Pondering the poor Madrid weather forecast post Christmas, we decided there and then to head East to Valencia where the temperature was a balmy 20 degrees. So the very next day we packed up the car and off we went. It’s our second time to Valencia and it is fabulous for kids. For me, it’s the perfect destination for a long weekend away with the children. And here are five reasons why:
1. The Beach
Valencia’s Las Arenas sandy beach is huge and very safe for children. There’s a wooden path onto the sand for buggies, taps at the beach edge and toilet facilities. At peak times there are lifeguards, but if you’re visiting at other times, do check the information boards about safe swimming. It was amusing to see Spaniards strolling the beach in coats and scarves as our children stripped down to knickers and t-shirts for a paddle in the sea. The beach is lined by a wide car free promenade (just watch out for cyclists) which is great for a stroll with kids. There are street markets at times and park areas for a quick stop and play.
Valencia is the home of paella so what better place to try it and my children will happily vouch for how good they are. There are many restaurants overlooking the beach, many of which offer traditional Valencian paella (made with chicken and rabbit). You can also get any number of delicious seafood paellas too. Just make sure you choose somewhere where you order paella for a minimum of two as then you know it’ll be cooked fresh. A majority of the restaurants were full of Spaniards at lunch times, so I took that as a big thumbs up.
3. The city
You can catch a tram from the beach to the centre of Valencia. We happily wandered around the beautiful buildings for a few hours and stopped for a coffee and a cake in a little pedestrian area. Quite beautiful but not so much trekking that the kids will get bored.
4. Getting there
It’s just over 2 hours flying time from Gatwick to Valencia and at the other end, Valencia airport is really close to the city centre, so happily, no long transfers.
5. The City of Arts and Sciences
This is the best reason to take your children to Valencia. The City of Arts and Sciences is a complex of five unique buildings which in themselves are beautiful to visit. So far, over two seperate trips to Valencia with our children we have visited 3 of them. The Hemisferic IMAX cinema shows 3d science films of about 30-45 minutes in length. Although the films are shown in Spanish, you can wear special headsets with the dialogue in English and other languages. Our six year old loved the ‘Giants of the Ocean’ documentary we watched, but our 3 year old wore the 3d glasses for about 10 minutes before deciding she didn’t like the fish swimming onto her head! I’d love to take them back to see the astronomy projections which cover the whole of the inside of the dome.
We spent a day in the Oceanographic which was fabulous. Most of the displays are inside and underground so not a problem in the rain or the heat of the sun. I loved seeing the beluga whales and the shark tunnel is excellent and the penguins home is snow covered. We all loved the dolphin show best of all.
The Science Museum is great. There was plenty for the children to look at, touch and investigate. Best of all was the zone for up to 7 year olds where children were free to play and explore. They had an incubator with hatching chicks, a house structure with rubber bricks for children to build, including a crane and conveyor belt. Their greatest challenge was fighting the dads for control of the crane!
I’d recommend booking your tickets in advance especially for the Oceanographic. Online, you can buy a combination of tickets depending on which sections you want to see. Have a look at the Ciudad De Las Artes y Las Ciencias website for more information.
Booking to go: Try www.holidaylettings.co.uk who have a wide range of apartments in the city centre and where we stayed out near the port and beach. You can get some really cheap flights to Valencia from the UK, try Cheapflights.co.uk to find the best option for you..
More: Check out our information on taking your baby to Spain.