SURPRISE, I’m spending the summer in Valencia, Spain! For those of you who thought you knew my summer plans, I just pulled a fast one on you, didn’t I? If you haven’t been following along in detail (you’re forgiven), I initially planned to base myself in Barcelona for July and August, with a couple of trips within Europe planned here and there.
It didn’t take much convincing to get a friend of mine to join in on my summer adventure, but sadly the cost of renting an apartment in Barcelona for the summer quickly went from #ballinonabudget to straight up #ballin. Our dream of an inexpensive, sun-filled summer quickly faded, until we reconsidered our options. Andalucía is deathly hot in the summer, and Madrid was just as expensive as Barcelona. We wanted a city near the beach, but the resort towns of Malaga and Marbella weren’t exactly our vibe. So…Valencia! A city that neither of us has been to, but is raved about by the travelers who visit it. It may be Spain’s third largest city, but it’s far enough under the radar that our budget got us a fancy apartment near the center of town and a ten-minute bus ride from the beach. Needless to say, it only took us a week to decide to shift our plans to Valencia, find an apartment, and book it.
Shoutout to Spotahome for making this process easy to do from abroad! They offer verified apartments complete with videos and photos in 16 major cities worldwide which made the apartment hunting process significantly less painless.
But don’t just take my word for it! These are the reasons why I’m spending the summer in Valencia.
It’s barely in the guidebooks
I looked at several guidebooks on Spain, and was surprised to find Valencia completely missing from one (shame on you, Rick Steves!), and with less than ten pages dedicated to it in another. Some might see this as a deterrent for figuring out “what to do” while in Valencia, but I see the benefit: fewer summer tourists. Spain is chock full of tourists during the summer, and Barcelona attracts the majority of them. I know, because my friends there love to complain about them! If being in Valencia means I can avoid large crowds of people, I’ll take it! Note: Yes, I’m fully aware that I’ll be a tourist too, but since I’m going to be on an extended work-cation, I like to think of myself more as a temporary expat.
It’s home to paella and other good food
As much as all of Spain is associated with paella, this delicious rice dish was actually born in Valencia. Valencianos are so passionate about their paella that they have a festival dedicated to it every September. Another Valencian benefit is the low cost of living, which extends to the delicious food. Mercado Central and tapas, I’m coming for you!
It’s near the beach
Do I really need an explanation? The beach is a ten minute bus ride away, and I’m planning on getting so tan that people will actually start believing I’m African. Also WIN for having public transportation and not paying for beach parking like in Los Angeles!
There aren’t as many expats
I have nothing against expats and am probably going to seek them out when I get to Valencia, because we all need friends, right? But it’ll be nice to feel a little forced to speak Spanish when I’m out and about. Fewer expats generally means more of a local feel. If there’s one thing I dislike about Barcelona, it’s the distinct lack of Spanish-ness. I’ve been told that this isn’t the case in Valencia.
The architecture is stunning
If you put me in a city with nothing but old buildings, I’d be happy. Not only is there beautiful Gothic and Romanesque architecture in the old town and at the famous Cathedral, but there’s also ultra modern architecture too. Check out that photo of the City of Arts and Sciences. So sleek!
There are tons of parks
The Culture Trip did an entire post dedicated to the parks of Valencia. Just the top ten, mind you. Since my roommates this summer will be my friend and her pet dog, I imagine we’ll be spending a lot of time at the park. But no complaints here! I love parks almost as much as I love cool architecture. What I’m not so certain of are my bike-riding skills… I wonder if I can still look cute wearing some sort of armored suit?
There’s an airport
While this may not be that big of a deal to some, I actually have to fly out of Spain twice during the summer. I distinctly remember studying abroad in a city without an airport and, let me tell you, those three-hour bus rides at 1 am for 6 am Ryanair flights were brutal. Thanks to Valencia airport, I don’t have to take a three-hour bus trip to fly to London or Heidelberg this summer!
The more I read about Valencia, the more excited I get about visiting! Part of the reason I’m traveling so much this year is because a lot of my close friends are getting married in various cities across the world. It’s shaping up to be an exciting few months ahead! I can’t wait to share my adventures with you all!
Have you ever been to Valencia, Spain? If so, share your favorite spots in the comments below!
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