From what kind of delicious foods you’ll be sampling, to tips for your trip, find out all you need to know about booking a Valencia food tour.
I’ve just returned from an incredible week in Valencia. It was a special trip for personal reasons – a place I’d been dying to visit and booked to travel to on my own. You can read a bit more about the decision I made here. It was time to create the trip I wanted, and structure my days how I pleased.
When I was looking for things to do in Valencia, I knew food would feature heavily! I always try to go on a food tour when I’m abroad, as I think it’s the best way to get to know a place. The cuisine tells you so much about a destination, and gives you a great introduction to the culture and the local people.
I found a few Valencia food tours around (some involving making your own paella), but knew that I wanted to do a tapas tour with a local. I was travelling solo, so having a dinnertime activity was appealing – better than yet another candlelit dinner for one!
Valencia food tour – The Group
I booked my Valencia tapas tour through Get Your Guide (a company I’ve used before and trust!) and met guide Gabriel just before 7pm outside Valencia Cathedral. Joining us were a mum and two grown up daughters from The Netherlands and a family of four from England. Eight was a great number – intimate enough to get to know my fellow tour mates, but large enough to have a nice buzz!
Gabriel explained that over the next two hours we’d be visiting three places, each showcasing a different style of tapas. We’d try around eight different dishes, accompanied by alcoholic or soft drinks.
He was a great host – charismatic, cheeky and full of stories. As we wandered between bars it was nice to chat to him about life in Valencia, his favourite spots and a little more about the culture. He was open and honest, and over the evening covered topics including over tourism in Spain, the Valencian language and why Spanish people eat so late! We even chatted about our experiences in San Sebastian, Madrid and Barcelona – debating where the best Spanish food comes from!
READ MORE: 29+ AMAZING things to do in Valencia
Valencia Food Tour – Stop 1
Our first stop was at La Taberna de la Reina, just across the plaza from the Cathedral. It didn’t look like anything special from the outside, but inside I discovered a bar filled with tasty little morsels on sticks. It was pintxos time!
I’ve had quite a few pintxos before (mainly in Barcelona), but it was nice to hear more about them. Gabriel recounted their Basque Country origins, a Spanish region which borders France. With access to crusty baguettes, people began to use them as a base, and top with various ingredients. Each pintxo comes with a stick running through it, sometimes of different lengths. Each stick relates to a price, so at the end your waiter can simply count the sticks and let you know what to pay.
At this bar we had the opportunity to choose our own pintxos from the plates on the bar. So much choice – from padron peppers and tortillas, to sausages and prawns. I picked one with ham, goats cheese and a sweet marmalade, and another with a chorizo-like spread called Sobrasada, caramelised onions and ham. They were full of strong flavours, and devoured in just a few bites.
This style of cuisine is relatively modern, and Gabriel encouraged us to visit more pintxos bars across the city, as every place has their own unique concoctions! Pintxos in Valencia cost between 1 EUR and 3 EUR, so they’re great as a snack with a drink, or a light lunch.
Valencia Food Tour – Stop 2
After wandering through the busy streets of the old town, we found ourselves in the El Carmen neighbourhood. We ventured inside the teeny tiny Tasca el Botijo. With pintxos done, it was now time for montaditos. Gabriel explained these are similar to pintxos, as they’re also usually on bread, but usually with a drink.
We started with little slices of baguette topped with sobrasada – that delicious chorizo-like spreadable sausage I’d had earlier. Mmm!
Then the table was filled with tasty plates of local specialities. I really enjoyed the esgarraet Valenciano – salty cod with garlic and grilled red peppers in oil. Alongside it was a plate of flavoursome sausage with sweet, caramelised onions. There was also a plate of sautéed mushrooms with garlic, parsley and chilli. It was all wonderfully moreish.
We heard how usually locals would hold their drink in one hand and a fork in the other, eating straight from the sharing plates in the middle of the table.
Once our glasses and plates were empty, it was time for a little surprise. Gabriel grabbed a glass flask from the bar containing a local liquor known as mistela (made from moscatel grapes). There was a technique involved in drinking from a unique bottle like this, which would be a big challenge for first-timers. Could we do it?
We all gave it a go, much to the amusement of everyone around the table. One guy spilled it everywhere, another almost bit a chunk out of the glass! I fared ok, but didn’t get the flair form the distance or height that Gabriel displayed!
Valencia Food Tour – Stop 3
Feeling merry after a few glasses of wine and a big gulp of mistela, it was onto the final stop of our Valencia tapas tour. One of my favourite parts of the tour were the relaxed ramblings from place to place, seeing different neighbourhoods and landmarks along the way. We quizzed our guide on a few details, but it was nice just to amble with our new tour mates, and swap stories and recommendations from our time in the city so far.
The family of four had met Gabriel the day before for a different Valencia food tour, taking a trip around the city’s Central Market (Mercado Central) and learning about a different side to the cuisine. Meanwhile, the others had enjoyed mooching around the old city and hopping on bikes to explore a bit further afield.
Our third and final stop was at a restaurant called Las Cuevas. We ventured to the backroom, and heard how this was a place that specialised in proper tapas. Gabriel ordered a load of dishes for the table and we enjoyed a tasty variety of flavours over the next hour.
We tried a few staples of the tapas scene – padron peppers and patatas bravas. I really enjoyed the deep-fried brie which oozed in the middle and was topped with a sweet strawberry jam.
Then excitement levels were raised as a sizzling dish of chorizo in boiling hot oil was delivered from the kitchen. The waiter tipped some rum on top and set fire to the dish! What a sight – eyebrows slightly singed, we tucked in and enjoyed the final part of a tasty evening in Valencia.
As the tour came to a close, Gabriel treated us all to one more shot of mistela to toast our evening, snapped some photos of the group, then suggested a few other spots to check out.
Valencia Food Tour – An Impromptu Stop 4
I was leaving the city the next morning and was keen to try out the city’s famous cocktail – Agua de Valencia. Our guide knew just the place, and after such an enjoyable evening together, the entire tour group (minus Gabriel) piled into Café de las Horas and continued the fun for another hour.
A few people on Instagram had recommended this bar to me, and as I entered I could see why. It’s a stunning bar, with plush velvet interiors, painted starry ceiling, and an old-fashioned vibe. We ordered a jug of Agua de Valencia and continued getting to know each other. It was a lovely, and unexpected way to end my time in Valencia.
I really enjoyed my food tour of Valencia and would recommend it as a good way to understand more about the city’s cuisine and influences, and learn from a local. Also, if you’re a solo traveller in Valencia, it’s a great chance to meet a few new people.
As mentioned, I booked this tapas tour of Valencia via Get Your Guide, a tour booking website that I’ve always had excellent experiences with. If you’re thinking of booking, you can check availability and latest prices here.
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