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Zaragoza, the capital city of the Spanish region of Aragón, is often overlooked as a tourist destination, yet it has much to offer the curious traveller. Here’s how to spend the perfect 48 hours in the city, from where to eat to what to see and do.
Head to the Casco Historico for breakfast at Café Botànico, a cute little place with a great array of cakes, pastries, coffees and fresh juices. From here, make your way west towards what is perhaps the highlight of the city – the Aljafería Palace. A magnificent Moorish palace, it’s festooned with intricate carvings and graceful archways. Built by Islamic rulers in the 11th century, it has undergone many changes over the years, and even the Catholic monarchs Fernando and Isabel left their stamp upon it. Today, the palace is home to Aragón’s regional parliament, and tours take place throughout the day.
Café Botànico, Calle Santiago 5, Zaragoza, Spain, +34 976 29 60 48
Aljafería Palace, Calle de los Diputados, Zaragoza, Spain, +34 976 28 96 83
For lunch, try Casa Pascualillo, known for its excellent tapas offerings, as well as main meals. Cosy and laid-back, you can sample everything here from grilled pork and ribs to squid in its own ink or baked cod with tomato. After lunch, visit the Aragonese Institute of Art and Contemporary Culture Pablo Serrano. A contemporary art museum, it showcases the work of Aragonese artist Pablo Serrano through a series of his sculptures and drawings. There are also works here by his wife Juana Francés and a collection of graphic art.
Casa Pascualillo, Calle Libertad, 5, Zaragoza, Spain, +34 976 39 72 03
IAACC Pablo Serrano, Paseo María Agustín 20, Zaragoza, Spain, +34 976 28 06 60
Book yourself in for dinner at Casa Lac, one of the oldest restaurants in the whole of Spain. Dating back to 1825, Casa Lac was named after a French family who came to settle in the city after the French Revolution. In its grand and elegant interior, dine on delicate dishes with an emphasis on fresh produce.
Casa Lac, Calle Mártires 12, Zaragoza, Spain, +34 976 39 61 96
Start the day with breakfast at the historic Gran Café de Zaragozano in the heart of the Old Town. An elegant place with old world charm and a stunning carved wooden ceiling, you’ll feel like it’s a breakfast for kings. One of the best things to order here are of course the chocolate con churros. From here, wander around the Old Town with its cute streets and grand plazas, before making your way to the splendid Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar. Many churches have stood on this same site, but the one that stands today dates back to 1681. When you’re done looking at this spectacular structure, head for the nearby Mercado Central. Having opened in 1903, it is made from reinforced iron and is one of the best examples of Modernista architecture in Aragón. Here you’ll be able to pick up a range of local produce to take back home with you, from cheeses and hams to honeys.
Gran Café Zaragozano, Calle del Coso 35, Zaragoza, Spain, +34 976 39 28 43
Stay in the Old Town and make your way for lunch at La Clandestina Café, a trendy and shabby chic spot with whitewashed brick walls and colourful murals. Dishes include eggs with truffles and ham on a bed of potato, marinated red tuna and beef carpaccio. When you’ve had your fill, head for the Museo Goya, housing one of the greatest collections of the celebrated Spanish artist Francisco de Goya. The permanent collection includes 14 paintings, a drawing and five of his great series, which show the chronology of the artist’s life.
Museo Goya, Calle Espoz y Mina 23, Zaragoza, Spain, +34 976 39 73 87
La Clandestina Café, Calle San Andrés, 9, Zaragoza, Spain, +34 876 28 11 65
Take the opportunity to taste typical Basque pintxos at Restaurante Méli Mélo. Here the pieces of bread are topped with so many ingredients that you may not be able to fit it all in your mouth at once. Think octopus, chargrilled pepper, breaded aubergine and cured ham.
Méli Mélo, Calle Mayor 45, Zaragoza, Spain, +34 976 29 46 95