UP for soft beaches? Or do you prefer wonderful museums?

Maybe you just want to wander around a thriving town with authentic restaurants around every corner. Well, Valencia has it all.


Enjoy multiple vacations in one by visiting beautiful Valencia in SpainCredit: Getty
Wander through the city's authentic restaurants


Wander through the city’s authentic restaurantsCredit: Alamy

You can have several vacations in one here — and that’s exactly what I did in Spain’s third largest city on the southeast coast.

The star of the show is the City of Arts and Sciences – a £760m spaceship-like mega-complex that took a decade to build.

It’s a breathtaking sight – one of Spain’s 12 Treasures – and made me feel like I was transported to a future of aerocars and space travel.

The grandiose structures that make up the attractions inside are so surreal that shows such as Doctor Who, Westworld and Tomorrowland have all used them as filming locations.

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As I walked around the impressive buildings, I realized that the huge complex reminded me of another famous one – Epcot Country at Disney World in Florida.

L’Oceanografic’s aviary, the resort’s massive aquarium, resembles Epcot’s golf ball-shaped Spaceship Earth.

And there’s even a playground nearby, Park Gulliver, with oversized slides that don’t quite compare to Disney’s roller coasters, but are still fun for toddlers.

To really explore all the city has to offer, buy a Valencia Tourist Card, which gets you free travel on the bus and metro.

For kids, there’s the expansive science museum with interactive attractions to learn about everything from the human body to space exploration.

Adults can try the Festival des Arts at the Opera, which offers a range of live musical performances during the summer months.

Best of all, the attractions are so close to amazing beaches, where I’ve wasted hours drinking cocktails – mostly on the Las Arenas strip, which overlooks a bustling stretch of sand with paddleboarders in the distance.

Just around the corner is the trendy neighborhood of El Cabanyal, known as Little Havana thanks to the rainbow-tiled buildings that line the streets.

This is where I accompanied a live band at a local jazz festival while stocking up on Iberian ham, croquettes and local wine.

For some of the best tapas, head to Colmado LaLola in the city center, run by local Jesus and his rescue chihuahua.

The food kept coming (as did the stories of his life).

“Must try”

I washed down fresh scallops, spicy patatas bravas and fried padron peppers with a vermouth that was so punchy I needed to kiss the Spanish siesta at my hotel, Valencia Oceanic by Melia.

But don’t snooze too long because, like all of Spain, the city really comes alive at night.

Bars spill out onto roads decked with ornate Victorian lampposts that make you feel like you’re in a musical.

If you’re looking for a budget night out, head to La Finestra. Everyone comes for the cheap beers and mini pizzas (€2.50).

It’s so popular that you’ll find people perched on the sidewalks nearby when the tables are all taken.

For something more extravagant, you can dine on a tasting menu at Saona, a small chain across Valencia that serves “cups” of local wine.
The absolute must for any foodie, however, is paella.

Valencia is where the famous rice dish was invented and Nou Racó in the Albufera Natural Park does it best, serving wood-fired paellas in the traditional way with meat or seafood. sea, but never a mixture of the two.

Within days, I had barely scratched the surface of the attractions in the city of Valencia.

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But I had still managed to get plenty of Disney-style excitement, relaxation on the beach, and top-notch wine and food, all at a great price.

Not bad for a single city.

The star of the show is the City of Arts and Sciences - a £760million spaceship-like mega-complex


The star of the show is the City of Arts and Sciences – a £760million spaceship-like mega-complexCredit: Alamy
The absolute must for any foodie is paella


The absolute must for any foodie is paellaCredit: Getty
Better yet, the attractions are so close to amazing beaches


Better yet, the attractions are so close to amazing beachesCredit: Getty


GETTING THERE : Ryanair flies from Manchester to Valencia from £43 return. See ryanair.com.

STAYING THERE: A night at the Valencia Oceanic by Melia is from £72 a night based on two sharing. See melia.com.

OUTSIDE & SURROUNDINGS: Get a Valencia Tourist Card with free bus and tube travel and discounted attractions from £21.50. It includes a 15% discount on tickets to the City of Arts and Sciences complex from £34. See visitvalencia.com.