A bird's eye view of Zaragoza, Spain, and the turrets of Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar
Photo by Gregorio Puga Bailón  –  Link

Zaragoza

Spain

Lesser known and less frequently visited than some of its neighbouring cities, Zaragoza is no less vibrant and full of life. In our opinion, it's seriously underrated - but seeing as this means it doesn't tend to attract throngs of tourists, we're not complaining.

Zaragoza, which is midway between Madrid and Barcelona, straddles the scenic Ebro River, the iconic Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar creating a dramatic reflection on the water. With its distinctive architecture, wide selection of cultural offerings and top-notch tapas restaurants, Zaragoza most certainly deserves to be added to your Spain travel bucket list.

What to see

As the birthplace of Spanish artist Francisco Goya, 18th-century art must be on your to-do list when you visit Zaragoza. Make sure to hit up the Goya Museum - Ibercaja Collection, which houses over 500 pieces of art, including 15 of Goya's most prominent works. The building alone warrants a visit, with a beautiful courtyard of ringed columns and decoration celebrating the building's 16th-century beginnings.

The Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar is another of the city's defining landmarks. This Baroque cathedral was built to commemorate a visit of the Virgin Mary to Zaragoza in AD 40, and stands tall on the banks of the Ebro river. Explore its impressive interior, and head up the northwestern tower for a spectacular view of the city.

Other sights to note are the Aljaferia palace, the Puente de Piedra (stone bridge), and the Jose Antonio Labordeta Park.

How to get there

You can fly direct to Zaragoza from locations all over Europe including Italy, Germany, the UK and Belgium. A €1.70 bus or €35-ish taxi will take you to the centre of town in about 20 minutes.

Alternatively, there is a high-speed train (AVE) between Zaragoza and destinations including Madrid and Barcelona, making it easy to reach the city if you fly in to a different airport or if you've started your trip elsewhere.

It's also easy to drive to the city from Madrid, Barcelona, and Bilbao if you are looking to rent a car and add Zaragoza to your road trip.