Is Valencia a good city for kids? You bet it is. The people of Valencia seem to adore children, and they’re welcome everywhere. There are lots of kid-friendly activities in Valencia, and we’re constantly exploring and discovering what our 9-year-old son and his friends like and keeping a list of the best. We’ve included active and passive activities, which will help you find something to do regardless of the weather or time of year.
Update, Christmastime activities in Valencia, from our friends Janis and Linda: What to do in Valencia this Christmas?
If you have any ideas to improve or add to this list, please add a comment. I’ll keep this updated as we discover new activities in Valencia for kids. For all-year-round activities, read on…
Activities in the Old City center
Mercat Central. This is the central market, and one of the best activities in Valencia. Mercat Central is the largest market in Spain, with over 1000 stalls and it is really impressive. Get your day started by going for breakfast or an early lunch – there are seasonal fresh fruit and vegetable juices, horchata and fartons, cups of fresh-cut fruit, and lots of ready-to-eat snacks, such as jamón (delicious Spanish ham), cheeses, empanadillas, bocadillos, pizzas, pastries, etc. Eat some delicious Spanish foods at one of my favorite restaurants – Michelin starred chef Ricard Camerena’s Central Bar, the only sit down restaurant in the market. Go early or on weekdays to beat the crowds.
Kids love treats, and there are lots of good sweets to keep your kids fueled for all of these activities in Valencia. Our son recommends Chocolate and Churros just outside the Mercat Central. Step up to one of the few stools at the bar, order some hot and crispy churros, and dip them into melted chocolate. He also loves Horchata and Fartons at the Santa Catalina Horchateria and Horchateria Daniel at Mercado Colon. Dunk your fartons into their slushy and refreshing horchata to feel like a real Valenciano.
Plaza de la Reina and Plaza de la Virgen. Start at the Plaza de la Reina, which is a bit touristy, but you’ve got to see it if you come to Valencia. Hire a horse and carraige, or enter the the 13th century Cathedral and climb the 207 steps of La Miguelete tower to see terrific views of Valencia from way up high. A short stroll from the Cathedral, is the Plaza de la Virgen. There are some pretty entertaining street artists along the way and in the actual plaza. You can also join one of the tours that start in this interesting part of the city.
Visit the city towers, Torres de Serranos, and Torre de Quart. They’re a well preserved reminder of medieval times, and you can climb to the top of each for nice views over the city.
Ride one of the tourist busses with open air seating on top. You can start in Plaza de la Reina and get on and off as often as you like. It’s a good way to get an overview of the city when you first arrive.
Rent Bikes or Segways. Rent bikes from one of the many shops in Valencia, and ride along the city bike paths, through the Jardin del Turia, or along the beaches from Beach Bikes Valencia (my personal favorite). If your kids are a bit older (must weigh 77+ lbs.), go for a guided Segway tour.
Activities in the Park
My favorite part of Valencia is the Jardin del Turia. Most great cities have a great park, and Valencia’s does not disappoint. A river once surrounded Valencia, but after a devastating flood in 1957, it was diverted and now the former river bed is a lovely, vibrant, and very big eco-park that surrounds Old Valencia on the north and east sides. There is something for everyone here: beautiful gardens and plant life, fountains, trails for biking, running, and walking, sports fields, exercise circuits, skate parks, and one special kids park – Parque Gulliver. Children look like Lilliputians as they climb and slide on a massive play structure of the character Gulliver from the book Gulliver’s Travels (free admission).
Right next to Parque Gulliver you can rent 2 or 4 person bike carriages to ride around the Turia. Just across the street from Parque Gulliver, you can rent 4 wheel pedal powered Kid Karts and Family Karts to ride around in the park. They also have a good selection of eBikes. And near the Pont de l’Exposició bridge and Alameda Metro stop is a huge red rope climbing structure and giant sandbox where your kids can play. There’s a shady bar in the park just a few steps away where you can find refreshments.
