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Cosmopolitan, cultural, and with a proud history, Valencia is a real Spanish treat. Comparable to Barcelona with its myriad of old and new architecture, Valencia doesn’t boast the huge tourist numbers seen by its near neighbors. Instead, Valencia is an altogether calmer place where you will find a handful of highlights and a lovely Spanish atmosphere. It gets quite hot here so you definitely need to make sure you have enough water to keep hydrated while you tour the city. Friends of mine who work at a Calgary garage floor coating company back home told me that water is key when you’re touring. Here are the top must see attractions in Valencia, Spain.

The City of Arts and Sciences

The most striking and recognizable landmark in Valencia is the city of Arts and Sciences. Built into the city’s dry riverbed, this unusual complex of buildings is home to an opera house, a Science Museum, as well as one of the largest marine parks in Europe –Oceanographic. This futuristic complex was designed by Santiago Calatrave.

Historical Center

Contrasting Valencia’s modern architecture is the Historical Center. Here you will find the old city gate, Valencia Silk Exchange, and also the pretty cathedral which as Valencians will tell you is home to the Holy Grail. The cathedral is an example of beautiful Gothic architecture. The old silk exchange is one of Europe’s foremost Gothic buildings. For a great view of the city, climb to the top of the Miguelete.

Central Market

Speaking of Valencians, one of the delights of exploring a city is to mingle with the locals. In Valencia, there is no better way to do this than to visit the Central Market which is housed in a pretty Art Nouveau building. A fusion of sights and aromas, the market is where locals go to buy fresh produce for the day. The Central Market is Europe’s oldest food market and it is a great place to experience Valencia’s daily life and buy some local delicacies.

Turia Gardens

In 1950, the Turia River was diverted to the south of the city as a result of serious flooding. Its former river bed has now turned into one of Valencia’s best places for a stroll. It offers sports facilities, children’s playground, and 9km of gardens.

Of course, another favorite with the locals is the beach. Stretching for 1,800 meters, this sandy city beach is vast. With its pleasant promenade lined with restaurants and cafes, the beach is where the locals come to unwind and you can’t blame them. Valencia really is a lovely city to explore with its blend of old and new architecture, bustling streets, and quaint corners, you are sure to fall for its charms.