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Visit Valencia, Spain

Barcelona is a fabulous avant-garde city on the Spanish Mediterranean coast, backed by some wonderful countryside, but don’t forget to head south to Valencia. This city is a great mix of old and new with an atmospheric old quarter which boasts buildings of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance architecture, a Unesco-listed 16th-century Lonja (silk exchange) and a sandy beach, Las Arenas which is peppered with seafood restaurants. Nowhere in Spain can you eat better paella: the dish was invented here.

However since its inauguration in 1998, the jewel in the Valencian crown and grand tourist draw is undoubtedly the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències or City of Art and Sciences (pictured). Designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela, the last great component, El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, was opened in October 2005 and the complex continues to inspire awe amongst national and international tourists alike. A combined ticket to the complex costs £28 with entry to the Hemisfèric IMAX cinema, the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum, the Oceanográfico (Europe's largest aquarium) and the opera house Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía.

British Airways, easyJet, Iberia and Lufthansa fly direct from London to Valencia Manises Airport (from £70 return).

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