Spain's third-largest city, and capital of the province of Valencia, comes as a pleasant surprise to many. Home to paella and the Holy Grail, it is also blessed with great weather and the spring festival of Las Fallas, one of the wildest parties in the country.
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The Westin Valencia, one of the most impressive structures in the city, is situated within walking distance from the historical, cultural, and shopping center of Valencia.
One of Valencia's best attractions is the baroque Palacio del Marqués de Dos Aguas. The facade is extravagantly sculpted and the inside is just as outrageous. The Museo de Bellas Artes also ranks among the best museums in the country, containing works by artists such as El Greco, Goya and Velázquez.
What To Do
If you're looking to expend some energy, the Jardines del Turia is a 9km (5.5mi)-long stretch of green where you can cycle, jog and walk among the fountains and lawns. If you want to get wet by the ocean, head to Playa de la Malvarrosa, or to sample local passion, simply take in a local football game.
The week-long Fallas festival coincides with the first Sunday of March (St Joseph's Day) and is celebrated with the burning of the Fallas - tall wood and papier-mâché sculptures promoting the day of the carpenter. The lead up to the festival has fireworks and crackers erupting each day in the city's main square, the Plaza Ayuntamiento, gaining momentum as St Joseph's Day approaches. A young woman, known as the Fallera Mayor, is chosen each year to represent the city.
Semana Santa takes place in March, celebrating Holy Week in the suburb of La Malvarrosa with elaborate processions. The Fiesta de San Vicente Ferrer has colorful parades and miracle plays on the Sunday after Easter.
On the second Sunday in May, the effigy of the Virgen de los Desamparados, patron of the city, makes the short journey across the Plaza de la Virgen to the cathedral, hemmed in by fervent believers struggling to touch her.
In July, the Feria de Julio features a packed program of performing arts, brass band competitions, free concerts, bullfights, a jazz festival, fireworks and a 'battle of the flowers' - when decorated, horse-drawn floats parade down the Paseo de la Alameda as their occupants and spectators pelt each other with tens of thousands of orange marigolds.