I have 2 weeks in Spain. A friend lived in Valencia 5 years ago and suggested a few days there. Rick Steves never mentions it...any thoughts on Valencia?
Everybody has their own opinion. Mine is, it’s good for a day possibly two. It’s not one of my top Spanish cities. A friend of mine spent a couple days there in May are really enjoyed it. I’ve never been to Nerja so cannot comment on it.
Here’s the excerpt from my 2017 Spain trip report for Nerja:
Nerja (4 nights)/Frigiliana (1 day): Initally, we were planning to stay 4 nights in the charming white village, Frigiliana, in a small apartment with a pool as a relaxing location to just enjoy being there…and a chance for me to take lots of photos while my husband enjoyed his siestas. 4 months before our trip, I learned that Nerja was having their Nerja Feria festival beginning our last two days in this area, so I switched to a hotel on the Balcony of Europe in Nerja. We took the handy 1 Euro bus up to Frigiliana for one full day of exploring every small lane of that beautifully, quaint town and having a wonderful meal at El Casino (odd name) on their terrace overlooking the town.
The Nerja Cave was well worth the time. We purchased the combo ticket to ride a little tourist train out to the caves – easy transportation. That afternoon we walked over to the Burriana Beach – beautiful beach with accessible shops, famous paella stop mentioned by RS, etc. to spend the rest of our day. This beach was much nicer than those bordering the Balcony of Europe. We both liked the ambiance of some time at the Mediterranean towards the end of our trip.
Wow, their Feria was amazing! I’d describe it for us as a combination of 4th of July fireworks, State Fair concerts, full arcade plus traditional local town entertainment & participation. The first night was kicked off with an exciting fireworks/light show with Miss Espana and huge crowd in attendance – lots of fun to be there and have our hotel steps from the kick-off location. If we weren’t there during the Nerja Feria, we thought 2 days would be enough to be in this area, and I would stay up in Frigiliana, spending one day at the caves/beach in Nerja.
A few comments about Hostal Marissal. This hotel has a prime location, and I would select it as a Nerja hotel again based on that factor. On the other hand, the gentleman at the reception desk was not friendly. Our last day, we had to just leave the keys on the desk because no one was available at 8am checkout. All rooms including those facing inward have a window door balcony, so “balcony” doesn’t guarantee an exterior view. Our balcony faced another room’s balcony and the hall walkway balcony.
Indeed, if you can hit Nerja during a festival, it certainly livens it up!
Otherwise, I am not sure I would travel across the oceans to end up visiting Nerja. The cave is fine but there are better ones in France, or the USA for that matter. The beach town can provide a relaxing break in an Andalucia-focused trip, but has not reason to appear in a 2-week itinerary for all of Spain, in my opinion.
Valencia is in a different league. In a trip that combines Madrid and Barcelona, looping through Valencia in one direction and Zaragoza in the other would be very, very worthwhile. You do not need much time in Valencia, 2 nights will do if needed (3 nights better), but I really like the vibe there, and the city center is both beautiful and pleasantly vibrant. The beach is far, far better than in Nerja, for that matter.
What is it about Nerja that attracts you to it?
Personally I fail to see the allure. The caves are the biggest attraction, they're OK but I've experienced better ones. There are better beaches elsewhere also.
The popularity of Nerja appears to be a result of being on someone's 'must see list' which ends up being perpetuated to the point where so many people believe it's a 'must see'.
I just went to Valencia for the second time this summer. I would give it 2-3 days, that's plenty to see the sights. Stick to the old city center, everything else outside of that is mostly modern typical Spanish town. You can get to the beach on public transportation if that interests you and of course the Ciutat des les Arts i les Ciencies is a must. It's a bit outside of the city center but you can take a bus there. Valencia reminds me of a less touristy Barcelona.
I'm going to hijack this thread instead of starting a new one. We're travelling from Madrid to Barcelona next year and will be swinging down through Andalucia on the way between the two cities. We've got 10 days. I'm just starting to form a plan and was thinking two days in Madrid, a day in Toledo, a day in Cordoba, two days in Seville and a day in Granada. It's a long drive or train ride between Granada and Barcelona, and Valencia is about half way in between. Would this be worth a stop for a day or is there a better city in the area that might be more interesting? Or should we by-pass it altogether and just go straight from Granada to Barcelona? We'll be finishing with three days in Barcelona. Forgot to add, this will be the end of April, into the first week of May, if that changes anything.
dfm1018, I would start a new thread--your plan is very rushed and it could use less stops, not more!
I followed the Rick Steves itinerary for a 10 day trip found here (https://www.ricksteves.com/europe/spain/itinerary), though I added in a day in Cordoba since people were saying it's a must-see and we'd be going right past it anyway. The main question is, it worth it to stop in Valencia for a night, or should we drive/ride straight through to Barcelona, bypassing Valencia?
dfm1018, those itineraries are the bare minimum. If you like a fast pace, it is "doable" as they say, but do take travel time into consideration. I would not stop in Valencia.
camccord Rick tends to focus on the places his tours go. It's rare that anything else makes it into his books. (not necessarily a criticism, rather an observation). I was in Valencia for Las Fallas, a weird and wonderful festival in mid-March. I did manage to see some of the sights. It's also known for its architecture.
dfm - please, please start your own thread. Your issues are not specific to Valencia.
Nerja is very pretty, a nice day trip. Valencia is beautiful. Spent two weeks there and loved it. Stayed in the old town off La Paz. The old city is very walkable. The Cathedral holds the Holy Grail. The Turia Gardens are a delight. The Mercado Centro is foodie heaven. And don’t miss the murals in the train station and the City of Arts and Sciences which alone will take two days to explore.
I few comments about Valencia. First, I think it's a big miss for Rick to not even mention the 3rd largest city in Spain. I get he loves Italy but there are an infinite # of fabulous sites in Spain, including Valencia that he doesn't explore. Valencia goes back to the Phoenicians and has so many layers that it would take weeks for a history buff to see everything. I get that most people don't have a lot of time and if you're only going to Spain once in your lifetime the must do cities are obvious; Madrid, Toledo, Barcelona, Seville, Granada, San Sebastian. Having said that it's unfortunate that even in these days people talk about going beyond the crowded typical tourist destinations our tour experts and influencers seem to revert back the the "safe" hot spots.