The most expensive properties in Valencia can be found in Ciutat Vella, the Old Town, as it is the case in most of the Spanish big cities. It is the history and the sights that determine the price, not the quality of the property.
Funny enough, Valencia’s Old Town can be one of the few places in the city where you can still find some peace and quiet. There are numerous pedestrian streets in this area and the ones that are not – will be soon, according to the City Council plans. Even allowed traffic is very sporadic: access is restricted only to people that live here, and few of them use cars.
There are 6 distinct areas in Ciutat Vella and a great number of properties.
Together with La Seu, Xerea is the most desired part of Old Town. It is bordered by calle Avellanos, Turia Park, calle Colon and in certain places, calle San Vicente Martir. Some of the biggest tourist attractions in Valencia are located here – Ceramic Museum, Placa de Patriarca, Iglesia San Juan de Hospital, Tetuan Square, Glorieta Park, calle La Paz. Huge and majestic buildings that house lots of offices, restaurants, shops, and very expensive property are typical for this area. If you are looking to buy a small flat here, don’t bother – the majority of them were purchased for AirBnb rentals, so even if you find any, the entry price per square meter will be distastefully high.
The pros are that this was the last area to lose value when the crisis started, and the first one to recover. It occupies the major part of one of the most beautiful Old Towns in Europe and it is surprisingly quiet, once you move away from the main streets. The cons are that flats tend to be very dark (sometimes in very narrow streets), there are not many shops around, some buildings don’t have elevators, and the prices are very steep.
More or less, same prices and same characteristics like Xerea, with one difference: it is the most visited area of Valencia, especially since many big tourist attractions are here – Plaza de la Reina, Valencia Cathedral, calle Caballeros, calle Serrans, Serrans Gate (Torres de Serranos). More tourists mean more shops, restaurants, and odd nightclub, so the noise is guaranteed. But, there are still some quiet streets that can be found in Seu, especially on the side closer to Rio Turia. Pedestrian noise is the better option than car noise because all you need to do is to move one street and you are already in the much quieter area. At the moment, La Seu is renovated extensively.
Pricing, cons, and pros are very similar to the ones in Xerea.
Calle Serrans divides barrios La Seu and El Carme, and you can spot the difference with your naked eye. The buildings in Carme are not maintained, ruins and empty plots are very common and streets become narrower. Carme is one of the last areas in Old Town where you can find maybe not “bargain”, but something that can be afforded. But, you have to be very careful: some streets are in total disrepair, especially in the area around Carme Square. It is a beautiful and picturesque area that one day might shine like it should do. Around Plaza Vicente Iborra, you can find many new buildings, from 60’s and 70’, and although not very nice themselves, they can provide you with the nice view. Those buildings also come with lower prices. Carme has its own Mercado, in Plaza Mossen Sorell, the nice area lined with restaurants and cafes. It is advisable to check before buying, especially in this area, what is underneath your apartment. Sometimes even disco clubs will be completely unmarked and hidden with huge shutters. You wouldn’t even know that they exist until midnight when they open. If you want peace and quiet the only option you are left with is to wait until 6 in the morning for them to close. Even a normal bar can turn into a disco if the clientele are animated enough. The problem with this noisy places in Valencia is that they do not occupy a specific area, but are spread all over the city. I guess that City Council didn’t put too much thought into it.
The area around Plaza Tossal tends to be especially lively, but that you can guess yourself once you see the sheer number of people gravitating around here. Pricing in Carme is better than in Xerea and Seu, this area has many more shops and is close to Mercado Central, where you can buy most of the things you need.
The biggest Pro for this area is lots of charm and a real feeling of living in the Old Town. The cons are the noise and the evident neglect.
This is the oldest commercial part of Valencia. Some shops over here date from the 17th Century. Calle Derecho houses the oldest shop in Valencia, still opened for business, and Calle de les Mantes is a street where the most famous Valencian painter, Sorolla, was born. The only trace today, unfortunately, is an obscure plaque mounted on a modern building. It is an area characterized by very narrow streets, filled with tourists, visiting Mercado Central, Placa Redona or Llotha de la Seda (Silk Market). There are some streets that are very similar to Seu or Xerea, but generally, the area is very noisy and decent properties are hard to find. Some newly built buildings, especially close to Avignuda del Oest are extremely ugly and in sharp contrast with the feel of the area. The biggest pro is Mercado Central where you can buy almost any food imaginable, and the area is also very well connected with the rest of the town. Cons are rivers of tourists that frequent calle Derecho, calle Trench, and surrounding streets.
El Pilar is the strangest barrio of Ciutat Vella, where together, in some kind of weird harmony, co-exist some very nice newbuilds, old and majestic buildings with very expensive properties on one side, and ruins, prostitutes and drug dealers on the other. Don’t be alarmed, it is not really dangerous here, not more than anywhere else, and there is a big police station in the area too. Many pretty streets here once most likely looked impressive, but today, they are lined with derelict buildings, abandoned houses, empty stands. It is still not much cheaper to live here than in Carmen or Mercado, the prices somehow do not reflect an illicit trade that happens every day on the streets. The area you should definitely stay away from is around calle Viana, known for prostitution and drugs, and all the neighboring streets. On the other side, calle del Hospital is probably the most beautiful one in this barrio, next to the Silk Museum, the Library, and a huge park. Once this area is renovated, if ever, it might become one of the prettiest barrios of Valencia, but it will take a long time to get there. Pros, if you can find a decent street to live in, the area is very quiet, close to all the amenities and well connected to the rest of Valencia public transport. Cons are obvious.
Main commercial area of Valencia is barrio Sant Francesc, known for the busiest street in Valencia, calle Collon, and the main town square, Plaza de Ayuntamiento. The buildings here are huge, traffic massive, pedestrian streets many, and most of the space is taken by either shops or offices. If you can find property here, be very careful of its location, there are many fiestas in Valencia, and to celebrate them, people tend to come here all at the same time. Prices are a bit lower than in Xerea and Seu, but there is always a reason why. The pros are that you will need no transport whatsoever – all the big shops, including three El Corte Ingles department stores are within 5 minutes walk. There are many restaurants, bars, and cinemas too. Cons are noise and pollution. Although it is a rather popular area, living in the barrio like this, in my humble opinion, would defeat all the reasons why you chose to live in Valencia in the first place.