Of all Valencia’s districts, Benimaclet is among the most unique. It has a quiet, village-like atmosphere, yet is home to quirky nightlife unlike any other part of town. It also has a laid-back, international vibe, thanks to its population of students and others who’ve recently arrived in the city. The charming narrow streets remind you that this neighbourhood used to be a separate town, only officially becoming part of the city in 1972. Here’s our guide to exploring this vibrant Valencian barrio.
Your first stop in Benimaclet has to be the main square, outside the pretty, centuries-old church. This traffic-free square, lined by small shops and businesses, is a meeting place for residents and a focal point for festivals – you’ll often stumble across something interesting happening here.
On Friday mornings the narrow streets become colourful and lively as Benimaclet hosts its weekly market, where you can find everything from shoes and scarves to saucepans.
On other days, it’s fun to explore the southern part of Benimaclet which is packed with small, family-run shops selling clothes, shoes, sports equipment and much more. Some buy and sell second-hand books and other goods. Benimaclet is also a 15-minute walk from Shopping Mall Arena, one of Valencia’s newest shopping centres full of high street names.
One thing the area is not short of is cute and quirky cafes serving delicious food of every type. One local favourite is Kaf Café, which doubles as a community library and art gallery, becoming a lively spot for dinner and dancing by night. El Glop nearby has billiards and alternative music, and as well as coffee and cake, El Chico Ostra has some second-hand books and clothes for sale. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, visit the popular Uma Crêpe, which has a surprisingly varied menu and also makes a great spot for breakfast or lunch.
The warm, leisurely atmosphere might not be what you expected in the middle of Spain’s third-largest city. If you’re staying in Benimaclet for any length of time you’ll find that it’s easy to get to know people, and people will soon start to recognise you. Families meet at the square and students hang out at the cafes, while older Valencian locals often sit out in the street on a sunny day, and always have time for a chat.
Benimaclet is one of the few parts of the city to celebrate Carnival (Carnestoltes) in February. The area has a Moorish history – all the town and district names you see in Valencia beginning with Ben-i- were once Moorish settlements – and as part of the carnival the Moro Maclet, a giant statue of a Moor, arrives in the neighbourhood to declare the independence of the Caliphate of Benimaclet. After that, the music and dancing goes on until dawn.
In September there are more local festivities, this time with a Christian history. These vary every year and are organised by The Brotherhood of Christ of Providence, along with non-religious events held by cultural associations. Plus there are many smaller events held all year. Ask at Valencia’s tourist office for details of what’s on during your visit.
Benimaclet is a great place to enjoy Valencia’s most famous festival, Las Fallas, in mid-March. The whole city turns into a cacaphony of noise and fireworks during the festival, and hundreds of huge paper-mache sculptures are placed in the streets. Benimaclet is one of the neighbourhoods best known for great scultpures and outdoor parties.
One of the nicest things to do in Benimaclet is just walk around and soak up the atmosphere while checking out the unusual buildings. As well as the pretty church and hidden pieces of street art, there are some stunning examples of traditional Valencian tiled buildings to discover.
This popular local drink made from tiger nut is something you must try on your trip to Valencia. There are a few good places to try it in Benimaclet, but one of the best horchaterias in the city, Horchatería Daniel, is a short tram ride from Benimaclet on lines three and nine, near the Alboraya-Palmaret metro station.
Benimaclet, like some other districts of Valencia including the famously trendy Ruzafa district, has a curious kind of nightlife. Some of the most popular places to party are the cafés that transform into bars at night, such as Kaf Café. The large student population means a huge choice of nightlife, from live music venues like jazz and blues-focused Café Cronopio or the tiny Swan Club, an intimate but lively place with free entry, where you can dance the night away to ’60s soul, funk, r’n’b and more. Whatever your taste, you’ll find something here in Benimaclet.