Moving further afield, many of Spain’s most visited cities are easy to squeeze into a weekend trip from Madrid. Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city is about three hours away via bus or train. This sunny port city sits on the Mediterranean coast and is a great destination for a beach weekend.
Several of Spain’s top beaches, including Las Arenas, Malyarrosa, and El Cabanal are just 15-minutes away from the city center and accessible by metro or tram. While most accommodations are located in the city itself, the beach area does have a happening nightlife scene with great restaurants, bars and clubs.
Apart from the beaches, the star attraction of Valencia is without a doubt the enormous and impressive City of Arts and Sciences. The five main structures in a futuristic series of complexes stretch for nearly a mile along a dry river bed, infusing the city with a sense of futuristic wonder. The attractions within the City of Arts and Sciences are dedicated to sharing scientific and cultural knowledge. There’s even an Imax theater and aquarium.
Like most cities in Spain, Valencia also contains a well-preserved historic quarter. Valencia is known for its variety of plazas and the Valencia Cathedral is home to what some claim to be the Holy Grail.
For foodies, the city’s Central Market is a haven for good eats. As I mentioned before, cuisine in Spain is quite regional, and one of the city’s most famous dishes paella hails from Valencia. Paella con pollo y mariscos (paella with chicken and seafood) is the most authentic option, however, these days there are a great number of paella recipes with ingredients that cater to every taste.
In addition to its regional cuisine, Spain is known for its regional festivals. Each March, Valencia hosts the las Fallas Festival. Originally conceived to honor Saint Joseph, in modern times the five-day celebration is known more for being one of Spain’s biggest parties that involve the creation of large paper mache dolls and their destruction for fire. Burn on!