As your family navigates the narrow pedestrian streets of Valencia’s city center, you’ll find yourself surrounded by Spanish architecture, terra cotta walls, Juliette-style balconies, and hanging potted plants. As you approach Lope de Vega Square, be on the look out for the narrowest building in Europe, at only 105 cm wide (located at #6). Let the kids to try and spot the mini cat house in the neighborhood of El Carmen. And as you make way to Plaza Mayor, listen for the sounds of the Spanish chatter from the outdoor cafes, a street performer’s Spanish guitar, or the rhythmic clapping of a Flamenco dancer enticing you to stay a while.
Here in Valencia, you can also visit beautiful sandy beaches like Las Areans, and stroll along the Paseo Maritimo where you will hear the waves lapping and smell the fresh fish cooking at the beach barbacoas–a treat for virtually all visitors. But for those visiting Valencia with kids, we’d also recommend these 4 great activities plus 1 great place to stay and 1 great place to eat while you are there. (Map and pinnable included at end to help with your trip planning.)
Activity 1: Sing, Dance, & Cook Paella
If you and the kids like food, enjoy cooking, learning, and acting goofy, then this Paella cooking class is the perfect activity for you. The class begins at the Central Market and you learn about all of the ingredients that go into Paella and then you go around and purchase all of them. It is a great learning experience and then you take a short walk over to the restaurant. You will be greeted by the staff, dressed in an apron and hat and offered refreshments.
Once the run down of the day is discussed, it is off to the kitchen for a load of fun and magic. You will learn how to make traditional Valencia Paella and the staff is sure to make it fun for everyone, and yes the kids will love it. There is plenty of singing, dancing, chanting and making fun noises as you learn to cook. Once it is all done, you are invited to sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labor and eat the paella and other side dishes. You can read more about our Valencia cooking class in this post. Website: http://escueladearrocesypaellas.com
Activity 2: Climb Up & Slide Down Gulliver!
Gulliver Park is fun and exciting for children who can climb & slide on a massive play structure of the character Gulliver, the famous literary character from Gulliver’s Travels. The kids will be able to climb up the rope ties or the stairs along his legs. Of course they will squeal with joy as they slide down his belt buckle or his hair.
This is a magical adventure for kids and adults, is located at the heart of the Turia Gardens. Be sure to bring along a picnic, as there are tables available near the head of the structure. If you have younger kids, you might want to plan to spend a full day or visit over multiple days here. Website: http://www.visitvalencia.com/en/blog/the-gulliver-park-big-fun-feeling-small/
Activity 3: Play at the City of Arts and Sciences
The City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia is a modern entertainment and learning center within Valencia. It is an entire complex devoted to scientific and cultural activities, which is made up of six major elements: The Hemisfèric (IMAX cinema), the Umbracle (landscaped park area and parking structure), the Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe (an interactive science museum), the Oceanogràfic (the largest aquarium in Europe with over 500 marine species), Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía (Opera house), and the Agora (conference center). For the kids the aquarium and the science center are likely the most popular attractions.
Pssst! Don’t miss the map of our Valencia recommendations and pinnable at the end of this feature.
If you are on a budget and don’t want to pay entrance fees, there is so much to do and see for free within the complex. On the upper deck of the Umbracle you will find some nice gardens and a path, but also important is a little bit of shade. This is a great area to just relax and enjoy the views below of the complex. At the end of the complex, near the Science Museum, you will find a variety of clocks and sundials, which are fascinating. The kids will love trying to guess the time and play with shadows a bit. Website: http://www.cac.es/es/home.html
Tip: Don’t forget to take photos! It is almost guaranteed you will find the perfect photo opportunity from just many vantage points around the complex. With the unique architecture of each of the buildings, combined with the beautiful blue and reflections from the pools, you can’t go wrong. Did you know that the Hemisfèric building looks like an eye, when reflecting on the pool? Of course the water needs to be still to see the full effect.
Activity 4: Tantalize Your Tastebuds at The Central Market
Get ready to be amazed by the freshness and bold colors of the produce and products at the Central Market. It is amazing to see the locals in action with their daily purchases and just wait until you see all of the Jamon legs hanging! Remember, if you love almonds, olives, ham, cheese or fruits, it is okay to request a taste.
The Mercado Central or Mercat Central is a public market, which has been running since 1839. It is located across from the Llotja de la Seda and the church of the Juanes in central Valencia, Spain. If you are there early in the morning, you can see the fresh fish of the day arrive to the stalls. There are so many great foods, drinks, meats and more. Don’t forget to try the orxata or horchata de chufa, a sweet cool beverage made from tigernuts, water and sugar. Website: https://www.mercadocentralvalencia.es/El-Mercado.aspx#
1 Great Place to Stay: Valencia Flats Centro Ciudad
Enjoy the comforts of a spacious apartment located in the city center, for very affordable prices. The staff is very helpful and the 1- to 3-bedroom apartments all come with a kitchen–which is ideal for having a quick meal on your own before heading out for the day. If driving to Valencia, you can also just park the car in the garage and use the public transportation during your stay. Within a 10-minute walk from the apartments, you will reach the Central Market and it’s just a 3-minute walk to the metro station. Around the corner is a local supermarket, so it is easy to stock up on drinks and snacks. There are several other Valencia Flats to choose from in town, so check out them all. Website: http://www.valenciaflats.com/en/
1 Great Place to Eat: FrescCo Restaurante
From paella to pizza, the FrescCo Restaurante is the perfect place to find food for everyone. It is an all-you-can-eat buffet with typical Spanish cuisine, but they also have plenty of kids’ favorites too. The prices are very reasonable with options of salad bar, Spanish entrée dishes, pizza, veggies, desserts and more. Located just a quick 5-minute walk from the City of Arts & Sciences, it is a great place to take a break from all of the activities to fill up those bellies. Website: http://www.frescco-almar.es/