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The Ideal Valencia Old Town Guide, Part II – The Carmen Neighborhood

by Last updated Oct 10, 2019 | Published on Oct 8, 2019Europe, Spain, Travel, Valencia

Welcome to part two of our Ideal Valencia Old Town Guide. It features the top historical and iconic sites for experiencing the Barrio del Carmen (Carmen neighborhood, also known as El Carmen), Valencia Old Town’s most popular and historic neighborhood. Along the way, explore the charming old streets and enjoy tasty breaks in some great little cafes and bars. From our own experience living in Valencia, here’s how to enjoy a bit of everything for having an ideal time in one of Spain’s most beautiful cities.

Also enjoy Part I of our Ideal Valencia Old Town Guide.

Map/Table of Contents – Valencia Old Town, Part II

Torres de Quart

Carrer de Quart

Vinostrum (Wine Shop + Bar)

Portal de la Valldigna

The Carmen Cultural Center

Carrer de Roteros

Torres de Serranos

Carrer dels Serrans

Carrer dels Cavallers

Parroquia de San Nicolas de Bari y San Pedro Martir

Plaza de la Virgen

Cafe de las Horas

Valencia Cathedral

Plaza de la Reina

Horchateria de Santa Catalina

Plaza de Redonda

Plaza de Lope de Vega

Church Santa Catalina

Carrer de la Tapineria

Carrer de la Corretgeria

Bodegó de la Sarieta

National Museum of Ceramics

Turia Riverbed Park

Jimmy Glass Jazz Club

Torres de Quart 

These amazing defensive towers are a twin set that in the middle have a gate that is today always open. It used to be part of the medieval wall of Valencia, built in the 15th century. The towers have seen many wars, from the French War of Independence to the War of Succession and the Spanish Civil War. We especially like this set of towers because of its character, with marks still left of canons that hit it in conflicts past.

You can tour the top of the towers, which gives fantastic views of the city. Tickets are only €2. Click here to get more information.

Travel Tip: Entry is free on Sundays and holidays.

Mayan Coffees

Want to sip on the best coffee in Valencia? Just across from the Torres de Quart is Mayan Coffees. Tell the friendly owner Oscar that we sent you, and enjoy one of his amazing Guatemalan coffees or an authentic hot chocolate (Amalia’s favorite). Last time we were there, they were also featuring Sicilian food for take-out. It’s also a great place to connect to free WiFi.

Update: As of October 10, 2019, we learned that they no longer have WiFi available at this location. 

Carrer de Quart 

Leading away from the Torres de Quart is the Carrer de Quart. This is a lovely street to walk down that even recently has had new shops and restaurants pop up. You can also take it to head back towards the center of Valencia Old Town. Not far down, it turns into Carrer de Los Cavallers, which is a must-wander street that we’ll tell you about further below.

Vinostrum (Wine Shop + Bar) in Placa de Mossén Sorell

This great gastro bar/wine store owned by Luis features exquisite wines from around Spain and their own wine, also named Vinostrum. Not only can you shop here, you can also eat and drink here. Located inside the Mossen Sorell, a glass-enclosed market building, you can pull up to a high table or the bar and fall in love with their homemade tapas. They’re especially known for serving the renown Spanish brands of premium canned seafood.

Along with buying a bottle of their wine to take home, make sure to experience Luis’ own craft beer, Ojo del Mar, which they serve a special way in a wine glass. Or if you’re wondering what Spanish vermouth is all about, start out with one of their artisan Spanish vermúts. We recommend the Galician-made Nordesia.

READ MORE: Valencia Tapas – Tarta de Sardinas

Portal de la Valldigna

Seeking out this 15th-century archway is just as enchanting as actually finding and walking through it. Tucked away in what feels like a winding maze of narrow, cobbled streets, the Portal de la Valldigna was built in 1440 and was the entrance to the old Arab quarter. Its unique architecture features a beautiful reproduction of an original altarpiece that used to hang there in 1589. Standing here feels like going back in time.

The Carmen Cultural Center

The Carmen Cultural Center is also the headquarters of Valencia’s Consortium of Museums (referred to as the Consorci de Museus). The buildings themselves are a national historic landmark and were a convent in times past. Today, it houses temporary exhibits, including concerts, lectures, and film and literary events. There are nine exhibition halls and two cloisters.

Surprise yourself with the discovery of its tranquil open-air garden courtyard, which is further beyond the front entrance courtyard. It’s framed on all sides by the open hallways and its glorious arches and columns. It feels like discovering a secret garden.

Cafe Museo

This tiny cafe has a gritty, European feel outside and a funky, bohemian style inside. Just steps away from the Carmen Cultural Center, its outdoor seating fills up the front under small trees and no cars can pass by here, so musicians will come and sit and play guitar sometimes.

