. The shower is nice and hot. The staff is friendly. It's in a historic building, but the rooms are modern.
Valencia has some of the best shopping I've experienced in Spain. Cool shops, but they aren't trying to charge New York prices like so many places are these days.
Madame Mim- This store will have you thinking about the good ol' days before Vintage became hip, and all the good stuff is now already bought or overpriced. This store has many unique, cool items from clothing, jewelry, bags, shoes, postcards, photos, to furniture, you name it, and all with fair prices.
Simple- We all have those moments when we want to get that special something that is made in the special place we are visiting, and Simple is just the place for that. I believe all items are handmade in Spain, and once again the prices are very reasonable. Just being in the shop is a pleasant experience. I myself bought a bulls head made out of straw, and I love it.
Artesania Yuste- Who doesn't want a ceramic with a bat on it? I can't think of anyone. This place has many artistic pieces from different regions in Spain.
Mercado de Tapineria- This a cute place with different pop-up shops. It basically feels like you are at a large garage sale.