Hello, my wife and I are planning to attend Las Fallas in March 2020. We are in our late 50s and we need our sleep at night! I understand that the City Center during Las Fallas is loud all night. Can anyone recommend a section of Valencia which is about 15-20 minutes away from the main festivities and has ample public transit, so we can travel to the main events easily but also escape at decent distance to a relatively quiet neighborhood where we can sleep at night? Would welcome suggested neighborhoods, or even recommended hotels in those neighborhoods. Thank you!
I was worried about noise too. I ended up staying at Hotel Ayre Astoria Palace and slept very well. It's a short walk from the train station - which was very helpful because when I arrived at 1 pm on the 15th, most of the streets in the center were closed to vehicles. The hotel is very central, I walked everywhere - it's about 5 minutes to the central plaza.
I didn't hear the early morning bands, and at night while I could hear to fireworks, it was only because I was still awake. They were far enough away, that they wouldn't have woken me and I'm a pretty light sleeper. Expect to be up late and sleep late.
Another forum member, Avirose, was there at the same time. He stayed outside the center but I don't remember how he managed getting in and out of the center. If he doesn't respond here, use the search function to find him and send him a PM.
We both booked 2 walking tours through the TI (book in advance, some fill up). On the morning Old Town tour, there was only one other person besides us. The guide was excellent and the tour was interesting and informative. We took the afternoon Las Fallas tour. The guide was poor, she using a mike with a speaker and it was difficult to hear her or to understand her. I didn't get anything out of the tour but with a good guide it may be very different.
Yes, Chani and I were at Las Fallas the same year, and I stayed near the modern design (Calatrava) buildings of the science and nature museums that are inbetween the city center and the beach - you'd think it would be quieter but in fact there were local squares and intersections with their own mini-celebrations, fires, and musical performers, so it was still not quiet at night or in the early mornings. I ended up loving my home base at the AC / Marriott property because I could get in touch with the locals, though, as well as easily get to the museums and the mall and the hipster barrios (when I get a chance to review the names I'll add).
The bus system is great, but I learned the hard way that because of the events both central and in the neighborhoods, the routes and the major stops were adjusted for the festivities - in my case the main bus lines that I was using had a stop that was even closer to the hotel, so once I figured it out it worked well. The transit agency had extra staff on duty, too, so if you know a little Spanish you can easily get the details. Everyone was very helpful.
There are both more upscale and more modest hotels in the area around the huge modern mall on Av. de Franca; walk a couple blocks toward the playa and there are even better neighborhood hangouts.
I went to Las Fallas this past March with a group of friends. Most of us stayed
at the AC Hotel Colon Valencia near the Nord Train Station. It was actually pretty quiet within despite being right in the middle of things. I would stay there again.
We got really good rates because we reserved early, and they offer a nice discount for those 62+.
I should add that noise and celebrations happen all over the city, and transportation can be an issue because of all the people. Walking distance was a big plus. Some of our group stayed in apartments away from the center and reported hearing quite a bit of noise.
Thank you to all of those that replied so far, your comments are very helpful. I see that the AC Mariott and other desirable hotels are in the section known as the City of Art & Science - is it a long walk from that part of Valencia to where the main festivities are held? We don't mind walking, I just don't have a sense of distance from looking at the maps. Thank you!
No, the hotels Chanti and I stayed at are near the train station, not the Arts and Science section.
I like to use google maps to see distances, and use streetview to "see" the area.
Reread Avi's answer about how he got around.
The area between Arts & Sciences and the Cabanyal is not within walking distance of the central events that you see on the news!
It requires a short bus ride - the bus lines usually run along the road to the Port and the Balears -- Avinguda del Port and les Balears (in Valencian) but during the festivities there are a lot of street closures so the buses are temporarily re-routed to run along parallel streets, but there are lots of signposts and flyers to mark the stops, and there is a brochure put out by the transit authority.
Read up on the Cabanyal neighborhood. There is an AC/Marriott near the southwest edge of that neighborhood that separates Arts & Sciences from the Cabanyal, and like RS encourages us, I became a temporary local in that club/barrio/association -- hanging out at their bar, their community meeting, and attending the final burning of their maquetas held along with a street party.
The thing you have to understand is that the huge displays and fireworks and burnings that go on in the center of town, with corporate sponsors and firemen on duty, are the evolution of a long-standing local tradition that comes out of the smaller associations that are the equivalent of cofradias in Siena or krewes in New Orleans or mummer's clubs in Phila -- those associations still meet for the entire year ahead to plan and build their own displays, and put them out at the central intersection of their neighborhood, the crossroads. This extended cultural practice operates in parallel partnership with the church practice of having the women make fancy lace costumes and process with flowers to the plaza by the cathedral and build a huge flowery version of Mary. The broader public is attracted to the huge main floats/displays and their destruction, but the local population is focused more on their own commemorations. The Arts & Sciences community is relatively young because the apt complexes were built around the same time as the museums, so their celebrations are more families with young kids. The Cabanyal has more of a port-town feel, with a little rowdier crowd and a lot of union laborers.
