Valencia, Spain, is one of the most vibrant short break destinations in Europe, and with new direct flights from the UK starting in 2017, it will also be more accessible. Easyjet will add direct flights from London Luton from 3 February and Ryanair will start flying to Valencia from Glasgow on 27 March. British visitors can also fly to the Spanish city from London Stansted, London Gatwick, Manchester and East Midlands.
The Top 10 reasons to visit Valencia in 2017:
1. First Heritage Fallas: The renowned Fallas Festival will be more special than ever this year, as it celebrates its new status as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity awarded by UNESCO in November. From 15 to 19 March the streets and squares of the city will fill with huge papier-mache sculptures, offering in many cases a satirical review of the past year. The fallas will be burnt at midnight on 19 March, after a few days of concerts, fireworks, parades and other special events.
2. World Food Capital: Valencia has been named the World’s Food Capital 2017 by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) and will be at the centre of the debate about feeding the world in a sustainable and healthy way this year. This accolade recognises the important role of the Valencian huerta, the well-preserved 10,000-hectare market garden that surrounds the city, which can be visited in tours such as the new Rice Bike Tour or the Horchata Trail to learn more about some of the key products which are grown here.
3. New gastro-cultural hubs: Bombas Gens, an old hydraulic pumps factory in the outskirts of the city, will reopen as a new gastro-cultural centre expected in spring this year. The striking example of industrial architecture from the 1930s will feature a new Art Centre which will house exhibitions, workshops and social activities, and will also be the new home to Ricard Camarena’s Michelin starred restaurant. Similarly, the Michelin-starred La Sucursual restaurant will reopen this year at the Veles e Vents building by the Juan Carlos I Marina, another example of exceptional architecture which has become a hub for great food and art.
4. New hotels: One of the most awaited new openings this year is the Marques House, a new luxury hotel in the city centre, next to the baroque Marques de Dos Aguas palace that houses the Ceramics Museum (renowned for its spectacular façade). Besides 19 stylish suites and a rooftop pool, the hotel includes the historic Café Madrid, a true Valencian institution where the local cocktail Agua de Valencia was reputedly created, which will reopen in March as a sophisticated restaurant-lounge.
5. City of Running: Valencia will host the Half Marathon World Championship in 2018 and many local athletes will be preparing for that, but the city is a fantastic running ground for anybody, anytime, thanks to its flat layout and mild weather. Running enthusiasts will be able to join various races this year, including the Marathon on 19 November, or simply enjoy jogging along the Turia Gardens or by the seafront.
6. New cycling ring road: Cycling is also a delight in Valencia, with many streets in the historic city centre restricted to normal traffic and a wide network of cycle lanes, which will be expanded this year with the completion of the cycling ring road. A cycle lane of more than 20 kilometres alongside the main traffic lanes of Valencia’s inner ring road will connect all the different boroughs, allowing cyclists to move even more freely and safely through the city.
7. Silk Trail: Valencia was City of Silk in 2016 and will host a meeting of the Silk Road Task Force this year, proof of the city’s important role in the global silk trade in the 15th century. Visitors can learn about it in the Museum of Silk and the new Silk Trail, a guided tour that takes them through the historic borough of Velluters, where the traders flourished, and into some of the most representative buildings of the period such as La Lonja (Silk Exchange), a World Heritage site.
8. Sustainable tourism: 2017 is the Year of Sustainable Tourism and Valencia is a great place to celebrate it. Visitors can reduce their carbon footprint exploring the city on foot or by bike; enjoy delicious local produce in the many tapas bars and restaurants following the Slow Food movement; and explore the different ecosystems, ranging from sand dunes to marshes, of the Albufera Natural Park, a protected area just south of the city.
9. Discover Valencia’s greatest artists: While not so well known internationally, Valencia has produced several great painters like Joaquin Sorolla or Ignacio Pinazo, whose works are celebrated in various exhibitions throughout the city this year. The IVAM, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Ceramics Museum and the Bancaja Foundation are all paying homage to Pinazo, Valencia’s best Impressionist painter.
10. Paella: Spain’s most international dish, paella, is always a good reason to visit Valencia, where it originates. Now there is even a new paella emoji available on Whatsapp to invite friends for a meal, whilst those who really impress their friends and relatives can learn to cook paella at Valencia’s School of Rice Dishes and Paellas.