THINK Spain’s sunny beaches and the Costas spring to mind.
But many are unaware of just how fabulous the golden sands of the vibrant city of Valencia are.
With Alicante just 100 miles south and the party island of Ibiza almost visible from the coast, Valencia might not be your first choice for a beach holiday.
But you would be missing out on a real Mediterranean gem.
Valencia’s elegant city center is a veritable treasure trove of charming cafes, grandiose whitewashed architecture and historic sites.
But just a short tram ride away is a glorious four-mile stretch of golden sandy beaches.
And the beaches aren’t just long, they’re wide too, leaving plenty of room to spread out and find your perfect spot.
Las Arenas is the southernmost beach and the most popular of the group.
The stretch of sand overlooked by the luxurious 5H Las Arenas Balneario Hotel features a seafront promenade lined with restaurants serving aromatic paellas and sweet sangrias.
The American writer Ernest Hemingway used to eat at the beach restaurant La Pepica.
Its paella is among the best in town and reservations are required to guarantee a table.
If you want to push the boat out a little more, head to the Panorama Restaurant just south of the beaches.
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With gorgeous coastal views and a great wine list, it’s a decadent place to while away a sunny afternoon.
And for the perfect Instagram selfies, reserve a sun lounger at Marina Beach Club, where you can lounge by the scenic pool, sip cocktails and enjoy the DJ sets from €20.
But these beaches offer much more than good food and drink.
Walk a little further up the palm-lined Passeig Marítim promenade to La Malvarrosa Beach and you’ll find people jumping in the sand at volleyball, navigating rope jungle gyms and playing beach soccer.
If that’s all too much, there are plenty of sunbeds for hire and plenty of space on the sparkling Mediterranean shoreline for a dip in the water.
Beach Bol Bar is also a great place to relax, and its location in a beach shack makes you feel more like you’re in the Caribbean than the Mediterranean.
The generously filled bocadillo sandwiches are the order of the day there and pair perfectly with a cold beer on a warm afternoon, all to be enjoyed at one of the high wooden tables.
To the north lies the pristine and relaxing Patacona Beach. It’s an ideal spot for a quieter day in the sun, away from the lively bars and bistros of Las Arenas.
And for a local taste, visit the nearby town of Alboraya and try the sweet and refreshing drink Horchata at its place of origin.
One of the best ways to explore Valencia’s beaches is on two wheels and there are plenty of bike rentals around the city.
If you want to spend a day pedaling from the city center down to the beaches through the winding Turia Park – a former river converted into a vibrant green space.
Although the beaches are quite a distance from the city center, there are still some interesting sights nearby when you’re done sunbathing. And the City of Arts and Sciences is a must.
Built in 2005, this architectural marvel is instantly recognizable for its glassy, sail-like curves. It houses Europe’s largest aquarium, an interactive science museum, art and music centres, a planetarium, an Imax theatre, bars and restaurants.
Closer to the beach is the colorful neighborhood of El Cabanyal, with its pretty ceramic-tiled streets.
This charming old fishing village is a corner of Valencia that most visitors to the city center won’t see.
This quirky seaside neighborhood has plenty of tapas bars to spend the night in, as well as the artful Casa Montaña – one of the city’s best restaurants.
If you want the freshest taste of El Cabanyal, be sure to explore the bustling market, which offers an endless variety of produce and more than 150 shopping stalls.
If you are looking for sun, sand and sea then Spain’s best kept secret is only a few minutes’ walk away.
ARRIVAL / STAY: British Airways Holidays are offering three nights only at 3-star Villacarlos from £189 per person traveling on select dates in May.
Includes round-trip Economy Class airfare from Gatwick and accommodation. Rebook by April 10th britishairways.com/holidays.
MORE INFO: visitvalencia.com/en.
https://www.thesun.ie/travel/8561494/valencias-golden-sands-paella-spain/ The golden sands of Valencia is home to the must-see paella city of Spain