If you're game, staying in the Av. de Franca area gives you walking access to the newer and the older constituencies of the city. But you'll need to get on the bus or in a taxi to get to the action in the old city Ciutat Vella (Ciudad Viejo in Spanish) and the main town square Placa Ajuntament (Plaza Ayuntamiento in Spanish). Valencia has a lot of history and a lot going for it today, too.
You could eat at the trendiest of Michelin-starred restaurants like "Vertical" (it blew me away!) and at places where the tables and floors are older than the US Constitution :-)
Avirose and everyone - I am so grateful for your advice. I've booked rooms at two locations (I'll cancel one); at a B&B on the northeast corner of the Rusafa neighborhood (walking distance to the Playa Ayunimiento); and the Hotel Valencia Alameda, not far from the Av Franca (a bit further from the City Center). I am intrigued by the suggestion of the AC Marriott - we stayed in one in Florence in 2018 and it was wonderful. I see 2 AC Mariotts in Valencia - one to the east on the way to the coast, and one in the "Colon" area. Avirose, I assume you stayed at the former. Both require full payment upfront, with no refund, which is concerning in case of something unforeseen coming up.
Here's another question: I understand the festivities begin late at night and go until perhaps 2 am - does public transit still run at that time so we can get back to our accommodations, or is it necessary to walk or take private cabs back that late at night?
Actually the festivities start around 8 or 9 am with marching bands. The first "big" event of each day is the firecrackers in the main plaza at 2 pm, but well before that you'll see people in traditional costumes walking around. The morning and early afternoon hours are good for seeing the sights of the city, and there are more than a few worthy ones, and seeing some of the hundreds of fallas. While there are many people out and about at 2 or 3 or 4 am, there's nothing special to see after the fireworks at midnight or 1 am - when I was there the times varied from night to night. And once was enough for me.
These are the two sites I found to learn about Las Fallas.
As I tried to explain above, the festivities involve a lot more than the final fireworks and burning of the displays, which is called La Crema because it's the culmination of a week-long set of activities which provide depth and spirit to the big noisy party at the end.
Not least of the activities is the adoration of the Virgen de las Desamparadas
Valencia is known for its long-standing progressive attitude towards the disabled,
and that's because they are devotees of this particular version of the Virgen.
St. Joseph is another complicated figure in Valencian tradition because he is both the patron of carpenters and the stepfather of God.
Spain celebrates Father's Day on the feast day of St. Joseph, and Valencia times the Fallas around his day as well.
So, there is a lot going on besides fireworks and burning! (We haven't even touched on the politics of whom is portrayed and how they are portrayed in the display figures) Each neighborhood association has its own activities plus they participate in the larger processions to the plaza behind the cathedral and the city plaza --
It's there near the city plaza that the Colon hotel is, and it's out farther by the Arts&Sciences near Av. Franca that the other AC/Marriott hotel is.
I've also grown fond of AC hotels -- had a great stay at one in Juan les Pins and in other towns, too.
You haven't said how long you are going to be there -- if you're really just focused on La Crema, then stay closer to the Ayuntamiento and use your spare time to go to the fine arts museum, the Roman ruins, and maybe the ceramics museum. If you're spending a week, then by all means get out to the Cabanyal and the Arts&Sciences and the modern art museums.
We are planning to spend 5 nights in Valencia. At this point I'm leaning toward the Hotel Alameda Valencia, which is close to Av Franca and a bus ride away from the Playa Ayuntamiento (rather than a short walk). We're excited about the main festival but we want to see the fallas in other neighborhoods of the city as well, and also visit the beach, and the City of Arts & Sciences, the parks, etc. In fact, there are some appealing hotels in the City of Arts & Sciences but I'm concerned that they are too far from the main festival. One question that hasn't been answered: How late does the public transit run? If we watch the midnight - 1 a.m. fireworks in the city center and then head back to our hotel, are buses or subways still running? if so, are they running infrequently? Thanks ...
and p.s. to Chani, I looked into the Hotel you recommended and either it was already all booked up for Las Fallas 2020 or the available rooms were out of our price range...but we're grateful for the suggestion ...
The fireworks aren't quite in the city center. I remember walking at least 15 minutes to get to them. Maybe Avi can tell you more. I was only in the historic center. Take into account that there will be hundreds of people filling the streets for the fireworks. I went on the first night and it was pretty crowded. My experience was that everything just got more crowded each day.
Here's another instance where the loose sense of time works in the eager tourist's favor -- the main final fireworks display will go off pretty close to the scheduled time, and there are buses getting people back out of the old city and the city hall areas until 2am, but the local neighborhood burnings of their displays will tend to run later, and then be followed by block parties -
so you can get a taste of both. Especially if you aren't determined to be in the front right by the barricades but hang back a ways.
Then you can more easily disentangle yourselves from the crush -- as Chani says, it gets really crowded. During the last afternoon mascleta I wound my way pretty close and frankly regretted it because it became claustrophobic -- I felt like I was about to be a statistic in a soccer-stadium-style (or Hajj) tragedy :-)
With 5 days to use, I would definitely go by the Virgen plaza several times to see it being built, and do take the time to see not just the markets but also the park spaces in the riverbed and the fine arts and modern art museums. I also enjoyed the excavations museum and the anthropology exhibits. The Arts&Sciences architecture was interesting but the contents was only so-so.
THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH - YOU ARE WONDERFUL! This has been a great help!