Note: this post was originally published in October 2016 and has been updated for accuracy on 2017/11/29
It shouldn’t have been a surprise that Valencia has incredible shopping. After all it is the third largest city in Spain, and Spanish women love their fashion. There are shops here for every need and every budget, from bargain brands to high end designers. It makes me wonder – why did I lug three suitcases full of clothes all the way to Spain?
The El Carmen district of Old Town is full of cute boutique shops that you can wander through searching for unique gifts and handmade clothing. To find the serious shopping, however, you have to get out of the middle of the old town. Of course, it wouldn’t be like me to not include suggestions for eating along the way. This is a food blog, after all!
If I was going to spend an entire day shopping in Valencia, this is how I would do it…
1. Breakfast at Parque del Parterre
Get yourself some caffeine and carbs to prepare for the day. The Parque del Parterre garden is a nice setting for breakfast. These gardens were originally built in the 1850’s. The gigantic ficus trees (Ficus macrophylla, also called Moreton Bay fig) that dominate the park are over 100 years old. An equestrian statue of King James I the Conqueror was erected in 1891 to mark the 600th anniversary of his death. He died in 1276, but it took 16 years to actually complete the monument.
There are several cafes lined up along Plaça d’Alfons el Magnànim facing the park that are open for breakfast including Cafe De Les Mones and Coffee House. Each has a typical desayunos menu of a coffee, tostada or croissant, and fresh orange juice for about €5. Take your time, because the shops won’t open until at least 10:00 or 11:00AM.
2. Power Shopping at El Corte Ingles
Where you start from here might depend on the kind of shopping that you are looking for. There is an El Corte Ingles on the corner just a few steps away. There are two El Corte Ingles department stores in this area, each one specializing in a different type of product. This one, on Carrer del Pintor Sorolla, is where you go for fashion, with six levels of cosmetics, clothing, shoes and accessories. There is also a gourmet grocery store in the basement. This huge department store covers the entire block, so you can catch it later at a different entrance. Be careful, I have gotten wrapped up in this place for hours and then wondered where the day went.
3. Luxury Shopping
If you are into high-end designer fashion, walk north to the end of Plaça d’Alfons el Magnànim and turn left onto Carrer de la Pau. In about 5 blocks you will find Spanish designer Carolina Herrera. To the left down Carrer del Marquès de Dos Aigües one block is another Spanish luxury brand named Loewe.
From here the street changes name to Carrer del Poeta Querol. In this area near the University of Valencia, you will find major fashion houses such as Salvatore Ferragamo and Luis Vuitton. There are several high-end Spanish designers along this section of Carrer del Poeta Querol. Farrutx is a luxury Spanish brand of shoes, bags and leather accessories based in Mallorca.
Lladró Boutique sells porcelain made in Valencia since the 1950’s. Today, all of Lladró’s porcelain figurines are still created in the City of Porcelain, a complex of studios and workshops in Tavernes Blanques Valencia that is open for visitors to tour the facilities and watch the artisans at work.
Next door, Teria Yabar is a Parisian designer who opened her first women’s fashion store in Leon, Spain in 1984 and now has stores throughout Spain and France.
4. Mainstream Shopping on Carrer de Don Juan de Austria
Continue heading south to Carrer de Don Juan de Austria. This pedestrianized street is full of shops and cafes. If you’ve worked up an appetite, there are plenty of places to grab a snack. On Carrer de Don Juan de Austria, you will find mainstream clothing stores like Mango, Ale-Hop, and the very popular Spanish brand Zara. In fact, the Inditex fashion retail group that owns Zara also owns other labels that you see here, including Stradivarius, Pull&Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Oysho, and Uterqüe. If you miss these stores here, don’t worry because you will see them again on Carrer Colon. Inditex is the world’s largest apparel retailer so it’s no surprise that founder Amancio Ortega is the second richest person in the world.
If you are in need of a pharmacy, there is a good one on this street which is larger than most of the corner pharmacies. Maybe some ibuprofen for your sore feet might be a good idea by the end of the day! You won’t find painkillers at the supermarket. You need to ask for them at the counter of the farmacia.
On this street you will also find an entrance to the Boulevard Austria, an indoor mall with shops for fashion, shoes, cosmetics, and more. This is a great place for a blast of air-conditioning on a hot summer day.
5. Carrer Colon
Carrer Colon is one of the main shopping streets of Valencia. If you are looking for jewelry, there are several joyerias (jewelry stores) to the left on Carrer Colon. To the right, you’ll come to another El Corte Ingles department store within the first block from the Colon Metro station. This one has a bookstore on the street level and six levels of housewares, electronics, hardware and furniture. There is also a smaller supermarket in this basement.
