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  • Cityscape Spanish arabesque
  • City life Fireworks, fallas, parties and paella

Revamped and rejuvenated, Valencia’s an ancient Mediterranean port with grand modern designs, and it’s not just the oranges that benefit from the region’s year-round sunshine…

When Spain’s third largest city landed the America’s Cup in 2007, it could finally stick two fingers up to its bigger sisters, Barcelona and Madrid. Not that it hadn’t anything to be proud about beforehand – the sun-soaked port of Valencia has earned the gratitude of chefs everywhere for being the birthplace of paella, and the city’s glut of 15th-century architecture was turning heads even before its recent renaissance. Now, however, Valencia’s fast gaining a reputation as a designer-boutique shopping destination, a culinary hub (and not just for the ubiquitous paella), and a party city every bit as banging as Brighton or Barcelona. Add to that a stretch of beachy Mediterranean coastline, a handsome historic harbour, a cloud-free sky, and some world-beating museums and galleries, and you’ve got yourself a year-round European city-break destination with looks, brains and attitude.

Do go/Don’t go

Famously, Valencia enjoys more than 300 cloudless days a year (part of the reason its oranges are so tasty), only seeing remotely serious rainfall infrequently in autumn and spring. July and August are usually exceedingly hot and humid, leading to a mass exodus of locals from the city and the closure of a fair few restaurants and shops. The fringes of summer – May and June and September – can be the most pleasant periods to visit, although Valencia makes a good year-round destination.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes Nine kilometres from the city centre | Valencia Airport receives regular easyJet and Ryanair flights from Gatwick and Stansted. Metrovalencia trains 3 and 5 run between the airport and the centre of the old town every 20 minutes or so.
  • Boats Car and passenger ferries run regularly between Valencia’s port and Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca and Mahon (www.trasmediterranea.es).
  • Trains The architecturally splendid Estacion del Norte is slap in Valencia’s city centre, beside the Town Hall, and runs near-hourly services to Barcelona, Madrid, and a host of other Spanish cities.
  • Automobiles Car rental’s not really necessary in and around Valencia as public transport is excellent, city-centre parking can induce angina, and the surrounding area is comprehensively covered by the metro. If you do want your own wheels, however, Avis (www.avis.com) have a desk at the airport.
  • Taxis There are plenty of ranks in Valencia city centre, with the white cabs displaying a green light when free. To book a car in advance, try Radio Taxis (+34 96 370 3333), or Taxi Star (+34 639 616 666).