Travel on a Budget: Valencia, Spain

While Valencia is the third-largest city in Spain – behind Madrid and Barcelona – it has several advantages for visitors that the bigger cities can’t match.

For one, the city’s proximity to the nearby wine country of Utiel-Requeña provides opportunities to visit a variety of wineries, from one-person operations to facilities that cover several city blocks. Indeed, the area is so picturesque that some refer to it as the Tuscany of Spain.

Next, Valencia is smack dab on the Mediterranean Sea, with beautiful beaches and warm water just a short bus ride from the city center.

But the city of Valencia is intriguing enough on its own, with cobble-stoned streets and twisty alleyways whose historic walls hint at centuries-old tales of passion and intrigue.

You can also swing way into the future at the City of Arts & Sciences, a Jetson-esque display of soaring modern architecture. The buildings are impressive and they contain a number of museums and exhibits – both indoors and outside – to captivate visitors for days.

The City is located at one end of El Jardin de Turia, a ribbon of a park built on top of an old riverbed that once snaked its way through the town. Families often spend entire Sundays in the park and public gardens, relaxing and grilling while futbol teams practice their skills nearby.

And since Valencia is the birthplace of paella, you’ll have more than ample reason to sample as many different kinds of this savory saffron-infused rice and meat dish paella as possible. Just consider it the fuel you need to fully explore this enchanting city.

Lisa Rogak is a freelance writer and New York Times Bestselling author. Her latest book is "And Nothing But The Truthiness: The Rise (and Further Rise) of Stephen Colbert."

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