While I love traveling with my family, I recently spent 24 solo hours in Valencia, and it was satisfying to tear through the city at my own pace. I saw so much in a short amount of time. Las Fallas, a celebration of Saint Joseph that stretches for most of March, was in full swing. I stumbled on a parade where groups in colorful costumes carried large ninots, giant paper-mâché figures often satirizing celebrities and public figures, through the streets and heard the sharp sound of firecrackers rattling off buildings as I crisscrossed the city. 

I don’t think my head hit the pillow until 1 a.m., and I had a 6 a.m. flight. I was traveling without children, so plenty of time to sleep on the plane. 

Here are the best things to do in Valencia if you only have a day or two.

The corner bakery Juliet serves the most decadent treats like plump cinnamon rolls, cheese tarts and lots of cookies.

Whenever I see a Max Mara boutique, I must go inside. I am a coat person.

Picture of Mercado Central in Valencia, Spain.
Valencians stroll past Mercado Central.

Mercado Central was closed by the time I got there, but I still snapped plenty of pictures of the ornate market. Valencia Cathedral is another impressive example of Gothic architecture that houses the Holy Chalice of Valencia (there is good reason to believe it is THE Holy Grail).

Picture of the courtyard at La Long de la Sera.
Valencia’s famed oranges grow in the courtyard of La Lonja de la Seda.

La Lonja de la Seda is one of the most beautiful Gothic buildings in Europe. The government building is gorgeous and doesn’t take too long to see.

At Café Madrid I had a mint-laced bourbon concoction at this bourgeois bar that has been a popular watering hole since 1940. It is recently renovated and has historic wood paneling and glam touches like crystal chandeliers. It also serves the famous agua de Valencia, a cocktail of cava or champagne, orange juice, vodka and gin, by the pitcher. 

Picture of jamon ibérico and padrón peppers at Casa Montaña in Valencia, Spain.
Jamon iberico and padrón peppers at Casa Montaña.

Casa Montaña is a fabulous family-owned tapas restaurant by the beach. They make vermouth, and you’ll find all the greatest tapas hits here: Padrón peppers, Iberian ham and patatas bravas, along with signature dishes like sirloin with green garlic shoots. While there, check out the lively beach club Valencia.

Guest rooms at Hotel Helen Berger are compact but comfortable.

Hotel Helen Berger is a boutique hotel with small but smart guest rooms with balconies and herringbone parquet floors. It also has a lively restaurant on the ground floor. When I returned late at night, the scene of families enjoying a late dinner at round tables and stylish couples huddling at the bar was too enticing, and I had yet another drink and dessert.

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