If you are looking for cute little streets, a lot of history and tons of things to visit, the neighbourhood El Carmen is your place to be. For many visitors of Valencia the old town, also known as El Carmen, is known for its many bars, restaurants, live music venues, beautiful ancient churches and houses. You can wonder around this neighbourhood without being bored at any time. Because of its central placement you will find other travellers wondering around but there are enough hidden gems to discover!
The neighbourhood is perfect to walk around because of its many sights, beautiful alleys and small shops. Every day you can see how this neighbourhood is transforming more and more into an area where small craftsmen show their products and skills. In the evening the neighbourhood is lively with many street artists, varying from musicians and actors, tourists and Spanish people walking around. Did you know it’s very common for Spanish people to meet outside of the house and have a chat during the evening? Plaza de la Virgen, one of the main squares of El Carmen, it’s a known spot for young and old people to have a drink and catch up!
Some highlights to visit
Torres de Serranos & Torres de Quart
If you walk around El Carmen it is not difficult to spot the ancient history of the city: around the town you will find two sets of towers, the Torres de Serranos and the Torres de Quart. The towers were built in the 14th century and were used to protect the city against the attacks of the Moors. Nowadays it is possible to climb up the towers for a great view of the city and the coast side. The towers were formerly used as prisons: one pair was used for male prisoners and one for female prisoners.
IVAM & MuVIM
If you are a fan of Modern Art don’t hesitate to visit the Modern Art Museum (IVAM, Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno) and the MuVIM (Museu Valencià de la Illustraciói la Modernitat) for modern illustrations. The IVAM has a big collection: more than 10.000 pieces of modern art represented in photography, paintings and sculptures belong to the museum. Exhibitions vary over the months, mostly having three exhibitions at the same time. On Sunday the visit is for free!
Cathedral & squares
The main roads of the neighbourhood, like Carrer dels Cavallers (or Calle Caballeros) will lead you towards the Cathedral of Valencia. This sight is absolutely worth a visit and it’s even possible to visit the highest point of the cathedral for a great view. Plaza de la Virgen is a beautiful historic square behind the cathedral with a well known fountain; a perfect place to spot local Spanish people and youngsters hanging around. Can you spot the famous Micalet tower from the square?
Looking for a new outfit that is not made by the big stores like Zara, H&M or Mango? In El Carmen there are a lot of small boutiques where you can find second hand or new clothes. Cactus is a small boutique known for its clothes, bags and accessories brought by you from Northern Europe. Bugalu, situated next to the Silk Exchange (La Lonja) is a small shop where you can find local jewellery, jackets and other clothing from alternative brands. More into second hand clothing? At Santo Spirito in Calle Alta you can find sunglasses, clothes and other gadgets previously owned by others.
El Carmen is perfect for having dinner in the evening: paella, pizza, tapas; everything can be found here. During the night there is a lot of atmosphere in this barrio so for sure you will have nice time! Here are our favourites:
A fan of vegetarian food? Then you will like Oslo! This restaurant has some brother and sister restaurants in the rest of the city as well, called Copenhagen en Malmo. Products are being bought at the Mercado Central, which is very close by so everything is very fresh! Vegetarian tapas are on the menu; minipizza’s topped with vegetables, salads with pear and gorgonzola sauce, spaghetti and moussaka with tofu and soy. Que aproveche!
Calle Catalans 8
Tuesday till Saturday: 13.30 – 16.00, 20.30 – 23.30
Sunday: 13.30 – 16.00
One of the smallest places to have tapas in El Carmen with a lot of energy! Run by two very enthusiastic Spaniards, you will feel very welcome here. You can order gamba’s, sardinas, typical pimientos de padron (grilled peppers) and enjoy a talk with a local. A real hidden gem of this neighbourhood!
Calle Purisima 1
10.30 – 15.00, 19.30 – 23.30
Valencia has a lot of venues where you can enjoy live music. Also in El Carmen there are several evenings where you can listen to jazz, flamenco, funk en soul. Let’s dance!
Jimmy Glass Bar
Open since 1991 and therefore a famous place to enjoy live jazz music. There are international concerts on Wednesday from 21.30 onwards. Three times a week you can enjoy concerts with free entrance: Thursday at 22.15, Friday at 22.45 and Saturday at 22.15. Guitars, pianos and singing!
Calle Baja 28
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday: 20.15 – 2.00
Thursday: 21.30 – 2.30
Friday and Saturday: 21.30 – 3.30
Every Sunday evening from 21.00 till 23.00 you can enjoy live music in Radio City. This bar, close to Mercado Central offers you an evening full of funk en soul, brought to you by students from all over town, including Berklee music school. You can enjoy a beer at one of the tables but there is enough space to dance as well.
Calle Santa Teresa 19
Monday to Saturday: 23:00 – 03:30
Sunday: 20.00 onwards
El Carmen is nice neighbourhood to sleep in: everything is close by! Here you can find some nice options:
Bubuflats offers you modern apartments with a vintage twist. This apartment is situated just 2 km away from the Torres de Serranos and 800m from the Cathedral of Valencia. Two bedrooms, a balcony with a view on the city, a lot of natural sunlight and a great flat screen tv will make you feel at home. A great place to relax after a day of wondering around the city. Don’t want to cook? Bubuflats offers you grocery delivery service! More information about this apartment and availability can be found here.
Situated on the west side of the old town, close to the beautiful Botanical gardens, the Quart Apartments are centrally located. The spacious living room has a balcony and a kitchen where you can cook. A coffee machine, a washing machine and a microwave are present in the apartment and bed linen is provided. Coming with a car? Private parking available in a garage nearby. More information and availability can be found here.
– Don’t forget to take a look in the Central Market of Valencia. Here you can find fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and all other kind of very nice food!
– In El Carmen the parties usually last till 3.00 in the morning. In other neighbourhoods, like Ruzafa, you can party until later in the night.