Valencia or Barcelona? – Ultimate Travel Comparison: Visiting Valencia vs. Barcelona

Affiliate links
This post might contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through this link I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. But I will only recommend products and services I believe are of value for you. Thank you so much for your support.

Both Valencia and Barcelona are two of the most beautiful cities in Spain. But if you must decide on one of the two places for your next trip, you will surely ask yourself if Valencia or Barcelona travel is better.

I have been living in Barcelona for several years, and I know Valencia quite well. Therefore, I would like to compare “Valencia vs. Barcelona” for you to find the perfect destination for your Spain trip.

Note: This is about comparing the cities of Barcelona and Valencia for a visit or a trip (although the comparison can also be convenient if you want to move to Spain and decide whether to live in Valencia or Barcelona). However, we completely ignore the soccer clubs of the two cities for this comparison.

In a nutshell: Which is better: Valencia or Barcelona?

Valencia and Barcelona are both beautiful cities worth traveling to. Both cities are located by the Spanish Sea and offer a lot of culture, great architecture, and delicious gastronomy. Barcelona is more touristy and provides more attractions, while Valencia is a bit quieter and more affordable.

Visiting Valencia – What to expect in Valencia

L'Hemisfèric, City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia
The modern City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia

Valencia is a beautiful city full of rich culture and great food. As the birthplace of paella, Valencia is considered by many to be the foodie capital of Spain.

With exceptional facilities like the City of Arts and Sciences, where you can spend the entire day, the city offers everything a modern metropolis should provide. There is so much to discover, from distant worlds to underwater creatures here.

Valencia is full of history and historic buildings and is more walkable than the Spanish metropolises of Barcelona or Madrid. So it also happens that you can actually still discover some hidden gems in Valencia.

Art enthusiasts will find Valencia particularly appealing, with its vibrant street art scene and a broad spectrum of art forms. The city presents a harmonious blend of artistic styles from traditional to contemporary.

Valencia’s coastal location lends itself to the beach and sea, a significant part of its allure. With miles of coastline at your disposal, there’s a beach to suit every preference – from tranquil retreats to adrenaline-filled water sports – you’ll find it all here in Valencia.

Visiting Barcelona – What to expect in Barcelona

park güell, view, Gaudí mosaic, Barcelona things to do
View from the famous Park Güell

Barcelona is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. From Gaudí’s unique designs to the medieval alleys of the Gothic Quarter, Barcelona is simply a photographer’s dream.

Despite the vast amount of sightseeing options, Barcelona’s center is quite walkable. Moreover, Catalan culture and cuisine provide excellent dishes and events daily.

However, Barcelona’s beauty stopped being a secret a long time ago. So, you will share your vacation with many other visitors who want to experience the Catalan capital.

Barcelona is an international metropolis with nightlife and entertainment options as far as the eye can see. From interesting museums, theaters, and cultural performances to great restaurants to bars and clubs where you can party until dawn – Barcelona has it all.

You don’t have to worry about visiting the beach in Barcelona either. With its location directly on the Mediterranean Sea, the choice is extensive. There is always something going on here, and you have various beaches, beach bars, water sports, and swimming options at your disposal.

Valencia and Barcelona: What do they have in common

Now that you got a general idea of the two Spanish cities let’s take a look at what these two have in common.

Location on the Mediterranean Sea

Barcelona Beach, Barceloneta
View of Barcelona City beach

One of the most significant similarities between the two places is that they are located directly on the Spanish Mediterranean Sea. Thus, both destinations are perfect for a beach vacation, either in the city itself or one of the less visited beaches in the surrounding area.

The Mediterranean coast of Spain is considered one of the most popular regions in the country. So it’s hardly surprising that both Barcelona and Valencia are so popular.

Great climate

temperatures in Barcelona in winter in fahrenheit
Temperatures in Barcelona

Hah, the weather here is a dream. I’m typing these lines while my gaze wanders out to the blue sky, where not a single cloud is to be seen – just like it has been all week.

Valencia and Barcelona convince with almost daily sun, generally little rain, and warm temperatures all year round compared to many other European countries.

If you look at it closely, Valencia is generally a tiny bit warmer than Barcelona due to its slightly more southerly location (on an annual average, this makes a difference of about 1-2°C).

This means that in winter, it is a little warmer in Valencia than in Barcelona, but the summers can also be correspondingly hotter than in Barcelona.

No typical Spanish cities

View of Plaza de la Virgin, Cathedral and Basilica in Valencia
Plaza de la Virgen in Valencia

Another characteristic that both Spanish cities have in common is that neither can be labeled a “typical Spanish city.” While in other Spanish cities like Madrid or Seville, you can perfectly immerse yourself in an authentic Spanish atmosphere, Barcelona and Valencia are a bit unique in that respect.

Surely you have heard of Catalonia. As the Catalan capital, Barcelona differs from the rest of Spain, e.g., in language or culture.

Valencia, however, is no exception to that. The Valencian culture also has a lot of peculiarities and uses another language, Valencian (a dialect of Catalan), in addition to Spanish.

UNESCO awarded

Lonja de la Seda, Valencia, Silk Exchange
The Silk Exchange of Valencia

If you love visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you’ll be happy to know that you can find them in both Valencia and Barcelona. Both cities are home to at least one UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In Barcelona, there are nine of them (Sagrada Família, Park Güell, Palau Güell, Casa Batlló, Casa Milà, Casa Vicens, Colònia Güell, the Palau de la Múscia Catalana and Recinte Modernista Sant Pau). Not bad at all, right?

Valencia, on the other hand, has only one sight, the city’s old Silk Exchange, that made it onto the list. However, this doesn’t have to mean that Valencia is any less impressive.

Delicious food & drinks

fideua, katalanische nudelpaella Pfanne
Fideuà – Ein beliebtes Gericht in Barcelona und Valencia

One of the best things about living in Spain is undoubtedly the food. Mediterranean cuisine is healthy and definitely one of the most delicious and varied in the world.

Whichever of the two destinations you choose, you definitely won’t go home hungry. Because Valencia and Barcelona both shine with a vast selection of tasty dishes.

Whether it’s delicious Spanish tapas, typical Spanish dishes, Catalan cuisine, or typical Valencian meals.

Due to their similar culture and geographical proximity, the two cities share such dishes as paella (although each has its own variation of it), fideuà, or arros negre.

You can also find refreshing Spanish drinks, such as the delicious horchata (although it is actually originally from Valencia), wine, or the like in both Spanish destinations.

Valencia vs. Barcelona: The differences

I admit that Valencia and Barcelona have a lot in common, especially compared to other Spanish destinations. However, the two also have plenty of far-reaching differences. Below, we’ll take a closer look at these differences between Valencia and Barcelona.


autonomous regions spain map
Anyone who takes a look at the map of Spain can clearly see the difference

As already discussed, both Barcelona and Valencia are located on the Spanish Mediterranean Sea, in the west of the country. Nevertheless, their location differs from each other.

While Barcelona is located in Catalonia, in the country’s north, Valencia is found in the Valencian Community, approximately in the center of Spain (directly South of Catalonia).


eixample barcelona from above
The Eixample Neighborhood in Barcelona

Valencia and Barcelona also differ significantly in size. However, it may come as a surprise to many that Valencia is almost 30,000 km² larger than Barcelona (just under 100 km² compared to 135 km²). And yet, Barcelona has almost twice as many people as Valencia (about 800,000 compared to 1.6 million).

So it’s hardly surprising that Barcelona can get a bit crowded. In addition to these many inhabitants in a small area, there are usually also quite a few tourists, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Transport connection

Regarding transport links, the two cities do not need to feel inferior. Both can be easily reached from other Spanish cities or destinations outside Spain. Be it by (high-speed) train, long-distance bus, car, or plane.

Barcelona has three airports in its vicinity, and Valencia has two. Both cities have modern train and bus stations with regular service.

Even within the city, you can get from A to B quickly and easily. Valencia has buses and the streetcar, while Barcelona relies primarily on its well-developed metro and bus network.

Things to See & Sights

Both cities are full of fantastic sights that could not be any more different. Let’s take a closer look at a few of them.

The Sights of Valencia

Valencia Science Museum, building from the outside
The Science Museum of Valencia in the City of Arts and Sciences

Valencia’s sights are diverse. The historic city center is similar to Barcelona’s, filled with historic buildings and structures. In addition to Valencia’s Cathedral, Basilica, and Central Market, the Silk Exchange stands out as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Another important sight in the city, or several sights if you’re taking it literally, is the City of Arts and Sciences. There are all sorts of things to discover and explore here. Particularly popular here are Valencia’s huge aquarium, El Oceanográfico, and L’Hemisfèric with its IMAX dome.

Of course, the Valencian coast is also an absolute tourist magnet. Beautiful beaches invite you to an extensive beach vacation—more about this in the following category.

