Car rental's not really necessary in and around Valencia as public transport is excellent, city-centre parking can induce angina, and the surrounding area is comprehensively covered by the metro. If you do want your own wheels, however, Victoria Cars (www.victoriacars.com) keeps a reliable fleet at the airport.
Nine kilometres from the city centre, Valencia Airport receives regular easyJet and Ryanair flights from Gatwick and Stansted. Metrovalencia trains 3 and 5 run between the airport and the centre of the old town every 20 minutes or so.
The architecturally splendid Estacion del Norte is slap in Valencia's city centre, beside the Town Hall, and runs near-hourly services to Barcelona, Madrid, and a host of other Spanish cities.
Country code for Spain: 34; Valencia: 96
The novelist, film-maker and political firebrand Vicente Blasco Ibáñez is Valencia's most famous literary son. His most famous novel The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, tells the story of a Spanish family afflicted by the First World War.
Do go / Don't Go
Famously, Valencia enjoys more than 300 cloudless days a year (part of the reason its oranges are so tasty), only seeing remotely serious rainfall infrequently in autumn and spring. July and August are usually exceedingly hot and humid, leading to a mass exodus of locals from the city and the closure of a fair few restaurants and shops. The fringes of summer - May and June and September - can be the most pleasant periods to visit, although Valencia makes a good year-round destination.
Tapas don't carry the same culinary weight in Valencia as they do elsewhere in Spain, but the country's other famous gastro-gift to the world certainly does. Paella was invented in Valencia, and you'll find it on the lunch menu of almost every restaurant. Rabbit and snails are the traditional staples, but freshly caught seafood often finds its way into the mix too. Other rice dishes and paella variants abound, including arroz negro (rice in squid ink) and fidéua (paella made with noodles). The region's beverage of choice is horchata, a sweet and creamy blend of crushed tiger nuts, usually consumed with dippable bread buns known, sniggeringly, as fartons.
There are plenty of ranks in Valencia city centre, with the white cabs displaying a green light when free. To book a car in advance, try Radio Taxis (+34 96 370 3333), or Taxi Star (+34 639 616 666).
Servicio is normally added to restaurant bills, and further tips aren't expected, but throwing in 50 cents to €1 a person will always be appreciated.
Walking shoes and sun lotion for the day; dancing shoes and midnight oil for the evening.
Head to Unesco-stamped La Lonja, beside the central market. This 15th-century merchant's hall is free to enter, and features some incredible gothic pillars, twisted like skeins of silk. The carvings are also a revelation - look out for some lascivious (and inventive) gargoyles. Internationally renowned architect Santiago Calatrava has brought about the Valencian renaissance almost single-handedly, with his Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencas (City of Arts and Sciences; www.cac.es) - now Spain's second most visited attraction after the Prado Museum in Madrid.
Although Castilian Spanish is understood and spoken throughout Valencia, a few words of Valencian Catalan will endear you to the locals even more. Note that fewer and fewer road names are given in Castilian, so prepare for discrepancies when map-reading.
Calle Colón is crawling with shops, ranging from Spanish fashion staples such as Mango and Zara to a sprinkling of more offbeat boutiques. At the end of it, close to the heart of the city and surrounded by restaurants cafes and little shops, you'll find the Mercado de Colón, a striking modernist edifice where traders sell crafts, flowers and souvenirs. Calle de Mar is a similarly good option. Tucked away in a quiet square behind the cathedral, Le Pont Des Arts (+34 963 925613) has an enticing collection of ancient artworks and museum replicas available. La Finistra,(+34 963 913562) may be hard to find, but, with such an artful array of knockout fashion footwear, it's hard to leave too.
Valencia's as flat as a paella pan, so for bird's eye views you'll have to ascend the 132 steps of the 14th-century Torres de Serranos (+34 963 919070). These twin history-beaten mediaeval towers offer views of the old city and the Turia riverbed. The 360º panorama from the top of the Miguelete bell tower in the cathedral can also drop a jaw or two.
Not content to laying claim to being the birthplace of paella and the home of the world's juiciest oranges, Valencia also has the distinction of being the supposed final resting place of the Holy Grail. Housed in a side chapel of the city's dramatic cathedral, the Santo Caliz is an agate chalice dating back to 4BC, that many believe to have been used for Christ's last tipple. You can gawp at it for free - if you can shoulder your way ahead of the crowd.
March Las Fallas is the festival that put Valencia on the global party map - a week of gaudy street festivities featuring paella contests, dancing, firworks, and the famous cartoon-like effigies paraded through the city, before being dramatically incinerated on the final night of the festival. March/April Semanta Semana, or Holy Week, brings daily processions and celebrations, followed by the festival of St Vicente Ferrer, patron saint of the city, the following Monday. May On the second Sunday of the month, the statue of Mary that occupies the basilica in the Plaza de La Virgen, makes the 20-minute journey from her plinth to the cathedral, with hundreds of pilgrims vying to touch the Virgin's robes. August Head to the small nearby town of Buñol for the world's biggest display of raw, juvenile extravagance: La Tomatina sees the streets swarm with fruit-flinging food fighters painting the town red with pulped tomato.