The Plaza de la Virgen is undoubtedly one of Valencia’s most beautiful spots, and probably its most popular. Pretty pavement cafés tempt weary travelers to rest their feet and admire the incredible fountain and cathedral over a café solo or plate of paella. Before you take a seat, though, be aware that most of the cafés sitting right on the square have a reputation for serving up cold, overpriced food to unsuspecting tourists. But don’t worry, there are plenty of better places to refuel in between sightseeing stops, just a few steps away from the square. Here’s our pick of the best.
Crêperie Bretonne Annaick
Cafe, French, $$$
Tucked away down a little side street by the cathedral you’ll find this café, unique not only for its high-quality, traditional Breton galettes (a lacey-edged version of crêpes made using buckwheat flour) but for its fascinating décor, too. There’s a shady outdoor terrace, but you should pop inside to marvel at the interior with its wooden beams, quirky décor and even a red bus. Sit and puzzle over how they managed to get it inside while you enjoy your galettes stuffed with one of many delicious sweet or savory toppings. As a bonus, the owners are lovely and prices are reasonable.
Ice Cream Parlour, Italian
If you’re looking for real Italian-style gelato in Valencia this summer, don’t bother going anywhere else. This little ice cream shop has a reputation locally for having the best gelato in town, despite being slightly pricey – but then it is located right next to the cathedral. There’s a huge selection of flavors to choose from and friendly staff will be happy to let you taste-test a few. If it’s not ice cream weather when you arrive, it’s worth knowing as they do great coffee here as well.
Café de las Horas
Cocktail Bar, Spanish, $$$
For cocktails in the evening after a walk around the Old City, there’s no better place to go. With its lush Baroque-style interior, Valencian mosaic tiles and candlelight, this local hotspot is really unlike anywhere else. Service can be a bit brusque, but the drinks and décor more than make up for it. Try one of their many gin and tonic varieties, or the local specialty, Agua de Valencia. During the day, there’s fresh coffee and a selection of homemade cakes.
Though most places on the square are worth avoiding, this café is an exception. The great coffee and friendly, attentive service make it a favorite with locals as well as visitors, and that’s always a good sign. The terrace seating is perfect on a warm day, but the bright, modern interior is also a cheerful place to sit and relax.
Bar, Spanish, $$$
Next door, and pretty much on Plaza de la Virgen itself, is this cool, quirky spot popular with the young local crowd for its burgers, tapas, cocktails, and wide selection of beers. The staff are friendly, caring and put an international twist on their dishes, also catering for vegetarians and vegans. The outdoor terrace is right next to the cathedral and it does get busy, but this is definitely not a tourist trap.
Cafe, Spanish, $$$
Gourmet burgers, tapas and fancy sandwiches await at this pretty little café just around the corner from Plaza de la Virgen. It’s a perfect stop for lunch or dinner, with groups of locals enjoying the café’s good selection of Spanish wines at any time of day. Prices are local, too, and it’s definitely worth the short walk from Plaza de la Virgen.