Life is about being outdoors in Mediterranean Spain, and parks are a major part of Valencian life, particularly the wonderful Turia, one of Europe’s great urban green spaces. Valencia’s parks are a key part of local life and a great place to insert yourself into it, whether going for a morning run, watching the kids make local pals in the playground or snoozing off the paella on a shady bench. 

Some of the best moments of a city break in Valencia are the breathers you take in its parks and gardens. Here are the best ones to visit while you're in town.

A man riding his bike in Jardines del Turia against a blurry background
Jardines del Turia is a bit like a verdant Metro line © Greg Elms / Lonely Planet

Jardines del Turia

Parks are often described as the lungs of a city, but Valencia has an artery. The Turia is a river of green snaking 9km right through the heart of the city. It’s a magnet for strollers, skaters, runners, picnickers, lovers and any other type of Valencian enjoying the outdoors you could care to name. A bit like a verdant Metro line, it’s also a pleasant way to get from one part of town to another without dodging traffic.

And we mean river of green literally! This was once the Río Turia, Valencia’s watercourse, until the locals got weary of its persistent flooding and decided to divert it outside the city. What to do with the riverbed? As you can probably imagine, there was a pantomime villain on the council who thought it would make a nice highway, but the park won the day.

And what a park it is. Still crisscrossed by bridges, it is a fabulous mix of playing fields, cycling, jogging and walking paths, lawns and playgrounds. Highlights include Calatrava’s magnificent buildings at the City of Arts and Sciences

 and the much-loved Gulliver sculpture. Watch Lilliputian kids scrambling over this ever-patient giant recumbent man, who sports climbing ropes, slides and more. A skate park alongside is good for the older kids.

A pink-flower-covered park bench bench midway along Puente de las Flores in Valencia
Nearly 30,000 flowerpots decorate Puente de las Flores © Penny Kidd / Lonely Planet

Puente de las Flores

As you stroll the Turia riverbed, make sure to surface to investigate this bridge, which is effectively a miniature garden of its own. Nearly 30,000 flowerpots decorate its sides, varying through the seasons but typically a riot of red, white and pink geraniums. The bridge was designed by homegrown architect Santiago Calatrava, responsible for the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences.

Parque de Cabecera

Picturesque and popular with families for its playgrounds, this landscaped park offers fine views from atop a hill, as well as peaceful paths stretching along a stream connecting two small lakes. The park’s purpose was to act as a reminder of what the Turia riverscape was like here before it was diverted, and you can get out on the water in swan-shaped pedalos. Don’t be startled by the unusual noises you’ll sometimes hear from the Bioparc zoo next door.

Jardín de las Hespérides

In Greek mythology, the garden of the Hesperides is where Heracles fulfilled one of his labors by securing the golden apples from three divine sisters. This small formal garden riffs on the legend with sculptural depictions of the events, surrounded by an array of cypress trees, low banks of herbs and staggered terraces where tangy citrus thrives.

Parque Central

For a long time, plans have been afoot to rejoin Valencia's southeast and southwest quadrants, now divided by the main railway lines. This striking park, opened in 2019, is the first stage of the project, and it’s a winner.

 A network of paths pass among palm trees, flower gardens and beautiful water features, while heritage railway buildings host exhibitions or events. It’s a romantic spot for an evening stroll, but there’s a lot here for the kids too, with playgrounds and a climbing wall. And there’s more on the way – the park will eventually double in size.

A neoclassical garden featuring manicured hedges and a marble sculpture with palm trees in the background
Jardín de Monforte is a peaceful spot to escape the urban bustle © Penny Kidd / Lonely Planet

Jardín de Monforte

Elegant and under-visited, these gardens designed in the mid-19th century are a peaceful spot to escape the urban bustle for a while. Marble statues, sculpted hedges, ornamental fountains and a goldfish-filled pond are typical of the neoclassical style of that era, and walkways shaded by canopies of flowering vines offer welcome relief from the summer heat. The small but grand pavilion at the entrance and its picturesque backdrops make this a popular spot for weddings.

A statue of a woman holding roses in the Viveros Royal Garden, Valencia with three twisting topiary shrubs positioned around the statue and some hanging pink roses in the background.
Viveros Royal Garden in Valencia is ideal for a lazy summer saunter © Jeff Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Jardines del Real

The Royal Gardens reach down to the Turia riverbed and are graced by palms and orange trees. Also known as Los Viveros (the Nurseries), they have a long history: The orchards of the Moorish city-state of Valencia once stood here, and were incorporated into the grounds of a Renaissance palace in later centuries. Now it’s a prime spot for a lazy saunter as the heat of the day gives way to the evening breezes.

Jardín Botánico

This venerable university botanic garden has an intriguing history, founded in the 16th century and dedicated to the production of herbs for the medical faculty. Scholarship, particularly the study of rare species, is still front-and-center these days – the small admission fee helps fund it – and the walled garden makes for a shady, tranquil place to relax on the edge of the old city. (You won’t be alone though: a wary colony of cats will observe your every move.) It’s also a venue for evening jazz gigs in the summer months.

You might also like:
The 12 top free things to do in Valencia
Learn about Valencia by visiting its best museums
Getting around in Valencia: how to navigate the Spanish city
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