Updated: 2 days ago
A verdant escape where water once flowed, Valencia’s iconic Turia Gardens are a green artery for the city’s pedestrian traffic and a favourite spot for families and friends too. And if you’re wondering what to see in Valencia, this urban escape is a fantastic place to start.
Wending its way some five miles through this sun-kissed city, the Turia Gardens connects distinct neighbourhoods and attractions, from the popular Bioparc at the western end and the futuristic Arts and Sciences to the east.
To walk here at dusk is to pass by abuelas gossiping on wooden benches, the odd yoga class taking place in the shade, and groups of friends sharing fun in the fragrant air.
With cycling trails, running paths, gym equipment and even football pitches, all Valencian life begins here. There are evening exercise classes, birthday picnics, family gatherings, and al fresco dancing. There’s always an excuse for locals to wander the Turia, and it’s equally impossible to visit as a tourist without chancing upon this emerald way.
The history of Valencia River Park
Such a vital component of modern-day Valencia, it may come as some surprise that these magnificent gardens only came into existence in the latter part of the 20th Century.
Catastrophic flooding in 1957 had opened a conversation about the future of the mighty Turia River, but the decision to divert it away from the ancient city has had a much larger effect on the city’s identity than anyone alive then could have imagined at the time.
The disaster unleashed a great debate about the now barren land's future that separated the city in two. Fortunately, rather than submitting to a new highway, as Franco had planned, the local community won their bid to turn it into the largest urban park in Spain, using the slogan ‘el riu és nostre i el volem verd’ to help their cause. (‘The river is ours, and we want it green’, in the local Valencian language.)
The diversion was completed in 1969, changing the face of the city forever. Dotted with palm trees, orange blossoms, and serene water features, the green sanctuary born from crisis now winds its way under the 18 diverse bridges of Valencia’s past lives.
What to see in the Turia Gardens Valencia
Follow the tree-shaded paths from start to finish, and they’ll reveal interesting stories about the history of our favourite Mediterranean getaway.
If you are wondering what to do in Valencia with a family, this award-winning Bioparc offers a whirlwind trip to Africa at the westernmost end of the park. Admire Nile hippos, Madagascan lemurs and Equatorial gorillas as you explore the diverse fauna of Africa, then head to the 1,000-seat amphitheatre for an educational show.
Valencia's 25-acre Bioparc is well known for its immense conservation projects and the captive breeding programs that work to maintain the richness of biodiversity. So while you're giggling at the playful elephants and witnessing the lion's roar, you can also feel good about helping the planet.
Where to stay nearby: Hotel Melia Valencia
Hotel Melia Valencia is the epitome of luxury for business travellers and those wishing a special stay in sunny modern Valencia close to Turia park and the old centre. Click and book now
Designed to be a gateway to the walled city of Valencia in 1392, the emblematic Torres de Serranos still entrance the historic city centre. An impressive example of Gothic architecture is that the towers were saved from destruction along with the city walls in 1867 and have played an important role in Valencian society since then.
They’ve been a prison for nobility, a hiding place for the greatest artworks in Spain, and an influential part of the Valencian Community’s fiery Fallas festivities. To this day, the Fallas Queen stands at the feet of the towers on the last Sunday of February to invite locals and visitors alike to join the celebrations.
Dive deeper into the history of these ancient stones and other key sites on a walking tour of Valencia, or climb the well-worn steps for spectacular urban views.
Where to stay nearby: Hotel Puerta Serranos
A bright and modern boutique hotel on the doorstep of the historic city. Click and reserve
- The Flower Bridge
See this full-bloom beauty up close when you exit the park or admire the romantic attraction from Calatrava’s Puente de la Exposición. People-watch with a coffee from your vantage point above the park or snap a selfie with the 27,000 flowers that typically adorn both sides of the bridge.
Puente de las Flores opened in 2002 and, since then, has received over 4.5 million euros of funding, allowing the council to fill the large pots year-round. The bridge takes on a cheery Christmas charm every December when the bridge is used to cultivate bright red poinsettia flowers.
Where to stay: Hospes Palau de la Mar
Turkish Baths and city views are hosted in a 19th-century palace. Click and reserve
- Palau de la Música
Opened in 1987, Valencia's Palace of Music is recognised as one of the greater music halls in Europe. Designed in the style of a spacious conservatory by award-winning architect José María García de Paredes, the palace hosts charming views of the Turia Gardens, along with a symphony hall that seats 2,000, a seven-meter tall organ, and a diverse cultural program.
Whether you're looking to book tickets for a classical or contemporary concert or want to admire the impressive architecture reflected in the vast water feature outside, this gleaming building is certainly worth a stop.
Where to stay nearby: SH Valencia Palace
This is a great, stylish hotel to stay at if you're looking to enjoy the park and events at Palau de la Música. Click and reserve.
A fallen giant lies between the Ángel Custodio and Reino bridges of the Turia Gardens, almost seventy meters long and nine meters high. In this reimagined land of Jonathon Swift’s Lilliput Island, children climb the stairs, climb the robes and zoom down the slides in an endlessly exhilarating game.
Since its inauguration in 1990, this epic children’s playground has become a favourite for young Valencians, and since its recent refurbishment, the families are back with picnics in tow. Set in a beautiful location with plenty of children to join the fun, it’s the perfect day out when you travel with little ones.
Where to stay: Hotel Barcelo
Savour a sundowner at the rooftop bar with views of the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences.
The City of Arts and Sciences
As familiar to the Valencia skyline as the pyramids are to Cairo, the six colossal buildings of Santiago Calatrava's City of Arts and Sciences rise out of the ground like a surrealist dream.
Built over two decades, each building is unique, from the Hemisfèric or planetarium, which looks like something out of a sci-fi film, to the elegant aquarium, the soaring presence of the opera house to the skeletal Umbracle structure, shading tropical gardens, and the purple-hued Agora, which now houses the Caixa Forum Valencia.
In this futuristic city, you can visit the museums, enjoy a picnic in the surrounding park, or hire a glass-bottomed kayak to explore the crystalline waters of the complex. This futuristic location has been the backdrop for many films and series, so keep an eye out for key locations from Tomorrowland, Intergalactic, Doctor Who., and West world.
Where to stay nearby: Primus Valencia
A modern four-star sanctuary on the City of Arts and Sciences doorstep.
Why visit Turia Park Valencia?
Connecting the Old Town's cobblestoned streets with the port's mosaicked terraces, the Turia Gardens offer a green sanctuary for family and friends to meet, laugh, and walk under the azure skies of Valencia. Far from just a local favourite, this unique natural space has attracted the attention of tourists, artists, directors and designers worldwide.
So, if you're wondering what to do in Valencia, why not enjoy one of Europe's largest green urban spaces? The Turia Gardens are an unmissable part of your Valencian experience.
Take a look at our guide to Javea, an exotic beach town near Valencia, to find the top places to stay, dine, and enjoy the sand.