Valencia is Spain’s third largest city, allowing Madrid and Barcelona to be the focus of attention while it goes its own way. Begin at Plaza de la Reina, one of the city’s most popular squares, to see some of the sights of the city center and browse the shops and cafés found there. Then, head to the City of Arts and Sciences, an iconic complex of futuristic buildings featuring an aquarium, a 3D cinema, an opera house, and sports arena.

At one time, the Turia river flowed through Valencia, but was diverted up into the surrounding mountains because of flooding danger. These days, the former river bed is a strip of lush green park space that’s home to great bike paths and botanical gardens. For a more coastal experience, make your way to La Malvarrosa beach to soak up the sun and eat some traditional Valencian paella with suntanned locals.

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