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Valencia City Guide

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Check out The Scene's recommendations for the Spanish city and send us your ideas and suggestions below.

SEE: The setpiece of Valencia's postmodern architectural renaissance, Santiago Calatrava's Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias is Europe's largest leisure complex and includes the city's stunning new Palau de les Artes concert hall, a science museum, IMAX cinema and the popular Oceanografic aquarium. A series of shell-like curves that nod to the city's nautical heritage, Calatrava described the complex as being "on a scale with the cultural ambitions of the people of Valencia," though it's not to everyone's tastes. One critic commented: "Although spectacular, the overall experience is one of overweening design, and a numbing sense of hollowness." Another unmistakable Calatrava landmark is the Alameda Bridge, which crosses over the former Rio Turia, redirected in 1957 and now a laidback municipal park. As well as the impressive modern art museum IVAM, Valencia's Museo de Bellas Artes is home to works by Spanish masters such as Velasquez, El Greco and Goyas. Finally, for a taste of the old Valencia, wander though the tiny squares, cafes and alleyways of the Casco Antiguo. Dan Brown fans should pay a visit to the Cathedral, a mix of Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque styles and supposedly the home of the Holy Grail -- a claim recognized by the Vatican. The nearby art nouveau Mercado Central is another architectural landmark that is worth visiting just to eye up the seafood alone.

BE SEEN: As in other Spanish cities, Valencia's nightlife starts late and carries on well past dawn -- many Valencians wouldn't dream of going out for a drink before midnight. Check out the strip of bars and clubs along Avenida Blasco Ibanez near the university, which include the ever-popular Warhol. The Barrio del Carmen in the old town may be upmarket these days but it still retains an alternative vibe: try Fox Congo, Bolseria or Bar Negrito. Also recommended for its high campery and cocktails is Cafe de las Horas (Calle Conde de Almodovar) where opera and classical music can be heard long into the night. In the summer months, Valencia's beachfront at comes to life -- Eugenia Vines adjacent to the promenade has plenty of open air bars and discos including the Ibiza-style Vivir Sin Dormir, Caballito de Mar and La Floridita. Arguably the biggest club night in Valencia is actually out of town at the five-floor Bananas (El Romani) -- so popular at weekends that a train runs there at 1.15 am from Estacion del Norte. If you've still got life in your legs, head back to the beach for Misa de Ocho, which goes on beyond midday on Sundays.

EAT: It's hard to go far wrong food-wise out in Valencia -- the city invented paella and continues to turn its nose up at versions of the Spanish national dish cooked elsewhere in the country. Pepica -- just one of many paella restaurants along the beachfront -- is widely considered to be best practitioner of the art. Unsurprisingly, Valencia also excels at seafood, from the cheap and cheerful La Lonja del Pescado Frito near the beach to the two branches of the upmarket Civera (Calle Lerida and Calle Mossen Fernandez). For that other great Spanish eating tradition -- tapas -- head for the bars and cafes of the old town such as La Casa del Tapeo and Casa Mundo and tuck in. For upmarket dining, Joaquin Schmidt (Calle Visitacion) offers Mediterranean-influenced nouvelle cuisine so exclusive you have to ring a doorbell to get inside while the Michelin-starred Ca Sento has turned seafood into an art form.



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