As the third-largest city in Spain, Valencia is big enough to easily qualify as cosmopolitan but with a population of about one million still small enough to do away with many of the big-city problems plaguing other European urban centres.
The city's local population is augmented by immigrants from locales as varied as Latin America and north Africa, the Far East and Asia ? all adding to Valencia's international feel. This also means that travellers arriving here from cheap flights to Valencia have access to some of the finest Spanish cuisine ? this is the traditional home of Spain's national dish, paella - and also international fare.
First-time visitors to Valencia will not need to think too much about what to see first. The city's No. 1 attraction is beyond dispute, and unlike the vast majority of destinations in Spain, this one is modern. The Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences) occupies a large central area of the city where once the River Turia made its way to the sea. A near-catastrophic flood led to its rerouting away from the city centre and set the scene for local architect Santiago Calatrva to create his vision of the future. Some have suggested that it is inspired by a vision of the space age tempered in shape by animal skeletons.
Whatever the inspiration, the City is made up of five structures, each unique and breathtaking in appearance, housing an opera and concert hall, an aquarium and museum, among other facilities.
The list of attractions in Valencia is long and varied and holidaymakers thinking of booking flights to Spain will find much in this town to amuse. The Mercado Central (Central Market) is another worth a visit. More than 1,000 stalls selling a variety of wares are on display here but take the time to observe the structure housing it. Built in 1928, it stands today as an 8,000-square-metre space covered in steel and glass and an icon to Spain's modernist movement.
Indeed no city in Spain is short of architectural gems spanning Gothic, Rococo, Rennaisance and other styles, sometimes within a single structure, and Valencia is no exception.
There is one more thing that Valencia is famous for: nightlife. While Ibiza is probably Spain's best-known "party" destination, Valencians could give the Mediterranean island's transient population a run for its money, in terms of far greater numbers participating if nothing else. This dedication to living after the sun has gone down is punctuated by the annual Fallas de San Jose festival.
During the week-long Fallas celebration, the nights are filled with the sounds and sight of countless fireworks that culminates in the burning of huge caricatures representing each of the city areas. The pyrotechnics are augmented by liberal doses of drink that keep local revellers fuelled up through the night. Travellers might as well join in as sleep is unlikely to be an option, particularly in the city centre which can resemble a war zone.
Finally, before you set off be sure to check the travel guide to Spain for more information on destinations throughout the country.