Zaragoza is known for its well-preserved ruins, stunning architecture, and delicious regional cuisine. It might not be the first destination in Spain that comes to mind when you think of the European country, but once you visit, Zaragoza is a city you’ll never forget.
If you’re still not convinced if you should make space in your calendar and add Zaragoza, Spain to your upcoming travel plans, we have five places to see in the city that will have you booking a flight in no time.
Despite flying under the radar, Zaragoza is the fifth biggest city in Spain. With an estimated 2023 population of 674,317, Zaragoza is the rightful capital of Aragon, an autonomous community in the northeast of Spain.
The origin story of Zaragoza’s name is an interesting tidbit. As the first century BC drew to a close, the Romans conquered the Celtiberian town of Salduba. They made it a colony under Emperor Augustus and dubbed it Caesaraugusta (which led to the creation of its Arabic name Saraqusṭah, and its present Spanish name).
In downtown Zaragoza, close to the small but perfectly formed Mercado Central de Zaragoza, you will find a statue of Augustus. It’s off Avenida de César Augusto, after all!
Getting to Zaragoza
The city’s closest airport, Aeropuerto de Zaragoza, is 9.9 miles west of central Zaragoza, 170 miles west of Barcelona, and 163 miles northeast of Madrid. Fly there on domestic flights with Air Europa, Binter Canarias, Iberia Regional, Ryanair, Volotea, and Vueling. Ryanair, Volotea, Vueling, and Wizz Air offer international services. You can take a 45-minute 2 euro bus to the city, or a taxi ride will take around 20 minutes and cost roughly 25 euros.
The eye-catching Delicias houses the city’s train station. It’s part of the high-speed railway line connecting Zaragoza with Barcelona, Madrid, and the French border. There are cheaper but slower Greyhound-style connections with Bilbao, Casablanca, and Toulouse from the bus station next door.
1. Bar El Champi
The fearsome cierzo wind blows cold and dry throughout Zaragoza. The locals’ response is often to wrap up and then head out to eat and drink to their hearts’ content. El Tubo in the central San Gil Neighborhood has many tapas options. Bar El Champi’s signature and only tapa is a slice of bread topped with three large, grilled mushrooms and a shrimp. The tapa swims in garlicky olive oil, making this a delectable option you can’t miss.
2. Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar
All roads, including the Ruta Mariana, seem to lead to one of the best places to see in Zaragoza. We recommend paying the 9 euros for the cultural visit at this popular tourist spot, which includes access to the panoramic elevator at Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar along with the other nearby cathedral and two museums. This cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, who Pope John Paul II described as “the mother of the Hispanic people.” The cathedral was built on the site the virgin appeared to the Apostle Santiago, who was preaching on the banks of the River Ebro behind it.
3. Catedral del Salvador de Zaragoza
Included in the price of the cultural visit ticket is entry to the Cathedral of the Savior of Zaragoza. The price drops to 7 euros if you are 12 to 18 years old or a university student up to the age of 25. Staff will warn you not to take interior photos here, but external shots are just fine. UNESCO considers it a World Heritage Site because of its beautifully-preserved Mudejar architecture. This is also known as El Seo de Zaragoza. To best appreciate this cathedral, take your time to study the ornate detail of the 16 chapels inside.
4. Museo de los Faroles y Rosario de Cristal
Continue the bargain cultural visit at this museum within a church in Plaza de San Pedro Nolasco. It’s a five-minute walk from El Seo. The works of art here are big, bold, and beautiful. You’ll have to see these crystal fancies to believe them!
5. Museo Goya
Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes is considered the most significant Spanish painter of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He was born on March 30, 1746, in Fuendetodos, an Aragonese town 27 miles to the southeast of Zaragoza. It was in the capital of Aragon, however, that he began his artistic studies under the tutelage of José Luzán y Martínez, a local artist who had trained in Naples. There is a statue of Goya between the two cathedrals, but you can learn more about the artist at the Museo Goya. A general 6 euro fee gets you entrance to fourteen framed religious masterpieces alongside a gallery of Goya etchings and temporary exhibitions, plus rooms dedicated to his contemporaries and influences.
The 5 Places to See in Zaragoza, Spain Rewind
- Enjoy tapas at Bar El Champi
- Experience panoramic city views atop Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar
- Tour Catedral del Salvador de Zaragoza with reverence
- Marvel at the crafted crystals at the Museo de los Faroles
- Receive an art masterclass from a grandmaster at Museo Goya
Ready to Keep Exploring?
If you’re looking for another destination steeped in history, don’t miss the Top 11 Things To Do in Berlin by Emma Schultz.