Spain is one of the world’s top travel destinations. The country usually ranks amongst the top 3 or 4 countries that receive more visitors in the world. A short flight from all European cities or a short ride from neighboring France, Spain´s large coastline is its main attraction for most Europeans that aim for a few days of guaranteed good weather in a resort.
The country is relatively cheap compared to most European countries, and it offers a fantastic network of seaside resorts. All this is great, but most visitors neglect Spain´s true top attractions like Segovia, Merida, Caceres or so many of the Unesco heritage sites the country offers.
In this article, we will cover Segovia. Located in the Castilla Leon region, at 30 minutes by high-speed train to Madrid, or 1-hour drive via the A1 motorway, Segovia is one of Spain´s top attractions. You may have however never heard of this small city!
Spain has not been very good at marketing its amazing sites and whilst most people can cite a few Italian small or mid-sized towns they would love to visit in Italy, it is very unlikely the same will happen with Spain´s hidden gems.a
Let´s cover some interesting facts about Segovia: what you will find in the city, how much time you should spend here, what should you eat and drink, and how should you plan your trip from Madrid.
What makes Segovia such a special place
As we have already mentioned, Segovia is one of Spain´s Unesco heritage sites. Segovia is Unesco´s listing 311. The award was granted to the old city of Segovia, with a special mention to its Roman aqueduct. Unesco mentions that Segovia is a place where European culture can be enjoyed in a complete array of historical moments and in different shapes: religious, military, and also civil buildings.
Segovia was early protected by Unesco and this has contributed to the preservation of its cultural and architectural masterpieces. Let´s cover the most important ones following chronological order:
1. The Roman aqueduct
The Segovia aqueduct is one of the best-preserved aqueducts in the world. It dates back to 50 BC and it has been remarkably well preserved (as a matter of fact it was used till the mid-XXth century to bring water to the old city! A few pieces of data will illustrate the magnitude of this fascinating monument: almost one kilometer long, it gets as high as 29 meters and it uses 128 enormous pillars.
There are other aqueducts in Spain (Tarragona, Zaragoza, Merida, Seville, Toledo, or Calahorra) and despite all of them contributing to illustrate the importance of Hispania in the Roman Empire, none is as well preserved as the aqueduct of Segovia. Only the aqueduct justifies for sure a trip to Segovia. But there is so much more!
2. The Alcazar
An Alcazar is a fortress or castle. The word alcazar comes from the Arabs and it can be found throughout Spain, especially in the south. It is located at the perfect spot in Segovia and this contributes to its beauty. Its construction dates back to the XI century and it has witnessed many important moments in Spain´s history. The views of Segovia from the Alcazar´s main tower are simply fantastic. Best if enjoyed in the evening! A super romantic venue
3. The Gothic Cathedral
This imposing religious monument is the latest Gothic cathedral built in Europe. Its tower is one of the highest in Spain. The cathedral is located next to Segovia´s main square, a great place to enjoy a coffee or a drink.
These are the top 3 highlights, but there is so much more to enjoy.
The 4th main reason why you should enjoy Segovia is that simply walking from the aqueduct to the Alcazar will provide you with an amazing history lesson.
Different architectural styles can be enjoyed, and different districts illustrate the social contrasts that existed in medieval cities: the Jewish quarter with its narrow streets is very different from the “barrio de Los Caballeros” or Knights district, which offers fabulous palaces and manors. Any visitor to the city is amazed also by the decoration of most houses in the old town: most historical buildings boast decorated walls with beautiful shapes.
Segovia is one of the top food destinations in Spain. Thousands of “madrilenos” pay a visit to this city every weekend to enjoy its top local dishes: The 3 top things you should try (if your stomach has enough space) are 1) Judiones de la Granja, 2) Roasted suckling pig and 3) Ponche Segoviano pudding
How much time should you spend in Segovia?
We believe one or two days are enough. With 2 hours you can get a good glimpse of the city, but you would need half a day to enjoy it at its best. There are many good romantic hotels in Segovia, though most people decide to make Segovia a day trip or excursion from Madrid.
It possible, we would recommend avoiding Sundays, the day when most locals decide to visit Segovia to enjoy a Sunday roast. Cochinillo (suckling pig) is the town´s most famous dish and it has a strong reputation all over Spain. Unless you are a vegetarian, you should try this local delicious dish.
Ways to enjoy a day trip to Segovia from Madrid
If you have your own car or plan to rent a car, we would recommend a couple of stops on your way to Segovia: El Escorial, another Unesco site and the monastery where Spanish Kings are buried, and La Granja de San Ildefonso, a smaller version of Versailles with amazing gardens and fountains.
It takes one hour to get to Segovia from Madrid using the motorway (A1) If you prefer more scenic roads, take the M-601 to enjoy the mountains near Madrid. This road takes much longer but it is beautiful. Not advisable though for anyone that gets sick easily on the road.
Another popular option is to enjoy one of the daily tours to Segovia like the ones organized by winetourismspain.com that depart daily from Madrid. There are many sorts of tours available: from coach tours for large groups to private tours to enjoy a more genuine experience. Prices also vary a lot as you could imagine, with some tours available from around 50€ (we would not trust the food served on these tours!) to options that get as high as 10 times more expensive.
The last way to enjoy Segovia is using the train. The high-speed train departs several times daily from Madrid Chamartin station. It takes only 30 minutes and despite it stops somewhere outside the city, it is a very comfortable way to enjoy Segovia. Get to the station in Madrid with plenty of time! Information panels are rather poor (to say the least)
We trust this article has brought some inspiration and that you decide to pay a visit to Segovia if you visit Spain. We are sure you will not regret it. More information on Segovia can be found at Spain.info or makespain.com, Spain´s best travel sites.