This blog post was originally posted on June 26, 2017 and was updated on April 16, 2019.
Valencian cuisine is full of diverse flavors, from mouthwatering seafood to delicious desserts.
As the third-largest city in Spain, Valencia attracts millions of tourists every year. Its sunny Mediterranean climate and prime beach location on Spain’s eastern coast make it an ideal vacation hotspot. However, exploring the local gastronomy is a must while you’re there. Don’t leave Comunitat Valenciana without trying some typical foods from Valencia! (And yes, there’s more to Valencia than its delicious paella!)
One of the most well-known Spanish dishes on the Iberian Peninsula and beyond, paella has its roots in Valencia. Some paella purists even argue it should only be eaten in Valencia, not in the rest of Spain!
The wetlands near the region’s Albufera lake are ideal for growing rice, which the Moors brought to Valencia in the 10th century. Paella was originally cooked in giant calderos in the open air near the lake in the 18th century, and it exploded in popularity around the mid-1800s.
Traditional Valencian paella includes chicken, rabbit and local white beans called garrafó—but seafood, vegetarian and “mixed” paella, containing both meat and fish, are also popular. Other typical additions include artichokes, lobster and even snails! And of course, the best paella always has a layer of crispy rice along the bottom.
Paella’s seafood-and-noodles cousin has its origins as a humble fisherman’s dish. Tender, cooked-to-perfection noodles taste spectacular with seafood additions like monkfish, squid, shrimp and more. This is one of the most typical foods from Valencia, and a great option if you don’t want to order paella!
The Valencian town of Gandia is proud to be the birthplace of this tasty dish. Fideuà fans who visit the region in early summer can check out the annual fideuà cooking contest, a favorite local celebration in Gandia.
3. All i pebre
This delicacy is a favorite among valencianos, and after trying it we’re sure you’ll see why. All i pebre is a stew containing chunks of eel and potatoes simmered to perfection in a sauce that includes garlic, paprika and almonds. Not as well known outside the region as other typical food from Valencia, this hearty meal is one of the locals’ best-kept secrets and a true gastronomic hidden gem.
4. Arròs a banda
Valencianos sure love their rice, and arròs a banda is one of their all-time favorites. This typical food from Valencia is not to be confused with paella! In fact, this dish originated in nearby Alicante, where fishermen would use their unsold fish to make the stock used in cooking the rice. Curiously enough, the rice and seafood are traditionally served separately in arròs a banda: first comes the fish, then the rice is served as a second course and topped with a dollop of alioli (garlic mayonnaise).
Although most Spanish food fans don’t usually consider tapas a typical food from Valencia, esgarraet is an exception to the rule. This tasty tapa includes strips of bacalao (salted codfish) and roasted red peppers, both of which are cut into fine strips. It’s usually swimming in good-quality olive oil with plenty of bread on the side to soak up the hearty juices.
Don’t forget to save room for dessert! Bunyols are yummy fritters containing a touch of pumpkin in the dough. Valencians usually snack on them during the famous Las Fallas festival in March, but we recommend enjoying them any time of year! This delicious snack is one of our favorite typical foods from Valencia!
7. Horchata and fartons
Lots of people have enjoyed a nice cool glass of horchata in the summer, but many probably don’t know that this delicious vegan milk comes from Valencia! Locals typically accompany it with fartons, a sweet bread glazed with sugar. This is the perfect pick-me-up after a long day of sightseeing!
Spaniards all over the peninsula enjoy this nougat-based treat at Christmas, but it has its roots in Valencia. Turrones can be hard or soft, depending on whether the almonds used are kept whole or pulverized into a paste. With flavor varieties such as chocolate, coconut, coffee and more, there’s sure to be a turrón that pleases every traveler’s taste buds.
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Life is too short to speak one language and stay in one place. In 2015, this philosophy took her from familiar Ohio to sunny southern Spain. Usually drinking tinto de verano, reading Lorca, or attempting to dance flamenco (not all at once). Follow her blog, Viatic Couture, for more.