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In these days of Instagram, where each adventure abroad is prepped for with hours of online research (guilty!), it’s a special thing to be actually surprised by a destination. Zaragoza, Spain’s fifth-largest city and capital of Aragon, was one of those rare places, and it’s the perfect cheap Europe getaway. Here’s a Zaragoza travel guide with all you need to know about the city, as well as 20 things to do in Zaragoza, from visiting exquisite cathedrals and historical palaces through to eating your way around the city.

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Girl standing on Stone Bridge over Ebro River in Zaragoza
The view of the Basilica del Pilar from the Stone Bridges

Zaragoza basics

Currency: Euro (€)
How to pay for things: Hotels, chain retail stores and sit down restaurants mostly accept credit card, smaller local shops and tapas bars may be cash only, but there are ATMs in all the tourist areas of the city
Language: Spanish
Weather: June to August is hot, sunny and dry, with some days reaching the early 30s Celcius. In winter expect highs of around 10° and lows of 3°. April and May are known for being the rainiest months in Zaragoza.
Best time to go: The city gets quiet in summer because the residents take their own summer holidays, which means less people but also shops and restaurants may be closed. The months just after summer (September to October) are a great time to visit, when the humidity and temperature drops a bit. The city holds a Catholic festival in October, Las Fiestas del Pilar, for seven days around October 12 to celebrate the Virgin of the Pilar, which would be an amazing time to experience the best of Zaragoza.


How to get to Zaragoza

My 52 in 52 adventure is taking me to a new country every single week based on the cheapest flight, and one of the best things about this style of travel is that I’m at the mercy of where Skyscanner tells me to go every Tuesday, no matter how random the destination is. From my first week in Paris, the cheapest flight out was £18 to Zaragoza flying Ryanair (plus £20.63 for adding on a checked bag, priority boarding with two cabin bags, and carbon offset).

Zaragoza is on the flight map for some of the major low cost airlines, including Ryanair and Volotea, so you can get there for cheap from London, Milan, Brussels, Paris and loads more. Right now there’s flights from London from only £13 one way and £30 return!


TRAVEL TIP:

I find all my flights using Skyscanner! You’ll get the best deal if you’re flexible on where to go. Just put in your origin, your departure date (or month) and type ‘everywhere’ into the destination bar to see the cheapest locations to fly to on your next holiday.


It’s also easily accessible by train from any of Spain’s major cities (1.5 hours from Barcelona or Madrid, 3-3.5 hours from San Sebastian) or by car if you’re road tripping around this beaut country.

View of Zaragoza city from Basilica del Pilar tower

How to get into the city from Zaragoza Airport

You can get a taxi from Zaragoza Airport into the city for about €25 for a 20 minute ride, or catch a 30 minute-ish public bus for €1.70 each way.


How to get around Zaragoza

Zaragoza is super easy to get around by foot, bike, e-scooter or public transport. If you’re staying near the Old Town then it’s easy to walk to the museums, cathedrals, up to the palace and through the foodie streets, but if you want to venture further out you can jump on a bus or a tram, rent a bike or rent a Lime scooter (but be sure to ride on the streets or bike lanes, scooters on footpaths are not allowed).

For getting out to the gorgeous gardens of Parque Jose Antonio Labordeta or the activities and art installations around Parque del Agua, there’s a hop-on hop-off tourist bus for only €8 for a day pass.

Aljafiera Palace best things to do inin Zaragoza
One of the gardens at Aljafería Palace

Where to stay in Zaragoza

Please note that the prices here are based on example dates mid-week in shoulder season, check booking.com for prices and availability for the best Zaragoza hotels on your travel dates.

Luxury

I was hosted by the beautiful people at Zaragoza Tourism, and they put me up in a stunning room at super stylish Hotel Alfonso, located just between the Old Town and the central business district. It’s a 4* with a rooftop pool and buffet breakfast, and prices start at only €80 a night for a double room, about half the price of similar hotels in other Spanish cities! If you’re looking for a cheap luxe getaway, this is your answer.

