Valencia, Spain's third largest city, has a wild night-life which is streets ahead of Madrid and Barcelona, which is why clubbers come from all over Spain to party here. Valencia also enjoys all year round "terrace-time" weather, allowing you to enjoy the alfresco atmosphere even during winter. You will have to adjust to Valencia time: think lunch from 3pm, dinner around 10pm and don't even dream of starting to party until well after midnight. Have an early evening disco nap to keep yourself going and expect to find clubs that party non-stop from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon.
The drink for early evening is horchata, a refreshing sugary drink made from tiger nuts, taken with the unfortunately named fartons, which are long, spongy dipping biscuits. Pick a spot on the terrace of Horchateria el Siglo, C/Santa Catalina, and dip away. Do more "terracing" at Café Negrito, Plaza del Negrito, the main early evening party area. After dinner, down the best known local cocktail, Agua de Valencia, a heady mix of champagne, freshly squeezed orange juice, vodka, gin and Cointreau at Café Infanta, Plaza del Tossal, 3.
Paella originated in Valencia and nowhere serves bigger and better platefuls than La Riua, C/del Mar 27 (00 34 96 391 4571), a perfect spot for a long lazy lunch that will cost you under £20. Early evening, pick at some tapas in the late-19th-century atmosphere of Bar el Pilar, C/Moro Zeit 13 (00 34 96 391 0497), for under £10. For fabulous Mediterranean and oriental fusion fare head for Seu Xerea, C/Conde de Almodoavar 4 (00 34 96 392 4000). Prices from around £30.
Valencia has many art galleries, the most outstanding being IVAM (pronounced ee-bam), beside Peunte de las Artes, which exhibits modern work. For a futuristic experience, head for the new City of Arts & Sciences, situated on the old river bed, where you can watch an Imax film, see a planetarium show or wander around interactive installations at the Science Museum.
The evening ignites around midnight in the bustling C/Cabelleros, with everyone bar-hopping from one to the next. All the bars compete for custom and have fabulously over-the-top interiors. Fox Congo, C/Caballeros 35, has a marble bar, titanium and leather on the walls and attracts the chic crowd. You can salsa the night away at Johnny Maracas, C/Caballeros 39, which is one of the hottest salsa joints in Spain. At Carmen, C/Caballeros 38, have a history lesson by dancing next to the original 11th-century Arabian walls, which have been incorporated into the cunning design. Everyone congregates in Plaza del Tossal at the end of the street, when the bars close around 4am. From here, seek out Venial, C/Quart 26, a mixed gay club playing good Europop. Next try Georgio&Enrico, Plaza del Cononigo 1, which plays fabulous techno and funk until 8am. Still going strong? Then jump in a cab and head for Le Club, Ctra. Fuent en Corts, a fabulous after-hours club, open at weekends until midday.
There are plenty of all-night bakeries at which to refuel during the night. Forn Del Tossal, Plaza del Tossal, serves freshly baked croissants, pizzas and cakes. Forn Nit I Dia, C/Seuca 1, is a day-and-night bakery selling gourmet sandwiches.
Valencians say that imitating the movement of fishes can reduce a hangover. Splash out at the biggest aquarium in Europe, the Oceanographic Park at the City of Arts and Sciences, which is nothing less than a vast underwater city. For the perfect sunset spot, head out of town to the Nature Park of Albufera and watch the sun set over the lake.
GB Airways (0845 773 3377; www.ba.com) offers return flights from Heathrow from £139. The Melia Plaza Hotel (00 34 96 352 0612; www.sh-hoteles.com) offers b&b at €85 (£57) per double room per night on weekends. For further details about Valencia visit the tourist board's website, www.landofvalencia.com.Reuse content