Oh, Valencia! What an absolutely stunning, vibrant and exciting city. I sincerely loved my time spent here. From the palm trees that line the cobblestone and marble walkways to the tranquil sandy beaches, Valencia is definitely a place to put on your travel itinerary. It’s also a foodies paradise. I was blown away by the food we indulged in here. If there’s any country I could see myself living in for eternity, it’d be Spain, purely due to the amazing food, culture and lifestyle. Barcelona will always hold a very special place in my heart for many reasons, but now that I’ve experienced Valencia, I’ve just had to make my heart bigger.
We stayed in what I would consider my favourite hostel of all that we stayed in during our travels, Home Youth Hostel. We met some amazing people with the same passion for travel that we had, shared authentic, home made Sangria and ate beautiful food.
Not only was our hostel amazing on its own but its location was equally as amazing. A few steps down the street was the Mercat Central, one of the oldest European public markets offering a range of souvenirs, baked goods, cured meats, cheese, spices, fruits and so much more. We came here often to grab goodies for lunch on the go or a quick and tasty dinner. There is so much to see and sample, you need to visit more than once to really appreciate all the local produce offered here. *Can we also take a second to note the little old lady in this picture*
I nearly lost my cool when I saw these massive bags of paprika. I’m a self-professed paprika NUT! I put it in nearly everything I cook at home. I love the rich and savoury flavour it adds and knew my dad would be equally as stoked to see this – I couldn’t wait to show him! In addition to this, many places sold saffron and other wonderful spices and blends.
We always made sure to purchase some cured meats, fresh bread and cheese as these were staples for us while traveling. There was no shortage of that here! Mercat Central is no doubt a hot spot to visit while in Valencia, even if you don’t plan to buy anything, definitely head over there for the experience and enticing smells.
We stumbled on this wonderful little restaurant Maria Madiles while exploring the city and decided to have a bite for lunch. This was such a great find. We were starving and this place delivered. They had a beautiful little patio set up outside with architecturally stunning apartments and stores surrounding it. My bestie had the seafood paella which was outstanding and I ordered the Caprese salad (top left) while our male friend ordered the chicken salad (top right). All three dishes were delicious, flavourful and fresh, which gave us the energy to continue on our adventure that day. I think I ordered a Caprese salad in every city we visited! Go figure!
Of course we stumbled on another great restaurant while exploring the streets, BaBalu. That’s the beauty of traveling to places you haven’t been before. You get out there, explore and come across amazing new things that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
You’ll find this type of cuisine in most restaurants around the city. They offer cured meats, cheese and tapas as well as salads, croquettes, paella, patatas bravas (potatoes with a spicy sauce) and Spanish tortillas (or Spanish omelette). We really pigged out here. I remember it being a pretty warm night and being hangry for the most part. This definitely tamed the hungry beast inside of me. We finished off our meal with a refreshing ice cream dessert. So, we found this AMAZING Italian style restaurant just down the road from our hostel, Bacco Doc, that had pizzas for I believe €6 at the time. We were obviously on a budget (and hungry) so this really excited us. Let me tell you, these. pizzas. were. so. good. We ordered the Quatro Formaggi (four cheese), Margherita (mozzarella, tomato and basil) and a Carbonara pizza (cream sauce base, cheese, pork and an egg on top). The pizza dough was crispy and thin, and the toppings were minimal which was a really nice change. The focus was on the flavour combinations rather than piling on as many toppings as possible. The sauce was beautiful and the cheese was outstanding. This was such a wonderful treat for us and very unexpected. The rest of the menu looked amazing as well and the interior of the restaurant alone would warrant another visit to dine in. It had a very romantic yet Gothic vibe.
There’s also so many amazing Gelato spots around the city that provide a wide variety of interesting and creative flavours. You’ll never be far from a delicious frozen treat on a hot day in Valencia.
If you’re planning a trip to Europe sometime in the future, seriously consider visiting Spain and all its wonderful cities, especially Valencia. The people, food and culture are all beautiful and I promise you will never want to leave!
Here’s a picture of me running to the beach in Valencia for your amusement – hah!
Happy traveling and eating!