If the thought of crowded department stores in the summer sales fills you with horror, and are bored of finding the same high street brands everywhere, Valencia can offer you a different shopping experience. From quirky shops specialised on a single thing, to others selling traditional crafts or local produce, you will find plenty to tempt you, whether you are looking for souvenirs or a treat for yourself.
Valencia is a city proud of its traditions, and that is reflected in its shops. In the historic city centre, if you ignore the more touristy souvenir shops you can still find traditional retailers that haven’t changed for generations. The Plaza Redonda, with its peculiar round design, is a good place to start. Here you can find local crafts and small stalls selling lace, embroidery and fabrics – as well as tapas bars to replenish your energy after shopping.
Nearby, at Artesania Yuste (Plaza Miracle del Mocadoret, behind Plaza de la Reina) you will find some of the best examples of Valencian ceramics, including the famous socarrats (hand painted tiles, not to be confused with the tasty burnt bits of a paella, also given the same name!). Even the fridge magnets are small works of art here.
In the old days, shops used to specialise on a single trade, and in many cities you still find streets named after the specific trade that thrived there. In Valencia’s Calle de las Cestas, the basket traders are still thriving and you can find many other interesting examples of wickerwork as well as leather goods.
Did you forget to bring a hat to protect yourself from the Mediterranean sun? Don’t worry, Sombreros Albero (Xativa 21, near the station) has hundreds for you to choose from! When it gets really hot, Spanish ladies reach out for their abanico (fan). You can find beautiful hand-made ones, and even watch the craftsmen as they paint them, at Abanicos Vibenca (Plaza Lope de Vega 5). And to complete the Spanish look, get some traditional espardenyes (espadrilles) at Ainna Munt L’Espardenyeria (Los Derechos 19, near the Central Market).
Nothing could be more typically Valencian than the spectacular fallera costumes worn by girls during festivals. You probably wouldn’t wear one back home, but at Boovier (En Sanz 8) you can find stylish ladies fashion made with the same delicate silk fabrics used for the fallera dresses. And at Orfebres Peris Roca (Bolseria 31) you can watch them make (and of course, buy) the beautiful jewellery and other complements worn by the falleras.
And if you want to take a taste of Valencia home, buy some turrón, the typical nougat traditionally eaten at Christmas. You can find delicious home-made varieties at Turrones Ramos (Sombrerería 11) or the famous Turrones A Galiana (San Vicente Martir 45), where queues of Valencians preparing for the festive season can often be found between October and January.
At Vegamar gourmet shop (Colon 31), you can join wine tasting sessions and buy a variety of local products, as well as their own wines. And for a wider range of wines and cavas, try Bodegas Baviera (Correjeria 40, between the Lonja and the Cathedral), possibly the oldest wine shop in Valencia dating from 1870. His current owner is also mad about music, as you can guess by the many instruments that decorate the shop.
Finally, if you are still stuck for souvenirs after all this, you can find toys and chidren’s clothes from local designers at Miralindo, or something for those football-mad friend and relatives at the Valencia CF megastore (Plaza Ayuntamiento). That’s shopping sorted!