Not everyone has heard of Valencia; but everyone needs to. Located on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, south of Barcelona but to the north of the more touristy Alicante, lies Valencia, Spain’s third largest city.
Now I might be a bit biased when it comes to talking about this city – when I’m in Spain, I call Valencia my hometown and it is where I have based myself to experience the Spanish culture and learn the Spanish language. But out of fear of this post turning into a spiel about why you should add Valencia to your list for your next holiday in Spain (there are plenty of reasons!), I’m going to talk a little about the futuristic and ‘world exclusive’ City of Arts and Sciences (official website here).
La ciudad de las artes y las ciencias (its official name in Spanish) is located slightly east to the commercial centre of the city, but is easily accessed by bus using EMT (Valencia’s public transport network. You’ll want to catch the number 35 bus – it goes direct from the Town Hall to the Arts and Sciences), Valenbici (Valencia’s public bicycle network) or by foot (about 20-25 minutes from the CBD).
It’s quite a nice walk as you pass through some of Valencia’s older neighbourhoods like El carmen before walking along the Turia River, which is now dry and forms a large park spanning the length of the city before arriving at the arts and sciences precinct.
The City of Arts and Sciences is made up of a quite a few buildings as well as gardens, man-made lakes and an aquarium, which is in fact the largest in Europe. Sites to see here include:
- L’Hemisfèric — an IMAX Cinema, planetarium and laserium
- El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe — science museum resembling the skeleton of a whale.
- L’Umbracle — an open structure, indoor-outdoor garden.
- L’Oceanogràfic — an open-air aquarium
- El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia — an opera house and performing arts centre.
- L’Àgora — an events and exhibition centre.
Even if you decide not to enter any of the sites, just strolling around the precinct and taking in the incredible architecture of the buildings is a perfect way to pass a couple of hours while in Valencia.
Your experience of the La ciudad will also vary depending on the time of day you visit – if you have time try seeing it by both day and night – the lights on the water provide some amazing reflections!
While the architecture may not be to everyone’s tastes, it is definitely something that you can only see here in Valencia’s very own City of Arts and Sciences. And besides, if you wear yourself out here you can always cross the road to El Saler shopping mall for a bite to eat and a bit of retail therapy!