Just passing through, with only a day to explore the Aragonese capital? Follow our express itinerary around the city’s unmissable spots.
08:30 Any visit to Zaragoza has to start in Plaza del Pilar – this square is the epicentre of tourism in the city and home to some of its main sights. But before you do anything, make sure you fill up on a decent breakfast somewhere like Café Botánico (C/ Santiago 3), a welcoming café offering a varied and delicious selection of homemade cakes and “pulgas” (mini sandwiches).
09:30 The Basílica del Pilar (Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar) is the city’s most iconic landmark whose history has made it one of the world’s most important shrines to the Virgin Mary. As well as its spectacular façade, and its eleven domes and four towers (a lift takes visitors up one of them to enjoy the views), it is worth going inside to see the Holy Chapel designed by Ventura Rodríguez, the Main Altarpiece by Damián Forment and the paintings by Goya on one of the domes.
Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar
10:30 On the other side of the square is the Cathedral of San Salvador, known by locals as La Seo. The origins of this church date back to Medieval times (it was built on the site of the former mosque) and traces of Romanesque, Mudéjar, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical architectural styles are still visible. One of its most beautiful features is the Mudéjar wall of the Parroquieta, on one of the sides of the cathedral. Inside the cathedral, visitors can see the striking Main Altarpiece, while the Tapestry Museum, housing one of Europe’s best collections, is also well worth a visit.
11:30 As soon as you leave La Seo, you’ll see the eye-catching cube-shaped building that is the entrance to the Caesaraugusta Forum Museum. This space is part of Zaragoza’s Roman Route, with another of its landmarks, the Caesaraugusta Theatre, located just a ten-minute walk away. These two tourist attractions are essential for gaining an insight into what the city was like at the time of its founding by the Emperor Augustus Caesar.
12:30 A short stroll to Calle Espoz y Mina will take you to the Goya Museum. Francisco de Goya was Aragon’s most famous artist, and the museum displays a large number of his works. As well as its remarkable selection of paintings, it also has an outstanding complete collection of his prints.
Statue of Goya
14:00 Time for a break to rest your legs and enjoy the delicious local gastronomy. A great place for lunch is Restaurante Montal (Plaza San Felipe), a restaurant which also has a shop selling gourmet products and a tasting area (La Despensa). The kitchen at Montal specialises in cooking with fresh, seasonal market produce, all served in the superb setting of an old 15th-century Renaissance palace.
16:00 After a satisfying lunch, you can move on to explore the Aljafería Palace. Dating back to the time of Saraqusta (Muslim Zaragoza), the origins of this building lie between the late-9th and mid-10th centuries, although over the years it has undergone numerous modifications. Inside, it houses a small Alhambra, containing fascinating remnants of the Islamic era, as well as halls from the Christian period decorated in Mudéjar and Renaissance styles.
The Aljafería Palace
18:00 There’s still time to visit another museum, and two of the city’s most interesting ones are close to the Aljafería. The first of them is the IAACC Pablo Serrano. As well as its collection of sculptures by the Aragonese artist and other creatives, the museum hosts a programme of temporary exhibitions. Just ten minutes from there is Caixaforum Zaragoza, one of the city’s most avant-garde buildings. This space holds renowned temporary exhibitions and a wide range of cultural events, including conferences and concerts.
The Terrace at IAACC
20:00 You can’t leave the city without trying some of its delicious tapas and pinchos, and the best place to do this is in the famous quarter known as El Tubo. This picturesque area of the historic old town is full of tapas bars that are sure to satisfy even the most demanding of palates, such as Doña Casta, El Meli del Tubo and Bodegas Almau.