Is there a better way to spend an afternoon in a Spanish city than on two feet, with the sun on your back, a camera in one hand and enough money in your pocket to discover and devour all the local specialties? When we weren't lying on the beautiful beaches just outside Valencia, that's exactly how we spent a lot of our time in the city and, for every type of traveller, we'd implore you to do the same.
Here are our top three recommendations for food and drinks that any visitors to this beautiful Spanish coastal city simply have to try!
If there is one foodie experience you simply must have during your time in Valencia, it's gorging on paella made from rice grown in the fields outside the city. The original recipe is hundreds of years old and originates from this very region - but you may be surprised to discover that, traditionally, it doesn't contain seafood.
Nope, in true Valencian style you should have it with rabbit and chicken. Veggies don't fret however, there are plenty of meat-free options around.
To discover more about this world-famous dish, read more about the day we learnt to cook it in the Valencian countryside. And, remember, paella should be eaten with a spoon straight from the pan - not from your own individual plate!
Horchata and fartons
Stop giggling - they really are called fartons!
We first tasted horchata when we were travelling in Mexico and we both absolutely loved it. In Valencia however, we discovered that Spanish horchata is an entirely different drink and it's fair to say that this city is a little obsessed with it - at any given moment you are never too far from a stall, a café or a specialist horchateria serving an ice-cold glass of the stuff.
The drink's origins can be found in a tiny region, north of the city, where are small fields full of chufa (also known as tiger nut), a nut with hints of almond and hazelnut. Although suffering from competition from cheaper imports available from Africa, the Valencian chufa is viewed here as the king and a mark of quality for any horchata (and they're actually now using the nuts to also make very tasty beers).
Personally, we found it incredibly sweet - something that is apparently not that uncommon with Europeans (we were told that people from the Americas can't get enough!) - so if you've not got a ridiculously sweet tooth, we'd recommend asking for it to be made with a little less sugar than normal.
Yet, what is horchata if not combined with a farton? These churro like pastries are oh-my-gosh delicious and not at all good for you, but worth every single fattening calorie! Get them warm and dunk them into the nut milk and enjoy.
We booked a tour whilst we were in the city via the excellent travel planning website CityDiscovery, which included a visit to the chufa fields, sampling horchata from one of the best horchaterias in Valencia and even learning how to make it ourselves!
Agua de Valencia
Fresh orange juice, champagne, vodka and gin or mixed expertly and thrown in a jug with lots of ice. That's how you make an Valencia's other most popular drink.
Normally, mixing a bucket-load of different spirits into one cocktail can only result in a dreadful morning-after-the-night-before sensation, so we were a little surprised to find out that this was the city's signature cocktail.
But, as we discovered after numerous tastings, it works! It is insanely refreshing and, much to Andrew's dismay, does not taste like a cocktail made in a student bar - it's the perfect drink for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up after a day of sight seeing on your feet in the hot summer sun!
There are lots of small bars in the old town serving up this drink, so our advice to you is pick one with some nice outdoor seating away from the main street take a load off.
Expect to pay around €5 for a glass, or €10 for a jug - there are often offers available around the Old Town.