City of Arts and Sciences. On one end of the Jardin del Turia, see the world famous buildings with amazing architecture that make up the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. An annual pass will help you save a lot of money. There are 5 attractions with many activities for kids:
- Hemisfèric – IMAX cinema, laserium, and planetarium
- Umbracle – a landscaped platform for walking and taking in the views
- Príncipe Felipe Science Museum – an interactive science playspace
- Oceanográfico – the largest aquarium in Europe with over 500 marine species
- Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía – Valencia’s Opera and music house
The Bioparc. One of the best activities in Valencia for kids is the Bioparc. At the northwest end of the Jardin del Turia, just a short bus or taxi ride from the city center is Valencia’s zoo. They’ve done a great job of hiding the boundaries of containment, so animals seem closer than in most zoos. Sometimes they’re right over your heads (e.g., the Lemurs) as you walk along the beautifully landscaped and maintained pathways. See hippos, giraffes, meerkats, gorillas, and other exotic animals.
More Activities in Valencia
Just a short Metro, bus, or taxi ride from the center of town are some not-to-be-missed kids’ activities in Valencia.
Malvarossa and Playa de las Arenas beaches. Just a 15 minute Metro ride from the city center are beautiful shallow beaches with nice sand and gentle waves. Bring your own towel or blanket, or rent a chair and umbrella from one of the vendors on the beach for a few euros. Once in a while someone passes by with a cold drink or freshly cut coconut you can buy while you relax. If you’re more active beach-goer, the promenade is great for running, beach volley ball and biking. There are plenty of restaurants and bars on the promenade next to the beach, and you might find street vendors selling roasted and spiced corn on the cob. In summer, because there are lots of activities on the beach it can get quite festive. Locals build some pretty impressive sand sculptures that might inspire your kids to take their own sandcastles to the next level.
In summer, there are some good public swimming pools in Valencia where you can spend the whole day for just a few euros:
- Parque Oeste
- Parque Benicalap (has big water structures and slides, like a mini water park)
Mestalla Stadium. One of the better activities in Valencia if your kids like soccer/fútbol. Take them to a game at Mestalla Stadium, home of the Valencia Club de Fútbol. Whether it’s a game day or not, you can take the Mestalla Forever Tour for an interesting tour of the stadium and areas that are usually off limits to the public.
Indoor Activities in Valencia
Indoor Rock Climbing at El Bunker. Their Bunker Kids program is for ages 5 and up, and is open every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 5:45 – 7:15pm. No experience necessary and it is very safe. Shoes are provided, and kids are supervised by the employees.
On a rainy day or to beat the heat, go to the movies. We recommend Yelmo Cines in Valencia. First of all, be sure to pick the language soundtrack that you prefer. You can do this by looking for a film you know has an original soundtrack in, for example English, and is listed with the acronym VOSE. VOSE means Versió Original Subtitulada en Español, so you’ll get the original soundtrack with Spanish subtitles. Many theaters have assigned seating, so you can purchase in advance and know you have a good seat waiting for you. As a bonus, it is definitely cheaper to go to the movies in Valencia than we’re used to in the U.S.
Theater and live performances. Teatro Flumen and the Espai La Rambleta cultural center have shows and activities for kids, such as performances by the Circo Gran Fele with performing acrobats, gymnasts, puppets, and more, with music, so it’s a bit like Cirque de Soleil. Shows are in Spanish.
Fallero Museum. See the winning ninots (elaborate wooden sculptures) from all of the past years of Fallas, while learning about Valencia’s most important festival.
Activities Outside of Valencia
The activities in Valencia so far have been pretty close to the city center. Combine a train ride that your kids will love, with excursions that are a bit further outside of town.
Go Cart Racing at Karting Horta Nord. Super fun for kids and adults, you can race real go carts around an outdoor track. It is safety first here as participants are given helmets and instructions for their race. Sophisticated timing equipment records your race and compares you to other racers. They have billiards, foosball, and a restaurant too. It’s about a 20 minute bus, train or metro ride out of the center, but worth it.
When you’re ready for some activities outside of Valencia, try taking day trips to these recommended nearby beaches and towns:
- El Saler
- Alcalá de Jucar