Some months ago, Guille and I went to Avila to spend the day sightseeing (as good travellers) around this small and medieval city.
Avila is located in the south of Castilla y León (a Spanish region), 120km to the north west of Madrid and it’s one of the highest points in Spain, 1130 metres high. Avila is a small city that makes you want to lose yourself through the streets, to see the city from the heights and to try the typical food from the region. We were surprised by its history and the amount of palaces, churches, basilicas, monasteries and squares there were.
It’s the perfect place if you want to go away from the capital for one day and if you want to breathe a bit of fresh air far from the crowd. Avila i’s one of the 15 Heritage of Humanity Spanish cities.
Today I’m going to show you the most touristic places in this city, other non-touristic places and some bar and restaurants that you’ll love. Moreover, I’m going to tell you some tips and recommendations in order you to visit Avila on your own.
HOW TO GET THERE
Avila is 120km far from Madrid and it’s so easy to reach the city by bus, by train or by car.
If you chose to travel by car, you’ll be there in one hour and a half (approximately).
If you travel by train, you have to take it at Chamartin Train Station (Madrid). The travel lasts about one and a half hour, depending on the train you take. The ticket price will be different if you buy it in advance and it’s around 8.95€ and 12.25€. You can check the timetable and the prices here.
But, it you prefer to go by bus you’ll have to go to “Estación Sur” in Madrid. The travel lasts a little bit less than the train and the price is 7.56€. You can check the timetable and the prices here.
Another option that I recommend is to go with a shared car, this means to share your car or anothers car (also the gas costs). You can do it with Blablacar or any similar website. We shared a car when we went to Avila and we paid 4€ each one.
TO KNOW: If you want to compare the different kind of transports you can check GO EURO.
WHAT TO SEE
The good news is that Ávila is a small city that means that you can visit it on foot. You won’t need a car or a bus to sightseeing. Moreover, I recommend you to walk around and get lost into the old city. There are beautiful and cosy places all around and you’ll discover them if you walk around.
The City Walls is the most touristic place in the city, and it’s the best preserved urban walled enclosure of the world. It is 2.516 metres length and it has 9 doors and 87 turrets.
I recommend you to go on the top of the Walls and to see Avila from another point of view. You can only walk along 1.700 metres and you can enter using one of the three accesses: The Tourist Office (next to the Cathedral), the one at the Puerta de Alcázar and the last one at the Puerta del Puente.
TO KNOW: From the Puerta de San Vicente you can see the remains of the Roman walls. The existing ones are medieval.
The ticket price to go upstairs is 5€ for adults and 3.5€ for children, students and groups. There’s a FREE entrance on TUESDAY from 14:00 to 16:00. For more information check here.
Ávila’s Cathedral is located on the left side, once you’ve cross the wall’s door next to the Tourist Office. It was built in honour to The Saviour (El Salvador) and it’s an amazing cathedral that will surprise you.
We did not go inside but there are many significant interest artworks, as the altar of Santa Catalina, the altar of San Segundo, el Coro and la Girola.
TO KNOW: There’s a beautiful view of the Cathedral from the top of the walls.
The price to go in is 5€ for adults, 3.5€ for children from 12 to 18 years old and students under 25 years old. You can check the timetable here.
Mercado Chico’s Square and the City hall
The City hall is located in the Mercado Chico, a small square that was the Roman forum years ago and nowadays it’s used as a market square. There’s a market every Friday morning.
Santa Teresa’s Church
Santa Teresa’s church was built where Santa Teresa’s house was located years ago. The church is situated behind Santa Teresa’s gate, inside the walls. In this square there is also the Justice Palace and the room of the relics and memories of Santa Teresa.
Once you’re inside the church you can see the chapel and a recreation of Santa Teresa’s room. The entrance is free.
Mercado Grande (or Santa Teresa’s Square)
In front of Puerta del Alcázar (one of the walls’ gates) there’s the Mercado Grande (Big Square), also known as Santa Teresa’s Square. This is the city’s nerve centre, where you can enjoy the shops and bars, and where you can buy the typical sweets from Ávila: las yemas de Santa Teresa, or el dulce de membrillo.
At the back of the square, there’s Saint Peter’s Church, a national monument since 1914.
Adolfo Suárez’s Square
When you cross the walls through Alcazar’s gate to the old town, you find Adolfo Suarez’s Square. There’s a statue of Adolfo Suarez. In this square you’ll see an impressive building: the Territorial Management of the Cadastre of Avila.
I think Ávila is the perfect place to get lost during a whole day and it has lots of things to offer. Apart from the places I’ve already showed you, there other interesting things to see, some of them not that touristic.
- Palacio de los Verdugos (Verdugos’ Palace)
- Basílica de San Vicente (Saint Vicent’s Basilica)
- El Mercado antiguo (The old Market)
- Real Monasterio de Santo Tomás (The monastery of Saint Thomas)
- Monasterio de la Encarnación
- Convento de San José (Saint Joseph’s Abbey).
- The four posts. It’s a view point from where you can see beautiful views of Ávila. It’s quite far from the centre.
RECOMMENDATION: If you’ve enough time, I recommend you to around the city walls (from the outside) at night. The views are worth it.
You can check here other places to visit.
WHERE TO EAT
Ávila is also famous because its gastronomy, so I think that it’s a great idea if I tell you some places to eat good typical food. If you’re going to Ávila you should eat in these places:
I recommend you to have breakfast in a coffee shop called Santa Teresa, in Santa Teresa’s Square. It’s also a shop and you can buy many different types of typical handmade sweets, as the turrón (9€ the slice), the yemas de Santa Teresa (5.99€ the box) or dulce de membrillo.
There’s also an eating area where you can have breakfast. It’s not one of the cheapest places to have breakfast but the food is very good and delicious.
TO KNOW: If you ask for the typical sweets, it’s possible that you can try some of them (FOR FREE).
There are many places with offers or menus to have lunch (remember, in Spain lunch is the main meal), but we decided to eat in Tres Siglos, next to the Old Market.
The food was great but we ordered one menu (two main courses and desert) for both of us and another extra dish. I think it’s a good idea because one menu for each one is too much (unless you eat a lot). This way you can save some money and you can still eat very well.
If you’re also having dinner in Ávila, I recommend you to go to San Segundo Street because it’s full of restaurants and bars.
We went to a bar called Bodeguita de San Segundo where we had dinner. It was a nice place and we ate very well. I recommend you to order something to drink (beer or wine) because in this area of Spain it’s typical to get free tapas with it.
Here you have a map with all the locations: