5 Reasons to Visit Zaragoza - Spanish Sabores

5 Reasons to Visit Zaragoza

Zaragoza at night
Zaragoza Center at night.

There are cities I love, cities I hate, and then there’s Zaragoza. After visiting Zaragoza, Spain two years in a row for Ale’s job, I still haven’t managed to fall in love with the city (and I’ve tried!), but I don’t necessarily dislike it either– it’s complicated. You see, Zaragoza has all the makings of the perfect city. It is small and walkable, full of bars and restaurants, home to a gorgeous basilica, and located on a tranquil river. It sounds strikingly similar to Seville, one of my favorite cities in the world.

But Zaragoza has proved disappointing in some key areas on my visits. The food has been overwhelmingly overpriced and underwhelming, a huge negative for me. I’ve tried all sorts of restaurants and bars, but I’ve never left feeling wowed. Good nightlife has also been difficult to find, and the people haven’t been nearly as friendly as in other Spanish cities. That said, I would still include Zaragoza as a stop when traveling around the area– I just wouldn’t spend too many days there.

Here are my top five reasons to visit Zaragoza:

 

1. Basilica–Cathedral of Our Lady of the Pillar

Zaragoza Basilica Pilar
The basilica at sunset.
Basilica Collage
Day or night, the basilica is gorgeous.

I would recommend visiting Zaragoza for its basilica alone. The enormous Pilar Basilica is absolutely stunning, and you must see it from all angles. I prefer to admire it from outside, but the inside is also quite beautiful and entry is free.

2. Funky Street Art

Zaragoza street art

Panda graffiti

Face painting

street art zaragoza

You can find cool street art all around Zaragoza, but most is definitely concentrated around the narrow streets of “El Tubo”, an area of the city known for its windy streets filled with tapas bars. I’m a fan of street art anywhere, so this is definitely something I would recommend!

3. Adoquines del Pilar

Adoquines de Pilar

When I first visited Zaragoza, I thought it was strange that all of the tourist shops had boxes of hard candies with saints on them. I figured I should buy some, and headed to the non-touristy candy shop near my hotel. I waited in a 20-minute line to finally order some! I found out that they were Zaragoza’s famous hard candy– originally flavored with aniseed, but now available in a variety of flavors. You can find them in all shapes and sizes, but the most typical is the large, block-like “adoquín” which literally means cobblestone block.

4. Interesting Statues

Statues
Do you see the fish water gun in the bottom left?

zaragoza statues

When I visit a city I love to wander around and discover its little corners and alleyways. Zaragoza was fun, because it seems that at every twist and turn was another interesting statue. These are a few I really liked.

5. The Central Market

Snails Market
Snails for sale.
Tails Market
Tails for sale!

Food markets are a must for me in any city, and Zaragoza is no exception. Their Central Market is quite beautiful with iron sides and glass decoration. It’s also full of some of the freshest looking meat and produce I’ve seen anywhere in Spain!

If it weren’t for my husband’s job, I’m not sure I ever would have had the chance to visit Zaragoza.

I’d honestly never heard much about it before our first trip there last summer. I’m really glad we did get a chance to explore because it really is quite a cool city. And who knows, if we have to go back maybe I will finally fall in love– they do say that the third time’s a charm!

Have you ever been to Zaragoza? What did you think?

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Right in between Barcelona and Madrid is the small but fascinating city of Zaragoza. It's one of the most interesting places to visit in Spain, with great traditional food, a beautiful cathedral, friendly people and so much more. In this travel guide, I've rounded up five reasons to add Zaragoza to your Spanish itinerary!

Comments

  1. I completely agree with you about Zaragosa. One of Kike’s good friends from the academy lives there, so we went to visit him over Semana Santa. Between us being sick, bad weather and a general dislike for the city, I left rather unimpressed. We did have great sushi that used local flavors, like foie and beef, as well as the best coquinas I’ve ever had. Still, not a place I’m running back to!

  2. Nice post Lauren….Used to go to Zaragoza alot on business with customers some 12/15 years ago and have fond memories. Very Spanish and some great food……used to go to an “Asador” there that did amazing lamb with green garlic.

  3. I spent my first full residence time in Zaragoza just before the World Cup in ´81 or ´82. I remember liking it a lot – and had been advised to go there because of the “good” Spanish without the seseo. Now you mention it the food didn´t stand out. I do have an Aragonese cookery book given to me by a friend there but I admit it´s a bit dull. Of course, it was quite exciting trying patatas bravas and such simple fare for the first time and at the home of one friend I was amazed to find I actually loved fish soup! I haven´t been back properly since those days (quick one-nighter for the Expo on the way back from Barcelona) but I must get to it. Thanks for the reminder, Lauren!

