FC Barcelona and Real Madrid have run a duopoly on Spanish football for as long as it’s been around, but Valencia CF can be proud for being among the elite few to break that stranglehold they have. So, let me tell you how you can visit this historic European football club for less than it might cost for an open return train ticket in the UK.
A Brief History of Valencia CF
Like I said in the intro, Valencia has a strong footing in Spanish football history.
Though their lineage can be traced far back into the 20th century, where legendary players like Mario Kempes still adorn the facade of their famous Mestalla stadium, most modern football fans will remember the time in and around ex-manager Rafa Benitez.
Reaching the UEFA Champions League Final back in 2000 was one thing, and Benitez was able to build on that once he got there, which led to two La Liga titles.
Bringing the best out of players like Pablo Aimar and Roberto Ayala along the way.
Fast forward a few years, and the world saw arguably the most fruitful Los Che ‘golden generation’ to spawn from this coastal region of Spain.
Following in the footsteps of the players before them, Mista, David Albelda, David Silva, Juan Mata and the insanely underrated David Villa spearheaded the white-cladded juggernaut into the fray of Spanish football’s most competitive era seen for the past few decades.
Valencia were holding their own very well before financial disaster struck in the early 2010’s, resulting in a club falling from grace and even a stadium they haven’t been able to move into, despite construction being weeks away from completion.
It’s not been an easy time for this once-great club, but the fans, the city and the institution as a whole will have you longing for them from afar to return to those heights.
So, let’s see how we can get you there to experience it for yourself.
How to fly to Valencia from the UK
Much like with our AC Milan article, SkyScanner has your back.
When it comes to flying from the UK, I’m yet to find a website that offers as many options as they do, but make sure you go on Incognito mode (or use a trusted VPN) to access their choices, so that the website cookies can’t wreak havoc with the prices.
Provided you book around 2 weeks in advance (around the time for fixtures to be confirmed), you can get a return ticket to Valencia from London for around £60.
I managed to get mine from Stansted to Valencia for £59 on EasyJet in November 2022.
As the name would suggest, Valencia (VLC) is the main airport closest to the city of Valencia, and should have a number of options for flight times on your selected day.
The airport itself is undergoing renovation, so you’re most likely going to want to just run right from the departures section to the city centre, which is easier than you think.
Getting into the centre of Valencia
All you need to do is follow the signs for the metro station in the Airport.
Which, if I remember correctly, is about three escalators down from the 1st floor.
To the right of the barriers just before the platform, are these red machines from which you can purchase a day ticket to enter the city – available for use in multiple EU languages.
A one-way journey should cost around €2, and you need only look for the Metro Line 3 (in red), and you can get to a number of stations dotted around the city. From my personal experience, I suggest arriving at Xativa – a mere twenty minutes from the airport.
At the time of writing, though the city as a whole is quite lax when it comes to COVID restrictions, masks are pretty much mandatory on the underground lines.
So, use a card like Monzo or Revolut to get the most ideal conversion rates, purchase that ticket, get to Xativa and head west from the coast further into the city.
From there, simply travel as the crow flies and enjoy the views!
The Best Free and Cheap Things for Tourists to do in Valencia
First and foremost, Valencia is a very quaint and beautiful city.
Lined with classic architecture and aesthetic views, there isn’t much that you’ll be longing for in the heart of the city and there’s plenty to do if you aren’t looking to spend too much.
I’d suggest travelling towards the Valencia Cathedral.
Not only does this monolithic structure serve as an endpoint to the city from its mainland offerings, but there’s a spider’s web of routes to and from its doors which produce rustic, cobbled streets littered with bars and cafes ideal for people-watching.
Oh, and a lot of them sell their famous drink; Horchata. Which you can find in dedicated ‘horchaterias’ or in any solid cafe in the area, and it’s well worth the search.
This creamy, plant-based cinnamon milky concoction is perfect for the summer!
Next, the Plaça de l’Ajuntament is a stone’s throw away from Xativa and is home to a palace which is free to the public and the official Valencia CF megastore.
To eat, I’d suggest staying away from the usual McDonald’s, Hard Rock Cafe’s and Burger Kings, not because they aren’t good, but because there’s another alternative.
Contrary to popular belief, though the tapas is good, the pizzas are even better.
Allow me to suggest La Piazza Correos. A fantastic, charming little pizzeria and bar where the decor is just as welcoming as the people within them. Travelling on my own, the waitresses were all very helpful and friendly, and the food was even better. Their ‘Diavolo’ was something special. Probably the best pizza I’ve ever had. And for only €12.
