Valencia is a port city in the eastern half of Spain that has just as much to offer students abroad as do its more famous counterparts, Madrid and Barcelona. And, in fact, it may be even better than those other two from a cultural-immersion point-of-view. For while the two most famous cities in Spain are full of all the riches a visiting student could wish for, that also is their downside: So many students from all over the world, and so many tourists, flock to their streets and parks that experiences sometimes feel like more international than quintessentially Spanish.
Which is what sets Valencia apart so beautifully. For while it is, indeed, Spain's third-largest city (its metropolitan area has a population of more than a million people), it nonetheless manages to perfectly combine the hustle and bustle of a major city with the kind of quiet plazas and gorgeous parks that people often associate with the Iberian world. And these squares and gardens do much more than simply provide pleasing views for the tourists and locals: They are used on a daily basis, and are as integral a part of life in Valencia as its office buildings, cafés, and restaurants.