Cosmopolitan Barcelona and lively Madrid often steal the limelight in Spain, but the coastal charms of their sister city, Valencia, is an alluring host for honeymooners. More than just a pit stop for paella (although eating the quintessential Spanish rice dish is a must in its birthplace city), this Mediterranean mecca is filled with abundant sunshine year-round-meaning it's the perfect time to go no matter when your honeymoon is.
A city of juxtaposition, Valencia is known for its history meets avant-garde vibe, and you'll find yourself getting lost among the beauty of its myriad architectural styles. With a medieval core, the landscape is rich in scattered Art Nouveau buildings like Estacio del Nord (the train station), Renaissance monuments, medieval city gates, and Gothic architecture, such as the Valencia Cathedral. But the magical thing about Valencia is its time travel abilities-as soon as you leave the past, you jump into the future, swapping historic and cultural structures for striking, sleek, modern buildings that look like they were pulled straight from the The Jetsons. And at the doorstep of it all are stretches of wide, sandy beaches.
And that's the magnetism of Valencia-there is literally quite something for everyone, making it an ideal honeymoon spot for the yin-and-yang couple with different personalities or the newlyweds who can't decide between a European adventure and blissful paradise. Here, how to make the most of it.
What to Do
Old Town bustles with life and energy, a melting pot of colorful faГ§ades, bustling markets, a gastronomic scene, art galleries, and bustling markets. Start your morning with an aromatic walk through Mercado Central, which tantalizes with a bounty of fresh produce-take your pick to fuel up before exploring La Lonja, a 15th-century silk exchange and UNESCO World Heritage Site, across the street. Afterwards, stroll to the Catedral de Valencia, and soak in secret alleys and hidden squares among the maze of streets along the way. A wander inside the Gothic masterpiece that is the cathedral will take you to what is claimed to be the original Holy Grail. Even if you're not religious, the beauty of the panoramic city views from atop the cathedral is worth it-and makes those 207 steps to get there forgivable. The cathedral links to Plaza del Raina and Plaza del Virgen-explore their charms afterward or climb Torres de Serrano or Torres de Quart, opposite entrances to the city, for more city views.
For a break from the history, get a taste of culture in a different way at La Ciudad de Las Artes y Las Ciensas. Clean, white, and modern with reflective blue pools, this entertainment complex actually contains an IMAX theater, science museum, aquarium, and planetarium. It may be a tourist trap, but this iconic symbol is worth a look-and the perfect honeymoon Instagram that comes with it! It sits on the seaward end of Jardines del Turia, a dried riverbed-turned-park that runs nine kilometers along the city and just calls for a romantic walk or bike ride for two.
For a bit of sun, Valencia is packed with sand, water, and rays. La Malvarrosa and Las Arenas Beach, in the southern part of the city, are popular choices for their proximity to the city, but with a large stretch to the ocean, it's uncluttered and looks uncrowded even on crowded days. It's touristy, but with a local feel. For something a little more intimate and authentic, La Garrofera is wild, sandy, and natural.
Where to Eat and Drink
Of course, you must feast on Valencia's indigenous dish, paella. There are plenty of restaurants that perfect this Spanish meal, but tasting it at La Pepica is mandatory. After serving for more than 100 years, they can easily be dubbed the queen of paella. Sit on the outside terrace that faces La Malvarrosa Beach and take in views of the Mediterranean Sea while fittingly enjoying a seafood paella rich in prawns and shrimp.
Get a taste of local cultures at the trendy Ma Khin CafГ©-it's bright, quirky atmosphere is just as inviting as its Asian-European fused food. You really can't go wrong with any of the carefully curated menu options, but the spinach and goat cheese samosas with mango chutney give flavor a whole new meaning, and the malabari fish curry with coconut, mustard seeds, and tamarind will leave your taste buds begging for more.
For a quiet and romantic, intimate night off the beaten path, book a table at La Mora Taberna. Whether you dine out on the patio or enjoy the warm, modern ambiance inside, this local tapas spot can't be missed. Start off your night with tender Argentinean empanada criollas with veal and croquetas stuffed with a mouthwatering spinach, corn, and parmesan cheese combination, perfectly crispy on the outside and equally soft on the inside. Toast to newlywed bliss with one of the many Valencia wines on their extensive wine menu.
If you fancy a tipple, the intoxicating Agua de Valencia at CafГ© de las Horas will do the trick. Don't let its name fool you-this city signature drink doesn't actually contain any water, but is a deliciously lethal combination of orange juice, vodka, cava, and gin. This lush, charismatic bar draped in velvet hosts poetry and theme nights, which are made all the more fun with the drink in your hand. Tip: arrive at midnight to make the most of the entertainment.
Where to Stay
Small in size but large in beauty and offerings, Caro Hotel has much to offer the romantic couple, from its neutral, inviting tones that set the stage for romance to its luxurious, historic vibe. Housed in a 19th-century palace, this boutique hotel is just a stone's throw away from the Valencia Cathedral. Modern rooms with minimalist design touches interweave with original features such as Gothic arches, 13th-century Arabic walls, and a Roman mosaic-a juxtaposition not unlike that of the city itself. It's almost like staying in a museum. Take a dip in the splash pool and indulge in their romantic getaway package, complete with the works-wine, candles, petals, and relaxing bath salts.
Or, wake up to seaside views at the Hotel Balandret on Las Arenas Beach, high in quality and simplicity. Fittingly decorated in a chic Mediterranean palaette, its cool, relaxing atmosphere is perfect for a laidback time. If you want to take an easy day and not venture far, saunter on down to the promenade to enjoy a leisurely waterfront lunch or enjoy a couple's in-room massage. When you do want to explore, the hotel is only 15 minutes to the city's center by public transportation. The best part? It's super affordable, with rooms available for ВЈ55 in the off-season, but you'd never know it otherwise.