After living in Valencia for a year, it’s safe to say that I’m rather acquainted with the city and its various neighbourhoods.
Most people visiting Valencia spend their time exclusively in the Old Town, which is comprised of six neighbourhoods (El Mercat, El Pilar, La Seu, La Xerea, and Sant Francesc, and El Carmen).
However, those who venture behind the main train station are privileged, for there you will find Ruzafa (also spelt Russafa), the coolest neighbourhood of Valencia by a mile, where tourists are few and far between.
In this article, I’m going to provide you with a comprehensive guide to Ruzafa, Valencia, based on my experience living in the city.
I’ll discuss the best things to do in Ruzafa, and share all of Ruzafa’s hidden gems, including where to get the cheapest pizza in Valencia, my favourite cocktail bar, and a rustic tapas bar that does a great sangria 😉
So, if you’re ready to discover the hipster Valencia, this post is for you.
Let’s get into it.
Ruzafa, Valencia’s Most Hipster Neighbourhood (Russafa Valencia)
Ruzafa Valencia at a glance
Ruzafa is a neighbourhood in the south-eastern part of the Eixample district of Valencia.
Until the 19th century, Ruzafa was a rural space outside of the city walls, before being swallowed up by the urban landscape and turned into a scruffy, working class neighbourhood.
Thanks to a long process of gentrification, this once dilapidated part of Valencia is now an edgy, hipster part of town, not unlike London’s Soho.
Ruzafa is where you’ll find art galleries, vintage clothing stores, and second-hand bookshops, alongside chic wine bars, tapas joints, and some of the city’s finest gastronomic offerings.
It is especially beloved by local creatives and expats, and while there isn’t a tonne of sightseeing to be done in Ruzafa, it is a place where you can spend a lifetime and still only scratch the surface.
Things to do in Ruzafa Valencia
If you’re wondering what to do in Ruzafa Valencia, you may be disheartened to learn that there aren’t a whole load of sights and attractions to tick off.
Discovering Ruzafa is all about the chic eateries and cocktail bars, vintage stores and colourful street art hidden where you least expect it.
Here are my recommendations and favourite things to do in Ruzafa.
Ruzafa Market, also known as Mercado de Ruzafa, is an indoor market renowned for its lively atmosphere, diverse offerings, and a rich assortment of fresh produce, meats, fish, and regional specialities like horchata, local cheeses, and of course the famous Valencian oranges.
Ruzafa Market has been open since 1957, and in addition to all the food stalls, you’ll also find a market bar serving up hearty baguettes for esmorzaret (a typical late morning snack, also known as almuerzo).
For a deeper insight into Ruzafa market and Valencian cuisine, why not try a Ruzafa market tour and paella-making class?
Depending on what time of year you’re in Valencia, you may be lucky enough to catch the annual Fallas Festival, which has been recognised by UNESCO as an expression of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Fallas is Europe’s biggest street festival and it completely takes over the city of Valencia for most of the month of March.
No matter where you go in the city, you’ll find children throwing firecrackers, whole communities sitting out on the streets enjoying paella, women in traditional dress, and huge papier-mâché sculptures that all get burnt to the ground on the last day of the festival.
Ruzafa is one of the best places to be during Fallas due to the number of pop-up bars and party vibe, and it is always home to some fantastic falla sculptures.
Take a walking tour
I love taking walking tours when I visit a new city, and Valencia is no different.
However, a standard walking tour won’t do in this case, as Ruzafa is definitely a more off the beaten path part of the city.
This ‘Hidden Valencia’ walking tour includes the areas of Ruzafa, Eixample, and Canovas, and is a great way to get to know these lesser-known parts of the city.
You won’t find any international high street stores like H&M or Zara in Ruzafa, and that’s precisely what makes it one of the best places to go shopping in Valencia.
Independent boutique stores are thriving in Ruzafa, and whether you want vintage clothing (Madame Mim), locally-made Valencian gifts (Gnomo), or plants and zero-waste homeware (Hinijo Bazar), you won’t be disappointed by what Ruzafa has to offer.
Admire the facades
Valencia was the World Capital of Design in 2022, and one of the best things to do in the city is to simply look up and take in its various architectural styles.
Old buildings with colourful facades and ornate ironwork line the streets of Ruzafa, and if you aren’t admiring them as you stroll around the area, you’re missing out.
Relax on a terrace
One of the best things to do in Ruzafa Valencia when the sun is shining (which is most days!), is to pick a bar at random, grab a drink, and sit on the pavement seating.
Almost every bar in Ruzafa has a small outdoor terrace, and they’re great for soaking up the vibe and doing a spot of people-watching.
If you want to live like a local in Ruzafa, this is the way to do it.
