The Ideal Valencia Old Town Guide – Where to Go, Eat, and Streets to Wander, Part I
Imagine yourself in the Valencia Old Town, strolling among the orange tree lined sidewalks and enchanting, old-world architecture. You’re in search of the atmosphere and vibe of Spain’s third largest city, craving a taste of the local life while still seeing the top attractions.
A romantically inviting energy leads you down countless old streets that curve in between Romanesque and Gothic buildings, revealing flower-strewn balconies above and welcoming tapas bars below.
Wandering curiously around every bend, you began to notice emblems of a bat or a dragon and the unique glossy, dark-blue tiles of church domes, unique features of the history and culture of the Valencia Community. While many things are ‘Spanish’, you feel like you’re getting to know a another side of Spain. You’re in the presence of the Valencia Old Town.
Being the first place we lived when moving to Spain, we quickly fell in love with the friendly people, enchanting old streets, and appetizing food of the Valencia Old Town. Let us take you on a journey down charming routes to experience its locally-loved hidden gems and the top well-known sites. Organized into a series, this guide will unlock for you a treasure chest of enriching places to see, eat at, and walk among, featuring tips and maps that maximize your time in the Valencia Old Town.
Part I of the Ideal Valencia Old Town Guide Series
Going back more than 2,000 years, Valencia old town is the oldest part of the city. Still rich with history and vibrant with modern-day businesses, it’s arguably the most charming and attractive area of Valencia to visit.
It may seem like this area is not that big, but don’t underestimate its compactness. It holds so many incredible places to see, that we’ve organized this guide into several parts, each focusing on certain areas of the Valencia old town. In part one, we begin with a likely place for arriving into the city and the Plaza de Ayuntamiento, heading in a counterclockwise direction.
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Map/Table of Contents – Valencia Old Town, Part I
Click on each location on the map to jump to that part of the post and read more. For a Google Map of locations to be featured throughout the entire series, click here.
Estacion del Norte
Plaza de Toros (Valencia Bullring)
Plaza del Ayuntamiento
City Hall (Ayuntamiento)
Post & Telegraph Building
The Mercado Central (Central Market)
Central Bar Inside Mercado Central
Plaza del Dr. Collado
Silk Exchange Building (Lonja de la Seda)
Tyris on Tap (Local Brewery)
L'Ham del Mercat (Artisan Goods Shop)
Kúbelik (Clothing Boutique Store)
Arriving into Valencia Old Town
Estacion del Norte
One of two major train stations, the Estacion del Norte (Estacio Nord in Valencia) is also a historic building. The exterior has brightly painted oranges and garlands carved along the walls and inside are magnificently, colorful ceramic tile mosaics depicting the traditional scenes of the Valencia Community. Even if you’re not taking the train, this is a splendid building to pop into.
Travel Tip: The other major train station in Valencia is the Estacion Joaquin Sorolla, which is where most long distance trains come and go.
Plaza de Toros
You don’t have to attend a bullfight to admire and appreciate the impressive architecture of the Valencia Plaza de Toros (bullring). It’s especially beautiful lit up at night and it’s also used as a venue for concerts. Tours can be taken of the building and the bullfighting museum, called Museo Taurino, is located around to the back of the building.
Plaza del Ayuntamiento
Stylish and sophisticated, this main plaza is the heart of the city. It features a large fountain and an area where various florists have their stands, making for a colorful and fragrant place to stroll through. Sit on one of the benches to admire the neoclassical architecture and enjoy some people watching.
Valencia City Hall
The Valencia city hall (ayuntamiento) is one of many historic buildings in this plaza and is composed of two connected buildings. It’s main features are the splendid clock tower, which below features the bat emblem of Valencia, and a large, grand balcony off the front (above the entrance). Tours can be taken to see the lavish interior, notably the impressive marble staircase.
Post & Telegraph Building of Valencia
Sending mail has never felt so grand! Also referred to as Edificio de Correos or Palacio de los Comunicaciones, this main post office is a gorgeous building designed by architect Miguel Angel Navarro. It’s highlight is a beautiful glass dome that is best viewed from inside. Beginning in 1915, construction took seven years to complete. You can take a tour of this building, and yes, you can still send mail from here.
Gastronomy Meets Shopping in Valencia Old Town
The Mercado Central
Valencia’s Central Market is one of the largest and most beautiful indoor markets in Europe. Inside are numerous stalls of colorful local produce and goods. Stand in the very center and look up to admire the glass dome lined with decorative oranges and to see the brightly colored stain glass windows above the various entrances.
For the best olives, visit the ladies with the olive stand on the corner just off the very center. They’re the sweetest ladies and you can sample the olives first.
Central Bar Inside the Mercado Central
Above Image – The delicious Central Bar inside the Mercado Central. Photo credit to CentralBar.es.
Now that you’re hungry from shopping around the market, do what the locals do and stop over at Central Bar. Located among the stalls themselves, it’s a popular place. Make sure to sip on a caña (beer on tap) or copa de vino (glass of wine) while savoring their ensaladilla (potato salad), alcahofas if they’re in season (artichokes), or their homemade croquetas (croquettes). So delicious!
Venturing out from the Mercado Central, there are countless bars and restaurants to choose from. Many of them feature great outdoor seating areas along the street called Plaza del Mercat, which only in the past couple of years was made more pedestrian friendly.
