Warriors, Cathedrals and Carnivals: Spain’s Best Small Towns, Readers’ Choice | Holidays in Spain
Winning Tip: Alluring Salamanca
I stopped in Salamanca for lunch while driving from Madrid to Lisbon and ended up staying there for a week, taken in the charming atmosphere of the city. Its graceful red sandstone architecture, with two cathedrals and splendid 15th-century university buildings, gives the city the quality of an open-air cultural fair – where academics, students and locals alike live on a sort of backdrop. outdoor cinema and dream. . Street names are hand painted in scarlet on the signs and the young population creates a hedonistic vibe at night when darkness descends. During the day, discover the Plaza Mayor and the charming Doll museum.
Approached by a magnificent medieval bridge over the Duero river, Zamora, perched on its sandstone cliff, offers so much. More Romanesque churches (24) than any other city, with their pink-tinted sandstone that glows warmly in the sun. Add to that the Baltasar Lobo Sculpture Museum near the medieval castle, the Duero wines from the surrounding gentle hills, the famous Holy Week processions, an eclectic collection of art deco buildings and you might not find time for the greatest gem of all, the church Visigothic San Pedro de la Nave, 12 kilometers northwest.
Segovia. A heavenly city about an hour northwest of Madrid. I lived there during my Erasmus year but I sigh when I think about it. The centerpiece of this magnificent place is the Roman aqueduct, built in the first century AD. If that doesn’t impress you, then the Disney-inspired Alcazar certainly will. The cathedral is the most modern Gothic cathedral in Europe and Segovia offers beautiful views no matter which direction you are facing. For award-winning tapas, pop to El Fogón Sefardi, or for occasional bites, go to El Sitio. It is a treasure trove of gastronomic and architectural delights, not to be missed!
The Spanish city that will take your breath away is Ronda (in the province of Málaga, Andalusia). Between a 150m deep rocky gorge, which you can admire from the bridge called Puente Nuevo, Ronda is a perfect place to see architecture influenced by Romans, Arabs and Catholic Monarchs. Going down the steps of the Water mine at Casa del Rey Moro, admiring ubiquitous beautiful mosaics, strolling through the cobbled streets of Ronda and past Spain’s oldest bullfighting arenas, Plaza de Toros de Ronda, are some of the things you can do do in beautiful Ronda!
Entertainment and beaches, Vigo
We had little idea what Vigo would look like before visiting it in 2017. What we found was a bustling port town with welcoming people and delicious food. Being on the Galician coast means that the local octopus specialty is plentiful. Each restaurant offers its own version of this delicious meat-based delicacy. Unlike the prices in some of Spain’s most popular cities, Vigo is affordable – for less than € 2 you can have a beer or a small glass of wine and a small free tapas. The highlight of our visit was a trip to the Cies Islands (45 minutes by ferry from Vigo), with golden beaches that have, rightly, been named among the most beautiful in the world.
Saints and storks in Tarazona
Tarazona, halfway between Soria and Zaragoza, has retained its medieval Arab street map, so it’s easy to get lost. From the Romanesque church of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, above the town, you can admire the ancient roofs and see the town’s motif, with the 18th century bullring at its center, and, opposite, the cathedral Mudejar, with its Gothic murals and amazing glass roofs. In between are the Hanging Houses of the Jewish Quarter, the Renaissance-decorated town hall, and clusters of cozy bars and restaurants. At Easter, columns of women carry the statue and beat the drums of the procession of St. Mary Magdalene, and at this time of year storks are everywhere.
Warrior pose, Toledo
Toledo is my best Spanish city. You feel like you are living in ancient centuries, or you are witnessing a real life of former soldiers. You even think that you are a warrior and you have to win the battle. It is truly an interesting city with extraordinary walls and gates. After an hour of walking you will find the best view ever at the mirador, where you can admire a panoramic view of the whole city. It is truly unique and you will fall in love with the majesty of this city.
The treasures of El Burgo de Osma
Among the rolling landscapes of the Duero River, a gem of a small town awaits to be discovered. Halfway between Zaragoza and Valladolid, El Burgo de Osma is a treasure trove of history, Roman ruins, a medieval castle with perfectly preserved ramparts, beautifully maintained gardens and an elegant Mayor’s Square. The centerpiece, however, is the magnificent cathedral, built in honey-colored stone over five centuries. We stayed in a spacious and stylish apartment in The balcony of the cathedral view of the cathedral square for 60 €. The historic center is closed to traffic, so stroll through the streets, grab a table, soak up yourself. It will probably just be you and the locals.
The warmth of the Spanish sun is matched only by the warmth of the heart and soul of the ancient city of Cadiz. An island, not geographically speaking, but surrounded almost entirely by water. Cadiz’s scenes and beautiful beaches rival any Andalusian paradise. The endless maze of streets is lined with bustling taverns and stunning buildings, providing enough adventure to last a lifetime. The Atlantic Ocean plays a vital role in city life, crashing against city walls and filling plates with endless fresh seafood and fueling the energy of its citizens on Carnival Day. In Cadiz, every day feels like a carnival day.
The medieval town of Trujillo, in the unjustly neglected province of Extremadura, made a surprisingly stunning stop on our road trip to catch the ferry from Bilbao. Our excellent boutique accommodation was on an unpretentious street; however, a 20 meter walk brought us to the main square. More Game of Thrones than Game of Thrones, the panorama was breathtaking: medieval buildings surrounded the square, itself surrounded by ramparts. A multitude of steeples rose around us, and a distinguished church took center stage alongside an oversized statue of Conquistador Pizarro. The evening dinner in the square was a delight, the food of local peasant origin drizzled with an Extremaduran red.