Christmas in Spain: Why Valencia should be your next winter holiday destination
Why spend your Christmas holidays trudging around the damp English countryside, when you could be strolling around Valencia – where rain is rare but Spanish charm bountiful. Valencia has a history of quality. Its shops are brimming with luxury, its architecture is striking, and cuisine tantalising.
When you arrive
Valencia has no shortage of high-end hotels to choose from, but for the epitome of Valencian glamour, stay in Westin Valencia. The hotel was decadent enough to satisfy even George Clooney, who stayed here whilst filming Tomorrowland. Be won over by large rooms, a spa and pool, and particularly the courtyard – an oasis in the middle of the city. Another special choice is Hotel Caro, Valencia’s first hotel within a historic landmark. Nestled on a traditional, narrow street in old town, the hotel is, in fact, the former palace of the Marqués de Caro, and retains the opulence of its origins. After seven painstaking years of restoration, the hotel has come to be defined by striking architectural contrast. Sleek, modern design is juxtaposed with historic beams and the old city walls, to create a truly one of a kind interior. Every room is unique, and comes with a story – for example, The Cat’s Room, named as such because the former owner wouldn’t let people in whilst his cats were asleep there. Caro even boasts a Michelin star restaurant, Sucede.
Sightsee the morning away
The cathedral is one landmark which can’t be missed, and it houses the chalice recognised by the Vatican as possibly the original Holy Grail. Whilst there, make sure to head up the bell tower; the 207 steps are worth it for the panoramic views at the top. There are many more must-sees of Valencia, however, such as the City of Arts and Sciences – so to make sure you get from place to place with ease and peace of mind, a good idea is to purchase a Valencia tourist card. Aside from affording you unlimited travel on public transport, it also offers discounts on the array of tourist attractions, shops and restaurants you might want to visit during your trip. There are three types of card, 24, 48 or 72 hours, and each can be purchased through leading websites such as Visit Valencia. Alternatively Google ‘Tourist Card for Valencia Spain’ and you will find a host of other great websites to buy from.
Buy into the Christmas spirit
Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a spot of gift giving, and from traditional crafts to high-end fashion, Valencia can offer it all. The most premier of all shopping streets is the Poeta Querol – located in old town, it houses designers from Ferragamo to Cavalli and Louis Vuitton. South of the old town, Colón street not only houses luxury goods but Valencian names such as Siemprevivas and Álex Vidal. Shopping is hungry work, so whilst you are here stop at the Mercat de Colón. Try quintessentially Spanish snacks, such as a turrón or polvorón, accompanied with horchata, a sweet creamy drink made from tiger nuts, perfect treats for the most wonderful time of the year.
It isn’t just international high fashion that makes Valencia the epicentre of quality goods – in fact, it is ingrained in the city’s history, as Valencia was once at the heart of the silk roads. Make sure to visit both the 15th century Silk Exchange of Valencia (also known as “La Lonja) and Silk Museum, to delve deeper into its historic importance. Silk products are not hard to come by in the city, but other handicrafts such as wickerwork and ceramics are also synonymous with the region and make a perfect memento of your travels.
Have some festive fun
Why just buy Valencian gifts when you could buy festive Valencian gifts. Once you have explored the silk routes of Valencia, you are perfectly placed to enjoy some festive fun. Market Square, in front of the Silk Exchange building, is home to the Christmas market for all of December, so head here for sweet treats and decorations. There is also plenty of winter entertainment that brings Valencia to life during the colder months, such as the ice rink and carousel which occupies City Hall Square.
Before you delve into the vibrant Valencian nightlife, take a moment to refuel on selections of serrano ham, clams, squid or grilled cuttlefish. No holiday in Spain would be complete without Tapas, and Bodega Casa Montaña, in the Cabanyal quarter, is the best Tapas bar around. Taste classic dishes comprised of local ingredients, and dip into the extensive selection of wines. But, if you want to stay closer to the old town, simply stroll down Calle de Caballeros, and take your pick from the selection of buzzing bars. Here, kick your night off to a fun start with some Agua de Valencia, a cocktail made from orange juice, champagne, gin and vodka. Then venture further into old town to be charmed by live jazz at Jimmy Glass, or dance the night away at Radio City.