Updated: November 8, 2023Published: November 6, 2023
To say I loved visiting Zaragoza is an understatement. As the fifth largest city in Spain, it boasts a thousand cultural and historical attractions that make it a must-visit destination!
In this article, I’ll show you my favorite sights, places you can’t miss, great spots like El Tubo to savor every bite while immersing in the local life, and many other tips before your visit.
Despite being relatively unknown, it is a jewel of Spain that deserves to be discovered. Oh, and… the city is also famous for the popular Pilar Festival in October, (amazing experience btw) so you may want to save that month for your visit.
But let’s not get ahead since I’ll also tell you the best time to visit for a month, depending on your type of travel. I promise you’ll see why Zaragoza is such a wonderful travel destination!
Let’s dive into the details!
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What is Zaragoza?
Zaragoza, located in the northeast of Spain, is the capital of the Aragon province and is a significant city in the region with an important cultural and historical background.
Did you know that Zaragoza is famous for its vibrant festivals? One of the most notable is the Fiestas del Pilar, a grand celebration dedicated to the Virgin of the Pillar.
You’ll get to witness stunning processions, listen to lively music, enjoy colorful dances, and take part in other exciting cultural events. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss!
Zaragoza is a city that provides a perfect blend of historical and cultural experiences along with modern activities. It has everything, whether you’re interested in exploring its iconic historical sites, enjoying its colorful carnivals, or savoring its delicious local cuisine.
Best Things to Do in Zaragoza
1. Stroll through the lovely José Antonio Labordeta Park
The José Antonio Labordeta Park, also known as the Parque Grande, is a huge green space covering 44 hectares. It’s the second biggest park in the city, only beaten in size by the Parque del Agua since 2008.
Inside, you’ll find tons of gardens, paths, and fountains, which make it an excellent spot for both sports and leisurely walks. If you wanna explore the park, you can rent bikes, and there’s also a bar.
It’s a perfect place for anyone to hang out, for couples, families, or groups. There are lots of roads and fountains, so it’s great for jogging, walking, and picnics.
Also, you can find a very interesting monument in memory of the writer Ruben Dario and the young women who died during the Civil War while defending their rights. It’s a great place to take a nice walk and escape the city’s bustle!
You can also check out a small section of the Imperial Canal of Aragon, which is 110 km long and one of the most important engineering projects of the 18th century in Europe. If you’re interested, you can take a tour on the tourist bus.
I really enjoyed visiting this unique spot with Iñigo. The gardens are magical; one of the best in Spain for sure!
2. Discover the Aljafería Palace
Qualified as one of the capital monuments of the Islamic world, the Aljafería is located in the westernmost part of the capital of Zaragoza, to the right of the Ebro River and not far from it.
The building was commissioned by Aben Alfafe in 864. However, it was between the years 1040 and 1081 when Abu-Jafar al Moctadir, the second Banu-hud king of Zaragoza, left it with his most important buildings to use as a palace and a place of recreation for the kings who used to reside in the Uda residence.
The builder’s first intention was to create a recreational space similar to the one built by the caliphs on the outskirts of Córdoba.
However, due to the insecurity that arose in the Taifa kingdoms, the king of Zaragoza decided to add a strong belt of mudals around the villa, turning it into a residence and fortress, all in one. This is how the Aljafería came to be!
Pay attention to the beautiful entrance door, which has a large horseshoe-shaped arch with decorative spandrels filled with ornate ataurique designs.
Still, the coolest part of the construction is definitely the oratory! It has a unique octagonal floor plan, and the mihrab faces south. Plus, it’s still in excellent condition compared to the rest of the building.
3. Visit the most Incredible Museums
Museo del Foro de Cesar Agusta
The city boasts several well-preserved buildings to see Roman Zaragoza, with the Caesaraugusta Theater being the best.
To make the most of your visit, you can follow the Caesaraugusta Route, which includes site museums dedicated to all the major buildings in the city, such as the Forum, the River Port, the Public Baths and the Theatre, and the Roman walls.
This route will take you through the political center and the most iconic public buildings of the city.
The best part? You can easily cover the entire route on foot! All four museums are located within a five-minute walk from each other. So, you have no excuses!
It is the only Goya Museum in the world that has in its permanent collection all of the painter’s complete series, which constitute one of the jewels left to us by the man considered the creator of contemporary paintings and precursor of the avant-garde.
The Goya Museum - Ibercaja Collection, also known as the Camón Aznar Museum, and the Museum of Zaragoza are the two places in the city to enjoy paintings of this artist.
Museo Pablo Gallargo
At Pablo Gallardo Museum, you can find around 180 artworks from the entire career of the author, including some documents about his life and work.
The most iconic piece in the collection is The Prophet, a bronze sculpture of a speaker considered one of the most iconic pieces from the first half of the 20th century.
After all this journey you might be hungry! But wait for my food recommendations! Otherwise, take a quick break and enjoy people-watching at Restaurante Cafe 1835. It’s very nice!
4. Explore the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza
Many have been admirers of the two great Aragonese cathedrals: the Cathedral of El Salvador, known as the Seo, which summarizes, in its architecture, a history of centuries, and the Basilica del Pilar, the oldest Marian temple in Spain.