Continuing down the right side of Carrer Colon, there is shopping all along the street. If you need some help with your iPhone, there is an Apple Store. You’ll also pass by Lush Handmade Cosmetics from the UK and the Barcelona based clothing brand Desigual.
6. Lunch at La Mary Restaurant
Many stores will close down for lunch from 2:00 until 4:00, so you might as well plan on a long lunch. In this part of town, we like La Mary Restaurant on Carrer de Félix Pizcueta. The atmosphere inside the restaurant is elegant and relaxing French bistro, which fits well with the Mediterranean cuisine of southern France. The menu del dia is a good bargain with a first course, second course, dessert or coffee, bread and one drink included for only €10.30.
We eat a lot of seafood, so every now and then we get a craving for meat. This is how we arrived at La Mary recently, so we ordered from the regular menu. We started with a braised beef-cheek cannelloni with baked apples. The thin, delicate pasta was filled with shredded chunks of tender beef and the subtle flavor of baked apples. The whole thing was covered with a demi-glace sauce that we both swore contained chocolate, but the server said no. Whatever it was, we liked it. We followed this up with “Rabo de toro”, boneless oxtail shaped into little cyclinders served over mashed potatoes. When cut into, the cyclinders fell apart into soft gooey strands of beef. Like I said, we were hungry for meat!
We were also craving red wine to go with our meat. We had a bottle of tinto de la casa (the house red) which was the Cata Rosa tinta from Navarra. As a young tempranillo, it was light and fruity – a little too light to suit the food – but at €7.10 for the bottle we’re not complaining. It was perfectly fine for midday, sitting in a French restaurant in Spain listening to Bruce Springsteen’s entire Born to Run album.
Note that when we arrived at La Mary at 1:30pm we were seated immediately in a mostly empty restaurant, but by 2:30pm the place was full. If you do not want to wait, we suggest you get there before 2:00pm.
After lunch, you can shop you way back up Carrer Colon, cut down Carrer de Sorni and then take a right on Carrer Del Compte de Salvatierra to head toward the Mercado de Colon.
7. Shopping along Carrer Del Compte de Salvatierra
The Carrer Del Compte de Salvatierra has many cute shops. Look for Cacao Sampaka Chocolates. Chef Albert Adria,who was the pastry chef of the famous El Bulli restaurant outside of Barcelona, is one of the key founders of Cacao Sampaka.
Their chocolates are arranged in flavor collections such as “Spices” or “Flowers and Herbs.” The “Single Bean Origins” collection showcases the different flavors of cocoa beans from single plantations around the world. These incredibly rich, creamy little bite sized chocolates come in boxes of 16 for about €12-14, or you can select your own mix for about €16.
There is a bar and cafe in the back where you can enjoy their chocolates with a glass of wine, coffee or tea. They also have ice cream, pastries, sandwiches…much more than you would expect from a chocolate shop. Their posted hours are Monday-Saturday, 10:00-2:00 and 3:00-9:00pm. However, we’ve gone by during these times to find them closed more than once. If they are open when you happen to walk by, lucky you! You get to have chocolate!
8. The Mercado de Colon
The Mercado de Colon is celebrating 100 years of giving flavor to Valencia since 1916. This former market was completely restored in 2003 and transformed into a gastro market with cafes and shops. No matter what time you get here, you can find something good to eat or drink. Each cafe has different hours, but some open as early as 8:00am for breakfast and go as late as 2:00am for…whatever you do at 2:00am.
The scene here is always vibrant. It is the perfect spot for a drink and snack after a long day of shopping. On the ground level terrace, we like Mi Cub for a vermouth and banderilla, which is a little tapa on a toothpick. Mi Cub is open from 10:00am – 1:00am.
You might not be done shopping yet. The Mercado itself is surrounded by shops that are open until at least 8pm. My favorite is El Armario de Lulu (Lulu’s closet), a romantic shop with clothes made 100% in Spain. I’m drawn to the way it glows on the dark street in the evening. Other personal favorites near the Mercado Colon, along the Carrer de Jorge Juan, include Ese O Ese (women’s fashion chain based in Barcelona) and El Ganso (men’s and women’s clothing and shoes designer that began in Madrid).
Whew, this makes for a really long shopping excursion! I applaud anyone that could do it all in one day. Of course everyone’s shopping style and stamina is different, so pick the areas that best fit your taste. Don’t forget to veer off course and check out some of the side streets, where you never know what kind of shop or cafe you’ll find tucked away.
Do you have a favorite place to shop in Valencia? Please share in the comments – I would love to hear about it!
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