A Day in Segovia & Ávila

During my revisit to Madrid, I decided to take a little day trip to Segovia and Ávila. Madrid to Segovia is a little over an hour, and Segovia to Avila is another hour bus ride. On a map, the three cities make a triangle, which makes for a very easy side trip from Madrid.

While I was couch surfing in Madrid, I met another traveler staying with my host, so we decided to pair up and go together. We were initially going to take the train, but it turns out the buses were pretty convenient and cheaper. From Madrid, we departed from Moncloa Bus & Metro Station. Once you arrive in Segovia, you can buy your next ticket at the bus station there to Ávila and back to Madrid in Avila. Tickets were pretty cheap from what I remember – no more than 30 € total.

Both cities are pretty small, and you can probably tour them within a couple hours. I would recommend spending 3-4 hours in Segovia and 2-3 in Ávila.

Segovia

After getting off the bus in Segovia, we immediately made our way to the ancient Roman Aqueduct. It is listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO, and by far one of the most impressive things I’ve seen. This alone was worth the visit to Segovia!

The ancient Roman aqueduct was once used to carry water.

The ancient Roman aqueduct was once used to carry water.

This massive structure is even more impressive in person. 

This massive structure is even more impressive in person. 

Other major landmarks include the Alcázar of Segovia and the Cathedral. The Alcazar is actually a fairytale medieval castle, and I was so excited to see in person after seeing images on Google. Unfortunately, they were restoring it at the time because part of it was covered in scaffolding – this seems to happens to me a lot (i.e: Trevi fountain in Rome, Neptune statue in Bologna…). While it was still pretty, it definitely took away some of the magic.

A stunning fairytale castle (minus the green scaffolding)

A stunning fairytale castle (minus the green scaffolding)

Catedral de Segovia

Catedral de Segovia

Cathedral from the distance

Cathedral from the distance

The best part of having a travel buddy is that you never know what kind of adventures you’ll get in together. I’m not sure where we wandered off to, but we managed to climb up on top of some hill and found ourselves a really amazing view that overlooks the city.

Overlooking the city of Segovia from the outskirts.

Overlooking the city of Segovia from the outskirts.

Avila

After we stopped for a quick lunch, we boarded our bus to Ávila. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, it started to rain. It didn’t seem like the rain was going to let up, so we decided to tough it out and made our way to the first site.

Ávila is famous for it’s medieval walls (Muralla de Ávila), built around the perimeter of the town like a fortress. Also a world heritage site, you can actually walk along top of it. And we just so happened to be there on a Tuesday, which is when entrance is free (between 2 - 6 pm)!

Take the stairs to the top of the wall where you can walk along it on the pathway.

Take the stairs to the top of the wall where you can walk along it on the pathway.

The wall encompasses the whole town and is 2.5 km long.

The wall encompasses the whole town and is 2.5 km long.

What started out as light rain turned into a sudden downpour. On a nice, sunny day, we would’ve loved to walk the length of the wall, but after a few minutes, we were desperate to get out of the rain. On our way to find shelter, we stopped by a few other sites.

I love old cities like these where the architecture is from another time period. You can see so much beauty and history just from walking around. Ávila, for example, is best known for their Romanesque and Gothic architecture.

Basilica de San Vicente is an excellent example of Romanesque architecture

Basilica de San Vicente is an excellent example of Romanesque architecture

Catedral de Ávila has a combination of both Romanesque and Gothic characteristics

Catedral de Ávila has a combination of both Romanesque and Gothic characteristics

Facade of the cathedral

Facade of the cathedral

Since neither of us bought an umbrella or warm enough clothes, we tucked ourselves away in a cafe by Plaza de Santa Teresa. Nothing like hot chocolate and Wi-Fi to make our day a little better!

Santa Teresa Plaza facing Parroquia de San Pedro Apóstol

Santa Teresa Plaza facing Parroquia de San Pedro Apóstol

While you’re in Ávila, don’t forget to try their specialty: Yemas de Santa Teresa. Yemas means yolk, which is what these little pastries look like – small orange bite size pastries dusted in confectionary sugar. I’m not sure how to describe the taste other than sweet, and it kind of just dissolves in your mouth. There’s a little pastry shop also in Plaza de Santa Teresa called Pastelería Iselma – El Grande where we stocked up on all kinds of goodies.

If you’re ever in Madrid and have extra time, these two cities should definitely be on your itinerary. Each has their own old Spanish charm that you don’t necessary get to see in Madrid, or even in Barcelona. I just hope you have better weather when you go!

*Originally published on Violets for Vivien