City breaks are not always a top holiday choice for families but with Valencia being on the coast, a plethora of attractions that will appeal to children and Spain’s welcoming attitude towards little ones, it is well-worth considering for a fun-packed family holiday.
Below are some top child friendly attractions and things to do in and around Valencia:
Bioparc Valencia (www.bioparcvalencia.es) - a conservation project with more than 4,000 animals, from 250 species celebrating its fourth birthday this year. This is a magical place for children built around the ‘zoo-immersion’ philosophy that aims to immerse visitors in a faithful re-creation of natural habitats.
The City of Arts and Sciences (http://www.cac.es) - built in the dried up river bed of the Turia and this is the most important modern tourist destination in Valencia. The iconic complex is dedicated to science and culture with five main elements, including the Science Museum – an innovative centre of interactive science; the Oceanográfico – Europe’s largest aquarium with over 500 marine species; and Hemisféric – an IMAX cinema and digital projections that have particular appeal for children.
Albufera Nature Park – just 10km out the city is Albufera Nature Park, which is home to Spain’s largest lake and is Valencia’s very own rice growing region. It is one of the most important wetland areas on the Iberian Peninsula and offers the chance to see rare species of wading birds and a rich variety of wildlife, take boat trips on the lake and to savour traditional paella in one of the local villages close to the park.
Cycling – Valencia is ideal for cycling with a network of cycle paths throughout the city and the old riverbeds and gardens. There are plenty of places to hire bikes and pedal power is a fun way to explore the city. Many of the attractions such as the Bioparc are easily reached by bike and the tourist office web site has a route map in its ‘Children’s Valencia’ section that can be printed off. http://www.valenciaguias.com/
The Turia Gardens – the city’s ‘green lung’ located in the dried up river bed of the Turia is a lovely place to visit, especially on a hot day. Bikes and boats can be hired, plus there is a three-carriage train that takes visitors around the park and Gulliver’s park with ramps and slides for children to play on.
Valencian beaches - with warm summer temperatures lasting from April to November and an average of 2,660 hours of sunshine per year, compared to 1750 hours in South East England, heading to the beach is one of the highlights of visiting Valencia. El Cabanya (Las Arenas) or La Malvarrosa are Valencia’s two urban beaches that both offer fine, golden sand and clear blue sea. El Cabanya is located just a 20 minute metro ride, followed by a 10 minute walk or two stop tram ride from the centre.
Tin Soldier Museum (www.museoliber.org) - home to the world’s largest collection of tin soldiers (over 80,000), as well as tin dinosaurs, tin designer fashions and tin royalty this unusual museum is sure to delight boys, both young and old. The museum displays as accurately as possible important political and international scenes and is a snip at only €5 to get in.
Royal and Viveros Gardens - children can have fun in the play area, drive a go-kart or bounce on the inflatables in the Parque de tráfico. This historic park is also home to an eleventh century palace, many sculptures, monuments and fountains, an old farmhouse, typical of rural Valencian architecture, plus the Museum of Natural Sciences, with Palaeontology and Malacology collections.
Marina Real Juan Carlos - the Marina was built in 2007 for the America’s Cup and is also the location for the Valencia Grand Prix when the area is transformed into a dramatic five kilometre circuit annually in June. The marina can accommodate more than 800 yachts and is a great place to wander around to spot the super yachts of the rich and famous. There is also a children’s play area to keep the little ones amused and the urban beaches are close by.
Valencia Open Top Bus – Valencia Bus Turistic is an easy way to take in all the main sights of the city, providing commentary and information on the history of places as it goes along. The open top red buses travel all over town and passengers can hop-on hop-off as they want, offering a great option for families to get around.