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Visit Valencia

How to Spend your Downtime in Valencia

After much pondering, or perhaps not a lot at all, you have come to the conclusion that Valencia, land of paella and puppet-burning, is the spot where you want to open your Spanish books. You want, you desire, you need to learn Spanish in Valencia. But, what is there to do besides study Spanish, what has this fantastic city got to offer you whenever it is time to relax and explore and immerse yourself in a bit of Spanish culture? We are here to tell you exactly that!

Valencia is the third largest city in Spain, just behind Madrid and Barcelona, with a population of around about 809,000 people. Its large size should not be off-putting however. There is a lot to see in Valencia but it is an easy and a rewarding city to navigate, with many attractions within walking distance of the centre and the introduction of a state of the art metro, first opened in 1988 and continually extended and refurbished.

Traditions and Tomatoes

Tomatina

One of Valencia's principal attractions is its annual 'Las Fallas' Festival which draws in crowds from Spain and all over the world to see the spectacle that involves each neighbourhood constructing a giant satirical, paper maché character, parading it through the streets during one of the festival´s many street parades and the burning of said character in equally giant bonfires on the final night of the celebrations. During this fiesta, always around the 19th March, the larger than life effigies are not the only thing to keep you entertained. For the duration of the festival you won´t have to go far to find a street party or performance, catch a music band or witness one of the thrilling thrice daily firework displays. Valencia during Las Fallas is a city that doesn't sleep. Perhaps, not the most conducive to studying Spanish, but if you do have the good fortune to be in Valencia to take part in a Spanish Language Course during this magical event then all it will take is a bit of careful planning and a healthy work/fun balance and you will manage to combine learning a wonderful language with the Spanish cultural experience of a lifetime.

Speaking of fiestas, ever seen the pictures of those crazy Spaniards all meeting up one summer's day in a small Spanish town all with the common objective of pelting each other with thousands upon thousands of tomatoes? Well, do you know where that tiny town is? You've guessed it, just outside the city of Valencia, about 35km away to be precise, in the small town of Buñol. The festival is known as La Tomatina and there are many theories as to how the outlandish celebration came about, but most believe it came from young men who were watching a local parade had a desire to start a brawl, as young men quite often do, and so, eying up a nearby vegetable stand, began pelting each other with the fresh produce. In the years that followed the fight was repeated by the young people of the area and tomatoes grew to be the projectile vegetable of choice. This is a truly Spanish celebration and not to be missed if you are in the area for your Spanish course around this time. But, in correspondence with the local council's advice, remember to squash those tomatoes before you launch them at your fellow revelers, otherwise...ouch.

Culture and Beyond

Should you not happen to be in Valencia during Fallas or Tomatina time (maybe all the better for your Spanish learning) then a visit to the Fallas Museum is definitely in order. It is one of the many well organised, interesting and insightful Museums in Valencia, quite a number of which are free to enter:

  • The Fine Arts Museum (Museo de Bellas Artes) has works by Goya, Velazquez and Murillo and other frequently changing exhibitions.
  • The Bullfighting Museum (Museo Taurino) is located beside the bullring and gives you an excellent insight into the development of bullfighting both in Valencia and Spain as a whole.
  • Museum of Ethnology (Museo de Etnología) takes a look at the history and traditions of the people of Valencia and also the wider world.
  • museo-de-historia-valencia
  • The Pre-history Museum (Museo de Prehistoria) displays different relics from the past in the Valencian area, such as human fossils and ceramics. They also have a well-stocked library where you can read up on topics such as archaeology and paleontology and talk about them in class the next day!
Some are free only at the weekends:
  • The Valencia History Museum (Museo de Historía de Valencia) invites you to get to know the history of the wonderful city of Valencia by way of different exhibitions and interactive activities.
  • The Fallas Museum (Museo Fallero) tells you all you need to know about Valencia's spirited festival, at whatever time of the year you want!

If you haven't yet gotten you fill of culture, be sure to take a stroll around the Old Town where you will find delightful and incredible buildings in the styles of the different eras, side by side, such as the Lonja, Nuestra Senora de los Desamparados church and Plaza del Carmen. During an activity of this kind there are plenty of spots to stop off for a bite of Paella and a glass of Horchata, a typical drink of the Valencia region made from tiger nuts and resembling milk, but with a refreshing and unique taste. You will see special Horchata parlours as you walk about town, perfect for a time-out with your classmates!

Although the city of Valencia itself is without doubt a treasure trove of things to do and see, perhaps you want to truly relax, maybe with your classmates from your Spanish School. An ideal spot for this is the area of Albufera, just a 15 minute bus ride outside the city on the red tourist bus or one of Valencia's yellow buses that head out of town. Albufera is a haven of peace with a natural reserve and lake for you to explore and tranquil vibes for you to absorb. Take a guided tour and a boat trip or simply watch the birds play and the sun set before heading back to the big city.

Valencia is a city that won't disappoint should you choose it as the location for your learning Spanish course. It is a city with so much to offer and learning Spanish here could be a truly great and once in a lifetime experience.