The Sights of Barcelona

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, designer gaudi
Blick auf die wunderschöne Sagrada Família

Barcelona is packed with attractions. You should spend at least a few days in Barcelona if you want to see them all – and I must say, many of them are absolutely worthwhile.

The nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites alone can easily take up a couple of days in the city. Then there’s also the Gothic Quarter with all its quaint corners and buildings and so many more places worth visiting.

In addition, there are more than 50 museums. And, of course, visiting the beach is also a must. If you are looking for the ultimate sightseeing program, Barcelona is the right place for you.


Barcelona and Valencia are both excellent beach destinations, but you can also find a difference or two in their beaches.

The Beaches of Valencia

Malvarossa beach in Valencia, Valencian beaches, beaches with palm trees
Muss sich nicht verstecken: Der Stadtstrand Valencias

The Comunidad Valenciana is known throughout Spain for its beautiful beaches. And Valencia itself certainly doesn’t fall short, either. The city has seven beaches for its locals and visitors.

In addition to small bars and restaurants (chiringuitos), you will find plenty of water sports and activities for young and old.

Also, the beaches directly in the city are mostly clean, and due to their length, you can almost always find a spot – even in summer.

If you travel a bit outside of Valencia, you can visit even more secluded bays that you almost have to yourself.

The Beaches of Barcelona

Barcelona Beach, Barcelona beach
View of Barcelona beach

Barcelona’s city beach makes an excellent option for a walk or a drink on the beach. Unfortunately, it tends to get very, very crowded here, especially during the summer months.

However, if you don’t want to spend your beach day alone, you’ll meet new people super fast. Be it playing volleyball or other events that take place daily. There is always something going on at the beaches of Barcelona.

Although smoking on the beach is officially prohibited, unfortunately, you can find cigarette butts and plastic waste everywhere. Therefore, swimming at another beach further away and avoiding the city beaches if you want to lie down in the sand is recommended.


Castellers, Human Towers, Barcelonese
Catalans like to build human towers (Castellers)

Both Valencian culture and Catalan culture are full of exciting traditions. Especially during the weekends, you can experience a variety of things in both cities – be it dance performances, the Catalan Castellers, or similar.

Also, in terms of cultural institutions such as museums and theaters, both destinations offer a wide selection.


Hola, sign, writing, learning spanish, illuminated hola sign, speaking spanish in valencia and barcelona

Both places have a second official language besides Spanish: Catalan. Although the Valencian version of the language is officially called Valencian, it is a dialect of Catalan.

Both places use both languages, respectively. My impression is that Catalan is used much more in Barcelona than in Valencia.

Night Life

Barcelona is known throughout the country, if not the world, for its lively nightlife. There is a huge choice between clubs of different scenes and music genres, bars, restaurants, and all kinds of events.

In keeping with the city’s style, Barcelona’s nightlife is very international and diverse.

Valencia’s nightlife is also definitely worth checking out. Although the selection of music genres is somewhat smaller than in Barcelona, you will be able to dance the night away until dawn if you want to or check out one of many bars or clubs.

Tourist Saturation

Barcelona friends on the beach, tourists
Barcelona is much more touristic than Valencia

It’s hard to compare the tourism occurrences in Barcelona and Valencia. As an example, let’s take the visitor figures for 2019. While Valencia was visited by around 5.2 million national and international travelers, Barcelona had a total of 14 million.

So the difference becomes apparent immediately. Especially in the summer months, Barcelona is virtually flooded with tourists. The Catalan capital is one of the most visited cities in the world.

In Valencia, things are much quieter. Of course, there are also tourists, especially in the summer months. However, if you prefer to spend your trip without tourist crowds, then Valencia is probably the better choice for you.

Day Trip Destinations in the surrounding

In my eyes, Catalonia and the Valencian Community are two of the most beautiful regions in Europe (and I’m not just saying that because I live here). You could drive around for weeks or even months and still discover new beautiful places, secluded coves, or exciting sights.

Day Trips from Valencia

Xàtiva Castle, day trip from Valencia
The impressive castle of Xàtiva

There are plenty of great places to discover near Valencia. Among the most popular day trip destinations are the castle of Xàtiva, the Albufera Nature Park, Altea, Alicante, and Benidorm.

Whether it’s countryside, small town, beach or city trip, you really can find a little bit of everything close to Valencia. And the best thing is that you can easily reach many of the destinations by public transport.

