The port city of Valencia, Spain's third-largest, is famous for its Fallas fiestas, futuristic buildings, beaches, paellas, the La Albufera freshwater lagoon and estuary, the friendly people and many other things besides.

    If you would like to visit, but your bank account isn't up to the task, fear not! This article gives you 10 free ideas that allow you to enjoy your stay to the fullest. Have a refreshing horchata tiger nut milk drink, get hold of a city map and set off. Whoever said that travel was a rich man's hobby? Find out about 10 free things to do in Valencia.

    1

    Attend a session of the Water Tribunal

    Witness the strangest trial you will ever see

    A Water Tribunal? What on earth is that? Actually, it's the oldest legal institution in Europe that still sits. The court settles water and irrigation disputes and rules on the rights of local farmers. Although it is believed that the Romans had such a tribunal during their time in Valencia, the current court dates back to the time of Moorish Al-Ándalus, probably during the Caliphate of Córdoba.

    The sessions, which are held on Thursdays at midday and are open to the public, are really interesting. What's more, they use the official language of the region. Take the opportunity to improve your Valencian!

    Location: Plaza de Crespins, 1-3, 46003 Valencia, Spain

    Open: Sessions held every Thursday at midday, except between Christmas and 6 January.

    Phone: +34 963 91 44 45

    Map

    photo by Rafa Esteve (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    2

    Explore the El Carmen neighbourhood

    Enjoy local culture on a relaxed walk

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    The El Carmen neighbourhood is one of the most popular in Valencia's old town and definitely shouldn't be missed. It is well-known for the Gothic Serranos and Quart towers built in the 15th century and that were part of Valencia's city walls. Another must-visit place is the Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno, which shows the work of international artists from the 20th century. Pay attention to the time, as on Fridays from 7 pm to 9 pm, Saturdays from 3 pm to 9 pm and all day Sunday, entrance is free. There's no excuse not to take in a bit of culture!

    At night during the neighbourhood parties, the terraces of bars and restaurants fill up, inviting you to take a seat and have a drink and something to eat as you enjoy the sea breeze coming off the Mediterranean.

    Location: 46003 Valencia, Spain

    Map

    photo by Jorge Franganillo (CC BY 2.0) modified

    3

    Ride a bicycle through the Jardín del Turia park

    Get on a bike and ride through Valencia from top to bottom

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    The Jardín del Turia is a vast urban park covering 110 hectares that has an interesting story. In 1957, the River Turia burst its banks, killing nearly a hundred people. After this tragedy, the authorities decided that it wasn't safe for the river to flow through the city, and so it was diverted. Its dry river bed was turned into what is today one of Spain's most-visited parks.

    It has many different environments, play areas and sports facilities and is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a picnic and a chat with your friends and family. Hire a bicycle and ride the length of it at your own pace, from the Bioparc to the City of Arts and Sciences. The ride covers a total distance of 6.2 miles, on which you will discover a different side to Valencia while getting some great exercise. What more could you want?

    Location: Paseo de la Pechina, Avenida Manuel de Falla and Avenida Tirso de Molina, 46003 Valencia, Spain

    Open: 24/7

    Phone: +34 963 59 99 67

    Map

    photo by Dorieo (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    4

    Natural Science Museum of Valencia

    Discover the origin of life in this city museum

    The Natural Science Museum of Valencia, situated in the Jardines del Real gardens, is one of the city's most modern and educational. Although it is not very big, its exhibitions, both permanent and temporary, are always interesting, covering areas such as the origin of life and many others.

    It is a highly interactive museum, ensuring that children have a great time here. Remember that on the weekends and on public holidays from 3 pm to 9 pm, entrance is free. At other times, it costs 2 euros, with children free at all times. It's really easy to enjoy Valencia for very little money!

    Location: Jardines de Viveros, Calle del General Elio, s/n, 46010 Valencia, Spain

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 10 am to 7 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +34 962 08 43 13

    Map

    photo by Joanbanjo (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    5

    Watch evening fall over La Albufera

    Fill your lungs with pure air and enjoy the incredible landscape

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    Take in the scenery and watch evening fall over La Albufera at the Albufera natural park, an oass surrounded by woods and rice fields just 6.2 miles from Valencia. By way of interest, it is said that the famous paella Valenciana was invented here. Take the number 25 bus from the city centre. For just €1.50 and in less than an hour, you will be in the middle of the countryside.