They serve the local Turia beer on tap and on certain days have a menu del dia or feature a homemade paella that they charge by the plate, with no minimum number of people needed. Coming here is for when you can sit outside and enjoy the vibe of locals who frequent here.

Find them on Facebook.

Carrer de Roteros

From the Cafe Museu and Carmen Cultural Center, continue your exploration by taking the Carrer de Roteros in the direction of the Torres de Serranos. The street has its own charm, with little restaurants and cafes along the way.

Torres de Serranos

Similar to the Torres de Quart, the Torres de Serranos is a twin set of defensive towers that were part of the original medieval wall around the Valencia Old Town. There is an open gateway in its middle and across the street is the Pont dels Serrans, which is an impressive Gothic-style bridge that is pedestrian-only today and crosses the Turia Riverbed Park.

You can also go up in these towers and get gorgeous views of the riverbed park to one direction and the Valencia Old Town and city to the other.

Travel Tip: Entry is also €2 here and free on Sundays and holidays.

Carrer dels Serrans

Leading into the old town center from Torres de Serranos is the Carrer dels Serrans. This mainly pedestrian street is lined with boutique shops and little bars and restaurants. It’s a charming street to venture down for getting to the Cathedral and the Carrer dels Cavallers.

Carrer dels Cavallers

This ancient street is today one of the most commonly visited streets in Valencia Old Town. Some of the regal buildings that line it consists of government offices and personal residences on the upper levels. Sometimes you can catch a glimpse inside a massive medieval door that is left open, to see an elegant courtyard inside. On the street level are attractive boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.

Parroquia de San Nicolás de Bari y San Pedro Mártir

Discovering this church is like stumbling upon a secret. Also referred to as the Church of Saint Nicolas, one of two entrances is just a small, simple wooden door off of the Carrer dels Cavallers. What is special about the 13th-century church are the exquisitely beautiful frescoes that cover the ceiling. Depicting virtues and allegories, they are a grand display of vibrant colors and gold. It’s so beautiful that people have referred to it as the Valencian Sistine Chapel.

Travel Tip: This is by far one of the more expensive historic sites to visit, costing €7. There are also no free entry days and Mondays are closed to tourist visits.

The Cathedral Area of Valencia Old Town

Plaza de la Virgen

This grand plaza is also called Placa de la Mare de Déu in the Valencian language. It’s just to the back of the Cathedral and has a large fountain with a statue of Neptune surrounded by little female nymphs pouring jugs of water. Cafes and restaurants line the edges and street performers are here practically every day. Off to one side is a gated orange tree garden that is at the foot of the beautifully constructed Palau de la Generalitat (a government office).

This can be a great place to get a drink and people watch if you don’t mind the somewhat touristy vibe.

Cafe de las Horas

For some of the best Agua de Valencia in town, check out Cafe de las Horas. This drink is a Valencian version of a mimosa but can knock your socks off. Make sure to get it somewhere that does it well, like this place. The cafe is located down a small alleyway just off of the Plaza de la Virgen.

There are some cute tables out front, but we recommend you go inside to enjoy the extravagant Parisian style interior. They also have tapas during certain hours and other kinds of drinks.

Valencia Cathedral

Called the La Seu de Valencia, this magnificent Gothic-style church is said to house the Holy Grail. It also has a tall tower called Torre El Micalet, which you can tour and climb to the top of for great views of the Valencia Old Town.

Plaza de la Reina

In front of the main entrance to the cathedral is the Plaza de la Reina. All around it is neo-classical and baroque style buildings, with premium residences on the upper floors and bars and cafes on the street level.

Horchateria Santa Catalina

Time for a break at Valencia’s oldest horchateria. These types of cafes feature the local artisan drink horchata, along with other delicious goodies to enjoy. Horchateria Santa Catalina is also worth visiting just to see the colorful, hand-painted ceramic tiles that decorate its entryway and all throughout its interior. It’s a classy European-style ambiance and has a second floor with grandiose chandeliers.

Indulge in a refreshing horchata and fartons (the sweet breadstick-like pastries for dipping in the drink), or get a decadent hot chocolate, homemade buñuelos (doughnuts), or artisan ice-cream. They also sell other traditional local sweets, like turron.

READ MORE: Valencia Horchata – Why and Where You Gotta Try Valencia’s Beloved Artisan Drink (Story + Video)

Plaza de Redonda

Head down the Carrer de Sant Vicent de Martir, a popular tree-lined street, and turn off it to discover the tucked away Plaza de Redonda. This used to be a bull ring and today has modern-day flats wrapping along its upper levels. In its center is a fountain and several stands of local textile goods, as well as cozy little restaurants and bars.

Plaza de Lope de Vega

Just outside the Plaza de Redonda is the Plaza de Lope de Vega, cozily surrounded by brightly colored buildings and wrought-iron balconies. In its center is a circle formation of inlaid stone.