Day Trips from Barcelona

Cadaqués Cap de Creus day trip from Barcelona
The picturesque white streets of Cadaqués

There are also many great places around Barcelona that you can visit on a day trip. From the neighboring town of Sant Cugat del Vallès to picturesque small villages like Cadaqués and Besalù, the volcanic area of Garrotxa, to the beaches of the Costa Brava and Costa Daurada.

The choice is enormous. Some of the destinations can also be visited by public transport. For other places, however, traveling by car is highly recommended.

Travel Costs

One can assume that Valencia is generally about 15 % cheaper than Barcelona. This starts with a supermarket or restaurant visit and extends to accommodation prices.

However, this does not include entrance fees for sightseeing and tourist activities, which can be pretty high in both Spanish cities.

So if you want to include the prices in Barcelona and Valencia as an essential factor in deciding which places to visit, this point clearly goes to Valencia.


For me personally, shopping on vacation is somewhat secondary. For some, a shopping day is an absolute must on every trip. Therefore, we would like to include this point in the comparison.

Both Valencia and Barcelona offer a wide range of stores, local boutiques, large malls with international brands, and of course, stores of famous luxury brands.

But if we go into more detail and look at the exact selection in both cities, Barcelona makes the race here due to a more extensive selection.

Safety: Is Barcelona or Valencia safer?

One thing in advance: Neither city is dangerous, but in both, you should not leave your belongings out of sight at any time.

Pickpockets are generally a big problem in Spain due to the lax legislation. The rule of thumb is that the more touristy a place, the more pickpockets. As the most touristy city in Spain, Barcelona is naturally a sad leader as the pickpocket capital.

However, this does not mean that there are no pickpockets in Valencia. The safety in Barcelona regarding pickpockets is just, unfortunately, a bit lower than in Valencia.


las fallas figures festival in valencia
The striking figures for the Las Fallas Festival in Valencia

Festivals play a significant role in both cities. You can experience various events and festivals throughout the year, whether you visit Barcelona or Valencia.

Some of the most important and popular festivals are:

  • Las Fallas Festival in Valencia in March
  • Great Valencia Fair in July
  • La Tomatina Festival (40 km from Valencia) in August
  • Sonar Music Festival in Barcelona in July
  • Festa Major de Gràcia in August in Barcelona
  • El Mercè in September in Barcelona

Conclusion: Valencia vs. Barcelona Travel

Whether you want to visit Barcelona or Valencia depends on your personal taste and preferences. Both cities are definitely worth a visit. Before we get to the final results, here is a short, direct comparison of both places:

Size1.6 million inhabitants on 100 km² (38.6 mi²)791,000 inhabitants on 135 km² (52 mi²)
Tourism (Visitors in 2019)approx. 14 Millionapprox. 5,2 Million
Temperature average5 – 28°C (41-82°F)5-31°C (41-88°F)
Cost of livingabout 130 € a dayabout 110 € a day
Distance to the SeaLocated on the coastLocated on the coast
Snow in the winterrather uncommonvery uncommon
LanguageSpanish and CatalanSpanish and Catalan (Valencian)
SurroundingsMountains and seaMountains and sea
ConnectionGood connections to Europe & Spanish citiesGood connections to other Spanish cities

Barcelona or Valencia – Which is better?

Valencia is the right destination for those who prefer it a little quieter and less touristy. The city is also more suitable than Barcelona for a weekend trip or a short stay because you can discover the essential sights already in three days.

Valencia is also a bit cheaper than Barcelona, provided you can find a good flight (the choice of flights to Barcelona from international destinations is definitely more extensive).

Barcelona is a good choice if you want to see a lot and don’t mind other tourists. There is so much to see in Barcelona. Also, in Barcelona, you can socialize better and meet new international people.

Vicki’s personal opinion (emphasis is on “personal“): Sightseeing in Valencia is more relaxed than in Barcelona. The city is greener, and there are far fewer tourists around. I would also probably choose Valencia for a beach vacation, as the beaches are cleaner and less crowded than ours in Barcelona.

Still, I think Barcelona is just more beautiful as a city – the mix of different styles and unusual buildings – there’s a new picturesque place waiting for you on seemingly every corner. Valencia is a beautiful city, but Barcelona just has that charm that I found a bit lacking in Valencia.


About the AuthorVicki

Hi, we are Vicki & Eduardo, an international travel couple on a mission to help you save money for priceless travel experience. Follow us through the miracles of this world and you will be rewarded with a bunch of practical travel tips.

More about us
5/5 - (1 vote)

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.