What’s the first city that comes to mind when you hear the word Spain?
I’ll bet $100 that you thought of either Barcelona or Madrid 😉
The majority of the time when people plan a trip to Spain, they visit one of the country’s largest cities. Few people think of the Northern region of Castile and León (or perhaps even know it exists!).
After spending a few days exploring and falling in love with the area (and the wine, castles and landscapes…), I want to share with you why your next trip to Spain should include Castile and León.
These are the four towns and cities in Castile and León that I recommend you visit for a true Spanish experience:
- See the aqueduct: The aqueduct is the main symbol of Segovia and is a must-see. It’s one of the best-preserved Roman aqueducts and is an absolutely breath-taking structure. The best place to see the aqueduct in all of its glory is in Plaza Azoguejo.
- Visit the Catedral de Segovia: The Roman Catholic Segovia Cathedral is located right in Segovia’s central square.
- Admire the Alcázar of Segovia: The Alcázar of Segovia is a castle and a World Heritage Site. Admire the grandiosity of the Alcázar from the outside and then walk inside, where the beautiful design continues. I recommend visiting the castle fairly early to avoid large groups of tourists and to get the best photos!
- Wander the streets: Simply wander! Segovia’s streets are a perfect representation of European charm and boast a huge variety of quaint shops, cafes and restaurants.
- Mesón Candido: Located in Plaza Azoguejo next to the Aqueduct is Mesón Candido, a charming restaurant known to serve some of Segovia’s best cuisine. Like everything in Segovia, this place has a lot of history and has been passed down through generations of the Cándido family since 1905. While dining here, you must order the suckling pig. I’ve never tasted anything like it – the skin is crisp and sweet, while the meat is tender and delicious. (sorry, vegetarian readers!)
- Hotel Eurostars Convento Capuchinos: A 5-star hotel located in Plaza Capuchinos, Hotel Eurostars boasts 62 luxury rooms, a spa with hammam, sauna, pool and relaxation area. The hotel was converted from a church and convent – the exterior charm remains, but the interior has been transformed.
- Hotel Eurostars Plaza Acueducto: Hotel Eurostars Plaza Acueducto is a luxury hotel located right in Plaza Azoguejo and offers spectacular views of the Aqueduct and main square.
- Hotel Palacio de San Facundo: A more budget, but still nice, option in Segovia is Hotel Palacio de San Facundo.
- Visit castles: Cuéllar has some absolutely spectacular castles. Visit Cuéllar Castle and Peñafiel Castle to finally have your princess (or prince!) moment. 🙂
- Go wine-tasting at Emina Ribera del Duero Winery: The Emina winery has been owned and operated by a Spanish family for generations and is a fantastic place to experience the fine wines of the Castile and León region. During your visit, carve out a few hours to tour the vineyard, taste Emina’s wines and visit the wine museum. It’s a wonderful place to learn about the process of making wine and about the history of the winery & region. End your day at Emina with a visit to the gift shop. Emina makes a variety of products aside from wine, including non-alcoholic wine, spirits, olive oils and even bath products.
- Visit the Colegio de San Gregorio: A theology school for Dominican monks, the Colegio de San Gregorio was built in the 1500’s. Even if the history inside the building doesn’t interest you, be sure to check out the exterior facade and snap a photo or two 🙂
dress: Noel Asmar Collections
- Hang out in Plaza Mayor: While the majority of European cities have beautiful main squares, few are as old as Valladolid’s that dates back to the 1300’s. There are a handful of outdoor cafes and restaurants that are perfect for relaxing with a coffee or rosé.
- Take a stroll through Campo Grande: Campo Grande is Valladolid’s largest public park and is a perfect place to get a mid-day break from the Spanish heat and bustle of the city. The park has gorgeous sculptures, fountains and a lake with swans, so there is plenty to see here.
- Los Zagales de la Abadía: Located centrally in Valladolid, Los Zagales de la Abadía is widely known to be one the best tapas restaurants in the world. And it shows… I would travel to Valladolid again for the sole purpose of dining at Los Zagales again. The food and wine pairings are creative and delicious.
- Castilla Termal Monasterio de Valbuena: Castilla Termal Monasterio de Valbuena is a luxurious hotel located just minutes from the aforementioned Emina Winery. It has an incredible restaurant, spectacular 5-star service and a beautiful spa with pools & a sauna.
- Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine: A definite splurge, Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine was voted the #1 hotel in Spain and the #8 hotel in Europe by TripAdvisor. This might have a little something to do with the 10,000 sq. ft. spa with a Spa Sommelier program, one-Michelin-star restaurant and the hotel’s Relais & Chateaux membership.
- Visit the New Cathedral of Salamanca: The New Cathedral of Salamanca is hands down one of the most beautiful cathedrals I’ve seen yet. Wander through the Cathedral to admire the beauty of the architecture and sculptures. After, be sure to climb the towers of the cathedral to get unique views from terraces and watchtowers, see the Cantabrian Mountains and admire the cathedral’s architecture from up close.
- Wander the streets: The best way to see what Salamanca has to offer is by simply wandering throughout the city.
dress: Santa Marguerite
- Hang out in the Plaza Mayor: The Plaza Mayor is Salamanca’s main square. It is absolutely beautiful both during the day and at night. Stop by to take photos of the gorgeous architecture and statues, or spend a couple of hours at one of the plaza’s outdoor restaurants. There is nothing better than sipping a cold beer in the square on a hot day, people watching and talking with friends.
- Don Mauro: Perfectly located in La Plaza Mayor, Don Mauro is one of Salamanca’s top dining spots.
- El Pecado: A fine dining restaurant that offers innovative dishes, like cream of sweet potato soup with truffle oil. Yummmm.
- Valor: The perfect stop in the morning, Valor serves a delicious continental breakfast. They also make some of the best churros in the city and specialty hot chocolates (read: flavored with orange, cinnamon or black pepper…).
- Hotel Hospes Palacio de San Esteban: This luxurious hotel is centrally located in Salamanca, just a five-minute walk from the Plaza Mayor and the Cathedral.
- Hotel Rector Salamanca: A beautiful hotel that provides the perfect retreat in a bustling Salamanca.
The best way to travel between these regions is by rental car or by train. The best airport to fly into is Madrid Barajas International.
Here is a map to show exactly where Segovia, Valladolid, Cuellar and Salamanca are located in the Castile and Leon region:
Castile and León awaits!
(Disclaimer: This post was written in collaboration with Visit Spain and Castilla y León es Vida. As always, all opinions are my own.)
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