Spain Guide

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Valencia Nightlife

When it comes to nightlife, Valencia is one of the hottest cities in Spain. There's a thriving gay scene, some spectacular fiestas, hundreds of bars and restaurants to choose from and late night music bars serving up everything from blues and jazz to hip hop and house music. Some of the clubs here don't get going until 3am.

The city buzzes with activity every night of the week, all year round except for August when the centre sizzles like a sauna and there's a mass exodus to the costas. Even then you'll find plenty of action down at the city's main beachfront and along the coastal strips either side of Valencia.

The historic old quarter of Barrio Carmen is a good place to head for during the cooler months. It's packed with street cafes, music bars and small tascas where you can try some of the local tapas and a carafe of the famous Agua de Valencia (orange juice, sparkling wine and vodka).

You can spend the evening tasca bar hopping, soaking up the alcohol with tasty morsels of manchego cheese, serrano ham and seafood snacks (octopus, squid and clams are favourites on most tapas menus). Or head for one of the city's huge number of restaurants which cater for all tastes and budgets. There are some wonderful back street restaurants where you can enjoy a fixed price "menu del dia" with three courses and a bottle of wine for less than the price of a cocktail in London's Covent Garden. You'll also find exquisite Michelin rated restaurants, where you can taste some of the best examples of regional cuisine, as well as international restaurants, pizzerias and the inevitable burger bars.

Valencia is the home of paella so seize your chance to try this most famous of Spanish dishes in the rice growing region which prides itself on producing the best rice dishes in Spain. Besides the traditional paella Valenciana (with rabbit, chicken and vegetables), you'll find paella de mariscos (seafood paella), arroz al horno (rice baked in the oven) and arroz negro (black rice cooked in squid's ink) on the menus of most good restaurants specialising in regional cuisine. Take a boat trip across the lake of Albufera, to the south of the city, to watch the sunset and enjoy a meal at one of the many fine restaurants by the water's edge.

There are plenty of clubs where you can dance till breakfast time many are centred around the university quarter, especially in Avenida Blasco Ibañez, and on the coastal road to the south of the city. On hot summer nights, the beach of Playa de Malvarrosa is the best place to be; from May to September the place is chock a block with open air bars and dance terraces cooled by the night breezes blowing in from the sea.

If you're visiting in March you'll be able to throw yourself into one of the biggest and most extraordinary fiestas in Spain. The spectacular Fallas celebrations start on March 12th, building to an awe inspiring climax on the 19th when hundreds of beautiful papier mache effigies are burned throughout the city. It's totally chaotic, extremely noisy, typically Spanish and lots of fun (albeit a trifle dangerous if you're visiting with young children). The fiesta involves some wonderful parades and processions, late night street parties, endless explosions of firecrackers and fantastic firework displays. This is partying as only the Spanish know how!

If it's culture you're after, pop along to the impressive Palau de la Musica concert hall beside the dry riverbed of the River Turia. The local tourist information office will be able to provide details of forthcoming concerts and other cultural events at this beautiful building which was one of the most emblematic in Valencia until the birth of the futuristic arts and science a little further along the river bed.