My main goal for my 29th birthday was to be out of town, do whatever I want and have the best day ever. I planned a city trip to Valencia and had the best birthday ever in this sunny Spanish city with lot’s of food and specialty coffee.
BED TIME STORIES
There are lot’s of great places to sleep in Valencia, but I felt in love with the Valencia Lounge Hostel. The first thing I look up when I’m planning is a nice hostel. With my budget hostels are the best option and what I love about this place is that you have an amazing private room for an affordable price. Normally I stay in a shared room, so this was super comfortable for me to have my own space. You find the shared bathrooms on the hallway. Everything in this hostel was really clean, well organized and chill. It’s a small cosy hostel in the old town of the city close to the Mercat Central and about 20 min. walk from the train station. Every room has it’s own concept and I was lucky to stay in the beautiful and colorful surf room. Lot’s of daylight, comfy bed, big closet and mirror and definitely a plus; a kettle on the room. It was the perfect place to celebrate my 29th birthday. Thanks Valencia Lounge Hostel!
IN DA HOOD
While I was staying in the old part of the city there are many neighborhoods in Valencia that are worth visiting. The city is pretty small and almost everything is on walking distance. Although is a bike is pretty useful is you want to go to the beach, but later more about this. Next to Ciutat Vella (centre of Valencia) I’ve explored three more neighborhoods:
1. El Carmen
You find this arty neighborhood above Ciutat Vella and it’s full of street art, vintage shops, bars and restaurants. It’s the hip and happening part of the city and you can wander in the tiny streets for hours. That’s exactly what I did. I am a big fan of street art and when I visit Malaga I was already impressed, but I have to say Valencia is next level. Every street, every house, every wall is covered by graffiti. Beautiful and not so beautiful art all mixed up. You don’t need a map to guide you, just walk and see where you will end up is my tip. Let the street art lead you.
In the south, next to the train station you find upcoming Ruzafa. In this neighborhood you find the hotspots where you can make the cool Instagram photos, eat the healthy yummy food and drink the good coffees (later more about this). You can also visit the Mercat de Russafa and this hood is also full of vintage shops and boutiques.
3. El Cabanyal
When visiting the seaside of Valencia don’t forget to take a look at El Cabanyal. Which was an old fishers town in the past, now it’s part of Valencia. When I was biking around in this neighborhood it felt like I was in a completely different city (which is kind of true). Old houses, lot’s of colors and a different vibe. To be honest I did feel a bit strange here, because I was alone. Literally. As a solo traveler and there was no one on the street except for a group of young guys that were bothering me. I wouldn’t bike around here when it was dark. But during the day a great place to make some cool photos. The photo on the top was taken here!
THE BIKE IS YOUR NEW BF
Every blog and city guide of Valencia says the same, rent a bike. And I totally agree. Valencia is very bike friendly and there is enough of choice where to rent one. I passed by Rent Bike Virgen and I liked the look of the shop and the bikes didn’t look like a riding advertisement. The Italian owners of the place were super friendly and helpful. The price of renting for one day is 10 euros which is normal. In some shops it can be one euro cheaper, but you might rent a riding advertisement. The bikes of Rent Bike Virgen are very decent, strong and good looking bikes with a basket on the front. Perfect to drop all my of my stuff in. Make sure that you stuck your bag unto something, so no one can grab it out of the basket. Safety first!
It’s not as easy as it is in a lot of other cities and countries. Maybe because I am used to ride a bike in Spain and I am Dutch I could manage, but be careful. Let me not discourage you, because the bike is the best vehicle to get to Valencia beach. The sea side is pretty far away from the centre and not on a walking distance. By bike it’s like an hour. I first went to the end of the beach where I had a lovely brunch at La Mas Bonita (later more). With a full belly I spend some time on the beach. On the way back I crossed neighborhood El Cabanyal and from here it’s easy to go to Turia Park, a 9 Km long park. Like I said Biky is your new bf, because this is the easiest way to see the park with highlight like Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències (city of science and art), Museu de les Ciències de València, Palau de la Música and much more.
HAPPY BELLY BRUNCH TIME
My favorite moment of the day when on holiday is brunch time. Waking up not too early, not too late. Being too late for breakfast, but too early for lunch. That’s mostly me on a city trip. So after my morning routine I am heading to a lovely place and order a full table with some salty food, sweet delights, juices and a cup of coffee. That’s how my table needs to look like to put a smile on my face and ending with having a happy belly.
Dulce de Leche
The first place, and also number one on my to go list, that I visit was the sweet spot in Ruzafa. Everything is Instagram proof, from the front to the inside, from the cakes to the juices. Like always I couldn’t make a choice, so I decided to go for a full table (and it was my birthday). I’ve ordered savory; multigrain croissant with tofu, sundried tomatoes and spinach. Sweet; my birthday cake with dulce de leche and meringue. And a healthy juice and a café con leche. Since a couple of months they changed their coffee to specialty coffee by D-origin. The coffee was okay, but what normally happens with busy brunch places where the food is excellent they don’t pay enough attention to the coffee or they are missing a skilled barista. But happy to see they switched to specialty coffee. This was the best place to enjoy my 29th birthday brunch!
