Every March Valencia heats up, not from spring Mediterranean sunshine, but from fires that are lit throughout the streets! During the month of March, huge figures called Ninots line every street and are gradually all burned during the festivities! Las Fallas is on every year between 15-19 March and there is lots to see apart from these crazy bonfires!
Las Fallas: A 30 Second Guide to the Valencia Fiesta
What is Las Fallas?
The only reason I learnt of the Las Fallas fiesta is from using my Lonely Planet’s Where to Go When book that my Mum gave me for Christmas. It recommended to visit Valencia in March when the fiesta was on, I thought it looked pretty cool so I swiftly booked my flights.
Back in the middle ages, carpenters would light a bonfire to honour their patron saint, Sant Josep. As time went by effigies started being thrown onto the fire which has gradually evolved so that now huge paper maiche creations that take months to build line the streets. They are eventually burned on the last night of Las Fallas, There are lots of other traditions that make up Las Fallas keep reading to find out what they are.
Ofrenda de Flores (Offering of Flowers)
Throughout the Fallas, women and men dressed in traditional Valencian costumes parade through the streets ending up in Plaza de la Virgen, near the cathedral. The parades happen throughout the day and you won’t be able to miss them when your in the city centre.
This daytime firework show takes place every day at 2pm at Plaza del Ayuntamiento between 1-19 March. It’s super busy, so get to the square around 1.15-1.30pm to ensure you see the show!
The firework shows happen daily in the Turia Gardens between 15-18 March. The show doesn’t start until midnight so don’t overdo the sightseeing during the day!
The last night of Las Fallas (19 was March) culminates in the Ninots being burned throughout the city. I can honestly say I have never seen so many fire hazards in a city but this was a truly epic site! The children’s Ninots are lit from 10pm with the ones in the main square being lit at 1am in Plaza del Ayuntamiento. Wandering the streets after 10pm you will see the fires throughout the streets and families lighting barbeques to celebrate. This really isn’t to be missed!
What else to see in Valencia
La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia
As this site is all about my UNESCO challenge of visiting every world heritage site, I wasn’t going to miss out on visiting La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia. It’s Valencia’s former Silk Exchange and it’s name means ‘Silk Market.’
Now, this UNESCO World Heritage site is worth popping your head into, but even since visiting the site I have found very little information online. There is practically zero information when in the building. The best thing to do would be to read about La Lonja on the UNESCO website here. Essentially it was built in the 15th century when Valencia’s trade was booming.
It’s a beautiful medieval building full of orange trees, so it’s a great photo opportunity. The building itself is impressive but empty, but it’s a wonderful pit stop and a refreshing break from exploring the number of Valencia’s churches.
Inglesia de San Nicholas
Inglesia de San Nicholas has proclaimed itself the “Sistine Chapel of Valencia”, it certainly doesn’t disappoint. I recommend listening to the free audio guide.
Visit a Flamenco Show
I visited Café Negrito which holds a Flamenco night every Tuesday. It is €10 a ticket which includes a drink.
Cafe Negrito Address: Plaça del Negret, 1, 46001 València, Spain
Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences
In Spanish this is called La Ciudad de Las Artes y Las Ciencias. The concert hall, museums and aquariums which make up this part of town are very futuristic. There is a tree lined avenue which is great for taking photos. I went to the L’Oceanogràfic as it’s one of the biggest aquariums in Europe. In all honesty, for the biggest aquarium in Europe, I found seeing the whales in tanks quite distressing. It doesn’t look like they have enough space for something that size. If your not one for zoos then I would give this a miss.
See the Holy Grail at the Cathedral
Visit the Cathedral to see the holy grail at first hand. You can also see a very old human arm! You can walk around the Cathedral for free but there is an admission charge to visit the museum and climb the El Micalet bell tower. Make sure you take a look at the sculpted door leading out onto the Plaza de la Virgen. This sculpted doorway is apparently the setting for Tribunal de las Aguas, where eight representatives from across the city meet up to discuss the city’s water laws. This has been happening since 960! If you want to go and watch the tribunal head over to the Plaza de las Virgen on a Thursday at 12.30.
Mercado Central / Valencia’s Market
Mercado Central is a stunning wrought iron building in the centre of Valencia. The array of produce here is amazing. I’m still dreaming about all the olives! I walked around looking at all the weird fish. It’s perfect for taking pictures and exploring some Valencian delicacies. You can also stop off at Central Bar for a glass of cava or two in between food tasting!
Torres de Quart
Torres de Quart was very close to our hotel, so we decided to take a stroll up. It’s only a couple of euros to visit and you get lovely views of the city. There are a few of these gates around the edge of the city that were built in the 1400s, so if you don’t make it up this particular one there are lots of others to climb.
Places to Eat in Valencia
Below are the stand out places I would recommend. The food in Valencia was pretty outstanding and I don’t remember having a single bad meal. Places are busy during the time of Las Fallas so book your evening meals before you go, particularly if you are eating later when the Spaniards do.
Don’t forget to check out these recommendations for the best coffee in Valencia!
Don’t plan on moving much after visiting one of the oldest tapas bars in Valencia. You will absolutely stuffed full of Valencia’s best tapas. Make sure you book in advance so you don’t miss out.
Casa Montana Address: Carrer de Josep Benlliure, 69, 46011 València, Spain
The food was absolutely exquisite and there is no way I would miss going back if I was ever in Valencia again.
Entrevins Address: Primer Piso, Calle de la Paz, 7, 46003 Valencia, Spain
Taberna Pare Pere El Cantonet
If you haven’t already learn some key Spanish phrases then make sure you do before entering this place. One hungry afternoon I stumbled across Pare Pere, which was full of locals on their lunch break so I decided to venture in. It’s run a by a no-nonsense father and daughter team. Whilst we were eating the mother popped in to drop off some bread. The father doesn’t seem to do a great deal, but the atmosphere is ace. The food is also pretty great and it’s one of the best value meals I had in Valencia.
Taberna Pare Pere el Cantonet Address: Avinguda Regne de Valencia, 38, 46005 València, Spain
How to Get to Valencia
Flights from London to Valencia were around £154 per person.
Getting from Valencia Airport to the Hotel
The metro system in Valencia is easy to navigate and you can get a metro straight from the airport to numerous stops in the city centre. Taxis to central Valencia are around €20-25 depending on where your hotel is located.
Where to stay in Valencia
Hotel Jardin Boutique
The staff here were friendly, attentive and invaluable in recommending where to watch each of the Last Fallas shows from. They even gave us a complimentary Las Fallas neckerchief. Our room was spacious with lots of storage, a television, mini fridge and a kettle. We stored our beverages in the fridge before heading to the festival. The bathroom was smart with free toiletries and a powerful shower over the bath. The hotel is about a 15 minute walk from the center, but this worked out well as it meant we could sleep well before the next days sightseeing.