Valencia, Spain's third-largest city, has the advantage of being on the Mediterranean coast. The city is flat, so it was easy for Jason Dundas to explore by foot and bicycle.
There are many green areas and 75km of cycle lanes, as well as slow traffic streets. Prior to the 1950s, the Turia River ran through parts of the city, but because of flooding, the water was diverted, leaving a dry riverbed. Consideration was given to putting a freeway through but, fortunately, commonsense ruled and the area was landscaped and is now Turia Gardens, running 8km through the centre of the city.
On the edge of the dry riverbed is the City of Arts and Sciences. The massive 350,000-square-metre building showcases some of Europe's most awesome architecture. The futuristic city within a city, which looks as though it could have come from another planet, is one of Spain's top tourist attractions. There are tours each Saturday at noon and you need to book 24 hours in advance.
At the other end of the City of Arts and Sciences is l'Oceanogràfic, Europe's largest marine centre, a scientific reference at world level. The gigantic aquarium is home to 45,000 examples of 500 species of sea life from around the world.
Valencia is known for its active nightlife. For some fun, head to the Bohemian Barrio del Carmen, a warren of tiny streets behind the cathedral in the city's old quarter. There you'll be spoilt for choice with more than a hundred bars, discos and terraces, each with a style and atmosphere of its own.
There are many venues with live music of all genres and it is possible to find quiet cafes and peaceful terraces if that's what you fancy. Be warned locals don't hit the bars and clubs until after midnight and then party until sunrise. You may need an afternoon nap if you want to keep up.
Purple Nest Hostel is right around the corner from Barrio del Carmen. It has shared and private rooms, ensuite and shared bathrooms and lockers in every room. Sheets and towels are provided at no extra cost. All rooms have heating and air-conditioning.
It's Valencia's only backpacker hostel with a fully equipped bar with live acts, and a rooftop area is a great place to mingle with other guests. There's a communal kitchen, safety deposit boxes and DVDs to borrow. And there is somewhere to park your bicycle!
Valencia, on Spain's eastern Mediterranean coast, four hours south of Barcelona.
Valencia Bikes tours run between 10am and 1.30pm. The three-hour tours cost around $45 and include a bicycle, English-speaking guide and soft drink. They run every day and bookings are required.
Purple Nest rooms start at $35 per person a night. It has a sister property, Red Nest, across town.
City of Arts and Sciences tours are wide and varied. Visit its website to find the one most suitable for you.
Prices correct at July 9, 2009.
For further information
Valencia Guias/Valencia Bikes
Paseo de la Pechina
32 bajo izq
Ph: +34 963 851 740
Fax: +34 963 850 827
Purple Nest Hostel
Plaza Tetuán 5
Ph: +34 963 532 561
Fax: +34 963 427 128
City of Arts and Sciences
Ph: +34 902 100 031
Visas: Australians travelling to Spain do not require a visa.
Electricity: 230V at 50Hz using European plugs.
Time zone: GMT +2.
Currency: The euro.
Telephone code: +34.
Travellers should be "in date" for the standard Australia and New Zealand immunisation schedules. Depending on the time of year of travel and exact destination, other health precautions and preventions may be recommended and are best discussed with your doctor. For further information, visit www.welltogo.com.au or www.smartraveller.gov.au.