The fortified city of Ávila is just out of this world. Located in the heart of the Castille y Leon province, Ávila is known for its well-preserved medieval walls, which protect the city along with 80 towers and 9 gates, all of which remain largely intact. There’s plenty to do within the formidable city walls, as well as beyond – you can indulge in delicious tapas and wine, explore other architectural gems, or simply stroll through the quiet streets.
I’ve put together a short guide to help you make the most of your stay in Ávila, whether you’re visiting the city on a day trip or planning to spend a night there.
How to get there
If you’re travelling to Ávila from Madrid or Salamanca, you can get a bus or a train. I highly recommend booking your trip via GoEuro
. Avila’s train station and bus station are a 30-45 minute walk from the centre (the bus station being closer to the medieval town).
If you’re visiting Ávila on a day trip, try to get there in the morning. Ávila may be small, but if you’re planning to walk along the entire wall, have lunch and explore some of the other historic landmarks, then you will need to spend at least four hours in the city.
Where to sleep
There are various hostales in Ávila, many of which are housed in quaint, old buildings. Not to be confused with hostels, hostales are small, family-run lodgings that consist of private bedrooms and bathrooms. Hostales tend to be cheaper than hotels.
If you’re looking for a charming and central hostal, I highly recommend Hostal Restaurante Puerta del Alacazar
, a 17th century building that has recently been renovated. The hostal also has a restaurant that serves traditional Castilian dishes. Most of the rooms offer a stunning view of the old fortification and the cathedral.
Another great option is Le Vintage
, a pretty hostal located within the city walls. The bedrooms comes with private bathrooms. The hostal is also close to some of the best restaurants in Ávila.
Where to eat
Ávila is one of the best places to try typical Castilian dishes, including the popular toston asado (suckling pig). Ávila is also known for its delicious yemas de Santa Teresa, pastry balls made with egg yolks and a thick syrup and covered with powdered sugar. You can find some delicious yemas at Chuchi Pasteles
. Another must-try treat is hornazo, a traditional Spanish pie stuffed with ham, chorizo and eggs.
If you’re in Ávila for just a few hours and just want to find a cheap place for a quick bite, I recommend getting some something to eat from 100 Montaditos
, which is located right outside one of the entrances into the walled city (Puerta del Alcazar).
For hearty, Spanish meals, I highly recommend booking a table at Restaurante Siglodoce
or Restaurante Bococo. Ávila is also a popular destination among Spaniards, so restaurants tend to be very busy during peak seasons. Try to book a table for dinner to avoid having to hunt for an available table at a decent restaurant.
For hearty, Spanish meals, I highly recommend booking a table at Restaurante Siglodoce or Restaurante Bococo
. Ávila is also a popular destination among Spaniards, so restaurants tend to be very busy during peak seasons. Try to book a table for dinner to avoid having to hunt for an available table at a decent restaurant.
Meanwhile, Soul Kitchen
serves a variety of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free dishes at very reasonable prices.
Top 5 things to do in Ávila
1. Walk around the medieval city walls
Ávila’s walls offer staggering views of the city and the surrounding hills. It’s 2.5 kilometres long, so you might not have enough time to walk along the entire wall, especially if you’re a keen photographer. The admission fee is just €4, so you still get your money’s worth if you’re just there for 30 minutes. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to miss the views, especially on a nice day.
IMP: If you’re travelling to Ávila with your suitcase, you won’t be allowed to walk along the wall with it. Thus, if you’re just visiting Ávila on a day trip, or stopping there on your way to another city, consider travelling with a rucksack. Alternatively, you can leave your suitcase in a locker at the bus station.
2. Step inside Avila’s impressive cathedral
Dedicated to San Salvador, Ávila’s cathedral dates back to the 12th century and features an interesting mix of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
3. Admire the beautiful wall of Los Dávila Palace
Built between the 13th and 16th centuries, Palacio de los Dávila used to be inhabited by the city’s nobles and clergy. You can observe a beautiful mix of styles on the exterior wall, spanning two centuries.
4. Visit San Vincente de Ávila
This beautiful basilica stands on the site where St. Vincent was martyred during the Roman rule. Erected in the 12th century, the basilica is one of the best examples of Romanesque architecture in Spain. It also contains the tomb of San Vincente.
5. Go for a stroll along Paseo Rastro
This scenic path starts from Plaza de Santa Teresa and runs along the exterior of the city walls. You can enjoy a lovely evening walk along the promenade while absorbing beautiful views, or just sit on a bench and soak up the afternoon sun.
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Have you visited Ávila?
What are your tips and recommendations?