Hotel Alfonso Zaragoza places to stay
A BATHTUB in my hotel room, what a dream

Mid-range

There are countless apartments available in Zaragoza, which means full kitchens so you can save money by cooking. Some of my favourite finds are El Balcón de Espoz y Mina I, Apartamentos Sabinas Don Jaime and Fantastica Buhardilla Plaza Pilar, with prices starting from €60-€90 for two to four people.

Budget

Zaragoza only has one hostel that I could find, Albergue Hostel, but there are quite a few cheap pensións (budget basic hotel rooms with shared bathrooms) to choose from. Check out Pensión Corona or Pensión Fuenterrabía, both have double rooms starting at €25-28.

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How much to budget for Zaragoza

Zaragoza is significantly cheaper than the busier cities in Spain, and it got me into a false sense of financial security before I got to super pricey San Sebastian!

As mentioned you can get a double room from about €25 (or cheaper if you’re okay to stay somewhere ultra-basic), an apartment from €60, or a fancy hotel from €80.

If you explore mainly by foot, bike, scooter or public transport you probably won’t spend any more than €4-€6 a day, and most of the activities or things to see are less than €10.

In terms of food, your budget will totally depend on what type of meals you’ll be having. If you buy fresh fruit and veges from the market and stock up on supermarket staples to cook in an apartment, you’ll be able to easily eat for less than €15 per day, and if you want to eat out then expect to spend anywhere from €5 for a couple of tapas to €15-€20 for a nice sit-down meal.

Zaragoza cathedral roof
The incredible tiled ceiling of the cathedral

20 things to do, see and eat in Zaragoza

This gorgeous underrated city really blew me away with the amount of things to do, see and eat, so here’s a quick hit list of all my favourite Zaragoza activities and experiences.

1. Jump on a free walking tour

The best way to see any city, especially one with historical, cultural and art significant, is a free walking tour with a local, where you tip what you want at the end. They’ll take you to the key spots, give you some insider tips for the best times to visit certain places, help you decide on where to eat, and give you a basic understanding of the city’s history.

Bonus tip: Do one when you first arrive and ask your guide about any basic phrases you should know in the local language, so you’re never caught without being able to say thank you.

Zaragoza walking tour
The walking tour I did was the best way to get a basic understanding of the city

2. Visit the Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar

This gigantic cathedral is the most famous building in the city, and it’s exquisite both inside and out. You’ll find the Cathedral in the middle of Plaza del Pilar, backing onto the Ebro River. It was the second cathedral in Zaragoza (La Seo is the other one), and the current building was mostly built between 1681 and 1872. The cathedral has huge significance to the Catholic church, and it’s said to be the site of the first ever church dedicated to Mary, way back in 40AD.

I’m not usually one to listen intently to religious stories, but the history behind this cathedral was honestly mind-blowing. It involves the only recorded apparition of Mary, a regrown amputated leg miracle, an un-detonated bomb, and a half-finished interior. SO interesting.

3. Go up the Basilica del Pilar tower

For only €3 you can get the lift up 60 metres high in one of the towers, and then walk up stairs to 80 metres. You’ll get an amazing view of the Plaza del Pilar, across the Ebro River, and of the stunning blue, green and yellow tiles on the cathedral’s roof.

Zaragoza Basilica del Pilar tower view

4. Wander around the Plaza del Pilar

The main square in Zaragoza’s Old Town is bordered by cathedrals, museums and art installations on all sides. It’s one of the largest squares in Europe, and probably one of the quietest too! Don’t miss the waterfall at one end, dedicated to Latin America, and the Goya Statue at the other.

5. Visit La Seo Cathedral

The first cathedral in Zaragoza is just a couple hundred metres from Basilica del Pilar, it’s much smaller but still boasts beautiful architecture and artwork. It’s also home to a tapestry museum which is worth a visit!

La Seo cathedral Zaragoza
La Seo Cathedral on a rainy day

6. See an exhibit at La Lonja

Once a merchant market back in the 16th century, La Lonja is now an exhibition hall home to a variety of art and photography galleries throughout the year. When I visited there was an amazing (and free!) photography exhibit showcasing photojournalists from the Aragon region and the neighbouring Catalonia, Navarre and Basque Country.

7. Explore Aljafería Palace

This 11th century palace has a crazy cross-religious history, originally being an Islamic medieval palace, then home to Christian kings, then Catholic monarchs, then a military base and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as housing the Aragon parliament.

Entry is €5 and I’d really recommend jumping on a guided tour to get a full history lesson.

Aljafiera Palace arches Zaragoza things to do
Aljafiera Palace

8. Check out Museo Goya

Much to my mother’s dismay, I’m not a huge fan of art museums, or even really art or museums in general. It’s not my fault, I guess I just prefer doing things or eating things or photographing things rather than reading about things. Sorry Mum! So in full transparency, the Muso Goya is absolutely a Zaragoza must-do, but I didn’t actually do it myself.

Museo Goya is probably Zaragoza’s most famous museum, home to a massive collection of Aragon-born Francisco de Goya’s works of art, along with loads of other paintings from the 15th to 20th century. It’s €4 to enter and again, totally worth getting the audio-guide.

9. Pedal around the city

Zaragoza is a fantastic city for cycling, with great bike lanes for safe riding. There are some bike rentals available via app, or pop into one La Cicleria, Bizi or Ciclos Richi to rent a bike for a longer period of time.

10. Hop on and hop off around the main sights

A hop-on hop-off bus tour is a fantastic way to see any city, especially one like Zaragoza which has a couple of key areas for things to do and see. The bus is only €8 for a day and it means you can tick off the Parque Jose Antonio Labordeta, the Old Town, and the Expo area easily without splurging on taxis or having to walk miles and miles.

Plaza del Pilar Latin America statue and waterfall

11. Parque Jose Antonio Labordeta

And on that note, let’s talk about the park! This is the green lung of the city, a huge space filled with fountains, trees and perfectly manicured gardens. It’s also home to the highest point in the city, so it’s a beautiful place to watch the colours of the sky change as the sun goes down.

12. See the cathedral from the Stone Bridge

Cross the Stone Bridge for a fantastic view of the Basilica of Our Lady the Pillar, and a great photo spot too.

Zaragoza travel guide Stone Bridge
The Basilica from the Stone Bridge

13. Explore the Expo area

Northwest of the Old Town, if you cross the river, you’ll reach the Expo Zone, opened in 2008 when it was home to a three month exhibition for sustainable development. It’s packed with ultra-modern buildings, bridges and art installations, as well as an aquarium. It’s a crazy contrast with the rest of the city so absolutely worth a visit.

14. Chow down on croquettes at Taberna Dona Casta

And the moment all you foodies have been waiting for, a definitive list of my favourite eats in Zaragoza!

Let’s kick off with the best croquettes in town, Taberna Dona Casta. With loads of croquettes to choose from, I’d recommend picking three or four to try, leaving a bit of room to get another one of your winning flavour combo. I can vouch for the mushroom and goats cheese, the ham, gorgonzola and nuts, and the apple and blue cheese. YUM.

And the moment all you foodies have been waiting for, a definitive list of my favourite eats in Zaragoza!

Let’s kick off with the best croquettes in town, Taberna Dona Casta. With loads of croquettes to choose from, I’d recommend picking three or four to try, leaving a bit of room to get another one of your winning flavour combo. I can vouch for the mushroom and goats cheese, the ham, gorgonzola and nuts, and the apple and blue cheese. YUM.

Best croquettes in Zaragoza Taberna dona casta
Insanely delicious croquette flavours at Taberna Dona Casta

15. Try the patatas sherry at La Ternasca

I’m a foodie through and through, and I’m constantly searching for the best things to eat in each place I visit. So with that in mind, I don’t say this lightly… The patatas sherry at La Ternasca was one of my favourite meals I’ve ever had in my life.

