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Valencia, you have my heart. Now, I know it’s not surprising when it’s coming from a girl with a major obsession for Spanish destinations, but Valencia is truly a wonderful city. No matter what kind of things you like to do and see on a city break, you’ll surely find them in this Mediterranean gem. If you’re anything like me, and you prefer to spend your money on delicious food, you’ll want these activities and sights to be budget-friendly. So check out my awesome list of free things to do in Valencia that you have to add to your itinerary!
VALENCIA ON A BUDGET: THE VALENCIA TOURIST CARD
If you are likely to visit a lot of museums and monuments, consider purchasing a Valencia Tourist Card. Apart from the unlimited use of public transportation, it offers free entrance to some museums such as The Silk Exchange and Fallas Museum or discount tickets to others like The City of Arts and Sciences (that can be quite pricey). Purchase your Valencia Tourist Card here.
FREE THINGS TO DO IN VALENCIA, SPAIN
EXPLORE VALENCIA’S OLD TOWN STREETS, SQUARES, AND CATHEDRAL
There’s something magical about old towns, that usually, they are my most favorite part to explore in a city. Of course, Valencia’s old town is no exception. Apart from roaming the cobbled streets, you should visit famous squares like Plaza de la Reina, Plaza Redonda, and Plaza de la Virgen.
While Plaza Redonda houses tapas bars, restaurants, and a Sunday flea market, Plaza de la Virgen houses several important landmarks. One is the Valencia Cathedral, a historical monument in the city dating back to the 13th century and home to The Holy Grail.
TAKE A STROLL IN BEAUTIFUL GARDENS AND PARKS
A classic thing to do in any city without spending money is visiting its gardens and parks. In Valencia, the most famous gardens are the Turia River Gardens, the most extensive urban gardens in Spain. They are perfect for walking and relaxing, but they also offer cycling routes and sports facilities.
If you like your gardens a bit more artistic and uniquely designed, you can also visit the Monforte Gardens. For other options of parks and gardens in Valencia, read here.
ADMIRE THE CITY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Whether you’re an architecture fan or not, you HAVE to visit The City of Arts and Sciences. It is a unique scientific and cultural complex in Valencia that includes six impressive structures:
- Hemisferic: A planetarium and an IMAX cinema.
- Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia: Promoting performings arts like opera, ballet, and concerts.
- Principe Felipe Science Museum.
- The Umbracle: A beautiful wide garden covered by a unique arches structure.
- The Agora: A building that hosts different events.
- Oceanografic: Europe’s biggest aquarium.
While entering the museums will cost you between 8 to 32 Euros (you can compare all ticket deals here), strolling around the complex is free of charge. It truly is a spectacular area where you can spend a couple of hours, and take some incredible photos.
VISIT GULLIVER PARK
This quirky park is a part of the Turia River Gardens, but such an unusual little corner deserves its own attention. In the park, you can find a giant figure of Gulliver (from the story of Gulliver’s Travels) lying on the ground, forming slides and stairs.
For actual climbing and sliding, it might be more appealing to kids. However, if you feel like connecting with your inner child (because why not?) or just see a unique spot in Valencia, give this park a visit.
ATTEND THE QUIRKY FALLAS FESTIVAL
If big colorful sculptures, firework shows, parades, and an overall 5-day giant celebration sound like something you’d want to experience, then you’ll love the Fallas festival. It takes place every March and is celebrating the beginning of spring along with Saint Joseph day.
The huge bonus is you don’t have to buy tickets to attend it. Sure, flights and accommodation will be pricier, but the festival itself is free to enjoy all around the city. Read my full guide that will help you make the most of the Fallas festival.
VISIT A MUSEUM
Several museums in Valencia are completely free to visit like The Fine Arts Museum San Pio V and Museum Centre del Carmen. Other museums offer free admission on weekends like the Valencian Institute of Modern Art and the Fallas Museum.
GO STREET ART HUNTING IN EL CARMEN NEIGHBORHOOD
One of the best ways to experience the city on a budget is by exploring all the stunning street art in Valencia, especially in the El Carmen neighborhood. Not only this old town district is beautiful by itself, but the artistic discoveries you make along the way make it even better.
From big murals to tiny figures, I am sure that El Carmen’s street art will put a smile on your face (I felt like a kid in a candy store). If you don’t want to just wander around the neighborhood, you can take a self-guided walking tour or a free walking tour.
WALK ALONG GRAN VIA DEL MARQUES DEL TURIA AVENUE
I’ve yet to walk in every single street in Valencia (I’ll get there one day), but I can safely say that Gran Via del Marques del Turia is one of the most charming streets in the city. In this avenue, you’ll find some beautiful buildings like Casa Ortega and Casa Chapa. You can also enjoy a variety of cafes and restaurants in the area.
LOOK AT THE CITY FROM ABOVE
Who doesn’t love a good lookout point? Well, apart from the climbing part.