Dulce de Leche has two locations. I’ve been to Dulce de Leche Boutique – Carrer del Pintor Gisbert, 2.
La Mas Bonita
Like I said before the day I rent the bike I’ve been to La Mas Bonita on the beach. There are two locations of this pretty blue brunch place in Valencia. One in Ruzafa and the one on the beach. I’ve been to both. The location on the beach is really big and beautiful and perfect to combine with a day at the beach. When in Ruzafa, you’re hungry and wanna see how they make their own cakes, this is the perfect place. Since a couple of weeks La Mas Bonita is using specialty coffee from Don Gallo, a roaster from close to Madrid. The coffee, a washed Colombian, was a bit intense for me. I am not sure if it was me who couldn’t handle the caffeine or it was a bit over-extracted, but I got a heavy heartbeat after half a café con leche (Ruzafa location).
I was happily surprised how my vegan options there are in such a small city. I’ve been in Valencia before (read the blogpost here) and that time I went to this veggie/vegan restaurant La Tastaolletes in El Carmen and went back again here. Which was tasty again, but the first time it was better and the plates looked nicer. But I stayed longer in the city and had more time to explore more veggie restaurants.
Vegan junk food
If you say junk food + vegan, I say let’s go! I found two concepts that are offering this. First up is The Vurger, which have two locations in the city. It’s an easy burger place that offers menu’s. Different kind of burgers, different kind of fries, different kind of sauces. For a solo traveler it’s an easy way to feel comfortable to eat alone. The food was very affordable and okayish. I’ve expected more from it. Next is vegan junk food paradise Aloha Vegan Delights. Not so much space to sit down, so I took it back to my hostel room and ate this heaven food in my heaven bed. I have to say best vegan burger ever. It really tasted like a normal burger. It was greasy, lot’s of sauce and good bread. I was in heaven! Super yummy.
The specialty coffee scene in Valencia is very small and grows really slow. In 1,5 year time there is one new coffee place and the bigger brunch places are switching to specialty coffee. I am very curious what will happen in the next year. So, this trip I could slow down on my coffee consumption, because I only had to visit three coffee shops.
Bluebell Coffee (Ruzafa)
I’ve met Marian, one of the owners, on the La Marzocco event in Barcelona last June. Marian was participating in the aeropress championship (where she did a great job!) and the day after she came to have a coffee at Nømad Coffee. It’s always great to meet coffee girls that share the same passion. The first time I visit Valencia I didn’t had the time to visit Bluebell, but actually I am pretty happy I didn’t, because not long after that they started roasting their own coffee. I’ve tried Bluebell’s coffee several time and every time I was impressed. With knowing Marian and missing Bluebell in my Coffee Guides, this is one of the reasons I booked this trip. The place looks cosy and there is hanging a nice vibe. When the weather is great (which is quit a lot in sunny Valencia) you can sip your coffee on their patio. I sipped a washed Honduras made with the aeropress, which was good, but I enjoyed their Kenya couple of days earlier and that was outstanding!
Los Picos (Ruzafa)
Cutie and newbie in town. If it wasn’t for my coffee friend Dani who was in Valencia around the same time, I never knew about this place. I was happy to see at least one new coffee shop in the Spanish city. I love the fact that they used the color yellow. It makes it feel bright and sunny like the city. The shop opened not very long ago, but the owners are very proud of what they have created. Fair enough. The place looks great. Los Picos offers coffee from different kind of Spanish specialty coffee roasters like Don Gallo, Ineffable and Puchero. Their concept is to change the coffee very often, so they can offer their clients almost every day some new coffee to try. It’s now a matter of keep practicing and improving. I have high hopes for this Los Picos and looking forward to come back here in a couple of months.
I was so happy to finally be back in Valencia and to have a cup of coffee at Retrogusto Coffeemates prepared by Martina. I know every coffee she prepared is on top and so was my coffee of that day. I was also happy to see that she was pretty busy on this morning and she has lot’s of kind regular customers. At this tiny coffee stand in the Mercat Central you can choose from coffees from Nømad Coffee and Right Side, both from Barcelona. And now they added Square Mile beans to their assortment. I’ve enjoyed a beautiful double espresso from Ethiopia, natural process by Right Side. It was super tasty, well balanced and on top. Another thing I love about Retrogusto is the fact that you can’t sit down. When you gather around the stand for sure you will have a nice chat with another customer. I convinced a customer to skip the sugar and he was so happy that he payed my coffee. How cute is that.
For me Valencia is an amazing city for a city trip. There is the small city where everything is at walking distance. Lot’s of things to do and to see. A great historical centre in combination with new stuff like street art and vintage shops. The city is full of nice restaurants if you like some traditional Spanish food or you want some fancy cuisine or vegan food. You can find it all. With renting a bike you can easily go to the large beautiful beach and see the city from a different side. Slowly the specialty coffee scene will grow here aswell, but for now you don’t have to make to many decisions where to have a good cup of coffee. On your trip you can visit them all and even a couple of times, so you make sure you’ve tried every kind of coffee the shops are offering. What is your favorite part of Valencia?