Barcelona or Valencia: Which Spanish City to Choose for Your Vacation

Barcelona or Valencia

If you’re planning a trip to Spain, you’re probably wondering whether you should visit Valencia or Barcelona. Both cities are known for their amazing architecture, vibrant culture, and diverse attractions, so if you have limited time, it can be hard to choose between them. To help you decide, I’ve put together a list of things I loved about visiting each of the cities.

Barcelona vs. Valencia: Why choose Barcelona?

  • Iconic Landmarks by Antoni Gaudí: Barcelona is home to world-renowned landmarks like the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and Casa Batlló, designed by Antoni Gaudí. If you love architecture by Gaudí, Barcelona is not to be missed!
  • Gothic Quarter: You can spend days exploring the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona, from shopping at local boutiques to learning more about the history and culture of Barcelona in countless museums and galleries.
  • Vibrant Nightlife: Barcelona has a lively nightlife scene with variety of bars, clubs, and music venues to explore.
  • Cultural Diversity: The city is a cultural melting pot, offering a mix of art, history, and cuisine from around the world.
  • Popular Destination: Without a doubt, Barcelona is more popular than Valencia, so it may be easier to find cheaper and direct flights to Barcelona.

Related: Travel Itinerary | 5 Days in Barcelona

Why You Shouldn’t Choose Barcelona

  • Crowded Tourist Areas: Barcelona is one of the most visited cities in Europe, so it can get crowded in tourist areas, especially during peak seasons. I love visiting Barcelona in the Spring, when the weather is amazing and it’s still not in the peak season.
  • Higher Costs: Due to its popularity, accommodation, food, and attractions tend to be more expensive in Barcelona than in Valencia.
  • More Commercialized: Some visitors may find Barcelona more commercialized and less authentic than other Spanish cities.

Barcelona vs. Valencia: Why visit Valencia?

  • Historic Old Town: The city’s historic center is full of charming narrow streets, historic buildings, and impressive landmarks like the Valencia Cathedral and the Torres de Serranos.
  • Less Crowded: Valencia tends to be less crowded than Barcelona, making it an ideal choice if you like a more authentic and relaxed atmosphere.
  • Las Fallas: One of the most incredible life experiences for me has been visiting the Las Fallas festival in Valencia. If you’re planning to travel to Spain in March, I would pick Valencia for an unforgettable time at the Las Fallas.
  • City of Arts and Sciences: Valencia is home to the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, an architectural masterpiece with museums, an opera house, and an oceanarium. Aside from it being a home to Europe’s largest oceanarium, it’s also one of the most Instagrammable spots in the city.
  • Paella’s Birthplace: Valencia is the birthplace of paella, Spain’s iconic rice dish. It’s the perfect place to enjoy authentic paella.
  • Beautiful Beaches: Valencia boasts beautiful sandy beaches, such as Malvarrosa Beach, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and beach sports. While Barcelona is also on the coast and has amazing beaches, I’ve found it to be more crowded.
  • More Afforadable: Valencia is more affordable than Barcelona when it comes to museums, food, and accommodations.

Related: Travel Itinerary | 4 Days in Valencia

Why You Shouldn’t Choose Valencia

  • Smaller City: Valencia is smaller than Barcelona, which means fewer attractions and less nightlife.
  • Fewer Direct Flights: Sometimes convenience wins as it can be easier and faster to get to Barcelona.

Vacation in Barcelona or Valencia? Which Spanish City Should You Choose

Both Valencia and Barcelona are amazing destinations, so it is a really tough choice. For those who prefer a quieter, more relaxed atmosphere with a focus on traditional Spanish culture, Valencia is a great choice. On the other hand, if you’re interested in architecture (especially Gaudi,) vibrant nightlife, and a bustling urban scene, Barcelona is not to be missed. In an ideal vacation, I would recommend visiting both. For example, this Spring, I visited Valencia for Las Fallas and then took a train up the coast to Barcelona. If you can only visit one place, I would follow your preferred travel style when deciding which city to visit. I know, you’ll have a fantastic experience either way.

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Hi, I'm Marina, passionate traveler and blogger, based in the United States and travelling the world. Thanks for following me on my life and travel adventures!


  1. Lani
    May 21, 2024

    Both sound amazing! The best plan should just be to visit both.

    1. Marina
      May 22, 2024

      Yes! That’s what I did this Spring! And also stopped in Tarragona – the perfect vacation!


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