Both the Quart Towers and the Serranos Towers were gateways in the ancient wall that used to surround the old city of Valencia. Apart from climbing them to see magnificent views of the city, you can admire their beautiful Gothic architecture. They both offer free admission on Sundays; otherwise, it’s 2 Euros.
If you don’t mind the 2 Euros (still quite budget-friendly, right?), you can also climb El Miguelete, the bell tower of Valencia Cathedral.
GO TO THE BEACH
Since it is a coastal city, obviously one of the best free things to do in Valencia is to relax on the beach. The most popular one is La Malvarossa, and if you’re visiting off-season, you can still walk alongside it, on the Maritime Promenade. If you feel like going outside the city, you can also visit beaches on the outskirts of Valencia.
ADMIRE VALENCIA’S BRIDGES
In a city with such amazing architecture, even the bridges are an unmissable attraction. There are 15 bridges in the city, with the oldest one dating back to the 15th century. Even if architecture isn’t your thing, you’ll surely appreciate some of these bridges like Puente de las Flores (aka one of the most beautiful bridges in the world), Puente de la Trinidad, and Puente del Real.
VISIT THE SILK EXCHANGE
The Silk Exchange (La Lonja de la Seda) is a work of art and an important landmark in Valencia. This incredible Gothic building from the 15th century has been a significant commerce center that was mostly used for trading in silk.
With such an architectural and cultural importance, it’s no wonder that it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can visit it for free on Sundays; otherwise, admission is 2 Euros.
WANDER AROUND VALENCIA’S MARKETS
One of my most favorite things to do when I visit a new destination is to visit the local markets. I love seeing the local products and artisanal goods, do some people watching (not in a creepy way, I swear), and just feel the local atmosphere.
The most famous market in Valencia is Mercado Central, an Art Nouveau indoor market that contains almost 1000 food stalls filled with fresh produce. Another famous but slightly different market is Mercado de Colon, where you’ll find shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars. The building itself is absolutely beautiful and worth the visit.
One more big indoor food market to check out is Mercado de Ruzafa in the neighborhood of Ruzafa. There are also many smaller markets that operate once a week in different areas of the city.
VISIT CITY HALL SQUARE
In City Hall Square or Plaza del Ayuntamiento and near it you can see important buildings like Valencia’s City Hall, the Post Office Building, and Estacio del Nord train station. The square is also an important gathering place when the Fallas de Valencia festival takes place in March.
VISIT MARQUES DE DOS AGUAS PALACE
This incredible Rococo-style nobility palace was the house of the Marquess of Dos Aguas, and today it houses the National Museum of Ceramics. Even if you don’t want to enter the museum, you should at least admire its astounding main facade. The admission is free on Sundays; otherwise, it’s 3 Euros.
EXPLORE RUZAFA NEIGHBORHOOD
As much as I love seeing the traditional side of a city, I love seeing its stylish and modern side too. Ruzafa is the perfect place to wander around for anyone who loves concept shops, trendy cafes and restaurants, and an overall young and vibrant vibe.
One of my favorite cafes in this neighborhood is Ubik Cafe (Carrer del Literat Azorín 13), a bookshop cafe with an inviting atmosphere. I’ve also already mentioned Mercado de Ruzafa, which is an indoor market you can also visit.
EXPLORE EL CABANYAL NEIGHBORHOOD
One of the top free things to do in Valencia is exploring its different and unique neighborhoods. If you want to see a less touristy side of Valencia, you should definitely take some time to wander the streets of El Cabanyal neighborhood, Valencia’s old fisherman’s quarter.
From old colorful tiled houses to locals seeping their coffees together, you can feel the traditional and familiar vibe. Some of the houses were actually almost demolished a few years ago, but as for today, El Cabanyal is a protected area.
VISIT THE BOTANICAL GARDENS
Ok, so I’m cheating here a bit because you do need to pay to visit the Botanical Gardens, but after this entire list of free things to do in Valencia, I think you can handle 2.5 Euros, right?
Dating back to the 19th century (though their original location dates back to the 16th century), the gardens are home to about 3000 plant species from around the world. They are a non-touristy spot in the city, which makes them perfect for a morning or an afternoon tranquil stroll.
HAVE A GLANCE AT THE PLAZA DE TOROS
While I by no means support the tradition of bullfighting, I can still appreciate the beauty of the building itself.
Valencia’s Plaza de Toros dates back to the 19th century and is located right next to Estacio del Nord train station. Its neoclassical architectural style and over 380 arches are something to be admired, and it also looks beautiful at night when it lights up.
TAKE A FREE WALKING TOUR
Last but not least, a free walking tour is a great option to see Valencia on a budget. Of course, you can see the city’s landmarks all on your own, but if you want to learn about the history of the city and meet other people, then a tour might be a good choice. Check out here the tours offered in Valencia.
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