Valencia Hostels, Eurail Passes, and Backpacking Tips

Valencia, birthplace of paella and Spain's vibrant third city, is blessed with great weather and hosts the country's wildest party, Las Fallas (12 to 19 March), an exuberant blend of fireworks, music, all-night partying and over 350 fallas, giant sculptures which all go up in flames on the final night.


The action part of the city is oval, bounded by the old course of the Turia River and the sickle-shaped inner ring road of Calles Colon, Jativa and Guillem de Castro. These trace the walls of the old city, demolished in 1865 as a job-creation project.

Within are three major squares: Plazas del Ayuntamiento, de la Reina (also known as Plaza de Zaragoza) and de la Virgen.

The main tourist office is at Calle Paz 48 (96 398 64 22). Three smaller ones are at the train station, town hall and Teatro Principal. All have reams of information in English. The imposing neobaroque main post office is on Plaza del Ayuntamiento. Poste restante is on the 1st floor.

Among several Cybercafes in town is the noisy, 48-terminal (yes, that's the name) at Calle Ribera 8. Just off Plaza del Ayuntamiento, it charges 0.5 € ptas per hour.



The free Museo de Bellas Artes ranks among Spain's best, with works by El Greco, Goya, Velazquez, Ribera, Ribalta and Valencian impressionists such as Sorolla and Pinazo.

The Institute Valenciano de Arte Mod-erno (IVAM, pronounced 'eebam'; 3 €, free Sunday), beside Puente de las Artes, houses an impressive permanent collection of 20th-century Spanish art and hosts excellent quality temporary exhibitions.

Roam around Valencia's cathedral with its three magnificent portals - one Romanesque, one Gothic and one baroque. Climb the Miguelete bell tower (2 €) for a sweeping view of the old town.

The aesthetically stunning, ultramodern Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias promises to become Valencia's premier attraction. Already open is the Hemisferic (96 399 55 77), at once planetarium, IMAX cinema and laser show (admission to each, 9 €). An interactive science museum, the Museo de las Ciencias Principe Felipe (902 100 031), opened in 2001 (8 €).

Playa de la Malvarrosa, bordered by a string of restaurants, is Valencia city's beach. Take bus No 19 from Plaza del Ayuntamiento, No 1 or 2 from the bus station or the high-speed tram.

Playa El Saler, 10km south of town, is backed by shady pine wood. Autocares Herca (96 349 12 50) buses (1 €, 30 minutes) run hourly (every half hour in summer) from the junction of Gran Via de las Germanias and Calle Sueca.


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