School is out! Choosing a place for the summer holidays that will keep everybody in the family happy is not always easy. Some may just want to lie on a beach, others may want something a bit more cultural, and the young ones need to be entertained at all times. Valencia may have the answer. With plenty of options for everyone, enjoying family holidays in the city couldn’t be easier.
Valencia’s seafront comes to life during the summer months. Locals and visitors flock to the beaches of Malvarrosa and Las Arenas and enjoy al fresco dining in the many restaurants along Paseo Neptuno or at the Marina Real Juan Carlos I. Besides playing in the sand, kids can enjoy a fantastic playground at the Marina, and the whole family can take a catamaran excursion along the Mediterranean coastline.
Valencia's Bioparc is a top family attraction
As for big family attractions, you really are spoilt for choice in Valencia, with Bioparc and the City of Arts and Sciences. Bioparc, at the top end of the Turia Gardens, offers an “animal kingdom” experience, where children can get close to hundreds of different species of animals in their recreated natural habitats. At the other end of the old Turia riverbed, the futuristic complex designed by Santiago Calatrava includes attractions such as l’Hemisferic IMAX cinema and Planetarium or the Prince Felipe Science Museum, with lots of interactive games and displays and a special exhibition about dinosaurs this summer. It is also home to l’Oceanografic marine park, where visitors can watch colourful fish species, sea turtles or even sharks from underwater tunnels. And to make the most of the warm summer nights, l’Oceanografic has a special timetable from 8pm to 1am daily in July and August, with a programme of live music at the dolphinarium.
The Turia Gardens, the long green ribbon across Valencia that once was the Turia River (now diverted south of the city), also offers many other fun activities for children of all ages. The youngest ones will love climbing up the giant statue of Gulliver or sliding down his sleeves in a different kind of playground. For older kids, there is the possibility of hiring bikes or segways, or they can have a go at karting.
Endless fun for kids at Valencia's Gulliver playground
Different companies, like Turiart, also offer specific family tours and fun activities for children. For example, they can become pirates fighting on the Malvarrosa beach, or medieval kings and princesses during a visit at the nearby monastery of El Puig. They also offer tours of the city where everybody can enjoy the cultural sights and learn a bit more about the history of Valencia in an entertaining way. New for this summer, coinciding with the celebration of Valencia as City of Silk (as recognised by UNESCO), there is a special tour where children can follow Valentin the Silkworm, learning about the process of silk production through games before a visit to the new Silk Museum.
After a few hours sightseeing, there are plenty of cool cafes and terraces to replenish your energy with a granizado (iced drink) or a refreshing horchata, the typical Valencian drink made of tiger nuts. For guaranteed giggles, ask the kids to order some fartons to go with their drink (that is the name of a local speciality of like cakes, similar to doughnuts).
With all this and more, there is plenty to fill a holiday with kids in the city. Make sure you download the children's guide A City for Small Tourists and get a Valencia Tourist Card when you arrive (the children version costs 15% less) to travel around and enjoy lots of discounts at attractions, shops and restaurants.
Finally, the summer months are usually a time for local festivals, like the Gran Fira de Valencia during the whole of July, or smaller celebrations and some neighbourhoods or nearby villages. Wherever you go, you may find music, colourful parades or fireworks displays. Summer in Valencia is guaranteed fun for the whole family!