Despite its location along a busy street connecting Valencia’s North Station to Ruzafa’s centre, Casa Judía, meaning the Jewish House, remains unnoticed by most passersby as they hurry to their destination.
Situated near Plaza de Toros on Calle Castellón, the building’s vibrant construction and unconventional design stand out as one of Valencia’s most distinctive buildings, impossible to categorise in any one architectural style.
Its lively and eclectic façade proudly displays influences of Valencia’s Art Deco era, and it takes its name from the striking green Star of David that sits above the entrance.
As Casa Judía is a private residence, it is not possible to go inside, but if you are passing, it’s certainly worth a look, especially if you’re interested in architecture.
One of my favourite things to do in a new city is admire the street art, and Ruzafa has some lovely pieces.
While it isn’t quite as colourful as El Carmen, Ruzafa still has its fair share of street art, much of which is satirical and reflective of popular culture or societal issues.
Ruzafa’s street art reflects the neighbourhood’s artistic soul, and it is an essential part of its cultural identity, attracting both local and international artists.
Drink Agua de Valencia
Agua de Valencia is a cocktail hailing from – you’ve guessed it – Valencia!
Made using freshly-squeezed Valencian oranges, vodka, gin, and a splash of Cava, Agua de Valencia (literally ‘water of Valencia’) is a refreshing cocktail that is perfect on a hot summer’s day, and there’s no better place to enjoy one than one of the sunny terraces of Ruzafa.
If you fancy making your own, check out my Agua de Valencia recipe here.
Whether you’re looking for a low-key tapas joint, traditional Valencian dishes, or a menu created by a Michelin-starred chef, restaurants in Ruzafa, Valencia, have it all.
There are so many incredible Ruzafa restaurants, but I’ve selected my personal favourites (as well as one of two that are on my list for the future!).
If you’re as obsessed with dark academia as I am, you’ll love Ubik Café Ruzafa.
Ubik is one of the most popular cafes in Valencia, and for good reason!
A bookstore, coffee shop, gallery, music venue and bistro all in one, Ubik Cafe attracts an indie crowd, and is always busy.
Drinks include speciality coffees, artisanal beers, and wines for less than 3 EUR, and in terms of food, you’ll find an extensive vegan and vegetarian menu, as well as a few options for the meat eaters (pastrami sandwiches, meatballs, and burgers, plus a couple of fish dishes).
Having lunch at Chick Shack became a bit of a tradition between myself, my boyfriend, and my mum when I lived in Valencia.
My mum would take the bus from her home in Oliva to visit us, and we would um and ahh about where to eat, before inevitably ending up at Chick Shack for the best chicken in Valencia.
Chick Shack’s chicken is cooked on a low heat for 90 minutes, making it absolutely mouth-watering, and they have an extensive menu of customisable burgers, wraps, and waffles, providing a 100% all-American experience in the heart of Valencia.
Our usual order was the half roast chicken with triple-cooked fries and coleslaw, but I can also recommend the guacamole chicken thigh wrap with bacon.
Perhaps the best thing about Chick Shack is their sauce list. Yep – you read that right – their sauce list.
Chick Shack don’t simply do ketchup or mayonnaise. Instead, you can choose from Sriracha mayo, teriyaki, garlic and parmesan, baconnaise, chicken gravy, and so much more.
La Finestra Ruzafa
La Finestra, which translates to the window in Italian, is a student favourite in Valencia.
This unassuming pizza joint is a restaurant with a difference – rather than order what you want from a menu, you simply ask for a ‘surprise,’ and get served whatever the chef feels like (none of your pizzas will be the same, which is pretty fun!).
Their personal pizzas are just 2.70 EUR each (order 2/3 per person), and you can get a glass of wine to go with your pizza for 1.60 EUR (!!!).
This tiny restaurant is always super busy, but if you’re lucky enough to get a seat, you won’t regret it – I’ve been a few times and loved it every time.
Good to know: La Finestra caters to vegans and vegetarians, just let them know when you order.
Canalla Bistro by Ricard Camarena
Unfortunately, I’ve not had a chance to visit Canalla Bistro yet, but as it’s by Ricard Camarena, I feel very confident in my recommendation.
Ricard Camarena has several restaurants, one of which has two Michelin stars and one Green Star for sustainability, and he is without a doubt the best of the best in Valencia’s culinary scene.
Camarena blends Asian and Italian cuisine effortlessly, with dishes including mozzarella stuffed with cuttlefish and corvina with green curry, avocado cannelloni with marinated tuna and wasabi mayonnaise, and miso eggplant.
Mare Meua Bar de Tapas
Mare Meua is one of the first places I discovered in Ruzafa.
It is a small bar serving tapas, pintxos (Basque Country tapas) and montaditos (teeny sandwiches), along with delicious homemade Sangria and cosy vibes.