  4. That’s the first time that I’ve seen Aubrey Beardsley influenced street art. I love good street art and there is so much of it everywhere now that it sadly becomes more and more underwhelming and unsurprising. Banksy still heads the polls because of the dialogue they create. Thanks for the inside information on the town.

    1. Hi Roger, thanks for commenting. I was pretty in the dark about street art (just know that I like it!) but I googled your references and must say thanks for the introduction to these artists. Very, very cool.

  5. My wife and I staid in Zaragoza twice for some months while she was taking a course at the University there. I think we both fell in love with the city almost immediately. We staid near the university, but the city is easy to walk around in and has a multitude of differing neighborhoods and atmospheric areas, each so different and complementary to each other. Richly decorated art deco and Moorish inspired buildings, older medieval neighborhoods and poorer sections with simpler houses.

    The graffiti is simply abundant, chaotic and colorful, a treat to the eyes. It seems there is a strong anarchistic streak in Zaragoza judging from the prevalence of graffiti. I’ve even found beautiful works by Roa, probably made prior to his becoming so famous for his art.

    Ever since, we’ve always staid in Zaragoza for a short while at least when passing through northern Spain. It’s a city I could easily imagine living in full time.

  6. Hi there,
    We are working out our itinerary for our summer holiday in Spain. Going back up North, we are driving from Sevilla spending three nights there and as we have been to Madrid many times before we were thinking of stopping over at Zaragoza before driving to France and back to Belgium. Do you have suggestion what city to visit next after Sevilla that’s worth spending some nights? If we do stay in Zaragoza how many nights do you thinks is sufficient to explore the city?
    Thanks a lot for taking time.

    1. Zaragoza is very nice, I’d suggest two nights. Of course I’m partial to Madrid, and could never spend too much time here! Other places could be in Northern Spain– Basque country or Burgos.

    1. I have a friend I have visited in Zaragoza it was my first time in Europe. I was very impressed with this city she showed me around to the museums and parks. It has great ancient Roman History. The big basilica in the middle of the city was impressive to see I went inside free of charge. I felt really safe walking these streets even at night everyone seemed to be educated and well dressed no thugs anywhere insight. I loved this city it was very clean with no homeless anywhere. It’s not a huge city like Madrid but it’s not small either very flat and easy to walk. My friend is a local so it might make a difference I was with someone who lived there and knew the city. To feel so safe in a city this size I was very impressed I will go back one day.

  7. Thank you so much for this post! I’ve been agonizing over whether to do a day trip to Salamanca, which didn’t feel quite right. But this came across my radar simply by looking at a map weeks ago and I searched it again, saw your post and it all clicked. Thank you!

  8. Born and raised in Zaragoza.
    Trapped here in the U.S. at least for 5 more years.
    You mentioned how easily it is to walk the city. It also has very good public transportation.
    It is not the city of my youth, small unsophisticated ,agricultural .It has transformed into a vital commerce center for the region.
    As for the food, well i am going to disagree. Step off the main drag and you will find great local fare at reasonable prices. Bar hopping downtown in and about el tubo is the best in the world.
    And everone walks and walks the city center, we might have to tram or bus it to get there but boom it’s on.
    En fin, it is not, nor does it aspire to be Madrid or Barfalona. It is Zaragoza full of history and culture ( vist during ‘El Pilar’ ).
    Yep no bias here

  9. Born in Zaragoza, although I’m from a tiny village close by. I agree with Daniel.

    Zaragoza is a city full of history. I guess it’s not for everyone. Some tourists just want “to cross places” out of their maps, without really knowing where they are. IG tourism. Lots of selfies and hashtag.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it’s not your case.

    It’s a shame you didn’t walk a few steps to your right when El Pilar, to another Cathedral: La Seo, which has a gorgeous wall with both Arab and roman architecture:
    https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g187448-d244024-i210806910-La_Seo_del_Salvador-Zaragoza_Province_of_Zaragoza_Aragon.html

    Also, I think if you go on holidays to Zaragoza, you should allow time to visit the surroundings (Monasterio de Piedra, Moncayo, “La insula barataria” which is in The Quijote)

    I live in UK, but if you ever plan to go back, I’ll be happy to join you and show you around. 🙂

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