The golden sands of Valencia are home to paella Spain’s must-visit city
THINK of the sunny beaches of Spain and the Costas that immediately come to mind.
But many are unaware of how fabulous the golden sands of bustling Valencia are.
With Alicante just 160km to the south and the party island of Ibiza almost visible from the coast, Valencia might not be your beach holiday.
But you would be missing out on a true Mediterranean gem.
Valencia’s elegant city center is a treasure trove of charming cafes, grand whitewashed architecture and historic sites.
But a short tram ride away is a gorgeous four-mile-long strip of golden sand beaches.
And not only are the beaches long, they’re also wide, leaving plenty of room to stretch out and find the perfect spot.
Las Arenas is the southernmost and most popular beach of the group.
The strip of sand, overlooked by the luxurious 5H Las Arenas Balneario hotel, has a beach promenade filled with restaurants serving aromatic paellas and sweet sangrias.
American novelist Ernest Hemingway used to eat at the seaside restaurant La Pepica.
Its paella is among the best in town and you will need to book to guarantee a table.
If you’re looking to push the boat a little further, head to the Panorama restaurant just south of the beaches.
With sublime coastal views and a wonderful wine list, this is a decadent place to spend a sunny afternoon.
And for Instagram-perfect selfies, book a sunbed at the Marina Beach Club where, from €20, you can relax by the picture-perfect pool, sip cocktails and enjoy DJ sets.
But there’s so much more to these beaches than just good food and drink.
Head a little further down the palm-lined Passeig Marítim promenade to La Malvarrosa beach and you’ll find people dipping in the sand at volleyball, tackling climbing frames and playing football of beach.
If all that is too much, then there are plenty of lounge chairs to rent and tons of space on the glistening Mediterranean coast to go for a dip in the water.
The Beach Bol bar is also a great place to relax and its beach shack setting makes you feel like you’re in the Caribbean rather than the Mediterranean.
Generously stuffed bocadillo sandwiches are the order of the day and the perfect accompaniment to a cold beer on a hot afternoon, all enjoyed perched at one of its tall wooden tables.
To the north of this is the unspoilt and relaxing beach of Patacona. It’s a great spot for a quieter day in the sun away from the bustling bars and bistros of Las Arenas.
And to enjoy some local flavor, head to the nearby town of Alboraya and taste the sweet and refreshing drink Horchata in its place of origin.
One of the best ways to explore Valencia’s beaches is on two wheels, and there are plenty of bike rental places all over the city.
If you want to make a day of it, cycle from the city center to the beaches via the winding Turia Park – an ancient river transformed into a vibrant green space.
Although the beaches are quite a distance from the city center, there are still some interesting sights to see nearby when you’re done basking in the sun. And the City of Arts and Sciences is a must.
Built in 2005 and instantly recognizable by its glassy, sail-like curves, this architectural marvel is home to Europe’s largest aquarium, as well as an interactive science museum, art and music centers, planetarium, theater Imax, bars and restaurants.
Closer to the beach is the colorful neighborhood of El Cabanyal, with its charming ceramic-tiled streets.
This charming old fishing village is a corner of Valencia that most visitors to the city center will miss.
This quirky coastal neighborhood is full of tapas bars to spend the night in, as well as the ornate Casa Montaña, one of the best restaurants in town.
If you want the freshest taste of El Cabanyal, be sure to explore the bustling market, which offers an endless array of goods and over 150 shopping stalls.
If you’re looking for sun, sand and sea, Spain’s best kept secret is just a short walk away.
GETTING THERE / STAYING: British Airways Holidays is offering three nights room-only at the 3* Villacarlos, from £189 pp, traveling on select dates in May.
Includes return economy class flights from Gatwick and accommodation. Book by April 10 at britishairways.com/holidays.
MORE INFORMATION: visitvalencia.com/en.