Iberia flies to Valencia from Barcelona, Madrid, Málaga, and many other cities. There are also flights between Palma de Majorca and Valencia. For flight information contact the Iberia Airlines office, Calle Paz 14 (tel. 90-240-05-00; www.iberia.com). You'll land 15km (9 miles) southwest of the city. To travel between the airport and the city center, take Metro line 3 or 5; a one-way ticket costs 1.40€. For more information call tel. 90-046-10-46. A taxi (tel. 96-370-33-33) from the airport to the town center goes for around 15€.
Trains run to Valencia from all parts of Spain. Estación del Norte (North Station), Calle Játiva 2, is close to the heart of the city, making it a convenient arrival point. Its information office on Calle Renfe (tel. 90-224-02-02; www.renfe.es) is open Monday to Friday 8am to 9pm. From Barcelona, 14 trains -- including the TALGO, which takes 3 1/2 hours -- arrive daily. Eleven trains daily connect Madrid with Valencia. The new Alaris high-speed train travels at 221kmph (137 mph) and has shaved travel time between Madrid and Valencia to less than 3 1/2 hours. From Málaga, on the Costa del Sol, the trip takes 9 hours.
Buses arrive at Valencia's Estació Terminal d'Autobuses, Av. de Menéndez Pidal 13 (tel. 96-346-62-66), about a 30-minute walk northwest of the city's center. Take bus no. 8 from the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. Thirteen buses a day, at least one every hour, run from Madrid (trip time: 4 hr.), 10 buses from Barcelona (trip time: 5 hr.), and five buses from Málaga (trip time: 8 hr.).
You can take a ferry to and from the Balearic Islands. Ferries to Palma de Majorca take 6 hours. Ferries leave Valencia for Ibiza at midnight Tuesday to Sunday from March to September. In winter, there is one ferry per week. Travel agents in Valencia sell tickets, or you can buy them from the Trasmediterránea office at the port, Estació Marítim (tel. 90-245-46-45), on the day of your departure. To reach the port, take bus no. 4 or 19 from the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. Ferries from Majorca to Valencia leave from Estació Marítim 2. Call tel. 90-245-46-45 for details.
The easiest route if you're driving is the express highway (E-15) south from Barcelona. You can also use a national highway, E-901, from Madrid northwest of Valencia. From Alicante, take the E-15 express highway north. If you're coming from Andalusia, the roads are longer, more difficult, and not connected by express highways. You can drive from Málaga north to Granada and cut across southeastern Spain on the 342, which links with the 340 into Murcia. From there, take the road to Alicante for an easy drive into Valencia. The Barcelona-Valencia toll is 22€.
The tourist information office is at Calle Paz 48 (tel. 96-398-64-22; www.comunitatvalenciana.com). It's open Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm, Saturday 10am to 8pm, and Sunday 10am to 2pm.
Most local buses leave from Plaza del Ayuntamiento 22. You can buy tickets at any newsstand. The one-way fare is 1.25€; a 10-ride booklet sells for 6€. Bus no. 8 runs from Plaza del Ayuntamiento to the bus station at Avenida Menéndez Pidal. A bus map is available at the EMT office, Calle Correo Viejo 5. It's open Monday to Friday 9am to 2pm and 4:30 to 7:30pm. For bus information, call tel. 96-315-85-15. The Metro system (tel. 90-046-10-46; www.metrovalencia.es) is more efficient than the bus. It covers the Old Town rather well and also branches out to the outskirts. You can purchase tickets from automatic machines in any station; the cost ranges from 1.40€ for one zone to 1.90€ for two zones. A bonometro, good for 10 trips in the zones indicated, is a better deal, selling for 6.50€ for one zone or 9.30€ for two zones.
If you need a taxi, call tel. 96-370-33-33.
Fallas de San José, honoring the arrival of spring and the memory of St. Joseph, is held March 15 to March 19. It is a time for parades, street dancing, fireworks, and bullfights. Neighborhoods compete to see who can erect the most intricate and satirical papier-mâché effigy, or ninot. Some 300 ninots then appear in the street parades. The festival ends with la nit del foc, or "fire night," when effigies are burned. Historically, this inferno was to exorcise social problems and bring luck to farmers in the coming summer.
In a medical emergency, call tel. 112; or go to the Hospital Clínico Universitario, Av. Blasco Ibáñez 17 (tel. 96-386-26-00).
Don't be surprised if you see signs in a language that's not Spanish or Catalan. It is Valenciano, a dialect of Catalan. Often you'll be handed a "bilingual" menu in Castilian Spanish and in Valenciano. Many citizens of Valencia are not caught up in this cultural resurgence and view the promotion of the dialect as possibly damaging to the city's economic goals. Most street names appear in Valenciano.
There are many Internet cafes in Valencia, the most reliable of which is Work Center, open 24 hours at Xátiva 19 (tel. 96-112-08-30), in front of the bullring and Estación del Norte.