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Citybreak in Valencia
Thursday 06 October 2016
Despite being the third largest city in Spain, Valencia wouldn’t generally appear at the forefront of your mind for a short break to the sun. However, having recently been on a city break to Lisbon and Barcelona, the combination of city and beach was what first attracted me to Valencia as the perfect destination for a Mid-September getaway.
Moving up in the World
After researching accommodation options, the choice of hotel was the real clincher in the deal! I have to admit my usual choice of abode can be described as ‘clean, comfortable, well located, you know…a good base’. Lots of adjectives that in other words spell, cheap and cheerful. Not this time. From the moment I pictured myself on one of the luxury loungers by the pool at the Hotel Balneario Las Arenas, well I couldn’t unsee it!
Belonging to the ‘Leading Hotels of the World’ group, the hotel is located just a few metres from Las Arenas Beach. Within a 10 minute walk of the hotel coming from any direction, you can easily spot its impressive structure. The wow factor continued from entering the lobby to our upgraded spacious room with balcony and partial sea view. The staff were incredibly friendly offering a very welcome early check in.
The Hotel Balnearios is by far the best standard of accommodation along that stretch of beach. It offers an outdoor pool on a roof terrace with loungers, pool bar, restaurant and beautiful views of the beach. A separate kids pool again with luxury loungers & wicker cushioned seats. An indoor pool, spa and fabulous grounds boasting a large water fountain pool.
There is no fear of going hungry at the breakfast buffet with its huge array of continental and hot breakfast options. And if you wake up with a thirst, a glass of Cava from the drinks counter may help quench it!
The bar and restaurant at the hotel were quite expensive but there is a decent selection of restaurants along the promenade within minutes of the hotel. The promenade and beach can be accessed from the back of the hotel by using your keycard. The beach is really lovely, wide and stretches for miles. A promenade runs alongside it with shops and restaurants in both directions and is hugely popular with cyclists, runners and roller bladers at all times of day and night.
Nightlife is pretty tame along the beach but it could well have been the time of year that we were there. The main tourist season would be from Mid–June to Mid-September.
What to do
As much as I enjoyed spending time chilling out at the beach, I was also keen to spend a bit of time getting to know the city. I had a guided cycling tour booked in advance, my favourite means of transport to get to know a city. Why spend an afternoon on a bus when you can freewheel around the city on two wheels! The cycling tour departs at 11am & 4pm daily and takes 3 hours and 15km to complete. Our guide was excellent, beginning the tour with a quick lesson in the layout of the city. We began by cycling along the dried river bed of the Turia River which once upon a time ran through the city. There is something for everyone along the 8km stretch including gardens, outdoor gyms, playgrounds, a Music Palace, Planetarium, Opera House. It seems the majority of Valencians either run or cycle and the river bed is the perfect location.
A detour from the river brought us through the Serranos Gate, one of the twelves gates to the city built during the 14th Century, of which only two remain. The old town is what you would expect narrow, cobbled and stunningly beautiful! We now knew where we would have our lunch.
I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend the bicycle tour. Although 15km might sound like quite a distance to cycle, the city is reasonably flat with plenty of stops along the route.
After the bicycle tour we took a stroll back into the Old Town where there was a huge selection of reasonable restaurants to choose from for our al fresco Tapas Lunch. The city restaurants are pretty reasonable just don’t expect to have a quick lunch. The Spanish waiting staff are in no rush to get you a menu, take your order, bring your food or get your bill! Once you are aware of this and don’t arrive hungry, then I don’t see a problem!
Our Ryanair flight from Dublin took approx. 2 hours and 15 mins. From there we took the metro from the airport for €3.90 one way with one change to within a 5 minute walk of the hotel.
Similarly, getting from the beach back to the city centre with one change at a cost of €2.50 one way. A really great efficient and inexpensive way to get around the city.
For a short beach break, I would have no reservations about returning to Valencia and I would certainly return to the Hotel Balnearios Las Arenas for a luxury chilled out getaway.