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.)
Save this post:
Northern Spain is now on our list! Thanks for the summary. The photos are beautiful and sooo enjoyable to look at.
Oh my there are sooo many beautiful places to explore in Northern spain ! Salamanca has been on my list for years but your pictures are tempting me to make the journey there.
What an amazing trip! Spain is such a beautiful country isn’t it? and the food!! I spent a whole summer in Madrid a few years ago and went to Segovia for a day trip, it was lovely.
So I fell In love with Spain in 2005 when I explored everything from Barcelona and below. And refell in love in 2011 but I never explored the northern region and now inn dyiiiiing to go! Your photos are so beautiful and I just want to be there right now! Currently seeing if I can fit this into my fall Europe trip.?
What beautiful pictures! The aqueduct and the pictures of Salamanca are making me want to book a trip straightaway.
You’re right! Madrid and Barcelona are definitely the first to come to mind. Thanks for sharing about the Castile and Leon regions. The trip looked incredible. xx Morgan
this was such a great read christina. I think we should move to spain asap! haha
That cathedral is stunning! Reminds me of the Duomo in Milan. Your photography is gorgeous and really made me want to visit. I’d much rather go to lesser known places in Spain – Barcelona has been done to death 🙂
Lovely photos & wonderful post. You managed to capture some of the vibrancy of the beautiful city of Salamanca. This city is also one of the stops on the Spanish route of the Camino Santiago de Compostela, right ?
Wow this area of Spain sounds amazing! I had no idea that this region had so many things to do and see. I’ve been dying to visit Spain and will definitely make sure the northern region is in my itinerary!
Thanks, great article.
I love how comprehensive this guide is. The photos look lovely and your editing process uses gorgeous colors! I have yet to visit Spain, but you’ve done a good job convincing me I gotta go asap ?
I did not think of Barcelona or Madrid.. Where do I collect my $100? 😛 I really love your pics and how you edit them. I haven’t been to Spain yet but reaaaally need to go so this is helpful. Thanks for being so thorough! Going to pin it for when I finally make it there.
Thanks for sharing such beautiful and historic places that most people have never heard of. That suckling pig dish looks absolutely delicious! I bet the wine that paired with it just made your mouth water. – Lee
Such a beautiful post Christina! Absolutely adore your photos and you make me wanna fly over to Spain right now. Love your suggestions and I’m adding them to my list for when I do visit. Thanks for sharing!
Say what?! Those castles are so incredibly beautiful and seems right out of a fairytale. Red wine, delicious food and castles seem like a definite good enough reason to visit this amazing area of Spain!
Thanks for all of this information. I am heading to Spain in a few days so this was very useful to me. Feel more prepared now! Beautiful pictures too
Oh wow! What a beautiful area of Spain. You’re right I didn’t even think about this magical
Place when you said Spain. I love how intricate the castle and churches are. Thanks for sharing such stunning photos.
These are awesome places. In Segovia, I like your restaurant recommendation. I have eaten a suckling pig. I am eager to taste the Spanish way of cooking it. Next one Valladolid, I would love to join a wine tasting and tour in Emina winery. In Salamanca, I would love to try the restaurants that you mentioned especially Valor because breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Overall, you have covered great things to do and see in these towns. I would like to visit these places and recommend this itinerary to my friends.
Good thing I didn’t bet with you, because I would’ve lost $100! Definitely going to add Castile and Leon to my list when I visit Spain. I love the architecture of these buildings, you captured it so beautifully!
You completely sold Segovia to me. I am in love with every photo as I continue to scroll down your post. The historic monument and the churches – they are all beautiful. The food looks divine too!
I cannot agree more that we do tend to visit the bigger cities when visiting first time and it’s ought to be that way for me. One I have seen the main places, I can compare the quieter and slow places and enjoy them more. I love castles and wandering around cobblestoned streets in Europe. Whenever I am in Spain next I will go for Leon. Thanks for sharing such a detailed post.
Great post! It looks amazing I will need to check out this part of Spain one day 🙂
Love all the pictures, beautiful destination!
Thanks for this post! Any suggestions for places near Barcelona?