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A big part of being a regular traveller and globe wanderer is finding yourself in a new city. New cities can be exciting, energetic and fascinating - they can also be a little daunting to get your head around. I often think to myself "Am I seeing the best of this city", and finding the local spots, the best bars or the cutest little streets can be hard work, even for the most seasoned traveller. I've moved to Valencia on the East coast of Spain fairly recently, and so I wanted to give some tips and advice that I have found helpful when coming to Valencia for the first time!
There are places in which the 'where' and 'when' for a tourist/sightseeing enthusiast are more obvious. There are historical cities with clear landmarks, like Game of Thrones filming location Caceres. But not every city gives such a path, and for some you really need to find your own way. Valencia gives plenty of direction in terms of popular monuments but there are always travel-hacks to improve your journeying.
For me, one of the very best, fastest and easiest ways to discover a city in an overview (before delving deeper) is to get a bus pass for a day and ride around, stopping every hour or so to see what's around. Buses are perfect for this kind of orientation, as they stay overground, they move relatively slowly, and best of all, they are packed with local people going about their normal days. It can be one of the most effective ways to start to get a feel for a new place. In Valencia, the buses are around 1.50 euros for a single journey (although much cheaper with a 'EMT Bono' card that makes it 0.80 euros for a journey. There are stops all over the city, and I'll include an interactive map in a link below.
© credit to Uber Images
From the city centre you can take the 99 bus (which will be headed to La Malvarrosa - the name of the beach) to the beach which takes about 20 minutes, and then the number 19 back to the central market.
The bus method might not be as fast as metro/underground travel, but it has a key advantage of being slow enough to see what is going past you. The constant stops turn from a frustrating delay into mini moments of discovery every five minutes!
There is always the option of using the Metro in Valencia as well - there are loads of stops and like pretty much every Metro service in Spain, Italy or Germany, it's clean and fast. It's relatively cheap as well, with tickets being around 2.00 euros (or less if you can use one of the monthly passes). Most of these services even have USB plugs to charge phones, cameras and other useful tourist/travel accessories! Monthly passes are 45 euros for every Metro and EMT bus route which I think is pretty good value.
Of course you can enhance any visit to a new city by doing plenty of research before you go. There are a million different sites that can really add to the value of your visit. Especially if you are pushed for time in a new place and don't have weeks or months to settle in, places like TripAdvisor are a fantastic place to start, and of course our own editors here at Itinari are constantly telling you their favourite things about places that they have traveled and lived in.
Research can be a bit of a double-edged sword however, as if you turn up to your exploration city of choice with a tight schedule and everything organised, you are unlikely to find those un-planned, spur of the moment joys that I think are really at the heart of good-time travelling! I have never created schedules for my travelling, beyond when I have to be in certain places. This way I have as much flexibility to stay in a place that really touches me unexpectedly, but also to leave a place that is not as interesting or exciting as I thought it would be.
For an overview of Valencia districts check this out.
My summary of exploring Valencia (for the first day or two) would be to do some research but don't overdo the planning - have a look at the districts and some of the main sights and then go from there. And then secondly use public transport to sit and soak up the place, see the locals, get a sense of how the city is laid out (really easy when you are looking at bus routes all day) and then get ready to experience whatever might happen! Valencia is packed with cute little squares, wide open avenues with trees all around as well as busy city centre shopping areas - the bus routes will show you it all and then some!
Cover image © credit to seb_ra
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