    Once here, enjoy the beauty as evening falls and disconnect completely from the everyday hustle and bustle. If, on return from your holiday, you would like to relive your trip to La Albufera from your sofa, we recommend the TV series 'El Embarcadero' ('The Pier') by Álex Pina and Esther Martínez Lobato. A large part of it was set in this stunning natural park.

    Location: 46012 Valencia, Spain

    Map

    photo by Dorieo (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    6

    Join a free walking tour

    Discover Valencia's secrets with a qualified guide

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    In recent years, free walking tours have become very popular throughout Spain. Valencia is no exception. For the cost of a tip, well-trained official guides who are passionate about their work will show you all the city's secrets.

    As well as the typical guided tour which takes you to Valencia's most famous monuments in a short space of time, you can also find others that are more specific, focusing on modernism, the Fallas fiestas, street art and more. You will probably find brochures for some of the companies offering free walking tours at your hotel. If not, ask or do a simple Google search. Perhaps you'll have time to do them all!

    Location: 46002 Valencia, Spain

    7

    Visit the Central Market

    Try some local produce

    The imposing Mercado Central, or Central Market, a vast covered market considered by many to be the crowning glory of Valencian modernism, is found right in the heart of Valencia's old town. This building, which opened its doors in 1928, is so beautiful that it deserves to be visited even if you're not planning on buying anything. Once inside, however, it might be hard to fight back the urge!

    Here, you will find well-tended stalls of all kinds selling the very finest local produce. Be guided by your 5 senses, and you will almost certainly want to make a purchase. The market also has a number of restaurants and bars at which you can try the most authentic local cuisine. Don't miss this chance to feel just like a local!

    Location: Plaza de la Ciutat de Bruges, s/n, 46001 Valencia, Spain

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 7.30 am to 3 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +34 963 82 91 00

    Map
    8

    Take a tour of the city's bridges

    From bridge to bridge, go wherever the mood takes you

    Take a tour of the city's bridges for a bit of fresh air and sightseeing, all for free. There are countless bridges in Valencia, as for centuries, the River Turia flowed through the city. Although the river course was diverted, its bridges remain in place as silent witnesses of a bygone age.

    Some are beautiful, such as the Puente de las Flores with its wooden pavement and numerous flowerpots with their ever-changing plants, depending on the season and the festivities being celebrated. The stone Puente del Mar, built in the 16th century, is one of the favourites with the locals, among other reasons as it is for pedestrians only. Neither should we forget the Puente de l’Assut de l’Or, designed by the Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava. This futuristic bridge is part of the City of Arts and Sciences cultural and architectural complex, and its mast is the highest point in the city at 125 metres.

    Open: 24/7

    9

    Visit the Baños del Almirante

    Travel back to the Middle Ages at the public baths

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    The Baños del Almirante baths are one of Valencia's best-kept secrets. Walking the streets of the city's old centre, you will find this brick Mudejar building that was constructed between 1313 and 1320.

    Although it is not that big, the building exudes magic and charm, as well as well as giving you a perfect idea of how public baths were at that time. Don't miss the skylights in the ceiling – you will get some stunning photos. Entry to the baths is free every day, although the building is closed on Sunday and Monday.

    Location: Calle de Banys de l'Almirall, 35, 46003 Valencia, Spain

    Open: Monday–Friday from 10 am to 6 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm (closed Sunday–Monday)

    Phone: +34 963 15 20 24

    Map
    10

    Malvarrosa Beach

    Get to know Valencia's most emblematic beach and its promenade

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    To give you an idea, Malvarrosa Beach is to Valencia what Barceloneta is to Barcelona and La Concha is to San Sebastián. The most popular in the city, in other words! Just 15 minutes from the city centre, Malvarrosa has a lovely promenade that you can stroll along as you enjoy the sunshine and the sea breeze.

    If the heat gets too much, take your shoes off and walk along the shore or go for a swim. The promenade is just as lively at night, with locals and tourists alike strolling up and down, stopping for a drink and a bite to eat on the terraces and, in general, having the best time possible.

    Location: 46011 Valencia, Spain

    Map

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