Valencia's history stretches back to Ancient Rome, Moorish invasions and the Spanish Reconquest. In more recent years it has twice hosted the America's Cup, leading to a rejuvenation of its dock and coastal areas. This, along with the ultra-modern City of Arts and Science, gives Valencia a contemporary feel and visitors plenty to see and do. The historic heart of the city, home to the Cathedral and Basilica, is a maze of narrow cobbled streets, easy to get lost in and sometimes inaccessible to traffic.
Must Know: Valencia is, of course, home to paella. To be sure of an authentic taste of this most Spanish of dishes, visitors should search out local eateries where it's made to order in iron pans over wood fires.
Must See: Visitors should look out for the 'naughty' gargoyles displayed on La Lonja de la Seda, or Old Silk Market. The world-famous Lladró Porcelain factory is in Valencia and offers factory tours and a museum.
Must Do: A high point of any trip is the City of Arts and Science complex with its IMAX Cinema, Aquarium, and Planetarium while Valencia Cathedral is a tranquil oasis combining three distinct architectural periods.
Did You Know: Many people don't know that the region's official language is actually Valenciano, not Spanish.
Valencia, the main city of the Costa Blanca on Spain's southeastern coast, has a warm Mediterranean climate, with the heat of high summer tempered by ocean breezes. Travelers planning a summer vacation can expect temperatures in the city to rise into the mid 80s. The best policy is to follow local practice: when the sun is at its hottest, head for a cafe to enjoy one of the local specialty cool drinks, a horchata or fruit granizado. This is also the season to enjoy the city's greatest culinary creation, a lunchtime paella by the beach. For visitors keen to swim in the Mediterranean, sea temperatures at the height of summer reach the balmy high 70s, so there's no need to pack a wetsuit. For lovers of traditional Spanish fiestas, Valencia's world famous pyrotechnics festival, Las Fallas, takes places in mid March, when social clubs in the city unveil the latest ninots, elaborate, satirical effigies, usually with a topical theme, which are then set alight in a spectacular fireworks show. It's possible to view the ninots and enjoy shows, exhibits and cultural events across Valencia in the two weeks before the great bonfire night.