Valencia is Spain’s third-largest city (behind Madrid and Barcelona), but, upon first glance, it doesn’t feel too intimidating in terms of size and noise. The unofficial gateway to Southern Spain is rich in Spanish culture, including lazy days by the sea, mountains of tapas and rivers of sangria.
Any morning in Spain should begin with churros con chocolate, or, if this is too rich for you, a simple croissant and café con leche. Do your best to find the most inconspicuous, no-frills café for the cheapest prices and the most delicious coffee.
Spend the next few hours strolling through the Turia Gardens (Jardins de Turia), a former riverbed now a thriving urban park. Running trails, walking paths, dog parks, soccer fields and playgrounds are set up among trees that offer plentiful shade from the Spanish sun.
Do as the Valencians do and eat paella at lunch instead of dinner. Classic Valencian paella contains the zesty rice, rabbit, chicken, lima beans and lots of olive oil.
After lunch, grab a bus out to the beach for an afternoon of swimming and sunbathing. Shops along the waterfront sell everything you need, from towels to sunscreen to flip flops.
As the city cools down in the evening, venture out into the neighborhood of El Carmen where bars are aplenty and Valencians sit outside sipping “agua de Valencia,” orange juice with vodka, gin and cava. ¡Salut!
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