Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, Valencia
Tel: 902 100 031
Concierge.com's insider take:
Valencia's most celebrated modern cultural export—architect-engineer Santiago Calatrava—made his mark on his hometown with this ambitious, 86-acre "arts and science city" complex, which rises near the seaward end of the Jardínes del Turia. Four of the five main parts of the sprawling site were designed by Calatrava, who many see as the space-age heir to Gaudí, the Príncipe Felipe hands-on science museum; the Hemisfèric, a combined planetarium, laser show, and IMAX cinema that resembles a blinking eye; the Umbracle, a long greenhouse that's open at both ends; and the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, a concert hall and opera house, half Darth Vader helmet and half ocean liner, that was the final piece of the puzzle to fall into place in autumn of 2006. The other attraction—and the most successful of all—is L'Oceanogràfic, the largest marine park in Europe, which was designed by the late Félix Candela. With ten thematic underwater habitats, a dolphinarium, and a gourmet restaurant surrounded on all sides by the glass walls of a giant aquarium, this is a great family draw. There's a bewildering range of combined and reduced-fee entrance tickets; check the Web site for details.