1. Amazing weather
Which brings us to Valencia’s weather. There’s a reason why those canny old soldiers opted to retire here, the Florida of its day. Valencia has arguably the best weather in Spain, with 300 days of sunshine a year and temperatures that range from an average of 25 degrees in its hottest month, August, to a manageable average of nine degrees in January. That said, you can expect to find yourself in a T-shirt any month of the year here. And, of course, being on the Med, the sea temperatures are pretty nice too.
2. Brilliant beaches
Though it’s usually seen as a city break option, Valencia has terrific beaches for those looking for a more traditional fly and flop holiday.
Closest to the city, and just minutes away by bus, tram or car, are the beaches at Arenas, with seven kilometres of cabanas, sun shades and loungers and backed by a lively prom with shops and restaurants.
Head north and you’ll find La Malvarorrsa beach, which should surely be renamed Benvarossa because its size and fine sand make it a real gem. Just beyond the city you’ll find wilder beaches such as La Garrofera, 15km outside the city. Like many of the beaches around here, what’s most striking is how undeveloped they are, especially when compared with their Costa del Sol counterparts.
3. Fantastic fallas
Valencia’s world famous fiesta takes place from March 14th to 19th, with festivities dominated by giant wooden effigies called ninots made by various neighbourhoods, or ‘fallas’. In all they cost up to €20 million to build, which is something to ponder as you see them all set alight after being paraded through streets. If you can’t be there then – and with half a million visitors in town for the festivities, accommodation books out years in advance – you can always visit for Valencia day on October 9th, to see the townsfolk parade through the streets again, this time dressed as Moors. Or just go to the Fallas Museum instead, open Monday to Saturday year round.
4. Ancient atmosphere
The gates may be all that are left of the town’s 14th century defensive walls, but what a souvenir. Towering over the entrance to the city’s historic centre, they set the tone perfectly for the beautiful Plaza de Virgen, a pedestrian square just behind them. Its centrepiece is a fountain surrounded by eight women, representing the eight irrigation channels that have brought water to the city since Roman times.
One side of the square has cafes and restaurants while the other is dominated by a stunning if somewhat confused cathedral. The architect couldn’t decide between Romanesque, baroque or gothic style so just used all three. Come on a Thursday at noon and you’ll see the Water Tribunal in session, where local farmers come to get irrigation issues adjudicated on, just as they have for more than 1,000 years.