The dish is made up of freshly cooked thinly-sliced potatoes covered in scrambled eggs, pulled lamb and truffle oil, and, along with other lamb dishes, it’s one of La Ternasca’s specialties. It’s just basic ingredients but the flavours are deliciously intense, and the lamb is super tender. SO GOOD, please do yourself a favour and try it!

Patatas sherry La Ternasca best food in Zaragoza
I’ll admit the photo doesn’t do it justice, but you just have to try the patatas sherry at La Ternasca

16. Treat yourself at Casa Lac

Spain’s oldest restaurant, opened in 1825, is the ideal spot if you’re looking to get fancy for an afternoon or evening. Casa Lac is famous for making vegetables the hero of all their dishes, and they’ve got set menus, a la carte, and tapas available.

If you can’t stretch the budget for a full meal, pop in for dessert and order the traditional bread pudding. Divine.

Best dessert Zaragoza travel tips
Delicious traditional dessert

17. Do a chocolate crawl

Zaragoza’s chocolate scene is on fire, with choccy shops down basically every street. For €9 you can pick up a chocopass from any of the tourism offices in the city, and that gives you chocolate treats from five chocolate establishments of your choice out of a list of 21. It’s a fun way to see the city, not to mention gives you a much-needed afternoon sugar boost in the middle of a day of exploring!

18. Get an ice cold refreshment from Heladeria Tortosa

Heladeria Tortosa is the best gelateria in the city for sure, with a line out the door at peak ice cream times. They’ve got loads of flavours to choose from but they’re particularly famous for their meringue milk gelato.

Best gelato in Zaragoza

19. Eat your way down El Tubo

El Tubo is one of the main alleys in Old Town, and it’s completely packed with tapas bars and nightlife hot spots. Head there after a siesta and get ready to eat your weight’s worth of tapas for the next few hours.

If you’re travelling with a friend or a group, why not do a food crawl? It’s my favourite way to get amongst the gastronomic scene of a new place! Share a small meal or tapas at one place, then move onto the next and do the same, and repeat as many times as you can until you roll back to your hotel room.

El Tubo is one of the main alleys in Old Town, and it’s completely packed with tapas bars and nightlife hot spots. Head there after a siesta and get ready to eat your weight’s worth of tapas for the next few hours.

If you’re travelling with a friend or a group, why not do a food crawl? It’s my favourite way to get amongst the gastronomic scene of a new place! Share a small meal or tapas at one place, then move onto the next and do the same, and repeat as many times as you can until you roll back to your hotel room.

20. €2 tapas and a drink for Juepinchos at La Magdalena

Budget travellers, this one’s for you! If you’re in Zaragoza on a Thursday, you can’t miss Juepinchos at La Magdalena, a suburb slightly to the east of the Old Town. On Thursday evenings the bars in La Magdalena offer a drink (normally a house wine or beer) with a tapa for just €2!

It gets busy, obviously, and the tapas sit on the bar without English translations or a menu, but it’s an incredible way to experience local delicacies without breaking the bank.

Zaragoza travel guide
Stone Bridge and the Basilica

Zaragoza, you were a foodie’s dream! There’s so much to do in this little city and it’s still off the beaten track, which means lower prices and less tourists. Get in for a sweet weekend getaway before everyone else cottons on!

Looking for somewhere to stay in Zaragoza? Check out all the hotels and apartments right here, and don’t forget to sort by ‘review score and price’ to see the best value options first.

Have you heard of Zaragoza before, or is it on your bucket list? Tell me in the comments below.

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Read more about my 52 in 52 adventure here, see all of my blog posts from the trip here, or check out my Instagram @findingalexx to see all of my travel photos.

Huge thanks to Zaragoza Tourism for hosting me on this trip to Zaragoza! As always, all opinions are my own and are based on my personal experience.

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