Spain's third largest city, and the birthplace of the most traditional of Spanish dishes, paella, Valencia Spain is the perfect base from which to explore any number of Mediterranean beaches along the Costa Blanca, catch a ferry for Ibiza, or just wander through the city's open air markets and explore its Gothic architecture.

Around Valencia travel can sometimes be congested, yet the city itself has managed to retain the feeling of a small town. This is due to the serene plazas and tree lined avenues that make Valencia in Spain one of the most picturesque and easily maneuverable cities in Europe. More than the layout, however, it is the friendly and fun loving Valencianos that make tourists and tired travelers feel welcome. And though little English or French is spoken in the city (as compared with Barcelona and Madrid), the street vendors, hotel managers, and waiters are invariably eager to help you practice your stumbling Spanish.

Valencia Spain is located in the eastern Levante region. This area boasts some of the most fertile soil in Europe. This soil, or huerta, produces oranges in abundance, and the best rice in Spain. It is no wonder, then, that paella—a richly seasoned, rice-based dish traditionally cooked in flat pans the size of bicycle tires over open fires—originated at Valencia in Spain.

During your stay in Valencia travel through the maze-like Bario del Carme located between the Calle de Caballeros and the Rio Turia, or visit any of the happening night spots or sidewalk cafes that provide a perfect place to enjoy a cup of the super-sweet Valencian hot chocolate.

Valencia is at its best during the festival season. And the best festival of the season is the Fiestas de Las Fallas. From March 12 to 19 the city erupts in a blaze of fireworks, music, bullfighting and general madness. According to tradition, each of Valencia's barrios, or neighborhoods, builds a satirical effigy of papier mache. These giant caricatures are then paraded through the streets, judged, and set afire at midnight on March 19. Throughout the week the city is a wonderfully chaotic mix of fireworks seemingly exploding at your feet with every step, samping paella, and afternoon bullfights. During the week you can check the Valencia tourist information kiosks around town for a daily schedule of events.

Cheap flights to Valencia are available in the off season (November through April excluding weekends). Check the internet for off season specials and up-to-date Valencia tourist information. Also keep your eyes peeled for last minute flights during the festival season, as airlines will drastically reduce fares for travelers willing to depart at the last minute during the holiday season. Otherwise, cheap flights to Valencia are available if you book early. If you are traveling from France or Italy, however, the best and most scenic option is to catch a high speed train.

Awash in year-round Mediterranean sun, the weather in Valencia remains warm and dry during the summer and mild in the winter. Because of the temperate weather in Valencia, and the seemingly endless festival season, it is always a good time to visit this wonderful and welcoming city.



Spain's third largest city, and the birthplace of the most traditional of Spa...

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