Occasionally, some real gems show up unexpectedly.

Recently, we went to a trivia night held in English in a small cookie bakery in Alicante.

We found the place because they also sold bagels, which has become something of an obsession for us here in Spain.* When we arrived, we found out the owners of the bakery are North Americans, too. When he told us about the trivia night, we decided that this might be something fun and uncomplicated to do on our vacation.

We joined a table of four other folks and found that they, too, were from the States. After introductions, we realized that we have a lot in common, and the evening was off to a running start. As we answered questions with various degrees of knowledge and guessing, we found out that the other two couples both had plans to visit Valencia in the near future.

And that leads me to the questions. Trivia aside, they asked what our top “must see” destinations are in Valencia.

That’s given me some thought, and I definitely want to share a few places that I can recommend.

Museums:

1. Casa de las Rocas. This is a fascinating stroll through history, specifically the celebratory nature of Corpus Christi. The artwork and displays there are used annually, and reflect events beginning in the early 1400s.

2. Centro d’Art Hortensia Herrero. I recently visited this new museum, and if you like modern art in a wildly historical setting, this is a great option to see something new. Be prepared: this is a deceptively large museum and varied collection.

3. Museo de Bellas Artes de Valencia. This is a more traditional art museum, but through the eyes of the Valencian community. You’ll see quite a bit of art from various creators, including some of Valencia’s sons and daughters.

Walks:

1. City of Arts and Sciences, including the Oceanografic. Some of the most iconic parts of Valencia are the buildings designed by Santiago Calatrava. It’s unique, it’s an easy walk, and it’s even the set for various movies and concerts.

2. Túria Riverbed. Simply called “el rio” by the locals, this is a former river that was diverted and eventually used for a fantastic walking park that connects to many parts of the city.

3. If you are in the downtown area, there are a number of incredibly historic sights to view. From the city center (Ayuntamiento) to the Plaza de la Virgin, you can wander side streets and see some incredible buildings and monuments.

Restaurants:

Caveat #1: I am NOT a paella expert. There are many people who claim to be, but I will never say that I am the right person to ask about paella. For that reason, I will not be weighing in on where to find the best paella.

Caveat #2: I am a vegetarian. I will only recommend places that are vegetarian-friendly, and there are many great vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the city.

1. Four Coffee Bar and Bistro and Rogel Café. Both of these places are a great place to go for bites to eat that are quite satisfying and varied. Each also supports non-Spanish-speakers. If you don’t speak Spanish, these are both great places to go for breakfast or brunch.

2. Cento per Cento Caffe y Pizza. Great pizza, best enjoyed as a lunch menu that comes with a drink, starter, a whole pizza, and a dessert for around 10EUR.

3. Café Madrigal. This is vegan, but don’t be mistaken… it’s tremendous food. The specials and options change daily, but I’ve never been disappointed.

I know I am missing a number of favorite places, but I need to create specific posts just around food or museum or city hikes. If you only have 48 hours here, and want to make the most of your time here, you will at least have some places to start!

*About bagels: Obsession may be too gentle of a word. We miss bagels, probably more than most other foods or luxuries from the US. Normally, bagels here are bread in the shape of a bagel, but lack the texture of a bagel (chewy, boiled prior to baking, and flavored with seeds or toppings). We have tried bagels where we could find them in Valencia, but we also searched for them in Madrid and now here in Alicante. Still haven’t found our “dream bagel” in Spain, but I am optimistic and hopeful. There are some options in Madrid that we are going to try the next time we are there!