While in Spain breakfast typically means a hair-raising coffee and sugary pastry, brunch is when the day’s eating really begins. In Valencia almuerzo is especially sacred – a cherished mid-morning meal that is about more than just satisfying hunger.

From traditional bars serving toasted bread with tomato and tombstone-sized hunks of potato tortilla, to bacon and eggs by the beach and bakeries offering croissants bursting with chocolate, tuck into Valencia’s best spots for brunch.

Beach view from La Más Bonita, Valencia
Beach view from La Más Bonita, Valencia © Robert Kidd / Lonely Planet

Brunch by the beach at La Más Bonita

Queues of people vie for a table overlooking the sand at La Más Bonita by Patacona Beach in Valencia. Even inside the place feels breezy, with a white and sky-blue colour scheme that invites relaxation. An extensive menu offers everything from smoothies and home-made granola to the stomach-busting ‘English Breakfast’ (or ‘Spanish Breakfast’ – for those who prefer jamón to bacon). Still hungry? Take away a giant piece from the eclectic selection of homemade cakes. La Más Bonita also has a summer chiringuito (beach bar) a stone’s throw away and another cafe in the trendy Russafa neighbourhood.

Behemoth bocadillos at Bodega La Pascuala

For most Valencianos, a bocadillo – sandwich made from a baguette is the perfect brunch snack. The competition for the city’s best is fierce, but the super-sized baguettes at Bodega La Pascuala are legendary (if your appetite isn’t as huge as the sandwiches, share one between two). Filled with everything from fried eggs and tortilla to jamón and goats cheese, the sandwiches at this faded blue-tiled bar near the beach attract a steady crowd. Follow the locals and order a cold caña (small beer) to wash it down with. Who cares if it isn’t midday yet?

A taste of home at Café ArtySana

Wherever you’re from, Café ArtySana feels like home. One of numerous brunch options in Russafa, ArtySana’s friendly staff help it stand out. It offers an excellent value brunch menu, including fruit, a sandwich and slice of cake, with a focus on tasty, homemade food. Mismatched furniture and an open kitchen give the cafe an unpretentious vibe and the feeling of having brunch at an old friend’s house. Working with local artists, ArtySana doubles as a gallery and live music venue.

Housed in a historic building, Federal is one of Valencia's coolest cafes
Federal, one of Valencia's coolest cafes © Robert Kidd / Lonely Planet

Hang out with hipsters at Federal

Housed in a historic building with high ceilings and kitted out with a Scandinavian chic interior, Federal is one of Valencia’s coolest cafes. It lures a mixed crowd of locals, travellers and digital nomads with excellent coffee and hearty brunch options, including eggs benedict, shakshuka and morning burgers or veggie burgers. Named after a small town in New South Wales, the Australian founders have captured the open, laid-back atmosphere their homeland is famous for. Federal also has cafes in Barcelona and Madrid.

Almuerzo culture at Puerta del Mar

When a place claims ‘possibly the best almuerzo in the world’, it has to deliver. A couple of blocks back from the Plaza de Ayuntamiento, Puerta del Mar serves up a huge range of local produce laid out on its long bar to squeeze between a baguette. Promising patrons an authentic almuerzo experience, there are three brunch menus to choose from, the most popular including peanuts, olives and patatas bravas alongside a bocadillo, drink and coffee.

Pancakes at La Petite Brioche, Valencia
Pancakes at La Petite Brioche, Valencia © Robert Kidd / Lonely Planet

A slice of Paris at La Petite Brioche

La Petite Brioche is somewhere between New York City corner cafe and Parisian boulangerie. Allow the smell of freshly baked bread to lure you inside, then sit between wood-panelled walls displaying old maps while reading the day’s specials written in white chalk on a blackboard. Or take a street-side seat and people-watch in Cánovas, one of the city’s ritziest suburbs. As well as crepes, croissants, muffins and an impressive range of homemade tarts, the airy pancakes don’t disappoint.

Coffee with the cool kids at Bluebell

Another that attracts an expat crowd, Bluebell takes coffee seriously. Started by two sisters with an appreciation of the finer points of coffee, the speciality roastery uses some of the best beans from around the world. Bluebell has plenty of varieties to choose from (57 at last count) and also organises coffee tastings. The brunch menu is smaller but just as ambitious. As well as toast with mackerel and beetroot, and kale pancakes with smoked salmon, the waffles loaded with truffle, ham, mushrooms and a poached egg leave you satisfied.

Coffee and chocolate croissants at Dulce de Leche, Valencia
Coffee and chocolate croissants at Dulce de Leche, Valencia © Robert Kidd / Lonely Planet

The sweetest treats at Dulce de Leche

Much-loved in Argentina, dulce de leche is a caramel sweet enough to make Willy Wonka blush. Drawing on the Argentine roots of one of the founders, Dulce de Leche is a bakery and cafe serving a mouth-watering range of sweet and savoury treats. With black-and-white awnings outside and natural light shining into the sleek interior, it gets busy on weekends (as does the second branch in Russafa). While there is plenty for those without a sweet tooth, it’s hard to go past the croissants loaded with chocolate. Remember to pick up a napkin.

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