A week in Castile and Leon
Castile and Leon is the largest autonomous community in Spain, making it the perfect choice for car tours. Here, you can find beautiful cities which are steeped in history and with extraordinary monuments such as the Aqueduct of Segovia or Burgos Cathedral. This selection of destinations will give you the inspiration you are searching for to spend a week enjoying this part of Spain.
Day 1: province of Ávila - From Arenas de San Pedro to Ávila
The journey begins in the south of Ávila province, in Arenas de San Pedro. In this town, you can find the Águila Cave. It is perfectly conserved and stretches for around one kilometre, reaching a depth of up to 50 metres. You can marvel at the karst topography of stalactites and stalagmites in a varying range of colours and sizes. Afterwards, you can venture into the city of Ávila, which takes approximately 90 minutes by car. There you can take in the complete and monumental medieval wall, which has a total diameter of 2,516 metres. The old city of Ávila, located inside the walls, is listed as a World Heritage Site. Step back in time on a trip through its streets.
Day 2: province of Segovia – From Segovia to Pedraza passing through La Granja de San Ildefonso
The second day of the journey kicks off in the World Heritage City of Segovia. A highlight here is the Aqueduct, a masterpiece of Roman engineering built to carry water over 16 kilometres. Some of the other must-visit places in Segovia include the fortress and the cathedral. La Granja de San Ildefonso is located 10 kilometres from the city. It is a municipal monumental of outstanding beauty and where you will able to visit the royal palace and its spectacular Versailles-style gardens. On the return trip you will come to Pedraza, a medieval village that has been declared a monumental site. Enter through the ancient walls and be amazed how well conserved the place is. You will feast your eyes on the old prison, stately homes, palaces and the Plaza Mayor square from the moment you arrive. It’s no wonder that this village belongs to the association of “The most beautiful villages in Spain”.
Day 3: province of Burgos – From Burgos to the Atapuerca Mountains
The starting point for the third day of the car tour is the city of Burgos. Take a stroll through the streets and soak up everything it has to offer you: churches brimming with art, palaces, etc. Its Gothic Cathedral is the only one in Spain to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List on its own. To end the day surrounded by history, head to the the Archaeological Site of Atapuerca, also listed as a World Heritage Site. In 1992, the Sima de los Huesos (Pit of Bones) remains were found there (pre-Neanderthal and descendants of the oldest Europeans found so far), and human remains over 900,000 years old that defined a new species: the Homo antecessor. Remains of other hominid species were also discovered there, such as Homo sapiens. At the Museum of Human Evolution, in the city of Burgos, you can see over 200 original human fossil finds from the Archaeological Site of Atapuerca.
Day 4: province of Leon – From Leon to Astorga
The fourth day of the journey starts in Leon. You will love its Gothic Cathedral with French influences. La Casa Botines, one of the few buildings created by Gaudí outside of Barcelona, is a must-visit. Between visits, you could relax and sample some of the excellent Spanish wines you can find in this area and some delicious tapas in the Húmedo district, very close to the cathedral.Astorga is one of the most visited places in the province of Leon. In fact, the Camino de Santiago passes through here. The Gaudí Palace is one of its most famous monuments. Lose yourself in the streets and soak up the atmosphere of this town with just over 10,000 inhabitants. You'll love it.
Day 5: province of Zamora – From Puebla de Sanabria to Zamora
Puebla de Sanabria forms part of “The most beautiful villages in Spain”. Its medieval old town is exceptionally well-preserved, which gives it an extra special charm. The entire town, as well its wonderful monuments, like the Condes de Benavente Castle, will make you want to linger there.The fifth day of the route will also take you to the lovely city of Zamora. Some of the highlights include the recently restored castle, the stone bridge over the Duero river, the church of Santiago del Burgo (late 12th century) and the Plaza Mayor square. Sample some of its culinary specialities, such as its cheeses or the bacalao a la tranca, a cod dish with potatoes, garlic and paprika.
Day 6: province of Valladolid – From Peñafiel to Valladolid
The journey continues in Peñafiel, a small town steeped in history. It has been declared a historic-artistic site thanks to the Churches of Santa María and San Miguel de Reoyo, its convents and hermitages.What’s more, it forms one of the main axes of the Ribera del Duero Wine Route, making it the ideal stopping off place to sample this designation of origin, one of the most famous in Spain.Now in Valladolid, you will find yourself surrounded by photo worthy places. Visit the Pasaje Gutiérrez (a 19th century shopping arcade), stroll around the Plaza Mayor square or the Plaza del Viejo Coso (an ancient bullring) and take in the stunning cathedral, palace, churches and façades.
Day 7: province of Salamanca – From Salamanca to La Alberca
The last day of the journey begins in Salamanca, a city with an old quarter brimming with architectural marvels, like the super famous Plaza Mayor, built between 1729 and 1756; the university; Salamanca Cathedral, comprising the New Cathedral (Catedral Nueva) and the Old Cathedral (Catedral Vieja, which was supposed to be knocked down when the new one was built, but never was) or San Esteban Convent, to name but a few of the city’s iconic buildings. There are so many wonderful things to see in Salamanca, that you are bound to start planning a return visit to this World Heritage City. To end the journey, La Alberca, a village bursting with charm and history. It was declared a historic-artistic site in 1940, and thanks to the good conservation of its architecture, you can enjoy the pretty nooks and crannies, cobbled streets and special ambience that you will never forget.
As you can imagine, one week in Castile and Leon is not long enough to see and do everything it has to offer. Don’t forget that the provinces of Soria, with its rich artistic heritage, and Palencia, with the greatest concentration of Romanesque buildings in Europe, are a sure bet for your next road trip through Spain. Come to Castile and Leon and spend a few unforgettable days getting to know a region full of life and beauty.