Zaragoza, a city full of surprises!

viewing point zaragoza

After booking some cheap flights to Madrid, a group of us decided we’d make our trip a bit more exciting by hiring a car and driving around Spain for a few days. Our first stop on the list was Zaragoza as we chose the slightly less popular option of driving to Northern Spain. We landed at Madrid airport around 9pm, picked up our hire car (this wasn’t as straight forward as it sounds as our driver had an expired licence, but anyway, we got it sorted!) and then we headed straight to the motorway for the 3 hour drive to Zaragoza. I can’t tell you much about the drive as I managed to sleep in the back of the car for the whole 3 hours however I do know it was a main highway and a very easy journey!

I woke up as we arrived in the back streets of Zaragoza, it was around 1am and it looked like a ghost town! There were plenty of bars and restaurants but I suspect they were all closed early because it was March and ‘off-season’. We found our hotel which was located right in the centre of Zaragoza Old Town and were directed to the main public parking area. We’d paid around 60 EUR per night for the hotel including breakfast and I was really surprised at how nice it was. The bedroom was spacious and spotless and the location was perfect.

We woke up in the morning around 8am and were ready to explore after our delicious Spanish breakfast of Pan con Tomate (tomato sauce on toast)! We headed to the Zaragoza tourist office after asking our hotel reception for some directions and this is where the wonderful surprises began …

First of all, I had no idea that Zaragoza was a city so rich in history and culture! The tourist office was tucked in beside the Roman walls and had a wonderful viewing tower from where you can see the whole city! We were given maps and lots of information about interesting things to see in the city. After enjoying the views from the top, we headed out to find the first attraction on our list, La Seo de Zaragoza. On our way we passed by the enormous Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, one of the city’s most iconic buildings.

The La Seo Cathedral is a Roman Catholic Cathedral and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Cathedral dates back to the 12th Century and has an incredible mix of architectural styles from Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance and Mudéjar, making it not only spectacular, but also very unique.

la seo cathedral zaragoza

Next we took a walk around the centre of Zaragoza and found ourselves popping into a few shops. There was a lovely atmosphere everywhere in the streets, very calm and relaxed.

zaragoza city centre

bull fighting ring zaragoza

Our next attraction was the The Aljafería Palace, a medieval Islamic Palace built in the 11th century. It was about a 20 minute walk from the centre and we stopped on the way in an incredible tapas bar to refuel. We also passed by the Plaza de Toros de la Misericordia, the Zaragoza bull fighting ring. Bull fighting is not something I’d like to watch, however the building itself was quite something. Palacio de la Aljaferia was really worth seeing inside, it’s bursting with beautiful architecture and interesting history. I think this was my favourite place in Zaragoza.

Last on our list was the Museum of the Forum of Caesaraugusta back in La Seo square. We saved this until last as it’s open until 9pm. These Roman remains were only discovered during excavations in 1988-1991! The museum has both an inside area with artefacts and an outside area where you can walk around the Roman theatre itself!

roman forum zaragoza

The one day in Zaragoza that we had was so packed with incredible history. I went to bed both exhausted and delighted that we’d chosen this city as a stop on our journey around Spain.

Next morning, after a good sleep and our Pan con Tomate we headed to the next destination, San Sebastián …