My mum particularly loved their 2 EUR Rioja, and I loved the beamed ceiling and authentic atmosphere.
Café Madrigal is a lovely little Ruzafa restaurant serving up homemade vegan food.
I enjoyed a lovely Thai red curry there, and they also serve up comfort foods like veggie chilli, lentil burgers, and potato omelette with allioli, as well as a selection of delectable vegan cakes.
The best bit is that they have a daily lunch menu where you can choose 3 courses and a drink for 13.50 EUR!
Ruzafa Valencia bars
Ruzafa is a great spot for nightlife in Valencia, and here you’ll find rock pubs, cocktail bars, and other quirky indie venues where Valencia’s hipsters hang out.
Here are a selection of my favourite Ruzafa bars.
Comic Cafe is a small, comic-themed bar with a tiny interior and tables outside on the street.
They serve a selection of light bites, coffee, and cocktails, and their corner terrace is a great place to sip an Aperol Spritz and watch the world go by.
Good to know: Comic Cafe isn’t a ‘gay bar’ per se, but it is staffed by LGBT+ staff and is a popular hangout for Valencia’s LGBT+ scene.
La Catrina Cocktails & Rock
La Catrina is a dingy rock pub, where the walls are adorned with rock memorabilia, the cocktails are rock-themed, and they also have table football, darts, and a pool table.
My boyfriend raves about the cocktails here, and it’s a great place to go if you want a bit of shelter from the sun.
La Bella de Cádiz
La Bella de Cádiz is one of my favourite cocktail bars in Valencia, and as soon as you cross the threshold, you’ll understand why.
Mannequins in sequinned dresses and 70s wigs, oil paintings depicting battle scenes, velvet armchairs, antique pianos, porcelain dolls, and SO MUCH MORE await you here, and it really is somewhere that has to be seen to be believed.
They serve a great Agua de Valencia here.
I’ve been to Liverpool a bunch of times, mainly to watch football (it’s one of my favourite sports bars in Valencia).
This old-fashioned English pub is decked out with football memorabilia and The Beatles posters, it’s cheap and cheerful, and it always has a great atmosphere.
They also do karaoke here, if that’s your thing!
Cafe Berlin is a large and quirky bar with amazing cocktails, an international vibe, and an events programme packed full cultural offerings.
On Mondays and Wednesdays they host language exchange events (French, Japanese, English, and Spanish), as well as poetry open mic nights, art exhibitions, and lots more.
Small Irish pub with a large selection of local and imported beers and TV screens showing most major football matches.
This is the perfect place to be when it’s cooler outside, because the traditional decor will make you feel super warm and cosy!
I’ve been here a few times and I really like it.
Piccadilly Downtown Club
I’ve only been here once, and I was very drunk (meaning my memories are a little foggy), but my friends in Valencia go here all the time, and it’s definitely one of their favourite haunts.
Piccadilly is a nightclub that has been around since the 60s, playing everything from 90s pop to techno, indie, and everything in between. It stays open until 7:30am (!), has a silent disco upstairs, celebrity DJs, and glamorous drag queens will often be seen strutting their stuff.
Good to know: Piccadilly Downtown Club is an LGBT+ club.
I visited Barberbiborbur (try saying that one quickly 3x) at the ripe old age of 29, and it was too much for me.
If you’re into sweaty and crowded nightclubs, you’ll love this place. If not, not so much.
The venue is pretty small (considering how many people it squeezes in), but the DJs are good, the music is varied, and the staff are friendly.
Where to stay in Ruzafa
If you’re undecided about where to stay in Valencia, Ruzafa is a great choice.
You’re close enough to Plaza del Ayuntamiento and the Old Town (about a 30 minute walk) to see all of the main touristic sights, yet far enough away to experience an authentic Valencia.
You’re also in a great spot for restaurants, bars, and Valencia’s thriving nightlife scene, as well as being close to the City of Arts and Sciences.
For a sleek and minimalist rooms with a dedicated working space and coffee machine, I recommend Blanq Ruzafa.
For a modern, New York loft style apartment with a kitchen and sun terrace, Soho Valencia is a great choice.
Ruzafa Valencia | Final Thoughts
Ruzafa is a very cool part of Valencia, and if you’re looking for an authentic slice of Valencian life, you’ll find it here.
It may not be for you if you want to rush around ticking attractions off a list, but if you want to dive deeper into the culture of Valencia (and all the various subcultures within it), you’ll be able to do that in Ruzafa.
I love Ruzafa, and if I ever lived in Valencia again, Ruzafa would be the neighbourhood I’d choose.
That’s about all I’ve got for today, but as always, if you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section below and I will get back to you!
Until next time,
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