For an authentic tapas experience with the locals, head to Tasca Sorolla, just across the street from the Mercado Central and down the charming pedestrian street of Carrer de les Mantes. This place is tiny, with its regulars commonly overflowing into the street and using the wooden bars along the window ledges as their table.
The menu is simple, but always the freshest and so good, along with the selection of exquisite local wines, handpicked by the owner Joaquin. He’s a good friend of our’s from when we lived just around the block, so tell him Amalia and Eric sent you and say hello.
Plaza del Dr. Collado
Above Image – The Plaza del Dr. Collado. Photo credit to ValenciaSecreta.com.
This simple little plaza gets its charm and vibrancy from the cafes and bars that line it, the old buildings cozily overlooking it, and glimpses of the intricately impressive Silk Exchange Building. Just across the way are also a scrumptious local bakery and horchateria featuring the local artisan drink and homemade ice cream. It’s another great spot for the Spanish passtime of drinking and eating outside.
Silk Exchange Building
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Lonja de la Seda is a magnificent gothic-style building located just across from the Mercado Central. It was the center of mercantile trade during Valencia’s prosperous 15th century, focusing especially on silks and oils. Built in 1482, there were several additions constructed up until 1548.
You don’t want to miss visiting this site. It’s exterior has mysterious gargoyles all along the top and doorways, and when you first enter there’s a beautiful courtyard and orange garden. Make sure to walk through all the rooms, especially the Contracts Room, which has a gorgeously patterned marble floor and the most incredible spiral columns. The other rooms still exhibit some of the original furnishings.
Travel Tip: Cost of entry is only €2, but on Sundays and holidays, it’s free.
Tyris on Tap
Thank god – Valencia has craft beer! Tyris is Valencia’s biggest, and best, local craft brewery. And with a rotating ten beers on tap, their tap room, Tyris on Tap, proves it. Tucked away, it can be easy to miss, so be on the lookout. Their outdoor seating is casual and urban, with street art murals along one wall, and a hip, industrial style inside. They also feature live music from time to time and delicious snacks and burgers.
L’Ham del Mercat
This local goods shop, L’Ham del Mercat, is a gourmet boutique of the best gifts to take home. From superb wines and liquors to handmade ceramics and house goods, it turns the idea of souveneurs into something with quality and style. Ask about the Liquor de Nisperos, and tell the owners Fernando and Maite that we sent you and say hello.
Ladies, you’re going to love this. Get your shopping on at Kúbelik, a clothing boutique store that designs and makes their apparel locally, and in an eco-friendly, sustainable manner. They’re all about letting nothing go to waste and their styles are refreshingly unique and modern. They also feature gorgeous jewelry made by local artists.
Plaza Negrito Area
Carrer de Calatrava
This is another great street to wander down. Full of bars serving up Gin and Tonics, beers and wines, coffees and liquors, it also has some great restaurants. It leads to Carrer dels Cavallers (which we’ll cover in part II of this series) from the street that runs in front of the Mercado Central.
When on Carrer de Calatrava make sure to stop in at Restaurante Bocatin, known as the vermutería del Carmen. It’s quite small, giving it a great hole-in-the-wall feel combined with a simple, no-frills ambiance. They’re specialities are local homemade Valencian food and their huge selection of artisan vermouths.
The small bar in the entrance is the place to grab their vermút de grifo (vermouth on tap) or pick one of their many other artisan brands. Better yet, they’re all about the traditional pintxo style of tapas, so with every drink you get a free pintxo (a tapa on bread) that you select from the diverse variety in the glass case on the bar.
Plaza del Negrito
Just steps away is this hip little plaza, featuring a fountain with a small, dark statue of a boy. In the mornings, it’s quiet and empty. But later in the day, bars open, tables fill the cozy plaza, and it becomes packed with locals and visitors enjoying drinks, especially at night.
Above Image – The interior of wine store Bodegas Baviera. Photo credit to BodegasBaviera.es.
A little further down and around the corner, is Bodegas Baviera. It’s one of the oldest wine stores in Valencia, and looks the part. When you walk inside, it’s like a scene out of Harry Potter, but with booze. Shelves of every kind of wine, spirit, champagne and cava, and beers, line the walls from floor to ceiling.
You can also take in your own bottle and fill up on Spanish sherries, vermouths, and local wines. This is a great place to get something for back at your AirBnB or hotel room, or to take back home as a souvenir of your trip.
Continue to Explore Valencia Old Town
Have you been yet to Valencia? Are you feeling the enticing pull of the Valencia old town? It will take you back in time and introduce you to the distinct side of Spain that is the Valencia Community. And to make the most of your time visiting Valencia, check out the Valencia Tourist Card.
In the meantime, Subscribe to stay tuned for parts two and three in the rest of our series exploring the Valencia old town. And use the Google Map below to get a sneak peek of all the locations and routes we’ll be featuring throughout the series.
The entire series will also be offered as a downloadable, self-guided walking tour that you can use on and offline via GPSmyCity. Coming soon!
Written by Amalia & Eric
Founders & Producers of Move to Traveling
We’re Amalia and Eric – a traveling couple who are living a traveling lifestyle. Do you love to travel? Perfect! Come along…