A few restaurants and bars are along three sides and to the fourth side is the back of the small Church Santa Catalina. The wall here has an interesting reveal of what looks like broken chunks of a statue, partially buried in the wall. It’s all very mysterious.

Church Santa Catalina

Above ImagePhoto by travelnow.or.crylater on Unsplash

One of the oldest in the city, this church was built over the site of a former mosque and goes back to the Middle Ages. It also has a tower, which you can tour and climb to the top of for great views. Unlike other churches in Valencia, it has a simple Gothic-style with very little decoration, yet is a wonderful building to view, inside and out.

La Tapineria Area

Carrer de la Tapineria

This little pedestrian street is one of our favorites in Valencia to stroll down. It zigzags from a corner of the Plaza de Lope de Vega and alongside Church Santa Catalina, to then continue on to reveal charming little discoveries.

There used to be a gorgeous mural here of a vintage bicycle with a flower basket against the backdrop of a quaint shop front. It was a very popular photo/Instagram spot. It looked so real, that sometimes you felt like you could walk right into it. But sadly, it was tagged and destroyed by vandals over a year ago.

Bar & Kitchen

Turn off of Carrer de la Tapineria onto the even tinier alleyway called Carrer del Cobertis de Sant Tomas and you will find yourself in a small square with no name. It has a handful of trees and usually adorable wooden tables and chairs out. This is the outdoor seating for Bar & Kitchen, a fantastic local food/gastro bar whose kitchen is open all day (hard to find in Spain).

Their food is delicious and they have great local beers and wines, as well as local artisan vermouths. They also have healthy, fresh-squeezed juices. At night, the white lights strung through trees come on, making for a casual, yet romantic ambiance. Inside are community-style tables and a natural, down-to-Earth vibe. Definitely get their Patatas Bravas, which include hand-cut wedges of sweet potatoes when in season.

Carrer de la Corretgeria

Located just on the other side of Bar & Kitchen, is also this beautiful street to walk down. It connects with Carrer de la Calatrava or in the other direction the Plaza de la Reina. There are plenty more restaurants to be found along here and some tiny shops.

Bodegó de la Sarieta

Down the little alleyway of Carrer dels Juristes is the restaurant Bodegó de la Sarieta. Coming across this place is like finding a hidden gem, not only for its charming environment but because the food is also great. There are tables just outside in the alleyway, lined up under umbrellas and the old buildings on either side.

A large arched window opens up completely to the interior, decked out in lush green plants, hand-painted ceramic tiles, and classical-style paintings, making you feel like you stepped back in time to old-world Spain. Their paellas and rice dishes are wonderful, but make sure to reserve a table, especially if you want paella and if you’re visiting in the busier high season of summertime.

National Museum of Ceramics

The National Museum of Ceramics and Decorative Art is an incredible place to see, even if it’s only to admire the building facade. Once you do see the stunning entrance made all in alabaster, you’ll be wanting to tour the inside. This museum is in a 15th-century palace and contains incredible ceramic collections that come from prehistoric, Roman, Greek and Arab civilizations. Even some contemporary works are featured, including pieces by Picasso.

Travel Tip: General admission is €3 per person. On certain Spanish holidays, Saturdays from 4pm until closing, and on Sundays, admission is free. Visit their site to confirm their latest rates.

Valencia’s Iconic Park – Turia Riverbed Park

Turia Riverbed Park is one of Spain’s largest urban parks. Starting at the Cabecera Park (next to the Valencia Bioparc or zoo), it curves along the Valencia Old Town district, as well as other neighborhoods in the center, and runs for nine kilometers of beautifully kept green space.

There are walking paths, bike paths, dedicated leisure, and sports areas, and benches and picnic tables for relaxing. It’s also crossed by 18 bridges, several of them historical, and ends at the impressive City of Arts and Sciences. Along either side are many of Valencia’s main museums. It’s a runner’s dream and is ideal for cycling, walking, and having a picnic.

READ MORE: Visiting the Valencia Bioparc – A Photo Story

Music in Valencia at Jimmy Glass Jazz Club

If you want a real live jazz music scene in the Valencia Old Town, then make it over to the Jimmy Glass Jazz Bar. It’s located down one of the winding streets. They regularly feature local artists and some major international names as well. We recommend making a reservation because it fills up quickly. Some performances are free with just a one-drink minimum.

The small, cozy space inside also features a great cocktail menu and their ‘jazz and tapas’ menu for tapas and dinner options (offered Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, except in August). But keep in mind, they really take live music performances seriously and if you’re talking loudly while someone is playing, they’ll tell you to shoosh or ask you to step outside or leave. So go for the purpose of truly listening to the music.

Continue to Explore Valencia

Have you been 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!

Don't Miss Part I of The Ideal Valencia Old Town Guide

Explore even more of the Valencia Old Town with part one of our guide series. Also available as a downloadable self-guided walking tour with GPSmyCity app. 

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Written by Amalia & Eric

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…

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