No longer in the shadow of Madrid and Barcelona, the city of El Cid is now a perfect mix of the ancient and ultramodern. Book a Valencia flight and experience its unique appeal.
EasyJet (easyjet.com) flies to Valencia direct from London Gatwick. Outward flights start at £29.99, with inbound flights from £24.99. These fares include taxes, but there are additional charges for baggage and credit card bookings.
Ryanair (ryanair.com) flies to Valencia direct from Bristol, East Midlands, London Stansted and Manchester. If you are lucky and persistent you may be able to snap up one of their advertised £9 one-way fares that include taxes and charges. Otherwise, you can usually find round trip flights for under £100, including Ryanair's lengthy list of surcharges.
You won't be able to stop grinning at the extravagance of Santiago Calatrava’s playful and magnificent Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (cac.es), a hyper-modern mini-city built in the dry river bed of the Turia. Its curves and parabolas gleam in the sun. The buildings include an opera house, a science museum, an Imax cinema and a sea-life centre and aquarium.
In March the famous fiesta of Las Fallas (lasfallas.net) finds all Valencia inviolved in constructing elaborate and satirical papier-mâché caaricatures that fill the streets for a week before going up in a massive bonfire. The atmosphere is heady and celebratory.
All year round, the streets, squares and alleys of the old town, and particularly the Barrio Del Carmen are packed with locals at weekends, on la marcha, the traditional wander from bar to bar, tasting tapas, sipping beer or cava and enjoying the city.
It's a seductive scene in one of Europe's great cities. Once you've sampled it, you'll be booking another Valencia flight for your next city break.