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THE PERFECT WEEKEND VALENCIA

It matches Madrid’s majesty and rivals Barcelona for a night out, but Spain’s sunny third city attracts a fraction of the visitors. In the frst of a new series, we explore the essential ingredients for a short break in this Mediterranean port – taking in its charming historic quarter, ultra-modern museum and wide, sandy beach, and enjoying plenty of paella, tapas and local cocktails along the way

@OrlaThomas

PHOTOGRAPHS PHILIP LEE HARVEY @PhilipLeeHarvey

MAP ILLUSTRATION: JOSIE PORTILLO

TRAVEL ESSENTIALS Ryanair flies to Valencia from Bristol, Manchester, East Midlands and Stansted, while easyJet flies from Gatwick (from £75; ryanair.com). A Valencia Tourist Card offers free public transport around the city as well as entry to many museums and monuments (from £10 for 24 hours; visitvalencia.com).

The walk

In Valencia’s Plaza de la Reina, the sun’s frst rays and the scent of frying churros bring an early promise of warmth and sweetness to the day. At dawn, this is a place where you might see laughing young women, returning from a night out, exchange a polite ‘buenos días’ with nuns on their way to worship at the sand-coloured Cathedral. Disappear down one of the narrow alleyways to walk its perimeter and you’ll fnd nooks cut with saints; the gargoyles at La Lonja, the old Silk Exchange, are more risqué, mooning and nose-picking above the heads of passers-by. Nearby at the Palacio del Marqués de Dos Aguas, two over-the-top allegorical marble fgures guard the entrance – one of many city treasures displayed at street level. There’s no bad route to take in the city’s historic quarter, and you could walk its entirety in an hour.

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