International Studies Abroad ®est. 1987

Culture Corner

<small>View Valencia in a larger map</small>
The largest aquarium in Europe, El Oceanográfico, in Valencia's interactive museum complex, the City of Arts and Sciences

Tiny Travel Story: Spain

What's Valencia Like?

Combining urban life and a relaxed, seaside atmosphere, Valencia is quickly becoming one of the most popular destinations on the Mediterranean coast. Valencia is an ideal location for travel throughout the Mediterranean, Spain, and the rest of Europe. Equidistant from Barcelona and Madrid and a short ferry ride or plane trip from the Balearic Islands of Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca, and Formentera, Valencia's location leaves no shortage of convenient travel possibilities.

A range of architectural styles from Gothic to Modernist may be discovered. The City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias), a museum complex and modern architectural masterpiece designed by a local architect named Santiago Calatrava, provides a prime example of modern architecture. Additionally, explore the medieval streets of the city center in the barrio del Carmen and barrio de la Seu, and don't forget to tour the Valencia cathedral!

Of course, one of Valencia's main attractions for tourists and locals alike is the miles of sparkling beaches just minutes from the city center. Easily reached by bus or metro, Valencia's beaches are well-equipped with paths for running, cycling, or rollerblading, plus numerous restaurants and bars that can be enjoyed day and night.

Valencia was chosen as the host of the 2007 and 2009 America's Cup, sailing's oldest tournament. Valencia was the first European host since the tournament's inauguration! Valencia was also chosen as the site of a new Formula One urban circuit and hosted the European Grand Prix in 2008.

The traditional Valencian culture thrives throughout the city. The most popular cultural event is "Las Fallas," the festival held every March to celebrate St. Joseph's Day. The streets are filled with locals in traditional dress, and regional foods like paella and horchata abound. Each neighborhood constructs large papier-mâché "ninots" (puppets) that are mounted, adorned with fireworks, and burned. These whole constructions are called "fallas."

Region and Population

Valencia (population 800,000) is the capital of the Autonomous Community of Valencia and the third largest city in Spain. It is located on the Mediterranean coast, about 200 miles south of Barcelona and 200 miles east of Madrid.


The Mediterranean climate of Valencia is generally quite mild and pleasant, with warm, dry summers and mild winters. Valencia enjoys an average of 300 sunny days per year, and most of the rain falls in spring and autumn.

Although the winters are mild, it will feel quite a bit colder inside than you might be used to as the buildings in Valencia are built for the hot summers. Be sure to bring warm clothing to accommodate the chilly winter months.

Summer students should keep in mind that air conditioning is not as prevalent in Spain as in the US--while the ISA office is air conditioned, many Spanish homes are not!

Average monthly highs and lows (ºF) and rainfall (inches) in Valencia:

Avg. Rainfall1.080.90.820.891.040.560.170.281.461.581.241.66

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