Grand in scope, these monstrosities spark the imagination. A spaceship? A big fish? The blue of the sky and reflections in the shallow waters surrounding the buildings make for happy cameras and wandering imaginations.
This area sitting at the end of an old riverbed turned green space shows you a different side of Valencia – a modern, serene, playful side apart from the old historic city center. This is what the kids will remember.
Enjoy the dog friendly turia with trails and fountains, shade trees to give you a rest from the heat, and grassy places to play in.
Just a few blocks from the CAC lies Gulliver Park – an enormous playground in the shape of Gulliver (from Gulliver’s Travels) where your “lillipution” children can run and climb and play. Free and fun, the park is also fenced completely, so parents can relax a little knowing their children can’t run too far.
As you proceed towards the CAC, you’ll find a small cafe serving average tapas, soft drinks, and fairly decent coffee. To the left is a tiny mini golf course which appears to be free if you bring your own ball and club.
The CAC is made of of several buildings – all fun to walk around outside and look at. Even my kids enjoy the walk because the buildings themselves spark so much imagination and the grounds around them, a combination of reflective pools, gardens, and wide walkways, allow space to run and explore completely safe from traffic. But if you have time, plan a day or two to venture inside.
The Hemispheric is the largest IMAX dome in Spain and a fantastic place to go. Several shows will play on the IMAX and projection screens and you can also see the amazing digital planetarium as well.
The Science Museum just next door to the Hemispheric is like many science museums that you may know from the states, just new, beautiful, and done on a grand scale. Very hands on, it’s a lot of fun.
The Oceanographic is the last in Calatrava’s line of buildings just across the large white bridge and on the other side of Valencia’s new blue dome Agora. It’s an easy walk from the Science Museum and well worth it. In fact, if you only have one day and can only do one thing, go here. It’s expensive (it’s Europe), but this aquarium is actually worth every penny. Go as early as possible to enjoy a full day and make sure you have your camera handy. The largest aquarium in Europe and with an amazing dolphin show, you’ll want to take pictures. Hungry? The restaurant there, like most theme park restaurants, is a bit expensive, but the food is pretty good. There’s also a cafe near the ticket booths in the Hemispheric a few blocks away.
Time on your hands? On your way back, walk through the Umbracle, a free open garden next to the science museum. It’s simple, but beautiful, an easy walk, and a place where the kids can run a bit as well. Just be a bit careful. It does open to stairs on one side that lead to a busy street.
For a bit of high culture for those planning ahead, catch a show at the beautiful new opera house – Queen Sofia’s Palace of the Arts (Palau de les Artes Reina Sofia). For the event guide and tickets in English, see their website: http://www.lesarts.com
The CAC lies at the far end of Valencia’s Turia and can be a long way for short legs. For 2 adults, it’s a 40 minute brisk walk from the train station. Taxis are always available in front of the train station or you can catch either bus 15 or bus 35 from the stops on the main street as you exit the station. For more buses information and updates: http://www.emtvalencia.es
Completely worth seeing, and a wonderful walk through the Turia gardens and around Calatrava’s CAC, this is an easy day to spend with or without children, but you could stretch it to two if you want to visit all three centers (hemispheric, oceanographic, and science museum).