Valencia is a sunshiny port city that lies between the bustling tourist destinations of Barcelona and Alicante on Spain's Mediterranean coastline. Because it's often overshadowed by the bigger metropolises, this third-largest city in the country is a tad more low key than the others; thus, international travelers who are interested in a beach getaway from Paris might want to plan their trip in Valencia instead of Barcelona to avoid the crowds.
Of course, the so-called City of Arts and Sciences isn't what you would call "undiscovered." It attracts about 9 million international visitors per year, which is proof of how accessible the oceanfront hub is from Europe's major cities like Paris. The flying distance between Paris and Valencia is 662 miles (1,066 kilometers), while the driving distance is more like 855 miles (1,376 kilometers). The route is scenic and features lots of little villages and sights along the way, but it does take about 12 and a half hours—which is why most people prefer to fly. Buses and trains run the route as well.
How to Get from Paris to Valencia
- Train: 10 hours, starting at $120
- Flight: 2 hours, starting at $38 (cheapest, fastest, and most convenient)
- Bus: 20 hours, starting at $60
- Car: 12 hours, 30 minutes, 855 miles (1,376 kilometers)
The bad news is that there are no direct trains from Paris to Valencia. The good news, however, is that train travel is much quicker and easier than taking the bus. First, passengers will hop aboard the Renfe SNCF train at Paris Gare de Lyon and ride it for six and a half hours to Barcelona-Sants. Then, from Barcelona, the ride is nearly three hours to Valencia Joaquin Sorolla, where your journey will end.
Overall, it takes just over 10 hours (half the time it takes the bus). For this reason, many choose to take an overnight service so as not to waste an entire day traveling. In any case, the train costs between $120 and $162. Flights sometimes sell for half that price.
One-way plane tickets from Paris to Valencia have been known to go for as low as $38 during the off-season (which is June, surprisingly). Tourists should try to avoid peak travel times (July and December) when flight prices surge to $120. According to Skyscanner, spring is the cheapest time to go.
There are, on average, 125 direct flights from Paris to Valencia each week. Six airlines offer non-stop journeys, including Air France, Ryanair, Transavia, and the most popular, Air Europa. The flight takes just under two hours.
Valencia has only one airport, which makes things slightly easier than deciding which of Paris' three airports to depart from. The Valencia Airport is about a 20-minute drive from the city center and there's plenty of public transportation. The convenience of flying and generally affordable prices are a major draw for most international travelers.
The bus is not the ideal travel option, seeing as it takes more than 20 hours to cover the distance and costs the same as a flight, between $60 and $170. Eurolines (cheapest), ALSA, and Flixbus travel the route multiple times per day.
The good news is that most of the services offer direct routes, eliminating the stress of a mid-trip transfer, and travelers will get to see more of the scenery between these two major cities along the way, albeit without stopping (you'll need a car for that).
Driving the 855 miles (1,376 kilometers) between Paris and Valencia takes about 12 and a half hours and while it's most definitely not the quickest option, it has all the potential to wind up being the most fun.
If you didn't mind being in the car for a bit longer, you could have a real adventure traveling through the wonderfully mountainous region of Massif Central. These French highlands offer a tranquil break and a pretty good overnight stay for those who have spare time.
Otherwise, the fastest route would be via major highways, which can get incredibly congested and stressful to drive on at times. First, you would follow autoroute A6B to A10, then continue onto A75, which will lead you to AP-7. Finally, Spain's V-21 will take you to Valencia. Even this route will put you in the direction of many small towns and authentic villages.
Things to See in Valencia
Valencia is teeming with things to keep a traveler busy, from Gothic architecture to futuristic science parks (they don't call it the City of Arts and Sciences for nothing). The juxtaposition of old and new is downright fascinating. One day, you can surround yourself with 15th-century artifacts and the next, you'll be marveling at the avant-garde exteriors of its new-age buildings.
History buffs will love Llotja de la Seda, an old-school mercantile exchange; Mercado Central, an Art Nouveau market; Saint Mary's Cathedral; and the Serranos Towers, part of a 14th-century wall. Alternatively, you could see what cities will likely look like in the future at the uber-modern Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias or brush up on your science at the Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe.
On a nice day, you can take a walking tour of Casco Histórico, where all the ancient sights are within minutes of each other, or bask in the sunshine at Jardín del Turia, a green space spanning nine kilometers in the heart of the city. Of course, you can't talk about Valencia without mentioning a beach. Malvarrosa is a 1-kilometer stretch of golden sand that's close to the city center and has a promenade for grabbing cold drinks and lunch. Make it a real Spanish day on the beach by ordering a pitcher of sangria or one of those Instagrammable umbrella-topped mojitos.