First the bad news. Valencia, Spain's third biggest city, doesn't have that iconic, must-see reason to visit. There's no Sagrada Familia or Prado museum here, or anywhere near the number of sights Madrid and Barcelona have.
But Valencia is still a fine place to visit. It is under two hours from Alicante and Madrid (though the latter is on an expensive high-speed train) and three hours from Barcelona. If it fits into your schedule, you'll find a city that doesn't feel as big as it actually is (the suburbs sprawl out much further than a tourist will ever see), with fine cuisine at good prices and a number of excellent museums.
Things to Do in Valencia: Sights
Valencia's cathedral is said to be home to the Holy Grail.
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4. Port & Beach
Valencia's revamped port area has played home to the America Cup in recent years and now hosts a Formula One Grand Prix every year. The beach is good as far as city beaches go, though there are better ones in the region.
5. Mercado Central
Valencia's market is more spacious than the more famous Boqueria market in Barcelona, less touristy and not so expensive.
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6. La Lonja
The old silk exchange looks like something out of Lord of the Rings!
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Valencia's bullring is a modern design, but that doesn't mean it doesn't get some good fighters occasionally, especially during the Fallas festival.
More: Bullfighting in Valencia
8. Turia River
The river Turia passed through the city until a 1957 flood forced the council to redirect it around the city. The former riverbed is now a park that snakes through the city. There's also a fun Gulliver (from Gulliver's Travels) children's climbing frame.
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Valencia's self-proclaimed "new generation zoo" is walking distance from the city center.
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Things to Do in Valencia: Cuisine
Valencia is at the heart of Spain's reputation for great Mediterranean cuisine, with plenty of great food for you to try. But the two you mustn't leave the city without sampling are:
Spain's most famous dish comes from Valencia!
More: Paella in Valencia
Valencia's milky (though there's no actual milk in it) drink, made from tiger nuts, whatever they are. (No, they're not that.
More: Horchata in Valencia
Things to Do in Valencia: Museums
Valencia's museums don't hit the international headlines, but I especially enjoyed the first two.
12. MuVIM museo valencia illustracio i de la modernitat
This museum has such a strange name that it is invariably referred to by its acronym. Excellent street photography that probably "challenges our relationship to the modern world" or something like that, if you bother to read artists' pretentious blurbs.
13. Toy Soldier Museum
Truly a lovely museum! Toy soldiers re-enact famous eras from history - from prehistoric man to Franco's motorcade. Children will love running around choosing their favorite scene (hey, I loved running around the place) and is a great way to spark a child's interest in history.
More: Valencia Toy Soldier Museum Pictures
14. Valencia's Modern Art Institute
Pop art, sculpture, photography and art installations are the focus of Valencia's modern art museum.
15. Museo de Bellas Artes
Valencia's fine art museum, next to the royal gardens.
16. Prehistoric and Ethnology Museums
Two interesting museums, housed in the same building, next door to the modern art institute.
Things to Do in Valencia: Festivals
Valencia has two of my favorite festivals in Spain.
17. Tomatina Tomato Fight
The world's most famous food fight.
More: Tomatina Tomato Fight Guide
Valencia's festival of bonfires and loud bangs mixes hedonistic fun, glorious pyrotechnics and a religious element for grandma.
More: What to Do at Las Fallas
Things to Do in Valencia: Day Trips
After a while, all cities can blur into one and another. If you want to stretch your legs a little and get out of metropolis, take one of these day trips from Valencia.
A beautiful city on the way to Madrid, now accessible from Valencia by high-speed rail, famous for its 'hanging houses', dwellings that hang off the edge of a cliff!
See more on Cuenca
A water park, cathedral and aqueduct await visitors to Segorbe.
Read how to get from Valencia to Segorbe
The largest city between Valencia and Barcelona.
Read how to get from Valencia to Castellon
22. El Palmar
The rice fields where paella's key ingredient was first grown. Some good paella restaurants in the area.
See how to get from Valencia to El Palmar
23. Cueva Benidoleig
Ancient caves with all the stalagmites and stalactites you've come to expect of ancient caves.
Valencia's wine producing town.
Read how to get from Valencia to Requeña.
Historic town with a scenic castle built onto a hilltop.