The chapels of this temple are numerous, and in almost all of them, there are altarpieces of interest, burials, and paintings… but the one dedicated to the Virgen del Rodriguez stands out, with an elliptical plan and covered by a dome frescoed by Antonio Velazquez. It’s wonderful! You can’t miss it.
On the outside, the four large towers that rise in the four corners of the building and the domes in a double row that shelter the cupula in the center of the temple stand out.
Inside the temple, everything was decorated with magnificence. You can appreciate Romanesque, Mudejar, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassical styles in a strange but simple harmony.
If you go on top, you can appreciate the beautiful skyline of Zaragoza!
The first known information says that where the temple stands today, there was a small Romanesque chapel that was later transformed into a Gothic Mudejar church. The latter collapsed in the mid-17th century to build the current temple.
5. Have a leisurely walk in Alfonso I Street
There’s one stop that you absolutely can’t miss, and it is Alfonso I Street! This road is not only the most important in the city, but it’s also the perfect place to take some amazing photos with the Pilar in the background.
During the day, Alfonso I is always buzzing with activity. You can find many shops, cafes, and restaurants here that serve everything from breakfast to dinner.
Also, this street is the hub of all public events in the city, from the Offering of Flowers to the Virgin of Pilar to the Three Kings Parade and the Holy Week Processions.
Local tip: stop and appreciate “El Callejon de las once esquinas,” It once had eleven corners, (therefore its name) Now, the street is a long, perfectly straight line with buildings centered on both sides of the same height and with four floors.
In 1858, the bourgeoisie of Zaragoza decided to build a street connecting the city with the Pilar, just like other European cities did.
This street would be a perfect mix of functionality and style, with plenty of space for horse-drawn carriages, trendy fashion stores, and gorgeous mansions.
It quickly became the heart of the city’s high society, and it’s still a beloved place for everyone who visits it!
Best Time to Visit Zaragoza
The best time to visit Zaragoza for pleasant weather and fewer crowds is definitely spring and early Autumn. But let me tell you a bit about each season and what to expect.
Springtime (from March to May) is the perfect season to experience Zaragoza at its best! The weather is nice and pleasant, and the parks and gardens bloom with beautiful flowers. It’s an ideal time to explore the city’s historic sites, enjoy outdoor activities, and go sightseeing without getting roasted by the summer sun.
If you plan to visit Zaragoza during the Summer (from June to August), just be prepared for hot weather because the temperatures are usually over 30°C (86°F). It’s a high season for tourists, so don’t be surprised by crowds.
Another top time to consider is Autumn (from September to November). It’s still warm initially, and the summer crowds get thinner. Oh, and remember to check out the Fiestas del Pilar in early October, a summer highlight!
Zaragoza’s Winter (from March to May) is not too cold compared to other European cities. However, it can still get chilly, with low temperatures (30° or 40° F). It’s a quieter time to visit, more budget-friendly, and you can enjoy the city’s cultural stuff without too many tourists.
How to Get to Zaragoza
Zaragoza has got some pretty good bus connections to other cities in Spain and even abroad. The main bus station there is the Zaragoza Estación Intermodal de Autobuses, and it’s located close to the train station, which is super convenient.
You can also use regional trains to reach Zaragoza as it is well-developed and connects Zaragoza to other towns in Aragon.
A round way ticket can cost you between 50€ - 100€ depending on how close (or far) is the date of the trip.
If you prefer flexibility and want to explore the surrounding regions (which I totally approve of), you can reach Zaragoza by car. The AP-2 and AP-68 highways are the main routes to Zaragoza.
Once you arrive, I suggest you walk since everything is relatively walking distance. Plus, parking in the city center can be challenging, so I’d instead use public transportation.
The Zaragoza Airport is an international airport with both domestic and international flights. From the airport, you can take a taxi or a shuttle bus to the city center.
If you book quickly, you can grab great tickets from Madrid or Barcelona for a really great price.
This is, by far, the best option regarding price and duration, as the Zaragoza-Delicias Train Station is one of the major railway hubs in Spain.
The high-speed train network in Spain connects Zaragoza to Madrid and Barcelona (the main cities) in 1 hour and a half, making it a convenient option for travelers from these major cities. It has connections with other major cities as well.
A roundtrip can cost around 20€ - 120€ depending on the time of the year.
Plus, it is a convenient option since the station close to the city center!
What to Eat in Zaragoza
Delight yourself in a michelin-star restaurant at Gente Rara
How much money you need for your trip to Zaragoza depends on many things, such as how many people are traveling, the type of activities you want to do, accommodation, the duration of your stay, restaurants, and most importantly, the time of year.
To help you more accurately, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via email! Share the details of your desired trip to Spain, and we will provide you with a price estimate and offer local advice for all your travel needs.
Jimena Bolívar is a seasoned travel writer with a unique passion for Spanish Food & Recipes. With a background in business and marketing, she brings a strategic and innovative approach to her writing, making her the perfect guide for those looking to truly experience the Authentic Spain. Jimena is also a Mother of 4, and is a huge fan of knitting her own clothes.