Valencia’s vast stretches of golden sandy beach are the stuff of dreams, and the Playa Las Arenas beach is one of the best. If you’re planning to spend your holiday on Valencia’s coast you’ll be pleased to know there’s still plenty to enjoy here, besides the sun and sand. Here’s our guide to the best things to see and do.
Of course the beach is the number one attraction here. You might not expect a city beach to be quite this good. It’s not just beautiful but clean and accessible too, with plenty of space to spread out even in the busy summer months. Whether you’re here in July to top up your tan with the locals or going for a sunny (but cold) stroll in November, it’s always one of the best places to be in Valencia.
Las Arenas beach, Valencia. Photo: losmininos/flickr | losmininos/flickr
Cocktails at sunset
After a lazy afternoon on the beach what could be better than sipping a cocktail as you watch Valencia’s incredible sunset from a front-row seat? The promenade running behind the beach, known as the paseo maritimo, is lined with bars and restaurants with an unobscured view.
Explore El Grau-Cabanyal, the local neighbourhood directly behind the beach, to discover some unique history, architecture and culture. Known as the fisherman’s quarter, it was once several small fishing villages, and retains a strong identity separate from that of central Valencia. It’s full of traditional ceramic tiled houses, and has a special atmosphere, though much of the area is under threat of demolition and may not be here much longer.
La Fabrica de Hielo
This former ice factory has been transformed into an event venue, cultural centre and bar. The industrial space decked out with vintage furniture is a stunning setting for concerts, just a hundred yards from the beach, but it’s also a friendly place where you can just stop for a drink.
If you feel like splashing out, treat yourself to a day at the luxurious Marina Beach Club. This pool bar complex has a beachfront location and exclusive vibe – and prices to match. As well as the lounge bar, there’s a restaurant and infinity pool with endless views out to sea.
The terrace at Marina Beach Club, Valencia. Photo courtesy of Marina Beach Club
In the Cabanyal area you’ll find a lively street market on Friday mornings, where you can buy everything from paella pans to underwear. There’s also a small but thriving local food market open every day, and for something really local you can also find a small fish market most afternoons by the small port of Cabanyal, where the fishermen sell part of their day’s catch at very low prices. To find it, just head for the port area at around 4pm and follow your nose – the smell is unmistakable.
If you fancy trying some of the best tapas in Valencia, you’re in the right place. The restaurants on the beachfront promenade are pretty but pricey, while better and more reasonably priced restaurants can be found just a five or ten minute walk away. Book ahead for a table at local favourite Bodega Casa Montana, which has been serving up seafood tapas since 1836, or seek out the pretty, tiled Ca La Mar nearby.
Hotel and Spa Balneario Las Arenas
Courtesy of Hotel & Spa Balneario Las Arenas / Expedia
The huge hotel that sits directly behind the beach is one of the more upscale places to stay in Valencia. it makes a good option for a luxury beach stay, as well as being a popular venue for weddings and other events. If you fancy a day of pampering by the sea the hotel is also home to one of Valencia’s best day spas, where you can enjoy the sea breeze on the terrace between treatments.
Valencia’s port is one of the most important in Spain, as well as one of the busiest in Europe. It connects the city to the Balearic Islands and is also a stop for a large number of cruise ships, making it the arrival point for plenty of visitors. Parts of the port and marina have been modernised and are lined with upscale bars where you’ll see yacht owners moor up for dinner.
Wherever you are in Valencia, you’ll find plenty of options if you want to try traditional paella Valenciana. There are several famous paella restaurants directly behind Playa Las Arenas, including the huge La Pepica, whose visitors have included everyone from Ernest Hemingway to King Juan Carlos.