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The coastal city of Valencia, the third largest locale in Spain, is an ideal destination for a long, relaxing weekend or an action-packed adventure. We asked Heather Cowper, travel blogger extraordinaire, how to make Valencia a cheapo-friendly spot. Here, her insight for an inexpensive getaway:
Cheapo activities in Valencia-
Head to the Mercado Central: The main fruit and vegetable market in Valencia is a feast for the eyes and a great place to buy all the makings for a picnic—saving the cost of lunch in a café. The building itself is airy and light with colorful tiles and stained glass windows. Don’t forget to check out the amazing fish section at the far end of the market. It’s a true treat and a fantastic way to see real deal Spanish seafood.
Linger at La Lonja: The 15th-century silk exchange is a Unesco World Heritage site and has been recently restored. The entry is free. Follow along the colonnaded hall with its twisting stone columns and cathedral-like atmosphere. Next, walk through the shady courtyard decked in orange trees. Finally, go up the steps to the upper room with its beautiful coffered ceiling. The whole experience will make a lasting, and cheap, impression.
Go to Plaza de la Virgen: This plaza is a pleasant place to sit with a drink, admire the fountain, or eat a picnic. If you want to visit the Cathedral, it will normally cost you €4 including an audio-guide. But, if you attend one of the many masses, you can enter for free. Try the Sunday 9:30 a.m. mass held in the Chapel of the Holy Grail where you can hear the Gregorian chant as a bonus.
Walk through Turia Gardens: The Turia River flowed through Valencia until it was diverted in the 1950s due to flooding. Today’s picturesque riverbed is a series of public parks. Do as the locals do and take an afternoon stroll or have a picnic there. The area around the Palau de la Musica is especially pleasant.
Don’t leave without…
Getting your architecture fix. You can’t leave Valencia without stopping to admire the amazing architecture of the town’s museums, cinemas, and concert halls. Sure, the venues are expensive, but it costs nothing to wander around and look. Take in the buildings, cool blue pools, and metal sculptures in the gardens. And, be sure to pop into the shady botanical greenhouse, L’Umbracle.
Finding a free museum. There are many great museums in Valencia where average prices are about €2-3 for entrance. However, the Museo de Bellas Artes, the Bullfighting Museum, Museo Historico Municipal, and Museo de Prehistoria (also known as La Beneficienca), are free. The Palacio del Marques de dos Aguas, which contains the Ceramics Museum, is free on Saturday afternoon and Sunday too—and is well worth a visit.
Basking at the beach. If the sun is shining, take a bus or tram to the port of Valencia, which hosted the America’s Cup last year. Then move on to the beach and wander along the boardwalk, relax on the sand, or go for a swim. If you want to sample some authentic Paella, a traditional Valencia dish, you can try it in one of the many restaurants along this strip.
Have a gourmet lunch on a budget. For a delicious 3-course lunch at only €9, head to the ground floor restaurant in the free Museo de Prehistoria, known as La Beneficienca. Service starts at 2 p.m., but arrive a little earlier for a drink in the shaded courtyard, also popular with the locals.
Check out Barrio Carmen: If it’s nightlife you’re after, head for Barrio Carmen. and the party goes on until dawn! Make sure you check out the incredible graffiti-art on surrounding walls.