Finding a Hotel in Valencia on a Budget
Hotel? Trivago. It really is that simple.
And generally, the prices for hotels are similar to the flights.
I managed to snag myself a cheeky 4-star hotel in the shadow of the cathedral (right next to a horchata cafe, too) for just under €40 a night, and they upgraded me!
From my experience, Valencia is a city that’s open to tourism and the people were extremely welcoming when I told them my plans at the hotel, especially when it’s in a nice area and you’re willing to let your guard down a bit.
If I were you, I’d suggest upgrading the budget slightly (and only if you’re so able), to accommodate for a room with a decent view and maybe even a balcony.
There’s nothing like sitting out in the sun on your first morning there.
Location-wise, you’re well off setting your sights on a hotel which is on that route I mentioned earlier between Xativa and the Cathedral, as that’s where a lot of the life of the city lies. A 2-mile radius should be more than enough, and doesn’t feel very far at all.
There are more than enough options in the city within your budget, and (most importantly), you’re reminded of the football club almost everywhere you go.
Speaking of which, let’s go about getting you a ticket to a game!
How to buy Valencia CF Tickets Online
The magic number to remember is: 2.
That’s how many weeks out you need to plan for your trip.
By that point, the fixtures should (90% of the time) have their match times confirmed, which will allow you to plan the rest of your trip around that.
Then, thankfully, the Valencia CF website makes it easy for foreign visitors.
All you need to do is sign up to the website to become a member (the free option is more than suitable), so that you can obtain a fan ID number to attach to your ticket.
After you’re signed in, click through to the Ticket Marketplace (which is available in Spanish and English), select the fixture you wish to attend, and it’ll send you through to a page with the stadium and however many options there are for seats at that game.
Simply click on the seat you want to reserve, and it’s yours within ten minutes.
In terms of where to sit, it’s worth remembering that the stadium does not have a roof, nor any discernible pillars or barriers to block your view from any of the seats.
It’s also built upwards rather than outwards, so the further up you go, it does ascend quite dramatically compared to being at pitch level, so aim for somewhere near the middle or at the bottom of the Gol Sur if you want that proper, Valencia CF ultra experience.
You’ll be sent the e-ticket less than 5 minutes after booking, and it’s all you need to show at your relevant gate upon entry. I didn’t need to purchase an official membership, so from my experience, I’d suggest that you don’t need to either.
How to get to the Mestalla Stadium
Valencia reminds me of why I love inner city football stadiums.
It’s so easy to get the Mestalla from practically anywhere in Valencia.
If you prefer to catch the bus or another metro line to get there, then there are two nearby stations: Aragon and Facultats. Each of which are equidistant to the Mestalla.
Personally, I prefer to walk – and did so from near the cathedral two miles away.
With a city park patrolling the edges of the city, strolling through the greenery with a latte (or horchata, obviously) in hand, makes it a really peaceful voyage to a football stadium. Provided you leave about an hour before, there will eventually be a number of Valencia CF fans to guide you to the stadium should you lose your way.
But trust me when I say that it’s almost impossible to do so through the park as it’s one straight line down the opposite end of the highway to the fans sectors.
There are a number of tapas and beer bars nearby to enjoy before kick-off.
Which I suggest partaking in, as the food inside the Mestalla is limited at best.
A lot of fans also aren’t too keen on what’s going on at present with their ownership and figurehead Peter Lim, so a number of groups will be standing on guard along the main promenade to offer free souvenirs for your stay.
I received some anti-Lim propaganda, but it was free, so I took it.
And there you have it.
A simple, stress-free journey to Valencia CF for under £100 / €130.
Remember, prices and rates will always vary depending on the time of year and choice of fixture, but considering I went during 20-degree weather, in a four-star hotel in November for a packed mid-week La Liga match at home to Real Betis, I imagine that your budget won’t be broken beyond that hundred mark if these parameters match your search.
I really cannot recommend this trip enough, as it’s probably the most enjoyable one I’ve had since deciding to venture out of my comfort zone in 2020.
Also, with the plans for the move to their ‘New Mestalla‘ put on an indeterminate break, then there may not be too many opportunities to watch Valencia CF from their rightful ‘old’ home.
Here is the last post I’ve written in a similar style for AC Milan.
Which club would you recommend or would you like to see us write about next?