How to spend five days in the region of Aragon, Spain

From tasty local cuisine to Moorish architecture, here’s how to spend five fascinating days in the cities of Zaragoza, Huesca and Teruel.

The striking Palacio de la Aljafería — a fortified palace built in the 11th century — is one of Zaragoza's main highlights.

Photograph by Aragon Tourism Board
By Aragon Tourism Board
Published 3 Dec 2021, 15:13 GMT

Day one: Huesca

The hilly medieval town of Huesca is surrounded by lush green fields with the Pyrenees serving as its backdrop. Spend a couple of hours looking around the city and wind your way up to the gothic Huesca Cathedral, which sits on top of it all and was built on the remains of the Misleida Mosque between the 13th and 16th centuries. Make time for the 12th century Church and Cloister of San Pedro El Viejo — previously a Benedictine monastery and a National Monument situated in the Old Town where the first kings of the Aragon kingdom are buried. After a spot of exploring, discover what the province of Huesca is really all about — its spellbinding natural attractions. Before setting off further afield, don’t forget to grab some traditional glorias de Huesca (egg yolk doughnut-like pastries) or Trenza de Almudévar (braided pastry with a nutty and creamy filling) for the journey. La Confianza — believed to be the oldest operating grocery store in Spain — is perfect for picking up treats like coffee and chocolate. Just an hour’s drive to the northwest is the Pyrenees region and the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. One of the best ways of exploring this area is by hiking the Añisclo Canyon route through deep gorges, alongside cerulean blue rivers with shady forests on either side. Those passionate about hiking and geology shouldn't miss Ordesa Valley, a picture-perfect glacier valley that sits below Monte Perdido massif and is home to dramatic cliffs and waterfalls. In the evening, back in Huesca, treat yourself to the city's rich culinary offerings, including hearty traditional dishes such as pollo al chilindrón (chicken with peppers and tomatoes).

Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. At 11,007ft, Monte Perdido is ...

Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. At 11,007ft, Monte Perdido is the third highest peak in the Pyrenees and the highest limestone massif in Europe. 

Photograph by Aragon Tourism Board

Days two and three: Zaragoza

It’s time to head south to the capital of Aragon — the captivating city of Zaragoza. Straddling the River Ebro and dominated by the imposing towers of the Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, the city is the birthplace of one of Spain’s most celebrated artists — Francisco de Goya. Spend the morning in the Goya Museum or discovering the Cathedral of the Savior. For lunch, stay in the Old Town to try one of the city’s two most popular dishes — migas de Aragón (fried breadcrumbs with chorizo, bacon and garlic with fresh grapes and a fried egg) or ternasco (roasted lamb). The next day, head to the city’s main highlight, striking Aljafería Palace — a fortified palace built in the 11th century by the Moorish Kings of Saraqusta — which is currently the headquarters of the Aragonese Parliament. You can visit on a guided tour, which takes you through perfectly manicured courtyards, under ornately carved archways and golden Mudéjar ceilings, and into the more modern sections of the castle. In the afternoon, learn more about Zaragoza’s history at the Caesaraugusta Forum Museum, an archaeological museum, built around the remains of the old Roman Forum. When night falls, head into El Tubo, Zaragoza’s tapas quarter, to sample grilled mushrooms, longaniza sausage, croquetas and bacalao ajoarriero (salt cod fish with peppers, tomatoes and a dash of chilli).

Located in the historical center of Zaragoza, Calle Alfonso is one of the best places in ...

Located in the historical center of Zaragoza, Calle Alfonso is one of the best places in the city for discovering architecture and traditional gastronomy.

Photograph by AWL Images

Day four: Belchite and Monasterio De Piedra Natural Park

Travel south from Zaragoza to the abandoned ghost town of Belchite, which was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War in 1937. Today, it remains largely the same as when it was left — frozen in time. You can wander around the skeletal remnants of its church, houses and school or take a guided tour to learn more. From here, drive to Monasterio De Piedra Natural Park and spend your time touring the 13th-century monastery and its grounds before learning about the history of chocolate in the kitchens where the first sweet milk chocolate was invented. There’s also a wine museum and beautiful hotel, allowing you to spend the night in the monastery itself. Nearby are a handful of spa resorts where guests can enjoy the benefits of rich thermal water — including Balneario Alhama de Aragon and Balneario de Sicilia. If time permits, oenophiles should squeeze in the village of Cariñena into their itinerary — situated in between Belchite and Monasterio de Piedra Natural Park — home to its own variety of grape and a wine museum housed inside of a 1918 warehouse.

The abandoned ghost town of Belchite is situated around 28 miles southeast of Zaragoza.

The abandoned ghost town of Belchite is situated around 28 miles southeast of Zaragoza. 

Photograph by Getty Images
Cathedral of Santa María de Mediavilla in Teruel was built in 1171 and is an impressive ...

Cathedral of Santa María de Mediavilla in Teruel was built in 1171 and is an impressive example of Mudéjar architecture in Aragon. 

Photograph by Getty Images

Day five: Teruel

Head southwest for the two-hour drive to your last stop — the romantic city of Teruel, filled with Mudéjar art and medieval architecture. The Mudéjar architecture of the city — inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 — entwines mostly Islamic and Gothic styles and is considered one of the city's biggest cultural draws. In the morning, explore the historic centre to see the ornate Mudéjar towers of the Teruel Cathedral and the churches of San Martín, San Pedro, El Salvador and La Merced. Learn all about the tragic legend of the lovers Diego de Marcilla and Isabel de Segura, whose bodies lie entwined in the Mausoleum of the Lovers next to San Pedro Church. For lunch, try one of the region’s specialities: jamón de Teruel. Finish off with suspiros de amante (lovers’ sigh), small pastries made from cheese and egg. Truffle lovers will be pleased to know that Teruel is one of the best producers of black truffle in the world and should keep an eye out for the 'black gold' on menus across the city. Then, in the afternoon, visit nearby Dinópolis, one of the world’s largest dinosaur museums or head to Albarracín, once the capital of the Moorish kingdom. Perched high on a rock, its perfectly preserved medieval centre is well worth exploring, as is its 10th-century fortress and almost complete 11th-century city walls.

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